Coaching & Organizational Development

A Bigger Vision for Organizational Development

Posted by Aaron Sugarman on May 23, 2016. 0 Comments

It’s really interesting how the engagements with our organizational clients evolve over time. As they extend from months into years, we find ourselves deeply embedded into the fabric of the organization, simultaneously working at the levels of culture, strategy and tactical execution. 

We recently came across a case study done as part of the International Coach Federation’s 2015 International Prism Awards that shows how this model can scale in organizations much larger than those we are working with (currently in the 5-105 people range). The coaching initiative at multinational software developer SAP, with some 80,000 employees worldwide, is now more than 10 years old and extends way beyond the typical approach of using coaching for the C-suite and “high potentials.” 

Coaching is available to everyone at SAP, regardless of seniority, level or job function, via a mix of internal and external coaches. SAP’s protocol for employees’ development planning has...

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A Practice For Accessing Your Intuition

Posted by Aaron Sugarman on April 13, 2016. 0 Comments

I was super honored to be included in Santa Fe Art Institute's recent SFAI 140 event, where I shared the Three Centers practice for accessing your intuition. The talk is a mere 140-seconds, and the practice is a tried-and-true way to improve your decision making. Have a look... and consider giving it a try!

SFAI 140 - March 2016 - Aaron Sugarman from Santa Fe Art Institute on Vimeo.

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Why do some teams stumble, while others soar?

Posted by Aaron Sugarman on March 11, 2016. 0 Comments

Why do some teams stumble, while others soar? That was the question that Google has spent the last five years studying, as part of its massive effort to measure—and optimize—nearly every aspect of its employees lives. The answer, as reported by Charles Duhigg (author of ‘‘The Power of Habit’’ and the forthcoming ‘‘Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Productivity in Life and Business’’) in The New York Times Magazine, surprised them.

From What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team

"No matter how researchers arranged the data, though, it was almost impossible to find patterns—or any evidence that the composition of a team made any difference… Some groups that were ranked among Google’s most effective teams, for instance, were composed of friends who socialized outside work. Others were made up of people who were basically strangers away from the conference room. Some groups sought strong managers. Others preferred...

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Conative Coaching

Posted by Aaron Sugarman on November 23, 2015. 0 Comments

Why are you in the zone some days, exhausted on others? 

The answer has a lot to do with the Conative aspect of your mind, which works alongside your Cognitive (Thinking) and Affective (Feeling) faculties. It includes your instinctive way of taking action, your natural drives and talents, and how your mental energy reserves are allocated.

Think of it this way: While Cognitive assessments indicate what you can do based on your knowledge and experience, and Affective ones tell you what you want to do based on your personality, your Conative profile tells you what you will do, based on your innate ways of problem solving and striving.

Which makes Conative Coaching a great way to learn how to get more done with less stress and greater satisfaction, and to reduce conflict and improve relationships at home and at work. 

Our clients have called this approach “eye-opening,” "actionable,” and “profound.” 

“It provided a lot of support...

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Your Body Is Trying To Tell You Something... Are You Listening?

Posted by Aaron Sugarman on August 11, 2015. 0 Comments

This may strike you as an odd question but… where are your shoulders right now? Are they tight and up around your ears? Slack and drooping? Curled forward or pulled back? Are you assuming they’re basically wherever they usually are

Let's take a moment to actually find out where they are. Wiggle your shoulders around. Take a breath. See where they settle. We’ll wait. 

Caroline and I were listening to a recent talk by Richard Strozzi-Heckler, the founder of Somatic Coaching, and he said something that really struck us: “The body is the shape of our experience.” He means this quite literally. Having your shoulders tight and up, for example, is a posture connected to fear—a natural physical response to the experience of feeling fear or anxiety. It is the shape of that experience.

Significantly, the connection between body and emotion works both ways: Not only do we tighten up because we feel...

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Why You Can't Get Emotional Intelligence From A Book

Posted by Aaron Sugarman on May 26, 2015. 0 Comments

In the professional development world, sometimes Emotional Intelligence seems like that old cliche about the weather—everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it.

Or, as Muriel Magian Wilkins puts it in Signs That You Lack Emotional Intelligence in the Harvard Business Review: "In my ten years as an executive coach, I have never had someone raise his hand and declare that he needs to work on his emotional intelligence.” You can see it, everyone in the office can see it, but sadly, the person who most needs to develop Emotional Intelligence is often the one least able to see it—let alone do something about it.

If you’re thinking, “OMG, I totally relate! So-and-so in my office is exactly like that. He/She needs to work on Emotional Intelligence! They make my life hell!” I’d like to raise a red flag. Because blaming others for most of the issues...

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Not producing the results you want? Try this Reality Check exercise

Posted by Aaron Sugarman on April 14, 2015. 0 Comments

Not long ago, I set out to learn basic Italian in advance of a trip. I signed up for a course at the Italian Cultural Institute (or, if you prefer, Istituto Italiano di Cultura), bought some phrase books and downloaded the Duolingo app. But as the departure date grew closer, it was clear that my intensity didn’t match my intentions. I didn’t get to the study and practice time I had planned. My homework was rushed and done at the last minute. I started dismissing the reminders from Duolingo’s friendly virtual mascot. My learning progress stalled.

At some point, I undoubtedly said or thought something along the lines of “I really want to do this, but I just don’t have the time.”

Sound familiar? Maybe the thing you want to do is exercise, or cook fabulous and healthy meals using only fresh and locally sourced ingredients, or...

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Practice of the Week: Starting Rituals

Posted by Aaron Sugarman on January 17, 2015. 0 Comments

Procrastination sucks. Oh sure, it may seem like a good idea at the time, but like your mom probably told you, it's all fun and games until you're on your death bed wracked by regrets about all the things you didn't do. 

So here's something you can do to tame that soul-sucking beast: Create a Starting Ritual. That is, a repeatable practice that will serve as a trigger and transition to get you going on something that you typically procrastinate over. 

Maybe it's listening to a particular song. Or a mindfulness meditation. Brewing a cup of tea or a double espresso. Going to a particular place or space to work. Going for a walk. Setting a timer ("I can do whatever I want for the next five minutes, but when that bell rings, I start working."). Setting out your favorite pen and paper. Bottom line? It can be anything that works for...

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4 Painfully Obvious Ways To Win Friends And Influence People At Work

Posted by Aaron Sugarman on December 08, 2014. 2 Comments

As coaches, people often ask us how they can be more effective and impactful at work. Sometimes, it seems like they’re hoping for secret sauce that will give them awesome superpowers. Truth is, there are totally straightforward things that anyone can do, at any time, to make a difference—and they don’t require superpowers at all. You’ll find four of them, below. 

First, Get Your Audience's Attention.
In order to negotiate the building blocks that lead to action in an organization, you need to have a Speaker (that’s you) AND at least one Listener. Well, of course! But do you really make sure you have a committed Listener before you launch into your office requests or offers? Or are you content to make what we call a drive-by request, while the other person checks their phone, responds to email, juggles three calls, doodles, strides purposefully down the hall or navigates traffic in their car? Or...
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Need Leadership? Don't wait for it to walk in the door

Posted by Aaron Sugarman on October 27, 2014. 3 Comments

Big takeaway from Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends 2014 survey: The need to "broaden, deepen, and accelerate leadership development at all levels, in all geographies, and across all functional areas" is by far the most urgent challenge facing organizations.

That critical need for leadership is followed by some gnarly people issues most of us are painfully familiar with: Talent acquisition, retention and engagement, and "the overwhelmed employee."

Now here's the part I found both scary and poignant: Survey respondents, execs at nearly 3,000 companies across the globe, were more than twice as likely to say their organizations were “not ready” versus “ready” to address these critical challenges. And the largest gap between Urgency and Readiness came in Leadership.

Urgent Need + Low Readiness and/or Ability to Deal = Holy Deer-In-The-Headlights, Batman!

While it's tempting to resort to gallows humor ("Certainty of death, small chance of success? What are we waiting for?" -Gimli, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) organizations committed to thriving in the...

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