The End Goal

There’s more than one type of goal. There’s two types in particular that are especially useful to differentiate between. These are Performance Goals and End Goals.

The End Goal is the outcome that you desire to achieve. It’s a big significant change in your life, and it’s likely to be something outside of your full control. It may be gaining a promotion at work, it might be making a large sale or it may be winning a competition or award.

These types of End Goal are a form of recognition or measure of success that it bestowed from the outside. As this achievement is outside of your control, then there is often little benefit to focusing on achieving them directly. You limit your potential because you are handing off your measure of success to a third party, you are losing agency.

Performance Goals are thing that are within your control. These are areas you measure against yourself, that you can recognise when you have achieved them and that you can control the progress towards that achievement.

Setting great Performance Goals will help you to reach your End Goal. If your aim is to win an Olympic medal, then your Performance Goal might be to consistently improve on your personal best. This takes something that’s out of your control, and ties the achievement to something in your control.

Set your outcomes up in this linked way. You don’t control getting the promotion, but you can control your performance, focusing on and improving the skills that will put you in a great place to be the easy choice for the next job that opens up.

Confusing an End Goal for a Performance Goal will set you up to fail. Setting great supporting Performance Goals will start you on a powerful journey of change, and give you the best possible chance of reaching your End Goal.

Coaching Leadership

Technology is a Creative Endeavour

I work with a large number of technologists, I build a lead teams working at significant global scale, solving problems with technology.

If you are outside of this world, it’s easy to get lost. Why is it so hard? What’s going on? Why does it take so long?

The exciting thing about technologists, and about software, is that they are constantly involved in a creative endeavour. It’s a cross between science and art, with a whole load of emotional and personal considerations thrown into the mix.

Think about how hard it can be to build a house. A dozen trades, maybe more. They follow a plan, but flex from it when difficulties arise. It’s creating something from nothing, but you’re probably following a pretty standard path. You know houses, you can see them. They’ll be used by a well known number of people, in a standard way. It’s pretty predictable, but there are still difficulties, overruns and variations from the plan.

When we’re building software, we have some of that certainty, but not the majority. We may not be sure what the problem is we’re solving. Will it be used by ten people or ten million? Who’s going to try and break it, and what if we get half-way done and decide to do something else?

If you are leading a tech team for the first team, part of a digital transformation or an agile experiment, it can be bewildering. Engineers, computers and logic suggest predictability, certainty and rigid planning.

Instead, stop and reflect. If it’s worth creating a new technologic solution, then it’s novel, unique and new. You can’t plan to the day, but you must let the creative process occur. Set goals, go after outcomes. Figure out ways to launch early to learn, then course correct.

Don’t look for perfect. No art is perfect. It’s done, and it’s out in the world, changing people and bringing joy.

Set expectations like this, and you’ll be an exceptional technical leader. You’ll empower people, bring real change to the world and never waste time search for misplaced certainty.

Coaching Leadership

It’s Never Just Business

What you do defines who you are. The actions you take and the options you choose are the things that define your shape in the world.

If you are ever in a situation where you are considering saying “It’s Just Business”, then take a moment and think about why you are about to do this.

When you remove yourself from the discussion in this way, then you are often attempting to shift responsibility for something away from yourself. You are suggesting that this third party, the impartial arbiter, this other, “business” is responsible, where you are not.

This is probably an emotional or difficult moment, so you may not be able to course correct in the flow the first time you notice it. If not, you can pick-up after the conversation and reflect later.

There is an emotional, personal connection in all relationships, no matter how professional they may be. If you can recognise this then you can empathise with the other person in the conversation and build a more meaningful relationship, even if the news you are delivering is hard to hear or likely to disappoint them.

Don’t let it be Just Business, own your actions and you’ll be a better leader, and a better person.


Knowing your worth

It’s very easy to undersell your particular skills, abilities and experience. It’s something that any of us can struggle with, as we lose perspective on our unique potential to contribute.

This is something that you can recognise, and combat with practice. Consider this really simple exercise. Think about something that you find easy to do. Ideally, find something that other people are impressed by, a skill that you gain recognition from. Maybe it’s something like baking, or something from the corporate world, like chairing a great meeting.

Now think about this easy thing. Reflect on how long you’ve been doing it. Times it’s gone well, experiences from the past that were less successful than you are now. Think back on your journey in this area.

How much effort has it taken to build this skill up so it’s easy to you? If you’ve been honest with yourself, then it’s likely to have taken a significant amount of learning to reach this point and probably some mis-steps along the way.

When you recognise all of this, then you’ll see why this easy skill is anything but easy. You’ll start to understand why people recognise you for your ability and you’ll be able to fairly value your experience.

If you want to explore your own unique skills and know your true worth, then book a conversation now to gain this understanding.


Imagine your bio

Thirty words, fifty if you are lucky, that’s what you get to highlight your achievements and to share your expertise.

What is yours going to look like?

It’s a great exercise to write the bio for your future self. It lets you formulate your goals in a fresh way, condensing them into a tight and succinct set of highlights.

You can share your most important values, the changes you are most committed to making or the impact that’s your major success.

The limits are important. By paring back to the core, you must focus on what is truly most significant, the change you want to see.

This can be done in less than an hour, so take the time on a quiet afternoon and imagine your bio.


Just try it

For those of us who are safe and secure enough to be able to reflect on the future, now is a time where you have the freedom to try things in a different way to how you might usually approach them.

It’s important to act compassionately and with empathy. Don’t get fully caught up in the place you are coming from, be considerate of who else you are working with and their current situation.

In these times, a lot of your old rules of thumb may not hold true. Contacts may be more amenable or open to opportunities. Others may be closed down and unable to act. A digital solution might now be feasible when it wasn’t before. It might be the right time to offer something for free, or to charge quite differently to how you may have done so in the past.

With this uncertainty, it’s difficult to predict an outcome. The best thing to do is to find something to try, and to learn from. If you want to achieve, then try the simplest possible thing. You’ll discover something that takes you a step closer to success, you’ll have learnt something valuable and you’ll have started on your path towards lasting change.

If you want to figure out the simplest possible thing for you to do, then get in contact and we’ll discover it together.

Coaching Leadership

Coaching Spectrum

The spectrum of coaching approaches is presented by Miles Downey, and is an excellent way to recognise when we are being more or less directive in our approach as coaches. It is a powerful way to recognise how your interactions will shape the outcomes and determine your future effectiveness.

Non-Directive / Following Interest
Listening to Understand
Asking questions that raise awareness
Making Suggestions
Giving Feedback
Offering Guidance
Giving Advice

As coaches, we are pushing towards the top of the spectrum, the further up we are then the more likely we are helping a coachee find their own solutions.

As a leader, you will flex up and down the spectrum as appropriate for the situation. If something is on fire, you might ‘tell’ or ‘instruct’. It’s a situation that requires the directive approach. Afterwards, you might give feedback on how the situation was handled, and then return to a coaching posture by letting your direct report consider ways to prevent the fire happening again, while you summarise or reflect to cement their understanding and commitment to the solution.

We aim to move up the spectrum as high levels build stronger commitment and ownership of solutions from a coachee, and empowers them to solve future similar problems with their own resources.

Each step up you can take will make your coaching more effective in the long term, so look out for opportunities to jump up to the higher levels wherever you are able.



I’ll Know It When I See It

Sometimes it’s incredibly easy to tell if you’ve achieved your goal. If it’s measurable, if it’s concrete, or if it’s a binary yes/no outcome, then you will just know. You either get the promotion, or you don’t.

A lot of the time, you’ll want to work on something that isn’t easily measured. It can be anything from improving your presentation skills, to expanding your emotional literacy. What can you do to understand this growth and progression, without being stuck in an “I’ll know it when I see it” hole.

Self-Reflection – Do the thing you want to get better at. Have a tough conversation or give that presentation. Afterwards, write down what went well and where you felt there were areas to improve. Focus on those areas, do it again and repeat the cycle. This is great for understanding the things that you can see and recognise, and an excellent resource to take into a coaching discussion.

Feedback – Gather thoughts from a trusted partner. Sit them in the audience, then ask them what was the best moment of the presentation, and what was the weakest. This opens you to the views of others and lets you close down your blind-spots.

Surveys – In a leadership position, you might be lucky enough to benefit from the results of regular engagement surveys, or you may be able to run these following a particular interaction. These are sources of large sets of feedback with an aggregate view. The aggregation is key here. Don’t get hung up on outliers or single comments, but look for themes and trends to measure improvement.

Recognition – If you are the go-to person for a skill or a trusted source of advice on a topic, then that’s a strong indicator you are really great at that topic. If you don’t feel you deserve this recognition, then ask the people coming to you what’s driven that decision. This will really let you understand what’s helping you succeed, and to see the growth you’ve managed through the process.

If you are working to improve a skill or to make a change that’s hard to measure, then use these techniques to understand your progress. They are powerful tools for growth and learning that will turbocharge your journey to greatness.


Where’s your Reality?

Before you can make any great plans to achieve your goals, before you can feel that your goals are within your reach, you must understand your current reality.

In these times, it’s especially relevant. You might be safe at home and working remotely. You might have to suddenly manage childcare, work and support for others in an unfamiliar new configuration. You may be working endless days in the most extreme of environments.

This is not normal, and you’ll need to recognise this.

People are busy celebrating free time, taking on major projects and streaming to the world. If you aren’t in a place to do those things, then reflect on where you are, then do what’s right for you now.

Given the changes to our daily lives, you’ll need to do a fresh accounting of your now. Once you understand this, then you can re-evaluate your goals, set your direction and drive forwards towards positive change.


Recognising Choices

There is always a choice available to help you achieve your goals.

It might not be obvious to you, but it’s definitely there.

If you can’t see a way forwards, think about doing nothing. If you don’t change things, will you still get closer to your goal, or are you moving away from it?

How does that make you feel? If doing nothing is a good choice, maybe you need to revisit your goals, be more ambitious or find something else to chase. Nevertheless, nothing is a choice, and it’s a valid one to consider.

Once you’ve looked at nothing, wave your magic wand and cast aside everything that’s stopping you or holding you back. Does it make you feel awesome, energised and engaged. If it does, then this is a great goal.

Look at those things you’ve cast aside, discounted or stepped around. Which of them can you envision tackling successfully. What’s the smallest step, easiest or most valuable thing to do? Answer this, and you’ve just opened up a whole set of options to consider and choices you can make.

There is always a choice, you just need to recognise what it is. Empower yourself to make decisions and you’ll have a path to positive and long term change.