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Changing others by changing yourself first

'Coach Kriengsak, I recently watched a YouTube clip called 'Next Generation Leadership' by Harvard CPL," Khun Sutee tells me. "There was a question: 'What one trait or skill that has made you successful in the past up to this point do you need to change move forward as a leader?' I'd like to discuss this."

"Khun Sutee, that's a great question. So what one thing would you like to change?"

"Coach, I want to spend my time more wisely. In the past, I've been patient with everyone who reports directly to me. Whenever anyone needs to discuss a business case with me, I'll allow them to talk until they finish. That works well for those who are effective presenters.

"However, I have one person who is very smart but spends too long presenting his cases. The others usually need 10 minutes a session, but Khun Prayad takes 20 minutes. I meet with each of my six direct reports an average of three times a week. If Khun Prayad could spend the same amount of time with me as the other five, I'd have more time to do other things."

"Khun Sutee, what do you think is behind Khun Prayad's behaviour?"

"I don't know. Coach, from your experience what makes people give too much information during a presentation?"

"There are five types of overpresenters:

1. The Bombarder: Wants the boss to have more than enough information.

2. The Carer: Wants to show how much he cares by offering all he can to the boss.

3. The Achiever: Wants the boss to know how much effort he's put into this work.

4. The Historian: Wants the boss to know the complete background and history.

5. The Rationaliser: Wants the boss to understand his logic and rationale."

"But Coach, these are all good intentions," Khun Suttee says.

"You're right, Khun Sutee. Unfortunately, good intentions used inappropriately end up turning into bad intentions."

He nods.

"Khun Sutee, which one do you think best describes Khun Prayad?" I ask.

"Coach, I think he's a Rationaliser. He wants me to understand his logic and the rationale behind his presentation," Khun Sutee says.

"Okay. So what will you do next?"

"I think I must first confirm with him first whether my assumption is correct."

"Assume you're right. What next?"

"Coach, I'll tell him what he does is based on good intentions, and I'm grateful for it. He wants me to understand his logic. But I don't need to understand the logic for each presentation. I need to know the result of his presentation -- just get to the point. Hence, please treat me as a customer. He loves cooking, so I'll use a cooking analogy. Just give me a great dish -- I don't want to know the rationale behind his cooking. if I really want to know, I'll ask."

"How do you think he'll react?"

"Actually, I think if I just explain it like that, he may not get it."

"Why not?"

"He's the kind of person who wants to know all the factors affecting a decision. If I present any decision to him, I'll need to lay out the logic of the decision carefully. I'll need to explain to him more than I do to the others."

"OK. How would you present the rationale to him?"

"Using facts and figures. At present, I have six direct reports. On the average, I meet with each person three times a week for one-on-one discussion, spending 10 minutes with each of the other five and 20 minutes with him. Hence, I spend 150 minutes a week for five people and 60 minutes for one person.

If he could manage to keep his presentations down to 10 minutes, I'd gain 30 minutes a week -- 52 weeks in a year equals 1,560 minutes or 26 hours. This is a time gain that our company could use."

"That's good. I think he'll get the idea," I say.

"But Coach, I feel uncomfortable having to do this. It's like teaching my son to do homework. I think Khun Prayad is a very senior person -- he shouldn't need me to treat him like this."

"Why not?"

"Because if I were him, I'd feel uncomfortable listening to my boss lecture me like this."

"Khun Sutee, could you repeat your last sentence again please?"

"Because if I were him ..." He pauses, then exclaims: "Aha! I use myself as a standard. What I really need is to approach him according to his preferred style, not mine. I got it!"

"All right. Let's stop here and follow up next time."

Kriengsak Niratpattanasai provides executive coaching in leadership and diversity management under TheCoach brand. He can be reached at Daily inspirational quotations can be found on his Facebook fan page: Previous articles are archived at