Who's in charge of your Professional Development?

Last week, I worked with an amazing group of women - they were from the Not-For-Profit and Local Government sectors participating in Leadership development. Putting their sectors aside, what they concluded and what was of great interest to many was their hunger to understand how to go about accessing Mentors & Coaches for their  Professional Development.

It was apparent that not much discussion or knowledge was available in their workplaces and it was their pro-activeness that drove this discussion. Here's what we discussed:


Mentors can be in the same workplace, sector, industry or can be from an entirely different industry, however, if we're discussing Leadership, it really doesn't matter where they operate or have operated - they could be retired.

Mentors can be assigned or better still, should be found or referred to you. Search someone out who you admire or someone who's recommended to you given past 'mentoring' experience.

They can be from the opposite gender which provides many benefits: gain a different perspective, leading & influencing men and women is different, get into their heads and understand how you're so different in the business world.

Be greedy and seek out several Mentors! One who has had experience with the issue you're navigating, someone in the same industry and someone who's a respected leader.

Should you pay a Mentor? Absolutely! You're tapping into a massive amount of tried and tested experience and advice. Unless it's a 'once off coffee chit chat' or a pro-bono package/arrangement then you'll definitely want to pay for this type of Professional Development.


The market is saturated with Coaches. You need to find someone who you respect and hopefully they come with recommendations and references.

A coach's skill is to guide and challenge you to find the solution you're seeking. They may have no experience with your industry, sector or goals/ideas - their craft is to get you thinking, reflecting, talking, visualizing, planning and action.

Alternatively, you can arrange and complete peer coaching or network coaching. By creating a small network of trusted allies, you can coach each other to seek out ideas and solutions.

Should you pay for a Coach? Oh yes! You're first session will be the 'trust, respect & relationship tester'. And from there your selection of the Coaching Package will determine the investment. And, that is what it is, an investment in your career.

Coaching requires discipline and accountability. If you're prepared to be answerable to yourself and a Coach and do what you've not currently doing then get a Coach.

Communication - it's not about you!

It's OK to admit our mistakes - as much as it might hurt our ego, it's best to seek forgiveness than have the reputation of being a poor communicator.

The mistake made too frequently by most adults, including the person behind these words, is to communicate for our self opposed to our intended audience. Whether that audience be our team, our kids or a potential client.

Communication is a mammoth subject and  given we spend so many hours communicating - do you ever stop and consider, how effective we are at 'selling' our message ?

The specific mistake is 'using the wrong communication approach'. For example, if you get turned on by producing 50 PowerPoint slides with gorgeous diagrams, sound bites and fonts which you cram into 30 minutes and your audience prefer detail and discussion, then you've selected the wrong communication medium and matched the incorrect learning style.

I don't need to tell you how to do it right, you can 'Google that lesson' what I implore you to do is to think, feel and do understand the preference of the audience or at least vary your communication approach.

I attempt to incorporate three approaches whenever I communicate:

Think - provide information visually - screen, paper & audio and where possible send or make available the information which I plan to cover, ahead of time 

Feel -  use stories, incorporate their names & their stories which you've identified when asking them questions, and 

Do - engage their brain & bum - after 10 minutes people disengage.

TED got it right with the rule of  '18 minutes or less' - that's more than enough time to ask someone to listen to you without any interaction. And now we see everyone in the audience happily using their device while listening (partially) because that's their style of learning & listening! You might not like it - but it's not about you!

Many years ago, a Mentor of mine shared a priceless lesson which I wish I practised more often - Communication is a game: the winner talks least and encourages others to talk/do more!

How do you do it?

I recently met with a 'Mentee' and she commented "how do you do it?" - "a businesswomen with a young family". It stopped me in my tracks, as I generally wonder how others do it!

We all have the same number of hours allocated to us and for some reason, some do it while others watch you do it!

From my observation it comes down to: choice and the techniques, processes and approach we take to accomplish what's on our list.

Choice is the mental piece - it's the tough one to crack. Do I choose to get up early, go to bed early, watch TV until midnight, go to the gym during my lunch break, eat a carrot rather than a donut etc. It's the continuous conversation in your head which is either connected or disconnected to your values and drive.

The techniques, processes and approach is all skill based - learnt with experience. For example:  writing goals, prioritising activities and creating a plan are second nature for those that regularly practise. My approach involves talking, asking and testing ideas - then writing it down and acting on ot! It works for me!

The main point is, if it ain't working for you and you're not doing it - then ask for help. Get a Coach, a Mentor, seek someone out whom you've observed 'doing it' and question them - "How do you do it?"

I host a Women's Business Network in my suburb; we have our own private Facebook page and meet regularly to discuss our business ideas & issues. I'm in another network with four other women and we're always asking "How do you do it?"

Don't stop asking!



I Moach. Do you?

At times I find myself becoming impatient when I’m 'Coaching'; I just want to tell the ‘Coachee’ what to do! And when I 'Mentor', I can see that the Mentee is struggling to understand their own Drive, Values and Motivation.

So, I popped Mentoring, Coaching and a flavouring of Facilitation into the blender and voilà, I created Moaching! Some of you will say, “That’s not new” and I say “Hooray for you”. However, some of you need a little hand with mixing and appllying these practices.

Here’s a snapshot of the elements. Try it out. If not, shout and I’ll help you out!

When you Moach, use the TORCH Model:

TALK – lead the conversation to uncover drive & motivations

OPPORTUNITIES – explore what’s on your Map and in your Mind

RISKS – assess the probabilities & possibilities of your decision making

CHOICE – make a choice & be Accountable

HOW – discuss how do you make it happen?

I consider your role as a leader to hold the torch, shine it on the many paths and help decisions to be made out of the choices which takes them to their destination.


We’re at the end of another month – Yikes! A short one, but, that was expected.

I’m not sure about you, but I like to look back and check what I’ve achieved, completed, started, failed at (miserably) and like most Practice operators, check the bank balance!

If we look in the rear-view mirror, we can review the facts, analyse the consequences of our choices – a key component of the following months planning.

If you can identify the quadrant of activities that really accelerated your effectiveness and increased the outcomes, then repeat that in March. The tough task is agreeing with you, your team and partners, is what to stop – the quadrant which is occupied with time-wasters, inefficiencies, repeat offenders and zero dollar earners.

I’ve marked a couple of hours in my calendar today to evaluate the month of February 2013 and to review my current plan and activities for March 2013. I want to be ready to wake tomorrow and be in a position to ‘just do it’!

If you are staring blankly at this screen and thinking “easy for you Louise”, then maybe you need a Coach, a Mentor or even some tough Skills Coaching. People who can do it, have done it and in business to support you to be more effective.