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SOCIAL STYLE: A Tool for Effective Coaching

By Rob VeVerka

As an executive coach, I’m always looking for ways to help my leaders become more effective. I find that SOCIAL STYLE is a very powerful tool for coaching.  Specifically it:

• serves as a great introduction to the coaching process
• provides a good discussion tool when we talk about specific situations or problems
• helps the leader increase their overall interpersonal effectiveness

In initial meetings with the candidate or boss, interpersonal skills usually are discussed.  They recognize that truly effective leaders have exceptional interpersonal skills.  After I explain the SOCIAL STYLE Model, most agree that Style is a tool they could use to help them improve their effectiveness.  Over the years, I have used Style in almost every coaching situation. I have found that it is a great foundation for coaching.

The multi-rater assessment is usually one of the first assignments they complete after we start the coaching process.  The data from the assessment provides insight about how they may be able to improve their effectiveness. The Versatility score is very revealing, since it helps them to quickly see how others react to them.  The Versatility score is often a real eye-opener for most candidates.  Even if candidates get the highest “Z” rating, that helps them to recognize their interpersonal skills as an asset, and we work together to maintain that strength. 

However, most individuals don’t get a “Z” rating for their Versatility with others.  Most often the score is in the mid-range, i.e. “X” or “Y” Versatility, which shows room for improvement and change. Some do get the “W” the worst rating, and my job as a coach is to help them understand that this score can certainly change.

Awareness of this data is the first step in the change process. Then I help them analyze the data and  draw some conclusions about why they may have received negative reactions from the raters.  Discovery is the next step.  Typically, I will have them go back to some of their raters to get more insight into their Versatility score. Even though specific data is not revealed from the raters, my leaders get great feedback from them in the face-to-face meetings and come back to me with some excellent concrete suggestions.  Finally, we discuss steps they can take to help them increase their Versatility and effectiveness.

Throughout the coaching process, we are often discussion specific day-to-day situations where they are looking for help on what to do and how to do it most effectively.  SOCIAL STYLE provides a great framework and common language for discussing these situations.  For example, if they will be making a presentation to their boss and need help, I would be asking questions like: What Style is your boss? What’s most important to your boss in communicating with him? How are you going to adjust your presentation to meet you’re his/her Style needs? How much time are you planning? How much detail do you need? What decision are you trying to get? These questions really help them to think through their plan and not just present like they would like to present based on their own Style.

Finally, the most gratifying result is when candidates improve their effectiveness with others. I often use mini-surveys to stakeholders after three months to get feedback on their change efforts.  In almost every situation we see positive reactions from others in the data.  SOCIAL STYLE often gets the kudos for that outcome.

Rob VeVerka is an executive coach and associate of Tracom.  He is also president of Top Level Coaching  and Professional Learning Systems. Visit him on LinkedIn.

 

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