Thursday, November 12, 2015

Interview with Tom Crane

This month's interview is with Tom Crane, author of The Heart of Coaching. I have been following the principles in Tom's book for years and have shared it with clients, as I feel it is the BEST book on the techniques to be an effective coaching style leader. I especially love the section on observing others (pg. 63) and questions to ask yourself in preparation for a coaching session (pg. 69). I was lucky enough to finally meet Tom in person last month and am delighted to have him on the blog this month.

JS: You are a leader in the business of creating high performance organizations through a coaching methodology. How does your process work?

TC: For over 25 years, I have consulted with organizations by showing senior leaders and their teams how to create and conduct effective, highly accountable, coaching conversations between colleagues who work together. We use our proprietary assessments in our workshops, that now support 4 days of rich coaching skill development content - a 2 day Core Skills workshop and a 2 day Advanced Skills workshop. When the Leadership team sees the value proposition of opening up communications, trust and performance feedback in their culture, they most usually begin the journey of creating a coaching culture, where Collegial Coaching becomes the primary way everyone begins to think and behave. We also certify internal or external facilitators so they can design and conduct coaching workshops as a facilitator of the highly experiential skills learning processes.

JS: More and more organizations are using internal coaches and mentors so I can see how valuable the skill set of good coaching is. What kinds of leaders are ideal candidates for this kind of organizational change process?

TC: The impact that leaders have on organization readiness can't be understated. It is their personal readiness that usually determines how responsive the organization is to this kind of a behavioral change initiative. If the leaders see the need to change the way they go about leading, are willing to work on themselves, are committed to making this a "leader led" change process, are willing to embrace humility, compassion, can be transparent in this work, and effectively role model what it means to BE a coach, then the organizational change effort is extremely successful. The term "leader led" says it all.

I think the most critical characteristic seems to be what you have so aptly captured in your book - the willingness of leaders to check their EGO at the door, and use their Emotional Intelligence to build trust and respect with the teams they have the privilege of leading. The Collegial Coaching Road-map is described as a "road-map for emotionally intelligent coaching conversations between colleagues." I think that is really your first EGO trap - ignoring feedback they don't like. In terms of coaching per se, leaders must choose to show up "coachable," otherwise, they make a sham of what coaching actually means.

JS: I love that last sentence about it being a sham if they don't role model what it means to be coachable. It kills their credibility. So, in your opinion, what are some vital EQ behaviors required to be an effective coach?

TC: I have worked to embed what I believe to be the essential EQ skills directly into the process steps that we teach in the workshops. They are "hardwired" to directly support leaders and their teams using such skills as:

Being Present - to fully engage during the interaction
Sharing Feedback - "perceptions" vs. the "truth" about someone
Soliciting the Other's Perceptions - as a way to create ownership of the outcomes
Listening with Both the Head and Your Empathetic Heart
Validating the Other's Experience
Brainstorming Together Using Collaboration - to find better solutions and create ownership

EQ becomes the way people think about communication as this road-map, when integrated into how one thinks and behaves, and soon actually becomes their "communication software".

Tom is an international consultant, facilitator, author, and speaker who specializes in assisting leaders in creating high-performance through the development of high performance coaching cultures. He works with all levels of leaders and their teams to embrace coaching as a primary method of communication designed to enhance both individual and team effectiveness in achieving performance objectives. 

Tom’s passion (and book, The Heart of Coaching) is focused on changing a leader's mindset from “the BOSS OF people” to the mindset of "the COACH FOR people." The premise of the book is that a performance based, “feedback-rich” coaching culture will more effectively support an organization's business strategy, and lead to higher and more sustainable levels of performance. 

He has worked as a consultant and engagement leader for over 24 years in small and large organizations going through strategic change and culture alignment. Prior to founding Crane Consulting in 1995, Tom was vice-president of Senn-Delaney Leadership for nine years and consulted with clients engaged in strategic culture change. Additionally, he worked in financial planning and project management roles with Solar Turbines, a division of Caterpillar. He has a bachelor degree from Purdue University and an MBA from Drake University. 

Crane Consulting offers the following consulting services: building Coaching Cultures to support High Performance, Leadership Development processes, Coaching Workshops, High-Performance Team building, Strategic Group Facilitation and several online 360° and team assessment instruments. 

Tom resides in San Diego, CA, and is a member of the SD chapter of OD Network, The Society for Human Resource Management, the American Society for Training and Development, and the San Diego Professional Coaches Advisory Board. 

Website:    Office (858) 487-9017 
Email:  Fax (858) 592-0689

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