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You hire two people with the same qualifications and skills. One succeeds; the other fails miserably.


Part one of Optimizing Performance for Strong Results, a two-part podcast interview with Integrity Solutions’ Mike Esterday, takes an in-depth look at this phenomenon and explores specific strategies you can take to unleash a stronger drive to achieve within your entire workforce.

As Mike explains, rapid change-in politics, government and businesses across every industry-along with increased competition, pricing pressures and product parity have raised the stakes on performance. At the same time, many managers are struggling with how to coach, recruit and work with the growing population of Millennials in the workforce. As a whole, this group has a stronger desire to find purpose in their work, and if they don’t find it, they’re willing to leave. And that means retention has become a pressing concern as well.

The good news is, the issues are connected: If we can light that fire within our people, they’ll not only be more likely to succeed, they’ll be more likely to stay.

Why So Many Training Strategies Miss the Mark

How many people have plateaued in your organization? How many do you believe can move off that plateau and perform at a higher level?

In the podcast, Mike shares that when he asks that second question, the answer he typically gets is about half. But what many managers don’t realize is that lack of belief in their people has a direct and negative impact. People pick up on it, and so they perform to the level that they think their managers expect of them.

“All growth, whether personal or corporate, begins with expanding mental paradigms,” Mike says.

Most people perform at the level they believe they should be performing at, he explains. In other words, our actions, behaviors and even our abilities are bounded by our comfort zones. To improve performance then, training and coaching need to focus on stretching that “area of the possible.”

But most don’t, at least not effectively. Mike explains the simple reason why:

“That soft stuff is hard! It’s a lot easier to teach people product specs, selling techniques, managing numbers and activities. It’s tougher to get at attitudes, beliefs and achievement drive.”

But those factors are the “turbo chargers” for most people’s success.

The other key? A learning process that gets people to learn and practice skills long enough that they become part of their natural behavior.

The Importance of Purpose

Purpose is also a major factor in growing performance, Mike says. Organizations that focus on purpose tend to light that internal fire more. In the podcast, he explores three components to this focus:

  • Purpose of the organization: Communicating clearly why we’re in business
  • Purpose of the job or team: Lighting the “personal why” by clarifying the purpose of the individual’s or team’s role and how it links to the organization’s purpose
  • How that purpose creates value for the customer: Understanding the impact on the customer

This last point is critical. Customers can tell what our intentions are when we interact with them. Are your employees thinking, “How can I get this transaction done?” or “How can I fulfill their needs?”

When people shift their view from believing the purpose of their job is to sell products to believing the purpose of their job is to improve lives, they’ll release more achievement drive, and that will increase the activities they need to do to succeed.

And that, Mike says, is how you create meaningful work.


Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions.

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Mindsets are a powerful thing. They can be deeply ingraine–and difficult to change. Stanford University Mindset Psychologist Carol Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, famously studied the behavior of thousands of children. She found that when they believed their intelligence and abilities could grow, they had a desire to learn and, as a result, were willing to embrace the challenges necessary to keep achieving more. They didn’t give up in the face of criticism or setback.

Dweck coined the term “growth mindset” to describe the mindset of these children, as opposed to those with a “fixed mindset,” who believe their intelligence is static and, therefore, are more likely to avoid challenges and negative feedback, ultimately plateauing before they ever achieve their full potential.


The correlations to the workplace aren’t hard to see. If you’re a manager or HR professional, consider the different employees you’ve worked with and developed over the years. Were there some who seemed eager to tackle the tough assignments and put in the effort, able to bounce back from setbacks and find the lessons in others’ success?

Contrast that with the employees who gave up easily when any obstacle got in the way, who looked for ways to avoid challenges and didn’t see the point in putting in the effort. They probably ignored useful feedback and felt threatened by others’ success.

Growth-mindset employees tend to be high performers because they believe they can keep achieving more. Even though work problems have become increasingly complex and the environment keeps changing, they’re driven by an inner motivation that says, “I can keep learning and rising to the challenge.”

Fixed-mindset employees often stall out—or worse. They believe they can’t, and so they don’t.

Coaching Growth-Mindset Beliefs Starts with the Manager’s Mindset

To build high performance across the organization, managers should encourage and promote a growth mindset among all employees. To do that, they first have to believe that the solutions to the challenges their employees face can be found within the employees themselves. Too many managers have their own fixed mindsets about what an employee’s growth potential might be, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When managers assume that their employees’ ability to learn and adapt are finite, limiting their horizons for personal and professional growth, it can cause good company cultures to deteriorate, strategy to derail, talent to be squandered and results to suffer.

A growth mindset is essential not just for employee performance but also for the manager’s performance as an effective coach.

Expanding Belief Boundaries

Great coaches understand how an employee’s belief boundaries will affect what they perceive as possible, and how these boundaries either help or hinder progress towards achieving higher levels of performance.

So, what are belief boundaries? Over time people form certain beliefs about themselves, and these beliefs influence their view of what they believe they can achieve. As a result, they:

  • Form boundaries around their own inner beliefs.
  • Make assumptions about their abilities that directly relate to their inner beliefs.
  • Use inner beliefs as a mental paradigm that controls and regulates their actions, feelings, behaviors and abilities.


A coaching culture that supports a growth mindset hinges on expanding an employee’s belief boundaries, starting with understanding how their beliefs and values are influencing their emotions, which in turn are driving their behaviors and actions. When coaching efforts shift from providing feedback to building self-discovery, belief boundaries incrementally stretch, creating an emotional openness to learning new skills and behaviors.

Steps to Building a Growth-Mindset Coaching Culture

Here’s an action plan to get started building your growth-mindset coaching culture:

Senior Leadership Steps

  • Create new expectations and clear accountabilities for coaching, with all levels of managers responsible for improving their teams’ behaviors, attitudes and skills.
  • Communicate and model core organizational leadership values and behaviors, emphasizing that coaching is an authentic, honest desire to develop managers and their teams to their full potential. Without this, other management levels will not follow.

Middle Management Steps

  • Encourage coaching as a tool to achieve business results.
  • Reinforce that coaching is also about building a shared purpose, connecting coaching conversations with organizational values, direction and strategy.
  • Coach the coaches, using the power of questions coupled with listening to gain an accurate picture of how frontline managers are effectively leading and coaching.

Frontline Management Steps

  • Understand the drivers of human behavior—emotions, beliefs and values—using these insights to break through perceived blocks inhibiting employee success.
  • Use the power of questions to build employee self-discovery.
  • Know when to be non-directive (listening, questioning, clarifying, to promote creative thinking and idea generation) and when to be more directive (giving advice and training).
  • Respond to resistance by uncovering the true root cause of employee disengagement, and treat failure as an opportunity to learn.

When a manager sees more in their employees than they themselves see and is able to express a genuine confidence in their ability to succeed, employees will rise to meet higher expectations. Expanding belief boundaries and building a growth mindset at all levels improves problem solving and increases creativity and innovation across the organization. And as new levels of success occur, employees will continue to form new behaviors and keep improving their performance.

About the author

LIsa BullockLisa Bullock has over 20 years experience working with Global 1000 companies to link strategic business objectives to high impact learning solutions. Contact Lisa at

Reblogged from Integrity Solutions.

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“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are, you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”
-Tommy Lasorda

Even world-class salespeople don’t win every deal. In fact, the best of the best are willing to walk away from deals that aren’t win/win-the solution doesn’t address the challenge, for example, or the buyer is demanding price concessions but offering nothing in return. They understand that their time is better spent focusing on the remaining one-third that are both winnable and winning.

In sales, just as in baseball, coaches make all the difference. In my last post, I talked about how coaches need to have the skills and mentality to coach the whole salesperson: body and mind. It may sound like a relatively easy thing to do, but as anyone who has ever been a front-line manager in a dynamic sales or service environment and/or a highly competitive market knows, it’s not. However, one thing I can tell you that we’ve learned from both anecdotal evidence and our research: This kind of sales coaching works!

Let’s take a closer look at what it all means for your sales coaching and leadership development strategies—particularly if improving win rates and quota attainment are important goals for you in 2017.

4 Levels of Coaching

Before we get into the results from our research, it’s important to have a common understanding of the different levels of coaching. To set the stage, I’ll use sports as an example again, but this time, I will focus on the sport’s youngest players and how they are coached and developed.

In youth sports, every team has a coach, but what that coach does varies widely between teams—even teams in the same city and at the same age level. Some coaches operate as though their role is nothing more than an overseer, there to make sure the kids play nice and don’t get hurt. Others make a sincere attempt at teaching the kids to play the sport, but since they don’t have real-life experience playing the game themselves, their efforts are relatively ineffectual. A few lucky teams have coaches who know both how to coach children and how to play the sport.

Almost every sales team has coaches as well: typically, the frontline sales managers. Like the youth coaches, their experience and skillset varies widely. So, too, does the level of guidance they get from sales leadership. We’ve formalized this into a coaching model that covers four levels:

Ad-hoc coaching: At this level, the approach to coaching, including whether it happens or not, is up to the individual managers. Left to their own skills and devices, the quality of coaching at this level varies widely. If the managers were never coached well themselves, their efforts will reflect that. It’s at this level that we most often see managers trying to “coach” results—“How will you make quota this month?”, instead of coaching the behaviors and activities that lead to results.

Informal coaching: At this level, the organization recognizes that coaching is vital to success, but it is probably still struggling with what works. There is no formal coaching process defined. Tools to support coaching efforts are few and far between, and there are no established best practices.

Formal coaching: A formal coaching process exists at this level, ideally derived from the customer’s journey. The frontline managers have been trained and educated, and they are required to use the coaching approach to improve performance. Enablement produces coaching guidelines and tools and provides related training sessions to develop the managers and to support their efforts. Best practices are documented and formalized.

Dynamic coaching: The ultimate goal, dynamic coaching, only happens when the formal coaching approach is also tightly aligned with the enablement approach, ensuring that coaching reinforces the enablement investments. At this level, there are principles and best practices, and frontline managers have developed a coaching fluency that allows them to adapt their approach to a dynamic selling and buying environment. Ideally, frontline managers are measured and compensated in part based on how they coach and their commitment to consistent and effective coaching practices.

 Sales Coaching: The Results Are In

With an understanding of the four levels of coaching, let’s look at what our research tells us. Our 2016 sales enablment organisational study uncovered a clear improvement in both win rate and quota attainment as organizations moved from ad-hoc coaching to dynamic coaching. Win rate jumps to an astounding 17.4%.

Amazingly, the study also found that 72% of sales organizations have only an ad-hoc or informal coaching approach. Another 21.7% said they have a formal approach, but only 5.3% said it is aligned with their sales enablement programs.

For organizations looking to create a sustainable competitive advantage, a formal coaching program may be just the ticket.

Tamara-Blue-5-213x220Guest blog contribution

By Tamara Schenk

Research Director, CSO Insights


Reblogged from Integrity Solutions.

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