Are You Coachable? The Five Steps to Coachability

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Read an interesting article by August Turak (in Forbes) and wanted to share some highlights. I see these as a key characteristics for successful business owners who want to move from good to great leaders while creating a cohesive leadership team.

Are You Coachable? The Five Steps to Coachability

Coachable people all share five distinct character traits.

The first trait is humility. Humility teaches that there are things we need to do that we cannot do on our own. Only humility can teach us that the most important things we need to learn require fundamental changes in our behavior and outlook. Humility itself, for example, can’t be attained by reading a book or taking a class. Humility requires a change of heart rather than a change of mind.

The second trait that coachable people share is an action bias.

I’ll add which suggests having a plan, a strategic plan, a cohesive leadership team and ownership at the lowest level. Your pipeline, your sales process, the triggers and gates needed to earn the right to move forward would also add action bias behavior.

The third trait is purity of purpose.

My members focus on vision, with clarity – focusing on 1st things 1st and 2nd things never. They have come to realize if you can’t measure it, don’t do it.

The fourth trait is a willingness to surrender control. Even when we do find a mentor we often put him in an impossible situation. We implicitly insist that we will only give up control once we have seen results. In fact we only get results if we are willing to give up control.

Unwillingness to surrender control is the single biggest reason for the lamentable fact that most authentic change is precipitated by a crisis. Ironically, the reason why most of us need a coach in the first place is to learn how to give up control.

The final trait is faith. The problem with life is that it must be lived forward and only understood backwards. In my own experience this is especially true when it comes to working with a coach. The benefits of change are often only obvious after the change has occurred. An alcoholic only truly understand the benefits of sobriety when he becomes sober.

Only hindsight is 20/20, and that is why we so often hear someone exclaim, “If I knew then what I know now I would’ve changed years ago.”

August Turak is a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, and award winning author who attributes much of his success to living and working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey since 1996. As a frequent monastic guest, he learned firsthand from the monks as they grew an incredibly successful portfolio of businesses. He shares those secrets in his first book. – See more at:

James Bandrowski is coming to Austin (

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VistageAustin 2015 Speaker Series #6 for Austin Business owners: August 19th and 20th

James Bandrowski

Execution Excellence: Translating Vision & Strategy to Results

Program Description:

Flying in from northern California, James Bandrowski conducts is content rich workshop in assisting Austin Business Owners in developing a Breakthrough Strategy. This workshop provides Vistage members and guests with a three-phased, nine-step Execution Excellence process for putting a new vision, values, strategy and/or policy into action. You can use this workshop and accompanying handout as a guide in your future strategy implementation efforts. Included is an assessment with which you can evaluate your past and present execution efforts, and employ as a checklist on your future ones.

Value to Members & Guests:

To kick off the session, Jim Bandrowski facilitates a discussion of what attendees believe works in implementing strategy, as well as each member’s challenges in doing so. Using this input, he presents in a highly interactive manner how to put plans into action and lead change, explaining points with real world examples from a wide variety of industries. Topics include how to build a case for change (call to action), communicate your vision and strategy, precisely define desired new behaviors, employ transition states, drive plans and metrics deep into the organization, achieve quick wins, leverage early adopters, overcome both overt and covert resistance, anchor change through positive reinforcement, assure accountability and maintain momentum. The heart of the Execution Excellence process is applied to a high priority change initiative of one or more members, with everyone participating.


Jim Bandrowski, founder and president of Strategic Action Associates, has 30 years of experience helping companies in a wide variety of industries successfully create and implement breakthrough strategies. His clients include GE, Disney, Chevron, Kaiser Permanente, and many other large and small companies. Jim is author of CORPORATE IMAGINATION–PLUS: Five Steps To Translating Innovative Strategies Into Action.


Wednesday morning 8:30am August 19th – Steiner Ranch UT Golf Club

Thursday morning 8:30am August 20th: – Downtown at 1108 Lavaca

RSVP to comfirm your attendance:

Want to grow your business, connect me to one of your raving fans…

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Had a member share at our recent one2one coaching session that he ran into one of his customers at a social event recently and the customer thanked him for referring him to me. The customer went on to say that thanks to his Vistage advisory peer group his business YTD is growing at a 20% clip vs. LYTD. This put a smile on my member face for 2 reasons: 1st. the customer was a friend and acknowledged he is moving from good to great both personally and professionally and thanked my member for caring. 2nd: The next day, my member checked out his customer and saw that his customer’s business had taken a solid turn for the better.

What a cool story when someone who cares enough about you to encourage you or refers you to someone like me who with monthly coaching sessions and monthly meetings focused on sharpening ones saw in business leadership and personal improvement making you a better version of yourself.

Vistage is a “game changer” for those that want build their business and a better version of themselves. Let’s have a cup of coffee and discuss if one of your raving fans qualify for consideration in one of my C-level advisory groups.

All the Best,

Ed Stillman



CEO Optimism for 2015

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Vistage gathers quarterly insights from CEOs across the country. The Confidence Index for the end of 2014 had a positive view for this new year, but as always, there are some hot topics weighing heavy on the minds of American business leaders. If you’re not talking about tax policy and health reform, you probably should be. Keeping up on local government issues may not be top of mind for you, but in my member groups it’s something we work to keep each other apprised of.  It’s also a great way to benchmark your success against others. We are selective about industries and ensure we don’t have competitive organizations in a group, and yet members say it’s the diversity of lessons learned that provides so much of the value.

View the CEO Confidence Index Q3 2014.


If you’re not holding yourself accountable, maybe a group of your peers can help. Please ask me about our event Jan 21, or click the link below to RSVP.


What Does Your CEO Report Card Look Like?

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Children aren’t the only ones getting grades these days.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution* recently asked 11 experts to grade Coke Chairman and CEO Doug Daft on several different topics using a 4.0 scale (A=4.0, F=0.0). The panel evaluated him on his mastery of 6 subject areas, grading him a C+ or 2.5 (grading outlined below). It’s hard to ignore the irony of how our students are graded by school subject in this way for 16 or more years and we don’t seem to have a comparable standardized business practice.

As we move into 2015, and while you develop your AOP (annual operating plan), where might you spend some extra time in the personal development of your leadership team and yourself?

Why a report card?

How would you grade yourself? How would others grade you?

Whether or not your business is heading toward success may be directly tied to how you see yourself verses how others see you. Plus, it sends a clear message as a leader.

  1. Transparency — shows you’re willing to ask for feedback and share your results.
  2. Dialog — when you share your score with your leadership team and hold theirs against yours, it should create a very meaningful and insightful discussion and clear cut direction for you
  3. Personal growth — provides a reality check of how you’re doing in your team’s view.
  4. Historical reference — It always feels good to see improvement and sometimes without a recorded metric you can’t see that you ARE making progress.

The real question is WHY NOT do a report card?

Ed’s Advice

This would be a very meaningful 360 exercise with your direct reports.

Whether you are a CEO, Owner, President, Managing Director, Department Manager or Supervisor, Team Leader maybe it’s time to re-focus on your own personal growth and team development and implement a similar grading system.

How to get started

There is a Vistage breakfast workshop January 21 that gives a great taste of how we work together to solve leadership challenges. Visit the event page for details or contact me.



For the past 8 years, I have been coaching 2 dozen Austin business owners and senior executives and facilitating monthly advisory peer group meetings. This template is a compelling baseline toward moving yourself from good to being a great leader. As a leader, if you are overwhelmed, on a cone of a rocket ship with your revenue growth or just feeling lonely at the top and would like to share a cup of coffee, give me a call or text me at 512.422.6232. Our confidential conversation could be a life altering experience and assist you in establishing 2015 as your make-or-break year.


The Sample Report Card (found on

Leadership……………… 4.0  3.5  3.0  2.5  2.0  1.5  1.0  0.0

Has CEO set a clear strategic direction for the Company? Has the CEO communicated the direction effectively with Company’s various constituencies, including employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders? Has the Company responded positively to the direction set by CEO (as measured by results)?

Management……………… 4.0  3.5  3.0  2.5  2.0  1.5  1.0  0.0

Has CEO assembled a strong management team to implement the strategy? Has the CEO held direct reports accountable for performance? Has the CEO established an effective succession plan for top management?

Financial Performance …….. 4.0  3.5  3.0  2.5  2.0  1.5  1.0  0.0

How has Company performed under CEO when it comes to hitting financial targets, improving profitability and controlling costs? Does the CEO set realistic, aggressive financial goals for the Company? Does the CEO understand, measure and monitor overall Company financial performance?

Marketing……………….. 4.0  3.5  3.0  2.5  2.0  1.5  1.0  0.0

Does Company have a strong sales and marketing plan and team in place? Have sales results met goals and expectations? Has sales training taken place and has it been effective? Have sales and marketing responding effectively to changing economic conditions?

Operational Performance …….. 4.0  3.5  3.0  2.5  2.0  1.5  1.0  0.0

How has Company performed under CEO when it comes to improving operational effectiveness, improving on-time performance and increasing operational efficiencies? Has the CEO developed a culture of continuous improvement?

Innovation……………… 4.0  3.5  3.0  2.5  2.0  1.5  1.0  0.0

Does the CEO foster a customer-focused approach to Company innovation?

Has Company introduced enough new products or services to address the changing needs of customers? Is the Company considered “innovative” within their industry?

The full article with the report card details in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is for subscribers only. Unfortunately it is not an available link. 

Choosing Vistage: Why Verses Who

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When someone asks me WHY Vistage is the best place for them, there are a lot of ways I can answer. But honestly, it’s not my reason that matters. Each leader should know what they are looking for, or at least accept that they don’t know what they don’t know. So what I can answer is WHO seems to really appreciate the value of the membership and sticks around a long time. Then it’s up to the individual to know themselves.

It’s probably not who you think.

Successful members don’t normally join when they’ve hit hard times, or have lost their way. On the contrary, it’s a good CEO who wants to be GREAT, who shows up ready to contribute and listen. It’s a GREAT leader who asks how he or she can build up their team and let go of the details. And THEN, when there is a downturn or a bump in the road, it’s the BEST of business owners who realizes this is the group they can’t give up now, because they really can benefit from peer support when the challenges start piling up.

But this is just one answer. An essential part of the Vistage experience is the wealth of knowledge at our fingertips as Chairs. We can find resources and experts to help our members. And with that… I share with you a list of ideas on GREAT CEOs from other Vistage chairs and members. Plus, there are always video testimonials from other members.

Are You A Great CEO? What Do You Think?, by Mary Lore

Three Distinct Advantages of Vistage, by Pete Hayes

Optimisim is a Great Motivator, by Vince Langley

Failure is Your Friend, by Cheryl McMillan 

Leadership 101

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In reading the Austin Statesman newspaper over the past few days and listening to my talk radio show 590am about the Ray Rice story during my drive time, I can’t help but think that there is a teaching opportunity for us all.


As leaders, a parent or a role model, whether you are a CEO, own a business, manage or lead a division, department or team or coaching your children, these 3 fundamentals will always apply.


  1. Set clear expectations
  2. Set clear consequences (rewards & penalties)
  3. Provide a clear path or way of measuring progress


Most of us can easily accomplish #1, it’s the 2nd and 3rd ones that after the fact was answered with excuses or it’s not my fault that causes us concern.


  1. Set measurable expectations; by when time sensitive goals and finish your discussion with “…can I count on you”
  2. Be crystal clear on the rewards and penalties. It’s the down side that always brings us grief. Was with a CEO member client this week and when asked about what were the individual compensation consequences for not meeting 2014 stated plan, he said his team was still expecting their bonuses and he was not looking forward to that conversation.
  3. In creating a clear path to measure progress, I am comfortable working backwards from the due date of the objective, task or project.
    1. Breaking down day, weeks, month, quarter or key steps is important
    2. What are the due diligence (right behavior), gates, triggers (must be validated to go to the next step) that need to be done along the way for meeting the stated expectations
    3. Check-in, status, weekly meetings – individually or the team can pitch in if any part of the process is behind or breaking down before it becomes a problem – which suggests collaborated communication if a group, team or tribe.


None of us like surprises and last minute “…I didn’t get around to it or it’s not finished” can drive me to the dark side over and over again.


So would the Ray Rice story be a story if the NFL had a clear set of guidelines, rules for this offense with the 3 leadership fundamentals in place?