The Leader as a Coach with Matt Somers

Matt Somers is a super coach who helps senior leaders to become better coaches; he wrote the amazing book, Coaching At Work. You can learn bucket loads from Matt in this show including:

  • Why leader coaches get confused between leadership and expertise
  • The importance of focusing on the right type of goal
  • How to coach in a way of being as a leader/ line manager
  • What the “Peak” coaching model is and how to use it

Transcript:Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

The Leadership Hacker News 

Steve Rush: There’s a coaching theme in today’s show. So, for those of you that have been regular listeners, you may have heard me talk about the notion of having helpful conversations. There are purists out there who condemn coaches for giving advice, tips, and ideas, and straying off the line of pulling the information and helping their coaches self-discover. Well, the lines are often blurred between coaching, teaching, mentoring, and counseling. And the reason for this is that many people receiving coaching or coachees are they’re often referred to have challenges, situations, and goals that are not very linear in fact, need a blended approach.

And that’s why I invite you today to reframe coaching into having a helpful conversation that way we don’t beat ourselves up for not sticking to the script. You’ll hear Matt talk today about the coaching leadership style, which embraces the helpful conversation philosophy. A coaching leadership style is an approach that creates the culture of high-performance. The characteristics of this coach is collaboration, empowerment, fulfillment, and collaboration is the most important these characteristics. And this is often contrasted against the command-and-control approach, which we all know stifles potential. Coaching leadership incorporates, coaching mindsets, and behaviors, synthesizing them to create a highest potential and the highest performing type of leadership. And it does it by unlocking and enabling potential. So, the next time one of your team or a client asks you for coaching, take the opportunity to consider your approach, but don’t get hung up over the conversation.

Just make sure it’s a helpful one. I just want to take this time to say thank you to our listeners. Who’ve been sending us information and ideas that appear in The Leadership Hacker News week on week. So, if you also have a topic or an idea that you’d like us to cover, please just continue sending them in and get in touch with us through our various social media sites. So that’s been The Leadership Hacker News, let’s get into the show.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Matt Somers is a super coach who helped senior leaders to become better coaches and have more powering and sometimes difficult conversations. Matt is also the author of Coaching At Work. Matt, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Matt Somers: Thanks for having me on. Steve, great to be here.

Steve Rush: So, tell us a little bit about Matt?

Matt Somers: Tell you a little bit about Matt? The place to start probably is, I’m a failed banker. So, I came out of education and started working in banking here in the UK and found that I wasn’t very good at that Steve. I would lend people money; they had a habit of not giving it back. These days, they probably qualify you for a knighthood, you know, but back in the early 1980s, when I started my career, that wasn’t much. So, I guess somebody somewhere thought, well, we need to do something else with this guy. And I found myself in the world of personnel and training and so on, you know, and found that that was a very comfortable place for me to be. I really enjoyed this idea of thinking more about the people who work this side of the counter, rather than the public, the customers, the other side.

So, began really a lifelong interest in the idea of developing people to the point where later on in my time in banking, I found myself on a coaching course and learning about coaching. This would have been the early nineties where the idea of coaching and business was still pretty new. To me, it came along as an absolute revelation. And I remember thinking, well, if I’d been managed this way? Life would have been a lot easier, you know, and I’d have probably gone a lot further.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Matt Somers: And then when I took my exit from banking and set up by myself the obvious specialism that was suggesting itself to me, I suppose, was to get into the idea of the leader as coach and courses and programs and so on with that in mind.

Steve Rush: Awesome, and you’ve dedicated your whole career really, since then in helping other people and helping leaders think of themselves more like coaches.

Matt Somers: I have, yes. I mean, I’ve done other things. And I suppose though that one of the things that I discovered was that there was little else that seemed to be as useful to the leaders that I was working with. Then getting their head around the notion of coaching for performance, getting results from their staff, making that transition from being somebody who got results for him or herself through their own endeavors. Through to getting results via other people, which I think is one of the trickiest career transitions to make Steve, isn’t It? It’s very obvious in say something like sales, where typically we take the best performing sales person at that point in time and give them the role of sales manager and then wonder why they struggle a bit, but the skill sets almost diametrically opposed. They’re very different discipline.

Steve Rush: So, if somebody said to you Matt, what is a leader as a coach, and how does that differ? Just give us your spin on that.

Matt Somers: Well, this is really interesting to me because I’m going to say, I’m not sure it does in important ways. So, I have this idea that leaders or coaches, whether they like it or not. And the Genesis of that idea, as I said in the previous answer, alongside one in my coaching courses would do other sorts of leadership development type activity. And I would often get the groups I was working with to produce lists, and I would have them list the qualities of an effective leader. And then on other programs would have them list the qualities of an effective coach. And what I began to find more and more was the two lists were very, very similar to the point of being identical. For example, qualities that were often cited on both lists would be trustworthiness. It would be able to keep focus. It would be being a good listener. I mean, boy, that came up time and time again. So, I realized that certainly viewed through the lens of what is it that our people want, then the roles of leader and coach are synonymous in my experience. Now, you know, other people have fought me over this and that’s fine because I understand that there are, you know, if the two Venn diagrams overlap at that point, then there’s clearly sort of other things that both roles do separately. But in terms of the leader as coach, you know, I found that the level of skills and attributes and qualities, they’re so similar.

Steve Rush: So, I’d love to kick this around a little bit more.

Matt Somers: Okay.

Steve Rush: The whole principle of I’m a leader and leader by the way, as you know, I’ve been bleating on about for years, it doesn’t have to be a hierarchical thing. It’s somebody who assumes that role and provides that support, council, encouragement. It doesn’t have to be a job role, but let’s just assume for this conversation, we’re talking about leadership in terms of hierarchy and management levels.

Matt Somers: Okay.

Steve Rush: What’s your experience that as people gain that hierarchical levels, so they become more senior in their roles. Do you observe them coaching more or less?

Matt Somers: That’s a great question, Isn’t it? I think I observed them coaching less.

Steve Rush: Yeah, that’s my observation too. And I just wondered what your thoughts were as to why that would be?

Matt Somers: Well, I think firstly, that is because of a confusion between leadership and expertise. My observation would be that leaders often feel that they assert or they feel they have to assert their leadership through their expertise. They’ve got to be the guy with the answers. If people come to them with a problem, leadership requires them to solve that problem, you know, to seen this before, to have encountered this issue before and know what to do about it. And I think, well, my goodness me, if that wasn’t the case before February 20, it certainly isn’t the case now, post COVID. I find that a lot of work I’m doing is with leaders who say, look man, you know, my experience, my expertise is kind of redundant now. We’re coming back, to this so-called new normal and the rules of the game have changed. How do I help my own people when I don’t any longer have the answers? You know? So, I think one of the reasons why leaders coach less is a false expectation that they shouldn’t have to somehow if that makes sense.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it does. And I think the other notion is, as a senior leader, who is also maybe managing senior leaders, there might be an assumed level of capability and expertise that requires them to coach less we’re in my experience actually, is that that’s a great opportunity to really unlock that knowledge, skills and capability to coach more.

Matt Somers: I’d agree with you. I think it’s this idea of leadership by osmosis. You know, somehow, you’re supposed to be imbued with all of these skills and abilities overnight, because somebody now put the word leader on your business card, on the description. I have a friend of mine, quite a well-known speaker called Andy Hanselman. And he has a lovely turn of phrase when he says, leadership’s the job you get by being good at something else. Which goes back to this idea of, you know, the best performing sales person, turn them into leaders, wonder why they struggle. Because in many ways, you know, leadership is a learned skill, isn’t it? there’s certainly skills and attributes that that can be developed even if one is a sort of natural leader to begin with. So, it’s fair to expect that people are going to need to go through that learning journey and get a chance to practice their leadership skills, get a chance to develop them and to be able to acknowledge when they’re struggling with the leadership requirement.

Steve Rush: That’s right, yeah. And I guess also many leaders are also line managers and there is maybe a subtle difference with coaching as a line manager. We have skin in the game, having absolutely no vested interest. And I wondered what your thoughts and observations were about that as a notion?

Matt Somers: I agree with that. I think if I recall the days when I would have groups assembled in front of me, we we’d be running coaching programs and this would often come up in discussion and I would find myself saying, I think people like me, external coaches in some ways have an easier job than does the internal coach, because we don’t have those other requirements to manage at the same time. So, if I’m a line manager coaching a group of people. Well, I’ve also probably got to manage their workflow, you know, I’ve got sickness absence to deal with. I’ve got all sorts of other things going on at the same time, including by the way that I might have to be maybe the disciplinarian sometimes with some of those same folks, you know, having to have some difficult conversations and have people wake up and smell the beans.

I think that, you know, coaching alongside other management responsibilities can be a tricky combination, but it can certainly be done. Because I think where the coaching approach is sort of inherently part of the managers or the leadership styles. So, it’s coaching as part and parcel of who I am and how I conduct myself rather than coaching as a task that I pick up and put down like a performance appraisal or something else. Then I think the beauty of coaching is, it enables you to have that sort of default way of dealing with people that you can move in and out of then, you know, and perhaps toughen things up if that’s even the right expression if you need to.

Steve Rush: Yeah, so what I think I heard you say, was coaching as a way of being rather than something that you periodically do?

Matt Somers: Definitely, yeah, definitely. I think that’s where the prize is. And again, when I’m working with leaders who wants to learn about coaching, I think one of the barriers that they’ll start the training with is, where the hell am I going to find time for this? You know, if I’m not busy enough already, and now this guy’s going to have me wanting to do all these coaching conversations. Well, the way that I address that is to say that all of those occasions in which you could do some great coaching aren’t happening anyway, you’re just maybe not seeing them as a coaching opportunity, but I think really as a line manager or a leader, and I’m going to make the distinction and say to me that somebody who has to get results through others, at least in part, you know, so my assumption is that somebody got the typical sort of six or eight people that reporting into them. Were really at any time, one of those people calls you up and has a conversation about something that they’re struggling with or something that’s already going quite well. They getting bored now and want to take it to the next level. Those are coaching opportunities; the day is full of them. And so, in some ways, you know, if we abandon this idea, that coaching has to be some formal timetable set up and instead it’s part and parcel of natural day-to-day activity. Well, then you don’t need to find additional time to do a new task.

Steve Rush: That’s right, yeah. Great stuff. I remember from when the last time you and I met. Goals have been something that’s forefront of your mind, that’s part of your kind of coaching philosophy. I just wanted to explore the fact that in the changing world that we’re in now, how easy is it to help people keep focused on their goals when the world around them is changing so readily?

Matt Somers: Yeah, well it depends what you mean by goals, I think first and foremost.

Steve Rush: That’s really a good place to start, right?

Matt Somers: Yeah, well, because when we think about say that the smart model. The goal ought to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, or variations thereof, those what I think of I’ve come to appreciate as performance goals, you know, so run a hundred meters in under 10 seconds, or put a thousand people through health and safety training in a given year. We need only to think about the start of 2020 when the pandemic hit. So, you realize how vulnerable those sorts of goals are to changing circumstances. So perhaps the way to deal with that is to recognize that there are other sort of elements or other parts of goals If you like, now I’m going to say this was popularized most recently by Simon Sinek. You know, the idea is start with the why.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Matt Somers: So, the why or the end goal or the dream goal using my same two examples would be, I want to win the Olympic gold, or we want to eliminate accidents, so if we keep our eye on the long term, the ultimate goal, then we can adjust the performance goals underneath that without quite so much disruption and the way to do that. There were various ways, people have vision boards or storytelling is very popular now to describe that sort of high-level goal. And then the ones that cascade from that we can be much more nimble with, you know, they sort of survive ever changing circumstances.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and I guess also underneath those performance goals, there are things that you have every single day that you have high levels of control over that make those performance goals become more of a reality, right?

Matt Somers: Well, I call those processes, yes. So again, if we follow those couple of examples. The dream is to win Olympic gold, and then the performance goal might be on one occasion, run a hundred meters in under 10 seconds, but there need to be supporting processes of course, wouldn’t they? Training regimen and diet, all of that, same with the health and safety requirements, you know, you’re going to need six sheets and control and check mechanisms and all sorts of processes. And when I’m coaching people, one of the things I find is often very useful is to make sure that those three things line up. The end goal or the dream, the performance goals, and the processes are all synchronized if you see what I mean.

Steve Rush: Yeah, totally. And I guess without that focus on those processes and performance, the end goal, isn’t going to happen anyway. Because you have absolutely no control over it, right?

Matt Somers: Of course, yeah. And I think the other thing that happens and it often makes people in a work situation, very frustrated is, maybe the end goal has changed or has inside of them, you know, what they consider to be important, but they’re still pursuing the same old processes. You know, their work life therefore becomes very sort of boring and frustrating and tedious because their end point has changed, their other goals and processes haven’t sort of caught up and it can happen the other way round as well. This is very common; I think in coaching. That people are very focused on the sort of the end point, the big picture, the vision. But haven’t really thought through, down to a detailed level. What does this require me to do sort of day in day out or week in, week out in order to move slowly, gradually, but definitely towards that? So, you need all three, you know, we need the inspiration and the mechanism and the goal as well. You know, that sort of determines what that looks like, the specification,

Steve Rush: I wonder if it’s because those folks who are very successful during the pandemic perhaps had that focus around what was in their control versus those who felt out of control at that time?

Matt Somers: Yeah, I think so. And I think that other people may be found that during the pandemic, certainly at the start, I mean, the stuff that I follow online was full of people who had escape, what do you call it? The mouse is wheel, you know, they were like a rat that had been lifted out of the maze and then stopped sort of running around, banging their head against a walls. And it actually, maybe for the first time in their career, really been able to stop and sit down and think and wonder about what they really wanted from life and what was it all about? And I think we’re still seeing that shake out now. And I think it’ll carry on for some time to come before we, as a society have moved fully through that process.

Steve Rush: Yeah, I agree Matt.

Matt Somers: Very interesting times. Very interesting times to be working in fields like yours, and mine Steve.

Steve Rush: Definitely, yeah. And the great news is, with a little bit of focus, little bit of clarity of some of the things that people can have high levels of controlling, it sets the motivation and momentum off, doesn’t it?

Matt Somers: It does, yeah.

Steve Rush: And you wrote the very successful book Coaching At Work and within that you created the peak coaching model and I’d love to kick around the concept of what the peak coaching model is and how we could use it?

Matt Somers: Okay, sure. Well, the first thing I want to say is that model it’s very much a synthesis of the work of two main influences on me. Now, one would be, listeners might have heard of these guys. One would be Tim Gallway, most famous for The Inner Game of Tennis, but also a series of inner game books.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Matt Somers: And then the late Sir John Whitmore here in the UK.

Steve Rush: Great guy. I had the pleasure working with them about 15 years ago.

Matt Somers: Oh, well, okay. So, you know, he was a great guy. We miss him terribly and he and Tim did a lot of work together, of course, so they influenced each other, but I want to say that I’ve always felt my book did a poor job of acknowledging them and the source of my ideas. So, I’m always very happy to sort of reinforce that a lot of what I talk about in my stuff, you know, very, very much builds on and take some of those ideas and resynthesize them. And my model that I wrote about in my book, I guess, would be take a while to explain, but I thought it might be nice just to pass on a couple of sorts of essences from that people can start to play with.

Steve Rush: Awesome, let’s do it.

Matt Somers: Straightaway, hack. So, taken from the work of Tim Gallway is something that became known as the coaching equation and that you would set out as saying that a person’s performance is equal to their potential minus the interference, right? So, if you can imagine that sort of express deserve formula, you’ve got a big P equals little P minus I. So seen in that way, if we want to improve performance. And you know, that itself comes under a number of guises, but it might be, you know, sales improvement or quality, or who knows how we would judge performance, but to improve that we can do one of two things. We can either add to potential, and that’s what a lot of Orthodox training and development is all about, isn’t it? It’s giving people more stuff to lean into. More skills, more experiences, or we can look at reducing or eliminating interference.

And this to me is one of the ways in which coaching is different from other training and development methods. And I think that we do the latter of those less often. And there is low-hanging fruit by paying attention to that. One of the things that I encourage coaching leaders, coaching managers to do is, to speak what is interfering. You know, there might be external interference that could be to do with policy, position, procedures, culture, the way the organization runs more often though. It’s what we might think of as internal interference that the individual who’s trying to do, their best stuff is experiencing in the moment. So that is probably some sort of expression of fear or self-doubt. Imposter syndrome is very popular at the moment. People talking quite a lot about that, you know, the way in which mentally we get in our own way. So, there’s a first hack, you know, rather than put all of our attention on raising potential, pay some attention to reducing interference. And I think you’ll find that you know, there’s some immediate headway to be made on that.

Steve Rush: Great, I love that. I really love it.

Matt Somers: And now the other hack. My model sort of goes on to build on that because performance, doing something that we’re good at. Doing that well, I think is a key source of this idea of intrinsic motivation. Now, again, that in itself is a big topic, but intrinsic motivation to me means, you know, something that’s motivating inherently in the work itself, rather than being introduced externally from outside, pay and another rewards. Performance, doing something well is a source of intrinsic motivation. But so too is learning and enjoyment. So, learning again, let me clarify.

I don’t mean necessarily going off on courses and qualifications, but finding the work interesting, you know, being able to be curious about things and get answers to questions and enjoyment. Okay, again, not necessarily something introduced from outside socializing or something like that, but just finding the work inherently enjoyable. But I think the mistake that we often make is to see those things as separate and almost competing activities.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Matt Somers: Almost as if we could say, well, we can be performing, we can be learning, or we can be enjoying, but again, there’s a quick win there. If we start seeing those things as part and part of the same experience, if we can start creating an environment for people in which they can perform, learn and enjoy at the same time, the potential for that to effect results is mammoth. You know, there’s some real headway to be made there.

Steve Rush: Yeah, sure is, definitely. So, we’ve tapped into a couple of coaching hacks. Now it’s time for us to spin around a little bit and think about your leadership experience and all of the great leaders you work with and for, and the teams that you’ve led, what would be your top three leadership hacks Matt?

Matt Somers: Well, I, again, I mean, many of them, I suppose, are going to resonate with the coaching approach, but maybe that’s because I have this idea that they’re almost one in the same thing, but I guess it comes down to three, three hacks. Ask, listen, and observe. So, to go through them one by one. Ask, if we think of, maybe we’ve got somebody working the telephone and they’re editor in a customer service role or a sales role or something like that, they’re working with customers. What I don’t mean is the typical sort of high level, how did that call go? That’s not what I mean, by asking more questions, it might be something like thinking about the call you’ve just had, at what point in that call, did you know you were going to have a successful outcome? And depending on what the answer is, we might delve into that more deeply.

Well, was it something to do with the customer’s tone or was it the word that they used? You know, when I ask a question that’s really going to require the person that I’m leading or coaching to notice what’s happening to them. You know, it’s a subtly different sort of question. I think good leaders are able to be incisive. They’re able to cause their people to pause for thoughts and learn from their own experience, so, asking more. Listening, that comes up always, doesn’t it?

Steve Rush: It does, yeah.

Matt Somers: If we’re trying to develop a leader’s ability. And I think that of the countless times I’ve asked people to think about improving their listening, or what do they notice in those that do that? Well, three things are key. One is, use of silence. I think pausing, just being quiet as a leader, you know, enabling your people to speak. Find the words to describe their own thoughts without being hurried along, is massively important. Removing distractions, and I don’t just mean, you know, get stuff out of the way behind when you’re on a Zoom call. I think, I mean, probably remove internal distractions more. Worrying about the call that you’ve just had, or the calls that’s going to come, to try to really give the person who’s speaking in that present moment your fully on divided attention, difficult thought that is, again is key. And then the third listening tip would be to summarize using their own words. You know, there’s something very engaging about hearing people saying, so if I’ve understood you correctly, what you seem to be saying is, and playing back their words, you’ve done that a couple of times on this call today, you know, it’s really helpful in enabling people to think well.

Steve Rush: Hmm, yeah.

Matt Somers: And then observe, I mean more difficult these days, I guess if we’re not doing quite as much face-to-face interaction as we once did. But it’s really a question of, is the body dancing in tune with the words that the person you’re using? And if it’s not, if there’s a dissonance there, it’s perhaps being able to challenge that in a sensitive way by saying, okay, you know, you’re telling me you’re full of enthusiasm for this latest change initiative, but that’s not what I’m seeing in the way that you’re sitting. Is this something that we can talk about some more? So, those would be the three hacks to ask, to listen, to observe.

Steve Rush: That’s great. I love that last one as well. And I think it’s probably one that we still don’t tap into enough and it’s that intuitive response when we see somebody in something that’s in-congruent, as a coach and as a leader, as a coach. Our job is just a voice that, isn’t it?

Matt Somers: Yeah, I think so. I often say perhaps the big trick is just to do it from a place of curiosity. So, Steve, I’m noticing that what you’re saying is X, Y, Z. But what I see is A, B, C, you know, it could be me, but could we just talk about this for a moment or two? So, it’s almost providing that gentle opening for the person who’s answering the question so, well, actually, now that you say that, yeah, here’s what I’m feeling. And as a leader, that might be a difficult thing to have to hear, but I’ve always found that it’s much better to get it out in the open, then this thing just kind of going on under the surface.

Steve Rush: Definitely, so, and of course it could also be a bias from the coach themselves. And therefore, again, just by using your words of curiosity, by being curious about it, at least it gets it out. And therefore, we get to know whether it’s true or not, don’t we?

Matt Somers: Yeah, what harm in the coach saying, well, this could be my bias, but, you know, because it’s the spirit of exploration. I mean, to go back to Tim Gallwey I mentioned earlier on, he has this lovely turn of phrase, and he says that. Coaching is a conversation in which two people are learning. And yes, that’s absolutely been my experience as well. This is not about the coach, you know, kind of doing something to somebody. It’s two people meeting as equals, exploring a situation. And I invariably find out lots about the way that the world works and the way that people operate in it when I’m poaching people from the wonderful answers that they give me, you know, the fantastic thinking that they’re able to do.

Steve Rush: Yeah, great stuff. So next part of our show, we call Hack to Attack Matt.

Matt Somers: Okay.

Steve Rush: So, this is where something in your life or work hasn’t worked out, but as a result of the experience, it’s now serving you well, what would be your Hack to Attack?

Matt Somers: Okay, my Hack to Attack. So, this goes back to my early career which I mentioned at the top was in high street banking. And when I was on the counter, we used to call it in the UK, working on the tilt, you know, but you were facing the public exchanging money and so on. We had a leader, she was called the first cashier, I think, in a space that would be the head of teller or something like that. And she would often close down, you know, busy time, but she would close her tilt down and start doing other things. And this sort of really annoyed both the staff and the customers alike. And one day when I guess, was feeling particularly miffed about this. I got some correction fluid and I added a little S at the front of her sign that she would turn around, which would normally say tilt closed, you know, and she would put it in a glass screen and let the world know that her tilt was closed.

So, I added this S which means it’s still closed, you know, now this raised a laugh and I suppose, made everybody sort of have a chuckled and feel a bit better for a while. But what I realized looking back on that was, I absolutely undermined that lady’s leadership by doing that, you know, and I’m pretty embarrassed about it now, if I’m honest, because what I realized really the Hack to Attack is, that if you want to be a better leader, well start with being a better follower, you know, if I was in any way, feeling that she wasn’t asserting the greatest of leadership, well, then why not help, you know, instead of make her job even harder. So, I got a nice ego stroke out of it, you know, cause obviously the clown for an afternoon. But it wasn’t great looking back on that, certainly not to be recommended.

Steve Rush: That great awareness though. Having gone through that experience and recognizing that you actually can really help leaders by giving them some feed forward, can’t you?

Matt Somers: You can, sometimes again, it comes up in the sort of training I do. Matt, can I coach my boss? And I’ll say, yeah, absolutely. And please do, because I’m sure they need all the help they can get. I mean, you might not sit them down and say, right boss, I’m going to coach him for the next two hours, you know? So, we’re going to turn the lighting down and sit in soft furnishings, but the idea of coaching enabling other people to work with greater awareness and learn from their own experiences, you know, is not connected in any way to a hierarchy. It can flow in all kinds of directions.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it can. So, the last thing we’re going to do is give you an opportunity to go and do some time travel, bump into Matt at 21. And you’re able to look him in the eye and give them some advice. What would it be?

Matt Somers: Well, I heard this question come up on some of the other podcasts I listened to before this. So, I did do some thinking about this in advance. And then the first thing I wrote down on my notes here actually is, I would say to him, don’t have that next Budweiser. It really doesn’t end well, but that’s a conversation for another day. Two things really, seriously to my 21-year-old self or anyone at that stage in their career, two things. One is, take more risks. You got less to lose and you have a lot longer to recover, you know? So, I wish I’d gotten involved in trying to set up my own business or do something entrepreneurial a lot earlier than I did because by the time I was working in that way, you know, I was married, I had a child and mortgage, all of those things, don’t make it impossible, but it’s certainly not easier.

So, take more risks and have more fun. I always say to people you’ve only got 10 years to be in your twenties. It’s a short time, it flies by. You may still be in your twenties.

Steve Rush: As you well know I’m not.

Matt Somers: I think probably took myself a little bit too seriously back then. It was all about the career, you know, and sort of moving up the greasy pole and I already had a mortgage on a home. I don’t know, I could have waited. I could have spent more time perhaps drinking Budweiser and doing other fun things, you know? So, take more risks, have more fun, is what I would say to 21-year-old me.

Steve Rush: And they echo very similar conversations I have with my 21-year-old daughter. And I’ve got two boys in their early twenties as well. And you know, it’s that kind of seize the moment. And I love the notion of you’ve got a longer time to recover because I don’t think you realize that a young age, do you?

Matt Somers: No, you don’t. I think, I’ve got to cut it all sort of squared away. And again, you know, there’s the COVID lesson isn’t there. Lesson they had, so much disruption in the last 15, 18 months that I think, yeah, some of those other concerns can wait, they can be working a lot longer in their lives than you and I are Steve. There’s plenty of time.

Steve Rush: Exactly right. So, what’s the focus of your work right now, Matt?

Matt Somers: So, I found a sweet spot. A sweet spot between executive coaching that sort of one-to-one relationship and the coaching skills training. So, in other words, I’m doing a lot of coaching skills training, still helping leaders adopt a coaching style of leadership or to build that into their style. But I’m tending to do that now on a one-to-one basis rather than a one to many, a typically, which is great. I think for two reasons, there’s one. Going back to one of our earlier conversations, for more senior leaders who perhaps don’t want to sort of launder these ideas in a group setting, they can find that very helpful. The other great advantage, of course, everything can be done real time on their own business, you know, rather than sort of fictional case studies or things that they might have encountered on a program. So, that’s proven to be quite popular and working quite well.

Steve Rush: Great stuff. So, if our folks wanted to find out a little bit more about the work you’re doing and maybe get copy of Coaching at Work, where’s the best place for us to send them.

Matt Somers: Oh, okay. Well probably the best place would be my website, which is wwwmattsomers, M, A, double TT, S O M E R But equally and preferably actually I like it when people reach out on LinkedIn. So, I’m on LinkedIn forward slash Matt Summers. And I prefer that because that tends to mean we can get a dialogue going, you know, and have a discussion about things. So, find me on LinkedIn. That would be lovely

Steve Rush: And they won’t need to find you because we’ll make sure in the show notes of this show, they can click on those links that will be embedded in there for you.

Matt Somers: Oh, that will be great Steve, thank you.

Steve Rush: Matt, I’ve loved talking coaching with you. Thanks ever so much for taking time out, to be on the show and really appreciate you being with us.

Matt Somers: Yeah, that’s my pleasure Steve. Been really fascinating and thank you again for having me on.

Steve Rush: You’re welcome. Thanks Matt.


Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler there, @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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