Beth Miller – Coaching As a Leadership Skillset | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

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Beth Miller | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

It was such a delight to renew my conversation with Beth Miller! In today’s episode, we talk about “adaptive communication” and always endeavoring to use the “right tool for the right job” when it comes to how we connect and work together. We also explore multiple facets of the familiar topic of questions, and how responding to a question with a question (which we’re often told to avoid) can be an expression of curiosity and a desire for clarity. We also dive deep into some of the key values of good leadership like problem-solving and delegation, especially in young leadership.

We get into quite a bit more than that, as Beth and I went from zero-to-60 in no time flat – it was so easy to move into the deep end of the pool in our too-short second conversation. A third episode is all but guaranteed. 🙂

Beth is an experienced corporate executive, business owner, and entrepreneur with a love for developing talent and seeing other leaders succeed. As a chair for Vistage, a leading CEO peer group, she realized her love of impacting businesses and founded Executive Velocity, which is dedicated to helping leaders reach their full potential.

When she’s not sharing her experience with other entrepreneurs, Beth is an explorer and world traveler who’s set foot on all seven continents. She has a love of animals and wildlife, which often takes her to Africa and other habitats with majestic animals. Beth lives in Atlanta with her 2 cats, Puri and Mr. Bates, lovingly named after the Downton Abbey character.

[Host’s note – I got to meet Mr. Bates before we began recording as he settled on Beth’s lap, and I’m considering inviting this sweet snuggly gentleman onto my new podcast, Conversations with Cats.]

To learn more about Beth:

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Kevin Stafford 0:02
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the conversation with Coach’s podcast. I’m your host Kevin conversation with cats maybe as Beth Miller and I have been sharing our utter delight and absolute love of kitty cats not pictured not seeing hopefully not seen and not heard today. We’ll be Mr. Bates. My three cats are upstairs all asleep right now, thankfully. But let me re reintroduce Beth to you. She’s been on the podcast before we had an excellent conversation last back and way back in 2022. And I thought it was high time for us to refresh our our conversation our relationship. So Beth is an experienced corporate executive, business owner and entrepreneur with a love for developing talent and seeing other leaders succeed. As a chair for Vistage at leading CEO peer group, she realized her love of impacting businesses and founded executive velocity, which is dedicated to helping leaders reach their full potential. Beth and Mr. Bates, welcome to the podcast, it’s good to see you.

Beth Miller 0:58
Thank you. So we won’t be talking about

Kevin Stafford 1:02
cats that much, I promise, I promise. But we got it all out of our system before we record for the most part for the most part. So I was asking you what you wanted to talk about and obvious, there’s been lots of themes that come immediately to mind here still relatively early when we’re recording this. It’s early February 2023. And so I’ve been talking a lot about beginnings and momentum and effects. And then you brought up something that I feel like is it’s something that’s talked around at least a lot, but something that I think deserves its own little spotlight. And that’s basically I’ll put it this way and let you take it from there coaching people how to coach or coaching people in the values and abilities and techniques of coaching as an expression of one’s leadership. So talk about that a bit.

Beth Miller 1:45
Yeah, so I work with a lot of younger leaders, leaders that are fairly new. And you know, they have a lot of challenges around learning to delegate, and, and learning to let go of a problem solving. So some of the some of the techniques that I share with them in the coaching process. So it’s more mentoring there than coaching, as you know, how about instead of when a person walks into your workspace, and has a question, how about you ask a question back? What, what have you tried? What are your options and get into the coaching mode, so that they learn how to solve their own problems? And when they do they really own that solution? Versus you spewing out, Hey, this is how you what you need to do. Because what you’re doing is, is when you’re solving those problems, you’re enabling them to come back for more. And, and that’s not going to help them grow you or them. Exactly, that is probably the one thing that I share with folks. And it’s for some who are perfectionists, it’s, it’s really Harvard. But a lot of them it’s, it’s rewarding and freeing, because all of a sudden, they have more time to work on more value added things and tasks than than they did in the past. So getting them to understand the value of questions. I mean, that’s kind of the underlying skill set of a coach is asking really good questions that will get somebody to self reflect on you know, where they are, and what options they have to move forward. So that was that, to me is something that can I continually run into with those younger leaders, and even some, some very experienced ones who have got just gotten into bad habits of wanting to solve the problem, because it is quicker. And those individuals that are really fast paced, have trouble slowing down and thinking about the appropriate question, starting question to ask somebody when they’re face to face with Him, or over zoom, or in a Slack conversation. It’s, it’s harder to slow down and ask those questions. And Natalie, and then the whole virtual workforce, or hybrid that we’re in right now makes it more of a challenge as well.

Kevin Stafford 4:55
Requires a an updated skill set in order to be able to still maintain that level of that type of leadership in the in the spaces when you’re in like, say digital or when your audio or video or when you’re in Slack or when you’re in email and asynchronous communication where you have to say something and wait for a response. And it’s a conversation that would otherwise previously occur in real time that has to happen over, you know, a few minutes or a few hours or maybe even a few days. And that’s, that requires time requires an updated skill set.

Beth Miller 5:26
Yeah, and it also requires some adaptive communication skills. where too often I find people are, you know, using text, or, or email, in communications that really should be at a minimum on the phone. And we just get into that bad habit of, hey, it’s let’s it’s quick, let’s respond via email. But it’s, it’s not effective. And my general role is if I get an email, and I respond, and then I get a response back, and it hasn’t been resolved, that’s when I pick up the phone. And well, I won’t do the back and forth back. Because it’s just not gonna get resolved.

Kevin Stafford 6:17
Or it will, it will, it will remain unresolved in a way that consumes even more time and more resources and more energy. It’s really it’s and I love how, if you’re listening, that a certain conversation, whatever is happening, wherever it’s happening, wherever it starts, it very quickly reveals itself, like how you should best pursue it, like you say, it’s like if we have, if we’re going back and forth rapidly in email, than email is not the place for that conversation. Right? If there’s something that requires little more reflection, or you’re like asking someone for thoughts, and maybe a little bit of time buffer is appropriate, the right tool for the right job?

Beth Miller 6:50
Yes, yeah.

Kevin Stafford 6:52
I love thinking,

Beth Miller 6:53
especially when emotions are high.

Kevin Stafford 6:55
That’s another another good thing, too, he had this to step back conversation where it’s like, I want to make sure I have this conversation fully and completely and communicate myself accurately. I don’t want to even if even if my reaction is, quote, unquote, correct. I don’t want to speak from a reactive place. And so there’s so many different use cases for just thinking about what’s the right mode of exchange? What’s the right amount of connection for what needs to pass between us? Or amongst the group? Yeah.

Beth Miller 7:22
If it’s, for instance, if it’s date, pure data, emails, perfect. Right. But you know, if it’s some sort of interpersonal dynamic, you know, some communication is something that requires EQ versus IQ. And it’s the time is to have that. phone conversation or video.

Kevin Stafford 7:46
Yeah, yeah. Well, the what’s the what’s the joke that goes around? It’s been going around for years now that this could have been an email, where it’s just, it’s like, yes, this maybe this could have been an email. But should this have been an email I like, I like I like to shoot what’s in but I don’t usually like shoot as a word in general. But I do like it as a prompt for curiosity. And your questions like, should it? Is it or is this really the right way to go about doing this? And if it isn’t, let’s shift let’s shake it up a little bit. And if it is, let’s go ahead and go forward. I just, it’s it again, you said we were describing something that seems so simple. It’s kind of like, oh, Duh, of course, you would do things that way. But so often, there’s not enough light shone on the value of developing these skills. Yeah, that people just fall into bad habits, young or old habits? No, no age.

Beth Miller 8:32
Right. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.

Kevin Stafford 8:36
There was something that you were when you first started speaking on this subject, there were so many different jumping off points, I was starting to get really excited. I was like, Okay, we have a limited amount of time, Kevin don’t take every possible opportunity. But um, as he was one aspect of of this kind of leadership development, were basically kind of teaching people to ask better questions. Oh, that was it. I remember, for me personally, like when I was younger, it was a negative thing to quote unquote, answer a question with a question where it was viewed as, but framed in that particular way. And I kind of had to like review that where I would always try to respond whenever somebody asked me anything with something that was definitive, something that was what they were asking for. And then as I as well as it grew up, still an ongoing process. And then 40s, I still have a long way to go. But I realized that it’s sometimes the right thing to do is to demonstrate my curiosity, right about and my curiosity and my desire for clarity. So doing things like restating a question to make sure I understand it, echoing back, echoing back or asking a clarifying question like, I’m not sure I know what you mean by this. Could you explain that a little further, begin a back and forth it’s based in curiosity and a desire to serve a desire to help the person arrive at the place they want to arrive at? By asking you that question. It took me a little while to realize that that’s what I should be doing to be grounding myself. It’s like Okay, someone’s asked me for something, or asked me a question, How can I not answer them? How can I contribute to this process? How what’s what’s the right way to go forward? And I love I love thinking about that.

Beth Miller 10:11
Yeah, I actually one of one of the techniques I, I share with with some of the folks is, that’s that kind of statement. First of, well, I’m curious, how do you whatever, or, you know, what, what is causing? So I, I actually say I’m curious. And, and the other kind of, it’s a, it’s a question. But you, you start with gaining some invitation for to provide feedback. So I would if I observed something, that I feel like there’s an opportunity there for somebody to learn. I will say, Can I share an observation with you first. And, and this is something I learned from a good friend of mine who has been a coach and I respect him. I highly respect him. He did that to me one time over lunch about 10 years ago. And I was, well, first of all, who’s gonna say no?

Kevin Stafford 11:26
Yeah. You’re gonna get the guest anytime soon. Time. Yeah.

Beth Miller 11:30
And, and, and then I really listened. It was, it’s powerful. Can I share an observation with you?

Kevin Stafford 11:43
It really is, because it’s again, it’s like you said it’s not. You’re very, very, very rarely going to get a no there. And I. And then if you

Beth Miller 11:51
do, there’s, there’s clearly you don’t have the relationship with the person.

Kevin Stafford 11:55
Correct. Or the time is just dramatically incorrect for that kind of exchange. Like every once in a while, I’ll reply reply with a no to that once in a while, because I’m just superduper busy, or, actually, I’ve got a meeting and 90 seconds, maybe maybe later, like, those are exceedingly rare circumstances. And usually it’s a yes, please continue. And then I’m open my heart open. My mind’s open, because I’ve said, Yes,

Beth Miller 12:18
exactly. Yeah. It’s sneaky. But,

Kevin Stafford 12:23
but it’s also very, it’s also the most

Beth Miller 12:26
powerful, though. Yeah. Yeah. Because we’re building

Kevin Stafford 12:29
bridge, we’re trying to connect with each other. And I want to make sure that that, that connection, that that bridge, I like, you know, test the weight of it, you know, I’m like getting on and I’m like, this is this load bearing, you know, we’re gonna exchange some stuff. And I want to make sure that bridge doesn’t crumble as we’re talking.

Beth Miller 12:43
Exactly, yeah. So blurred those individuals, especially the newer, newer leaders, if they can learn how to ask the questions at the right time. And what them in such a way that they’re going to either gather more information, or allow that individual to understand themselves and their opportunities more.

Kevin Stafford 13:13
Yeah. And not think that not think of being open and questioning and curious to not identify it that reflexively as some kind of weakness, I feel like that’s a trap that especially young leaders will fall into feeling like they have to really establish themselves and project strength and certainty. Because there’s a lot of insecurity inherent in being a new leader, regardless of who you are, where you’re leading. And I think teaching especially young leaders to identify that kind of curiosity, and that kind of openness, and that desire to serve as not a weakness, but as a strength of your leadership. And the sooner you get it, and the sooner you develop those skills and those techniques, cuz it’s not just, it’s a muscle, but it’s also a skill. It’s also it’s also worthy of development. sooner they get there, the better they are, the better they’re going to be as a leader, and the faster they’re going to grow to where they want to grow in, in my opinion, and I think you’re still

Beth Miller 14:01
Yeah, exactly.

Kevin Stafford 14:04
Well, shoot, I would love so much to talk to you about I would love to continue this conversation. I’m so glad to have you back. You and you and Mr. Basil,

Beth Miller 14:10
I’d be I’d be more than happy to come back. And, and I’ll bring Mr. Bates along.

Kevin Stafford 14:15
Please do please do and yeah, it’s a part three. And even even if we just talked about the same topic, because we got we got from zero to meaningful Contentful conversation in a hurry, which thank you for being you just for because you were capable of doing that you were like you were ready. And you were willing, and I love how fast we got to some really strong points about developing leaders young or old. And the importance of dynamic communication. There’s just so much yeah, I’m already like, my mind is going to like six does

Beth Miller 14:46
it happy to do it again, Kevin.

Kevin Stafford 14:48
Okay, I would be grateful for that. And Oh, before I let you go, where can people find out more about you? Where can people connect with you best learn more about what’s coming in 2023 for you just like Where can people go from here?

Beth Miller 15:00
So I’m on LinkedIn, Beth arm connect Miller. There’s only one of me out there. And you can also find me on my website executive dash You can there you can sign up for my newsletter. There’s I won’t inundate you with them. There’s two a month one that is specifically a newsletter focused on some sort of like this this month will be high potentials. And then I have a newsletter that comes out around my book, replaceable, and obsession with succession, which is around succession planning.

Kevin Stafford 15:38
So Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. Well, I’ll make sure links to everything are in the show notes. And I’ll make sure to have you back sometime soon. Maybe we’ll just do this quarterly, maybe April maybe may see what’s developed. And honestly, any excuse to chat with you. That was like I said, I just I love it’s pretty easy to talk to a coach about deep meaningful things in general. Like I love coaches for that for that and many other reasons. But we you and I got there so fast. It must have been mr. Bates. I’m always gonna blame cats for for things that are knocked over and for things going well, in my life, I’m gonna blame you. Well, thank you. Thanks again, Kevin.

Beth Miller 16:13
I appreciate it.

Kevin Stafford 16:14
And thank you to the audience for listening. Find out more about Beth obviously, you’ve listened to us. He listened to her, you know, you know what she knows she knows what she’s talking about. Find out more connect with her. Reach out if you have any questions for me, and we will talk to you again very soon.

Beth Miller 16:27
All right, thanks.

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