Episode 55: Coaching Conversation with Deanne Kissinger: Unleashing Your Potential

Portrait of Deanne KissingerAs we celebrate International Coaching Week May 7-13, DHG continues to build a culture of coaching. Industry leader and a member of Marshall Goldsmith's 100 coaches, Deanne Kissinger is Vice President of Global Talent Management at Diversey Inc., a $2.6 billion organization with 9,000 employees. Deanne discusses what it takes to be an effective coach and coaching best practices for organizations. Insights about the differences between coaching, mentoring and sponsorship clarify these three important parts of career development.

Episode 55 Transcript:

AGH: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of our DHG podcast series. I’m Alice Grey Harrison, your host. I love this venue, because we get to hear about the things that matter the most to us: flexibility, careers and people.

We are currently celebrating International Coaching Week and at DHG, we are truly working to build a culture of coaching. If you'll recall, we began this journey last year with the development of our performance enrichment program, in which we were each assigned a coach to help us figure out the right steps to take in our career to get us to where we want to go.

Today, we're very fortunate to have with us an industry leader on coaching. Deanne Kissinger is Vice President of Global Talent Management at Diversey Inc., which is a $2.6 billion organization with 9,000 employees. They're the leading provider of sustainable cleaning and hygiene solutions.

Deanne’s a member of Marshall Goldsmith's 100 coaches, which is a globally recognized honor and we're going to hear more about that later in this podcast. She's going to be the keynote speaker of the Charlotte chapter of the International Coach Federation, and we're so fortunate to have her with us to share her knowledge and give us a short little preview of her keynote.

Welcome, Deanne.

DK: Thanks very much.

AGH: I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you have a sales and sales management background. How did this lead to your focus on coaching?

DK: Yeah, one of the things that I loved about being a sales manager, probably the thing that I love most about being a sales manager was after the sales call. After the sale call, you come back out to the car, and you ask the sales representative a bunch of questions about how it went, what went well, what can we do differently?

It was in those conversations that I really felt like I was making a difference for that individual. Throughout my career, I looked for opportunities to be able to do something like that, although it’s changed now. It’s longer sales coaching, but it's more around behavioral coaching and helping the individual to unleash that potential. Essentially, how it ended up happening, despite through working and experiencing it in the role that I was in and then finding out that I truly liked it.

AGH: That totally makes sense. I can definitely see how that would evolve from that. I mentioned in my intro, Marshall’s 100. Tell me about this and your inclusion into this prestigious list.

DK: Yeah, so Marshall’s 100 coaches, the MG 100 as we call it.  Marshall Goldsmith is an executive coach who has written something like 36 books. He's the world's best coach for many years now. He's very well thought of in the industry of coaching from assuming that anybody who's done any bit of executive coaching would probably have known or heard of Marshall Goldsmith in some way, shape, or form.

He went on a program, which Ayse Birsel, a lady who's a designer and author - she had this program called Design the Life You Love. Marshall went on this program and as part of that program, you identified some of your heroes. He said a lot of his heroes were people who were teachers, people who shared what they knew. Teachers do that for free, don’t they? Go to school and they share their knowledge and they help you grow.

He thought, “Who were the great teachers in my life and what can I do to emulate them?” He came up with this idea of paying it forward and creating a group, where he would teach them everything that he knows from all his years of coaching and his experience, and do that for free. Then his only ask to them is that when they get older, to be as old as he is, he likes that they do the same and they share that and pay it forward in that way.

He had this process where you went online and you submitted your application, and he had something like 16,000 people that request to be a part of his group, and he selected 100. I was amazed and really excited that I’ve been selected as part of that group. It's been an amazing opportunity and is a fabulous opportunity.

AGH: Oh, I can imagine. I imagine the connections that you make meeting the others was really terrific.

DK: Yeah, they’re a phenomenal group. I mean, you can go onto the – Google it - and you can see who’s in the list the list. These people are really, really great leaders, thought leaders of an industry like I am and fit within an organization. Many have their own businesses, or have been consultants in some way, shape, or form, but all are incredibly inspiring and he is really passionate about helping others to see their potential. It's just amazing to be surrounded by that group and to learn from them. It's great.

AGH: Before we go any further, I probably should have started this conversation by defining what is meant by having a coach, or coaching? Is this the same as having a mentor, or a sponsor?

DK: Yes. There's a lot of overlap in them, but they are a little bit different. I'll start with sponsorships. Sponsorship is when you have a relationship with somebody where they have exposure, or can provide exposure to you, to people, to the experiences that you might not get on your own. The relationships with sponsors typically that you tell them the things that you’ve learned, and they’re a megaphone for that and help you to achieve more than you would have before, because they enable you to have experience with a lot more people than you might have had on their own.

That's a little bit different than mentoring. Mentoring is when you have a relationship with someone who really gives advice, more so than anything else. They will tell you what they would have done, or have done when they're in your shoes. Usually, a mentor is somebody who's had a lot more experience in a particular area than what you have.

If anything  – they call it reverse mentoring, where somebody who might be younger than you is very experienced in something, more than what you are experienced in. Usually, people think of a mentor as older, but reverse mentoring is usually somebody who's younger and it’s centered around their level of experience.

Then coaching is where you share the good and bad, and the coach believes that the answers are within you, they just need you to help get them out. It's a lot of questioning. There isn't as much advice at all, although sometimes there's a little bit of advice, but most the time it's really about helping you to come to those answers and to ask you those questions. Whereas, a mentor is really telling and a sponsor is really somebody who's going to tell others about you. That’s a little bit clearer.

AGH: Yes, that's really great, very clear. You're going to be the keynote speaker at the ICF Charlotte event. I understand you'll be speaking about how coaches help organizations succeed. Tell me more about this.

DK: One of the things that I think organizations have a hardest thing doing is to point everybody in the same direction. When you look at performance goals, you look at objective, a lot of times they might be conflicting, even though everyone seems to have the same goal, at the end of the day there's a lot of different conflicts in those.

The biggest thing an organization can do is just point everybody in the same direction and get them all working together. When you think about coaching, coaching is really about in my mind, unleashing people's potential, and helping them to be the absolute best that they can be. For an organization like DHG that's had a coaching culture, that means that everybody's going to be working to achieve their best and reach their fullest potential. Imagine that you spread that across the entire organization that everybody is really working and getting assistance and help to be able to achieve their best - exactly the things that you can do when you really shift an organization like that.

To me, coaching isn't just this kind of one-off training, where you get some information and forget it 30 days later. Coaching is really about shifting your behavior to get the absolute best that you can give. It’s so rewarding in being able to do that, not only for the individual, but for the organization itself. I think it's just amazing to be able to unleash that and help an organization be truly successful.

AGH: Wow. All right, we've talked about the organization. Now thinking as an individual, what are the things that I need to engage with a coach? Perhaps there's a few things that are prescriptive in this area.

DK: That’s exactly it. One of the things that Marshall teaches with stakeholder-centered coaching is about courage, humility and discipline. In the process, going through coaching engagement like that, what happens is then you get feedback from people around you - your peers, your manager, your direct reports - like a 360 assessment. Once you get that feedback you determine with your coach what it is that you need to work on to help shift your behavior.

You need to have the courage to go through that, because that's not an easy thing to do. A lot of times you get some negative feedback that you didn’t hear, or maybe you knew about, but just haven’t anything about. It really takes courage to be able to say that type of feedback and willingness to do something about.

Then in humility, because the ability to say to other people, this is what I'm working on – it’s not comfortable for people to do that a lot of times to say, “I'm working on not getting so angry at meetings. I’m working on trying to be more self-confident.” Whatever it is that you are working on, it takes a lot of guts to do that and humility, to be able to say, “I'm not perfect as a leader, as an individual contributor and this is what I need to work on, and I need your help.”

Then the next bit is around discipline, because you're going to ask the same group of people every month how have I done, how have I done better, have you seen a change in my behavior? I'm really trying to make a shift and have you seen that? Then you ask the next month and then the next month and then the next month. You keep asking that.

The theory is that over time, of course they'll keep looking for it, they'll be able to see that you've been actually making that shift. Then you'll also be able to show that even if you worked it out that one time, you got mad in a meeting, or that you didn't do exactly what you thought you needed to do in a particular setting, people will say, “Hey, you were doing so well. You had three, four, five, six months of where you were doing really well,” this is just a little blip. You get right back on track and start doing it again.

If you hadn't done that check-in every month with that discipline, then it's likely that people will think, “Oh, they're never going to change. They’d just do the same old thing that they've always done and are never going to change.” But because you had those check-ins and you’re really disciplined about doing that, and they were able to see that you are making this shift. It takes courage, it takes humility, it takes discipline to really be great at coaching in that relationship.

AGH: Wow, that's true and those are all really, really hard things. That's like saying I want to run a marathon, and you've never run any in your life.

DK: Yeah. I do not like any one place.

AGH: I'm just going to ask you one more question, and I love to ask this of people who are leaders, because a lot of our listeners are people like me who are growing in their career, or maybe they're starting their career, but what's the best advice and this can be career-oriented or just general life-oriented, what's the best advice that you've ever received?

DK: Yeah. I think it's probably both career and life-oriented, a little bit of both, just depending on what the talk is, but the advice that I got was find a way to quiet the negative self-talk; the talk that's in your head and stop paying so much attention to it, because I think most people have a little voice in their head that says, “There's something negative that you’d never say to your friend, or never say to people that you really care about,” but it says, “Oh, you can't do that, or that's going to be too hard, or this was never going to happen, or you know that’s going to be a difficult situation.” That negative talk that really is an inhibitor to you having success.

You’re our biggest critic, I really find I’m my biggest critic. And I know that if I can get past that little negative voice and quiet it and push it to the side and say, “I'm not going to listen to that,” and then have courage on, “I’ll do something that pushes me out of my comfort zone and I can do this,” that's been the best advice that I ever received.

AGH: Okay, I feel like the universe came in and told you to tell me that. I really needed to hear that today, because you're right. We all have these voices in our heads that say, “You're not good enough. This isn't good enough. You need to go harder.” It's hard to quiet those voices. I think that's just amazing advice.

DK: Yeah, it’s helped me. I don't always – like I say, I’m always successful in doing it, but when I am, it really does help.

AGH: That's great. Thank you so much and thanks for being here and sharing information with us.

DK: Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

AGH: Thank you all for listening to Life at DHG, our premiere podcast series. If you like what you just heard, we hope you’ll tell your friends and colleagues. Be sure to check out our DHG blog for more great stories about our life beyond numbers.

Join us next time for another edition of Life at DHG.

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