What to Look for in a Coach

When I interview potential clients we always talk about their experience with coaching.

Many talk about sports coaches they had growing up in high school and college.

Others have tried group coaching and even one-on-one private coaching.

Often their experiences have been less than ideal – or worse.

One person had a “life coach” picked for her by the president of her company. That coach gave her such sage advice as to be mindful of her wardrobe when in meetings with men. What?!

Another person related a story where the leader of a national coaching organization said that he didn’t really care if their members achieve their goals, as long as they paid their dues – just like a gym membership.

Oy! No wonder people are skeptical about coaching and coaches.

If you’re thinking about coaching for the first time – or maybe again – you might consider looking for these qualities in any coach that you interview.

Experience. How well does your coach know your profession, your business, and your industry? What has he or she accomplished? What have they overcome? You want someone who’s walked the walk in real life – not from a book. Ask about clients they’ve worked with who are in similar situations. Read testimonials. Talk to references.

Attitude. Great attitude comes from time and experience – including making mistakes and figuring out how to recover. The right coach will have been through it all and have perspective and a sense of humor about it. You’ll want a coach that is patient, persistent, and determined.

Willing to share. A great coach will share their experiences with you – including the bad ones. If you feel like a person is holding back, or won’t share how they stumbled then keep looking. Seek radical transparency and a real person.

Listens and asks great questions. You need a coach that listens to you – both for what you say and what you left unsaid. A great coach will read between the lines and ask questions that make you stop and think more deeply. They will hear you and challenge you. They will help you see truths you don’t want to see – when you don’t want to see them – in a way you can digest.

Access and focus. You ought to have open access to your coach at all reasonable times – not just during your regular sessions. Your coach needs to be responsive to you and your needs. You’ll also want to be wary of programs that take each person from the same place of beginning and work you in a lock-step linear progression – because that’s not how life works.

Accountability. You’ll want a coach that holds you accountable to show up and do the work. You’re making a significant investment and part of that is getting the push – and helping you knock down what’s in the way.

KLT. You need to know, like and trust (that’s the KLT) the person who will be your thinking partner, confidant, and mentor. Take the time to establish that at the beginning. If the coach won’t open up or it doesn’t feel right – then keep looking.

Did you find this helpful? Would you like to know more? Click here to get the complete Guide to Picking the Right Executive Coach or send me a direct message and let’s set up a discovery call.

Either way, don’t wait because I only have a few more openings this quarter – and you don’t want to miss out.


Doug BrownWhat to Look for in a Coach
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You Don’t Really Need a Coach, unless …

Why would a successful professional go out and spend their hard-earned money on a business or executive coach? After all, they are successful already. They aren’t broken. And they’ve made it this far on their own. So what’s the point?

You’ve been reading my messages (or at least some of them) for quite a while now. So you know I’m not afraid to tell it like it is.

So here’s the truth: You don’t really need a coach if you already know everything there is to know, don’t need to make any improvements in your world at all, you can see the world as it is with perfect clarity, and you’re 100% satisfied with your business and your life.

That’s right, you don’t need a coach, unless:

  • You have a lot at stake and need to move fast to keep up and get ahead.
  • You value a completely safe and confidential relationship where you can get an unbiased perspective and honest feedback on your most vexing problems.
  • You know that having personal attention and accountability accelerates your results
  • You want to avoid distractions and shiny objects that rob you of your valuable attention.
  • You’ve tried other group programs – just to find you could have taught the course.
  • You want a subject matter expert who can provide proven solutions and show you how to implement them.

And you’d only want a coach if you wanted to make more money, faster, and have time to enjoy the life you’ve built.

Besides, an investment with at least a 6x ROI wouldn’t be that interesting. Yes, that’s right research proves a significant positive ROI on coaching:

  • A Fortune 500 company wanted to study the ROI of Executive Coaching. They found that 77% of respondents indicated that coaching had a significant impact on at least one of nine business measures. In addition, they uncovered that overall productivity and employee satisfaction were the most positively impacted areas (which in turn has an impact on customer satisfaction, employee engagement, quality, annualized financial results, and more). In all, their study concluded that Executive Coaching produced a 788% ROI. The study noted that excluding the benefits from employee retention, a 529% ROI was produced. (Executive Briefing: Case Study on the ROI of Executive Coaching, Merrill C. Anderson, Ph.D., MetrixGlobal, LLC)
  • According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), 86% of organizations saw an ROI on their Coaching engagements, and 96% of those who had an Executive Coach said they would repeat the process again. Behind these results were tangible as well as intangible factors. Tangible factors were areas such as increased productivity, higher levels of overall employee performance, reduced costs, growth in revenue and sales, higher employee retention, and higher engagement of employees. Intangible factors were increased confidence of those being coached, improved communication, stronger employee, peer-to-peer, and key stakeholder relationships.
  • Additional documented benefits:
  • Improved executive productivity (reported by 53% of executives)
  • Improvements in organizational strengths (48%)
  • Gains in customer service (39%)
  • Increased retention of executives (32%)
  • Enhanced direct report/supervisor relationships (>70%)
  • Improved teamwork (67%)
  • Improved peer-to-peer working relationships (63%)
  • Great job satisfaction (52%)

Nope, the real question if you’ve read this far is this.

Why are you denying yourself the proven benefits of having a guide who can make your life easier, more effective, more profitable, and more satisfying?

Surely you deserve it, right?

There is no special trophy for figuring it all out by yourself. Do we think less of athletes like Tom Brady because he took advantage of all the coaching he could get?

If you’ve read this far and you’re thinking that you really should check out the “coaching thing” then you have two options: Get more info with the Guide to Picking the Right Executive Coach or send me a direct message and let’s set up a discovery call.

Either way, don’t wait because I only have a few more openings this quarter – and you don’t want to miss out.



Doug BrownYou Don’t Really Need a Coach, unless …
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6 Leadership Styles That Will Make or Break Your Business

“Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things” – Peter Drucker

 All business professionals are leaders.  We lead in our business, with our clients, in the community, and certainly for our families. Many believe that leadership is an innate trait, a soft skill that we either have or we don’t.

Yet science tells us that leadership can be taught, it can be learned and it can be improved.    

 As business professionals, our leadership style can have a profound impact on our ability to build our brands, generate revenue, and live the kind of lives we want.   

Therefore it is important that we dedicate some time to understanding different leadership styles and their impact on the climate around us.

 In my travels as a coach, consultant, and professor of leadership I found an excellent study on just this question that makes the academic concepts easy to understand and apply in everyday life.  

These are the main ideas reported by researcher Daniel Goleman’s  Harvard Business Review article identifying identified six distinct leadership styles and the correlation to organizational climate as an indicator of performance.

  • Coercive leadership is the “Do what I tell you – Now!”.  The focus is on immediate compliance.  It can be useful in a crisis, to start a turnaround, or with problem employees.   It can also create passive-aggressive behavior, spur rebellion, demotivate high performers, and kill creativity.
  • Authoritative leadership is the  “Come with me!” approach.  It can motivate people towards a solution, gives leeway on how to achieve a result, and allows freedom to innovate.   Yet in high-performing teams of equals, there may be a negative impact, and overuse of this style can become overbearing.
  • Affiliative leadership focuses on people first.  It can create harmony and emotional bonds with the leaders.  It is focused on communication, team building, and creating loyalty.  This style is helpful for repairing broken trust, increasing morale, and improving communication.  There is the risk with this approach because the team must figure out their own approach in the absence of clear direction and the focus on praise can allow poor performance.
  • Democratic leadership, as you may expect, is characterized by “What do you think?” It helps forge consensus through participation, improves morale, and fosters creativity.  Yet it can result in endless meetings and discussions without results, delay decision making and result in underperforming teams.
  • Pacesetting leadership can be captured with the phrase “Do as I do, Now”. This leader sets high-performance standards, drives people to achieve, and leads by example with a “keep up with me” ethos. This style can foster continuous improvement and get results.  Yet employees can feel overwhelmed by the pace or unclear standards.  Used to an extreme it can lower trust, undermine responsibility and reduce flexibility.
  • Coaching leadership style allows people to “try this”.  It is focused on the long-term development of people for the future, provides instruction and feedback and room for people to fail.   This style of leadership takes significant extra time, effort, and expertise.  It teaches teams to communicate, lead themselves and rise to the challenge.

As you’ve read these descriptions you’ve probably been thinking about which style you are, or perhaps the style used by others in your firm.  You may even have thought that you use a variety or combination of these styles in your day-to-day leadership.   And you would be right.  

Different situations require different styles of leadership – and the best leaders understand when and how to use each style. Yet even the best leaders have a “default” preference – it is the style they revert to when under pressure and the one they are most comfortable with.

Your leadership style drives the culture in your business. And the culture in your business has a direct impact on how you and your staff operate. It affects everything, from hiring and retention to productivity, profitability, client retention, and referrals.

Your Business is a Reflection of your Leadership Style

The style you use, and the style you choose mean everything to your Business. 

You can leave it to your default, or to chance.  Or you can take control.

Knowledge is power. Let’s go.

As you might expect, the coercive style has the most negative impact on climate.  

What I didn’t expect was that the pacesetting style is a close second to coercive for the most negative impact on climate.

The two most positive correlations were authoritative and affiliative, while democratic and coaching were at the mid-point.

The message here is that we, as leaders, must be conscious of the leadership styles we apply to any given situation.  

We must be mindful of our default style and over-using any one style with a given team or situation.   

We must recognize that our own perception of our style may not match the perception of those we lead.   

The first step is always to figure out where you are right now – from a place of curiosity and learning – not judgment.

Taking Action – Making Change

The most effective way to learn how to adapt your leadership style and tactics to the situation is to have a guide at your side. 

That’s the work I do with my clients: helping them see what is happening, what is possible and then making it happen.

If you are really serious about building the business you’ve always wanted – and living the life you deserve then you are ready for the right coach. So email me and let’s talk. 

Along the way, you’ll learn what coaching is right – and whether we’d be a fit.

Doug Brown6 Leadership Styles That Will Make or Break Your Business
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5 Things You Must Measure to Succeed

All successful businesses use quantifiable measures to track, monitor, and assess the success or failure of a specific business process. They are called metrics.

If you’re not using the right metrics, in the right way then:

  • You’re running your practice by guessing – which means you don’t really have any control.
  • You won’t be able to repeat the success you feel like you’ve achieved.
  • You won’t be able to tell if what you are doing is making things better or worse.
  • You will spend way too much time fighting fires and cleaning up messes.
  • You will not be able to prioritize effectively.
  • Your decisions will be sabotaged by feelings, anecdotal evidence, hearsay, and bias.

Ok, so you can probably agree that not having metrics is bad.

Here are the five types of metrics you need to be measuring in your practice.

Think of these as the dashboard on the car – back when dashboards had actual gauges and information and not just the idiot “check engine” light.

  1. The cost of serving a client, including client acquisition cost, direct costs, and overhead allocation.
  2. Profitability. You must understand the contribution of each matter to your bottom line to guide your decision-making on client and matter acquisition strategies. Make sure you understand this by timekeeper, client, matter, practice area, and firm.
  3. Marketing Expenses as a percent of revenue.
  4. Technology Expenses as a percent of revenue.
  5. Realization. This measures how much you make against how much you work, including: billed vs collected, discounts and write-downs, write-offs, and accounts receivable.

Metrics only work for you when you have simple ways to gather the information repeatable routines to review and respond to what you’re seeing. Establishing these habits takes time and effort. But once you’ve got it down you’ll be in complete control of your practice. And who wouldn’t want that?


P.S… I know how difficult it is to build these business processes while you feel like you are running at full speed hoping to just “get through” whatever the next thing is. I’ve lived it. So I can show you how to get there without unnecessary stress and stumbles. If you’d like to know more just reach out and we’ll talk.

Doug Brown5 Things You Must Measure to Succeed
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Sharpening the Saw

In his classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey describes the practice of sharpening your saw. He’s talking about the habit of working on maintaining and improving your skills and the tools you use in your business.

I know how hard it can be to slow down to do that when you’ve got so much going on. But it is possible. In this video, I share one of my routines to make sure I keep my saw sharp.

Please comment, like, or share.


Doug BrownSharpening the Saw
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The Dreaded DDL

“I got the DDL again”, I overheard her whisper to a friend at work.

I’d heard vague references to this before and my curiosity got the best of me. So I asked, “So, what is this DDL?”. I’m really glad I did.

DDL was shorthand for “Disappointed Dad Look”.

It was a look they saw on my face from time to time when I wasn’t pleased about something. It wasn’t intentional, and I didn’t even know I was doing it. But it was a message they received just as strongly as if I had said it out loud.

Being in on the secret helped us communicate more clearly with less stress. When they saw it they could call me on it. Awareness allowed me to be intentional and adapt when needed.

The DDL was a great reminder for me that what we say only accounts for 7% of what we communicate. 38% is the tone of voice, and 55% is body language.

If we want to motivate people and build relationships and trust then we must pay attention to everything about how we communicate – especially when we’re not using words.

What’s one way that you make sure you know how your communications are being received?

P.S… Email is a great miscommunication tool. Click here to check out my 5 Tips to Improve Email Communication – and leave email chaos behind.

Doug BrownThe Dreaded DDL
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A Storm Brewing?

In this video, I share why leading indicators are important, and how to use them to prepare for storms over the horizon.


Doug BrownA Storm Brewing?
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Cross 50% Off your To Do List

So many professionals struggle with time management because they feel like they need to be available to their clients at all hours of the day or night. The truth is you can keep clients happy. And you can protect your time. That’s the topic of today’s video.


Doug BrownCross 50% Off your To Do List
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Acceptance is Not Surrender

I find that people become a reflection of their environment. If you surround yourself with positive and positively energetic people then it is much easier for you to become that yourself. The opposite is also true.  Some people and situations are energy boosters. Some are energy busters – or vampires. Fortunately, you have the option to decide.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of anxiety and negativity in today’s world. Virtually all of the information coming from the media (social and otherwise) is negative. Sure they’ll put a feel-good story at the end but it hardly cures the message. And the pandemic is top of mind for everyone – as it should be. These are not great times for our society and people are suffering in so many ways.

We all must accept the situation we are in. We do not have to surrender. Acceptance isn’t agreement with the status quo. It is an acknowledgment of what is – of facts – even when we don’t like them and we’re frustrated and angry about them. Denying the facts because we don’t like them, or we’d like a different set of facts is not only ineffective, it is dangerous. Facts are facts. Now what?

Accepting or acknowledging the situation – the facts – provide the foundation for action. It allows us to take some sort of control and begin changing things. Adopting this “Yes, and” approach allows you to mindfully (intentionally) respond to overcome the mindless (instinctual) reaction. It allows you to decide what kind of energy you are going to accept, and what you are going to project. Being positive is not a rejection of facts or reality. It is simply an intentional response about how you choose to move forward.

If you look carefully you’ll see it more and more. There are still ways to do good and to feel good – things that boost your energy. Which allows you to do the same for others. You just have to be that much more intentional to find these opportunities. If you look and listen carefully you’ll see these stories coming up all around you. People are stepping up. Making masks, lending shelter, organizing virtual and distance gatherings. Others are making other choices that may not be as productive.

Our three grown 20-something kids have come back to the family home as a result of the pandemic. This presents some special challenges us, who have been empty nesters for a while. It also is challenging for them who’ve been doing their own thing for a while. Luckily we all get along. We give each other our own spaces to do our thing. And we find opportunities – moments – to be together in ways that won’t be possible in the future. Maybe it’s as simple as a family dinner or watching Jeopardy! Together. Or dust off the old board games. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be valuable and important. Because in the not too distant future they will leave the nest again and life will go back to a new normal – whatever that is. And the opportunity for these moments will be much fewer and farther between.

You can choose to live for the moment we are freed from social distancing. Or you can choose to live in the moments you have now, while you have them – knowing that it will all change soon enough.

You must accept the situation you are in. You don’t have to surrender.

You get to decide the kind of energy you want to accept, and what you want to create. You get to decide what you make of these moments. You get to decide the difference you want to make for yourself and for those in your world.

Choose wisely.

Doug BrownAcceptance is Not Surrender
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