Employer Branding T.I.P S03Ep.05 | The power of coaching: how business leaders can build stronger teams with Paul Glover, C-suite Performance Coach @paulglovercoaching.com


We’re back with Ep.05 of Employer Branding: The Inside Podcast! Tune in to listen to Paul Glover, C-suite performance coach at paulglovercoaching.com, talk about the power of coaching for business leaders. Throughout the podcast, we covered several other interesting topics on purpose and its role in strengthening company culture, the future of work, the importance of truth-telling, and a lot more. 

What you’ll learn by listening 

  • Leadership facts: the importance of truth-telling from a C-suite performance coach’s perspective
  • Coaching for leaders & why it matters
  • Guidelines to help tackle employee disengagement 
  • What it really takes to be a team leader 
  • The power of purpose & its role in strengthening company culture  
  • The future of work lies in the self-directed teams
  • Unlocking the power of storytelling from a leader’s perspective

About the speaker 

Paul Glover is a No B.S. Workplace Performance Coach, who, for the last 30 years, has assisted leaders and their organizations achieve their full potential. His approach is practical, hands-on, grounded in the realities of the real world of work and results oriented – all undertaken with a sense of humor and panache. He is also a “recovering trial lawyer”, an unabashed Starbucks addict, and the author of WorkQuake™, a book dedicated to those in the work environment seeking to not only survive, but also to thrive in the Knowledge Economy. For those who appreciate a pragmatic Coach who will nudge and–if necessary–push them to achieve their objectives, a conversation with him is a must.

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Podcast transcription 

Georgiana: Okay, good morning, everyone! This is Georgiana. And we have now a new episode of Employer Branding: The Inside Podcast. And today I’m talking to Paul Glover from the US. Paul, exactly where are you based in the US?

employee value proposition

Paul Glover: Chicago, immediately to the west of Chicago.

Georgiana: In Chicago, right. And I have to thank Paul, again for being up at this early early hour. It’s 4am in the US and Chicago. Paul is a C-suite performance coach who has more than 20 years experience as a federal court trial lawyer. I found that really impressive, Paul. And recently for about 17 years, you’ve worked as C-suite performance coach. And before you tell us more about what it is that you do exactly, I’d like to understand why the change between the two areas, as they’re very different.

Paul Glover: Well, at some point, I was forced to make a career change. And first Georgiana, thank you so much for the opportunity to be on the podcast, I really appreciate that and to be able to talk to both you and your audience. So I was forced to make the change. And I looked at my skill set. And when I determined I can no longer practice law, I thought about what’s my pivot going to be to another career. I listed out my skill set first, as you can tell, being a federal court trial lawyer, I’m a critical thinker. And I take a very methodical approach to decisions that I make, not to say they can’t be emotional, but I factor that in.

So I sat down, I did my skill set. And based off of my skill sets, I decided that I actually would be a very good coach. First, federal trial lawyer, you are a critical thinker. And that requires that you be analytical. But if you’re going to be a trial lawyer that tries in front of a jury, being a critical thinker will not make you successful. It only gives you one ingredient. The other ingredient is the emotional connection that you can make with a jury, because everyone on the jury not only wants to hear the facts, but they want to hear the narrative.

Every trial, every side has a story, the narrative and how you factor the narrative, putting the facts into the context that first brings the jury into that narrative. You can’t leave the jury outside, the jury has got to join you on a journey. And the journey is about starting from the beginning and weaving that narrative. And I tell you though, a lot of my clients weren’t heroes. I use the hero journey as really to do the narrative. So I looked at that and I said, ‘Okay, that’s one skill set that I believe a lot of leaders fail in’. They are not good communicators. It’s amazing to me how many leaders believe they are. That’s because they believe in telepathy. They believe that if they think it, you’re going to hear us. So. And every leader has a message, right? I mean, obviously, if you’re meeting, it’s because you have a vision.

Beyond making money, I tell people that’s not a vision, that’s not a purpose. That’s a side product, of having a vision and a purpose. But if you cannot bring people along with you to understand your vision, but also understand their part in the purpose, because that’s where people become emotionally connected and therefore are exceptional performers. But if they don’t understand their part in the journey or their purpose, that never happens. And if that never happens, all you’re doing is paying for time and paying for time will not make you a successful leader. What you’re paying for is outcome. And it’s so interesting to me that we still struggle with the concept of we want to measure your performance in minutes. So anyway, what else do people need in a coaching process?

First, I’m an acquired taste because I go myself as a no-BS leadership coach. By being a trial attorney gives you a very good bullshit antenna. You can tell when people are trying to give you less than the truth. And I think that that’s an important skill set. Because when I’m dealing with an executive, especially a successful executive, the most difficult people to coach are successful people. Because they’ve already reached a certain degree of efficiency and effectiveness. And when you tell them they have to change, they are immediately resisting.

The concept of engaging in a coaching relationship is about transformation and change. Otherwise, take a class, right? I mean, if it’s a skill set you’re trying to learn, you could do that with a video from YouTube. You don’t need to have a coach. But if you actually are interested in not only improving, but in developing your legacy. When I talk to a successful person, I tell them, it’s fantastic that you’re successful, that’s only good for today. Tomorrow is a different day, that’s going to require something more from you. So if you are interested in exploring potential, then you and I can develop a coaching relationship, because I want to also talk to you about your legacy.

People don’t talk about their legacy too often. I believe that the way that you inspire someone to change is to talk to them about their potential and what they want to leave behind. And people change jobs every three years. So leadership is not a 20 year gig anymore. It’s a three year gig, four year gig,  five year gig. So you really have a limited amount of time to have a meaningful impact and create that legacy that you get to hand off to someone else to build on. So as I thought about that. I said, Okay, I can put that together, because the person that I’m going to coach is looking for two things from me. First, they’re looking for the truth. They don’t get it, leaders do not get the truth from anybody.

Positional authority does not provide the psychological safety for a leader to hear from someone who follows them as an employee, the truth. They’re afraid to tell the leader the truth, because the truth, often offers two things. First, it may very well be a bad message. But the second thing is when you start telling the leader the truth, you are going to their wind spots, you are telling them about their blind spots, which impact how they make decisions. So being the truth teller is absolutely a part of any executive coach’s skill set. And I have absolutely no problem doing that. And I can identify the blind spots. So that there was a second element of the skill set that I looked at and said, I can do the critical thinking, which means we can put together an action plan. By the way, once I know what the goals are, we can establish an action plan that’s going to get us there. My legacy is being achieved through the people that I coach and the people that they coach. So I’m I’m thrilled with what I do, and I going to continue doing that as long as my clients find what I do with them to be of value.

Georgiana: Well, it’s interesting to me and obviously to our audience for sure that you mentioned leadership and the importance of coaching for leaders in their management process. And just to make a connection to our first direction, which is the future of work and the great resignation. I’m just going to quote a few numbers. For instance, latest employee engagement data from Gallup 2021 shows that only 36% of us employees are engaged in their work and workplace. A recent study of about 2000 employees and 500 HR decision makers in the Netherlands done by German based company Personio revealed that 46% of workers are planning to quit their jobs in the next 6 to 12 months. What would you say is the cause of this situation and how can leaders address it?

Paul Glover: Well, first those statistics should be alarming. But by the way, they’re not new. They’re not. Gallup has been doing engagement surveys since 2000. And the number, the 36% of engaged employees has not varied by 1% or 2% for 20 years. So this should not be a shock to anybody. What’s a shock to anybody is the fact that employees are no longer going to take it anymore. I look at the pandemic as the report card for leadership.

And guess what? Leaders are failing. Because if your employees are engaged, if you know what you’re doing, you have a vision, they understand the purpose that you’re treating them well. They don’t leave. Because the number one reason, even in the pandemic, is they leave their boss; they leave their manager. And I would direct your audience to a second set of statistics. The level of engagement at the leadership level is the same as for the employee. Gallup also does leadership engagement and those statistics 36%. They match the lack of engagement or the engagement of leadership. That’s not engaged. Why in the world would the employee base be engaged?

And by the way, I don’t think it’s leadership’s. I think it’s a fault of individual leaders. But it is a fault of what our expectations are for leaders today. We continue to operate off of the Industrial Age concept, that work is an assembly line. And that everybody stands at the assembly line and does their task. And you know, what the the leader did, the leader was a manager. He made sure that you showed up, had enough training to do your job and had a certain amount of output. That’s not what we are anymore. First, no one wants to be managed. And I’ll make an exception to that only to those that I call the working dead. Also, in that engagement survey, Gallup has consistently found that 17 to 20% of all employees are actively disengaged, which means that they’re creating a toxic environment every day that they come to work. They infect other employees just like the pandemic does, with their attitude, their dissatisfaction.

So when you’re looking at this, we know what the problem is. The lack of engagement primarily is caused by beater slips failure to be engaged themselves. And that’s shown up in the pandemic. It’s shown up all the time. Like I said, I wish I could tell you that the pandemic is something new. But the only thing that’s new is that employees have said, we’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore. That’s the new part and the resolution of this is simple. Wellbeing has always been a part of the equation. And to get commitment, you have to show that you’re engaged also, and concerned about the well being of the employees that work with you, not for you. We still haven’t got there yet. Our managers are not trained appropriately. They still are supposed to be assembly line managers. In effect, we need them to have a completely different skill set.

They need to be coaches, they need to be mediators, they need to be facilitators. We’re not training any of our people to be any of those three. We keep saying the words, but we’re not giving them training. You know how a person becomes a manager and I know you do. They’re the next one in line to step up. Right? The person who wasn’t managed or quits, retires dies. And you know what? We need someone to fill that slot. Who’s our best individual contributor? Oh, it’s Joe. Guess what, Joe? You’re not the leader of the team. Joe is a great individual contributor. However, he has had no training whatsoever to be a team leader. And if you put Joe in that position, he is guaranteed to fail. And you know what? The fact that the great resignation or the great migration, there’s so many terms for it now, is occurring is because people don’t want to be managed, they want to be led. And until they find that position, they will continue to move from job to job given the opportunity to do so. And the pandemic has made them realize they can do so.

Georgiana: Well, what have you seen that worked in the successful companies with the successful leaders that your work so far? One common thing that showed success for company culture, so far?

Paul Glover: We’ll go back to something I mentioned earlier. There has to be a purpose for every person who works for that company, so that they are engaged, that they are committed. And the commitment that you get is by saying, here’s what the purpose of the organization is, and be very clear about it. And also connect that individual to that purpose. I always find it interesting. There’s too many examples. But I’m going to give you one that I think is very cogent.

The new head of NASA, the United States space program, is walking through the building and introducing himself to people. There’s a cleaning lady pushing her cart with cleaning materials on it. And he stops her. And he introduces himself. And even though he can see the cart, he decides he’s going to do what he’s done all day long, and say, ‘what do you do here?’ And he asked her that question. And instead of saying, ‘I clean urinals’, she says, ‘I help put people on the moon’. Now that’s connected to purpose. So it’s not the job you do. It’s your connection to the purpose that the organization has determined, is why they exist. That’s the deal for me.

I mean, I don’t believe that it’s complicated. We’re human beings. We have the same needs now that we had 3000 years ago, 5000 15,000; it exists the same way. And to think that we don’t have those needs, and the needs are: we want to belong, we want to be recognized, we want to be taken care of. These are very simple needs that the organization has got to provide for their employees, if they want to be successful and grow, especially now when we are in the knowledge economy, the information age, which requires a different skill set than the assembly line. So to me, that’s the deal. And if you can’t, as a leader, make that connection, you will not be successful.

Georgiana: Paul, but is it solely the leadership’s duty in this direction? Why do teams become dysfunctional? I’m sure there are other departments who bear responsibility as well.

Paul Glover: So first of all, I am a strong believer in self-directed teams. That’s the future of work. When we have a self-directed team, you’re painting the responsibility and the authority for productivity and performance to people on the team. And I found that peer pressure, as well as support, is the way that productivity increases. If I join your team, and I’m a fit – by the way, that’s important – I have to be a fit. What does that mean? Well, I don’t have to be the same color or the same sex. But I have to have the same work attitude. And I join your team, I understand the purpose of the team, we then become self-regulating.

And the first thing a self-directed team or self-regulating team does is they get rid of those people that are the working dead. And by the way, at the age of the pandemic, where there’s a labor shortage, management is even less likely to get rid of a poor performer. So the self directed team takes on the responsibility for doing the job. They don’t get to decide what the job is necessarily. But they get to decide how they’re going to do it. And to me, that’s where you shift the responsibility to everyone on the team. That may still be somebody who’s the facilitator, or the liaison, as a member of that team; what we would now call a team leader. But the reality is the team makes the decisions about how they’re going to accomplish the tasks. And once again, the problem with that is that management doesn’t want to give up control. Because they want to be in charge. And the reality is if you want an outcome, you transfer authority and responsibility to team member. Does that make sense? 

Georgiana: Of course. And I want us to get back now to something you were mentioning in the beginning. You said that narrative and storytelling used to have a lot of power in your career as a lawyer. And to me that’s very interesting and nice to hear because we work with stories and in what my agency does. Every day we create stories for our clients. So now I’m wondering how can leaders unlock the power of using stories? How can they create change, and lead by telling stories?

Paul Glover: Well, first, again, you have to have a vision. If the only reason you’re in business is to make money, that’s not a vision. And it certainly isn’t a purpose. Like I said, I believe  that’s a byproduct, an important byproduct, by the way. I’m not about nonprofit, I believe that you should earn a profit. If you’re putting your effort and your resources at risk, there should be a return on that. But the concept of of clarity, to me is extraordinarily important, because most leaders aren’t able legitimately say with clarity, what their vision is.

I believe that that leaders have to take those that work with them on a journey. They need to understand the journey, they need to participate, they need to celebrate, they also need to understand the risk and accept responsibility. So to me, it’s about the leadership, training themselves. And they have to because we’re not good communicators naturally. So for instance, one of the things I find is that everybody knows the words. If you ask a leader, what else should you lead, they will tell you the words.

The problem is I’m not sure they believe it. You’ve got to because by the way, if you do not believe, if you’re not authentic, people absolutely see and hear that. And if they know that you’re not authentic, you’ve lost their trust. Once you’ve lost their trust, you cannot lead. So you have to establish trust. Trust is about telling the truth, but not only about telling the truth, but also showing the truth by how you interact. And, for instance, we’ve talked about stakeholder capitalism, now for 50 years. The organization is going to recognize its stakeholders, and one of the most important stakeholders are employees. I even hate the word employee, by the way. I think that is old, assembly line language, just like managers, and language matters. Words matter. If you talk to me and say, ‘I’m so happy, you’re my employee’, it’s like saying ‘I’m really happy, I’ve got a servant’.

Nobody wants to be a servant. And if you want to recognize them that way, you have to give them control. But first, you have to use the right words. And so if you use the right words, and your narrative is appropriate, and your purpose is clear, you will bring people along on the journey – because you’re going to celebrate success – you’re going to share a risk, you’re going to share a profit. And if you’re willing to do that people will join in the endeavor. If you don’t, you’re paying them for their time. And that becomes transactional. As transactional, when someone can get a better deal, they’re gonna take it. I don’t want a transaction, I want a relationship. And that’s how you are successful. And I believe going forward is even more imperative. There’s has to be that trust and psychological safety to tell each other the truth, and obviously the opportunity to share in the success of the operation, and not be paid by the hour.

So to me, it’s the same elements over and over again. I wish I could tell you that there’s some secret out there waiting to be discovered, but there’s not. Human beings have been human beings, they will be human beings, that’s not going to change. And leaders should recognize the needs of the employee group, their teammates, fulfill those needs to the best of their ability. And what they will have is a motivated, committed workforce. And I think a there’s a formula here that leaders are missing: the concept of how many people may need to do work, do the task is absolutely out of sync with what a committed person can contribute to the success of the organization. I really believe that if you take into account the well being of the workforce, you pay appropriately, you give benefits that absolutely meet the needs of the workforce, you can reduce the number of employees you have, by probably 30 to 40%. Why? Because 20% are already dictated as the working dead, they should be gone yesterday.

But nobody’s got the guts to fire them or they’re afraid they can’t replace them. Keeping them does more harm than replacing them. That 20% immediately should be gone, replaced by what committed employees, that core group, that 36% of engaged employee that are committed. That’s it. That’s the deal. That group is committed, not only engaged but committed to the purpose and the success of the organization. That means you now have this chunk in the middle, that are not disengaged, but they’re not engaged, work on that group. Make them committed. So you don’t need as many people. Why? Because committed people have a greater level of productivity, right? That’s what we’re looking for here.

Georgiana: Absolutely. And, Paul, now we have reached the end of our episode. But before we close this, I’d like you to recommend us one resource that’s been super useful to you in your career and that our audience could use as well.

Paul Glover: Well, first, again, I’ll go back to two things. For any leader that doesn’t have a coach is an idiot. Just flat out an idiot. And so when I think about resource, I have a coach, by the way. I believe that that to continue to recognize potential, continue to improve, continue to realize your vision, you need to have someone that has the same psychological safety; to tell you the truth, you need to have a coach, you also need to understand what your skill set is, recognize your strengths and weaknesses.

And that’s what coaching is about, and then do something about it. So when I look at resources, I look at the opportunity to do that if leaders who have coaches become better leaders. And if you’re a better leader, that improves the working relationship with the employees. So the resources that I look at is exactly that. The second thing is, I think that you have to become a better communicator. Is that enough of an answer? I mean, we’re talking about people often say, ‘Do you have a book?’ Well, I have a book that I recommend, because I wrote it. But I also believe that coaching is still the difference maker.

Georgiana: I have to confirm that because I’ve also had a coach at some point in my career, and I have to confirm it’s helped me tremendously to understand where I was going and what I wasn’t doing right. So, yes.

Paul Glover: Well, and just to highlight that again, I always use a simple example of going to the gym. I’m a gym rat, I’m ready. When we finish our conversation. I’m on the way to the gym because it prepares me for the day. And I figured out very quickly that if I go by myself, I’ll do a half workout. It’s not that I won’t do it. But I will not lift as much as I can. When does that happen? When I have a coach; when the coach has kept a record of my performance, and it goes, ‘So what are we trying to accomplish here?’

Here’s what I want, then he’ll say, ‘Okay, here’s the exercises we’re going to do’. And by the way, here’s the weight that you’re going to lift today, which is probably heavier than the weight I would have listed on all the ways. We could serve our energy, although we’re like, ‘I don’t feel like it today’. A coach is like, ‘I don’t care if you feel like it’. You know, as a leader, you don’t get to say that. I don’t feel like being a leader today. Or ‘I’m having a bad day’. No, you’re not. If you’re a leader, you’re not entitled to that. By the way, with your coach, you can have a bad day. Of course, we’re there as a coach, we’re there for that emotional issue also, because you can’t separate the coach, the person from the reality of their family and their environment. But by the way, that’s every employee that works for you or works with you. So anyway, the coach is there to help you be better. That’s the one step every leader should take.

Georgiana: Well, this has been super interesting and very useful. Thank you so much for talking to me today. Paul. I wish you good luck, and we stay in touch.

Paul Glover: Absolutely! Georgiana, first, again thank you so much for the opportunity. I’m really appreciative. I know that I ramble a lot, but that happens when the person that’s the host asks the interesting question.

Georgiana: That’s been super interesting. But Paul before I forget, how can people reach you? This is also very important.

Paul Glover: It’s very simple. It’s paulglovercoaching.com is the website and on LinkedIn as Paul Glover Coaching. And they can also contact me, if they want, at paul@paulglovercoaching.com

Georgiana: Got it. Thank you so much, Paul. Enjoy your day.

Paul Glover: Georgiana, you also. Enjoy a wonderful holiday.

This was Employer Branding: The Inside Podcast. You can find our podcasts on Spotify on Apple podcasts and content on employer branding-related things on employerbranding.tech. Until the next time, stay tuned.

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