Chris Coffey

Conversations with Chris

A dear colleague has passed.  Morrie Schwartz in his book, ‘Tuesdays with Morrie,’ says ‘death ends a life, not a relationship.’ My learning has been expanded by learning with Chris.  As a co-developer of Stakeholder Centered Coaching with Marshall Goldsmith and Frank Wagner, he was a practitioner and trainer. Here are ten of my favorites I learned over the years from Chris.  I am eternally grateful.

Invite their thinking – When coaching others, feelings are important.  At the same time, we want to think together and plan a path forward.  Marshall calls this Feedforward.  Leaders are judged by what they do, not necessarily what they say.

Choosing stakeholders – Who better to provide feedback than the people who report to you, not necessarily those who supervise you.  This is an assessment by those closest to you.  Direct reports from people you trust is absolutely, authentic assessment.

Opinions – Ask, ‘is that your opinion or do you have facts to back it up?’  Ah, separate specific behaviors from hallucinations.  Chris often provided questions that identify one of my favorite sayings, ‘pick fly dung out of pepper.’  What is the foundational issue and what will you do about it?

Learning Curve – Chris often said, ‘I shorten leader’s learning curves.  Using Stakeholder Centered Coaching (SCC) can accelerate learning and identify productive behaviors.

Golf & Life – both four letter words and similar.  Swing easy (be kind and authentic), recovery is more important than perfection (are you improving or just waiting), and keep your head still (emotions are important and leadership is head and heart).

Understanding – The goal is understanding not necessarily agreement.  What are the behaviors that build trust, elevate solutions, and help you, your team, and the organization?

Billing – Busy professionals don’t have time so don’t bill by the hour.  This was a big lesson for me.  When you bill by the hour, the coach wants to keep you one the phone, the client wants to get work done.  Cut to the chase and bill by the month or year.  That takes the pressure off.  God Bless You for this.

Engagements – Don’t collude with someone who is not following through.  End the coaching relationship if there is no discipline to keep commitments and/or not doing what is planned in coaching meetings

Realities – There are usually three realities:

(1) The reality of what leaders perceive they do

(2) The reality of what they actually do everyday

(3) The reality of what others perceive the leaders do. At the outset of the coaching engagement,

At the beginning of a coaching relationship there’s almost always divergence among the three realities.  Close the gap and make progress

Culture – culture starts with the leader.  I use a French Proverb: “Children need models more than critics.”  The same is true with direct reports

Thank you, Chris, for your teaching and humanity.  Swing Easy and Often on the golf course in Heaven.