On Benchmarking

“Assess, don’t assume,” I often say. Yet what did I do when my coaching client, Jay, said he needs to learn how to consider ideas that he doesn’t like?

I initially bought into his assumption that he doesn’t know how…before remembering to assess, not assume.

“On a 1-10 scale, with 1 being low and 10 high,” I asked, “where would you peg your current ability to consider ideas that you don’t like?”

Jay gave himself a 5.

“In those situations at a level 5, what is going on in your head?”

Jay shared his thinking. “This idea may have potential,” he said, “but if I do it this way, will I get what I want?”

Notice the number of I’s in Jay’s question.

“Now, remember a time when you changed your mind about an idea you didn’t like.”

Jay described an interdepartmental scramble for diminishing dollars, when funding another leader’s initiative would mean nixing his own. “Is fighting for these resources the right thing for the organization?” he remembered asking himself. “On further consideration, I realized that fairness meant reallocating resources for the greater good.”

Not a single I in his question.  Jay scored himself “at least an 8.”

Benchmarking examples of his own behavior narrowed Jay’s developmental gap. It also taught him a lot about himself.  When I asked what coaching assignment he would commit to completing before our next session, Jay said this: “I’ll journal about some of the successes from my past so I can model my best behaviors.”

Now that’s an idea worth liking.