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King’s Counsel

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Factor Definition

Group Alignment Arrangement in a straight line with a common cause or viewpoint
Resolving Conflict The act of solving or finding the answer to a conflict, problem, question, etc.
Responsibility for Results Pledging or engaging one’s self, answerability, accountability
Positive Relationships High quality contact, communications, etc. among people and groups
Future Orientation Looking at the time to come, at events that are still to occur
Profound Respect The state of being honoured, admired or well thought of

11. Tell the absolute truth about what’s not working. I once worked with a team of executives who, six months from the deadline for a goal, were millions of dollars short. The reasons for this were discussed among the team; but, upon further investigation, not everyone was being fully truthful. I thus asked each executive to share “the awful truth” about the shortfall. This helped everyone re-engage the common goal.

12. Plan backwards from the future. Legend has it that Merlin was born in the future and lived backward in time. For executives, that’s a good way to think about major goals. I always demand that top team members say exactly where they want to be in a month and then make plans back from that future.

13. Insist on “being”, “doing”, “having”. In most companies, measures, rewards and punishment all emphasize action, process and results. How people are “being” with one another is never brought to light. Yet, being is where it all starts. You don’t “do” winning; you “are” a winner. You don’t “do” collaboration; you “are” collaborative. You don’t “do” a relationship; you “are” related. By shifting attention to how executives are “being” with one another (and with customers and colleagues), there can be a remarkable transformation in the power of the group in the company. What’s important is to get leaders to align their behaviours with their words.

14. Practice powerful speaking. Executives must not sound uncertain in public. That’s why I make them practice speaking confidently before their peers. With training, the most successful executives grow to speak the most powerfully. This does not mean that they are the loudest; it means that they speak with the greatest sensitivity and thus have the greatest impact on their audience. Executives must come to see their words as tools that can have a measurable impact. Whatever the initiative a top manager is working on, I stress that he must thoroughly examine what he says and how he says it.

Using the Merlin Rules has provided a disciplined and systematic approach to my work with executives and their interactions with others. But keep in mind that each rule reinforces the others; you can’t follow one rule and ignore any of the rest. As with Merlin, the charge for an executive coach is to prepare an executive for leadership. Following these rules will help all involved see that such a job is more than magic.

Copyright © Charles Smith, PhD.

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