Bob Perkins on Why Every CIO Should have an Executive Coach

Bob Perkins - This Week in Health IT
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A coach is about getting the most out of every player on the team. An executive coach provides a leader with a broader perspective and a sounding board for some of our crazy ideas. In this discussion we explore finding the right executive coach with Bob Perkins. Hope you enjoy.

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Bill Russell:                   00:06                Alright, welcome influence the production of this week in health it where we discussed the influence of technology on health with people who are making it happen. My name is Bill Russell. Recovering healthcare CIO and creator of this week in health it. A set of podcasts and videos dedicated is training the next generation of health it leaders. Uh, this podcast is brought to you by health lyrics helping you to build agile, efficient and effective health it let’s talk visit health to schedule your free consultation. Today we’re going to do a show about executive coaching. This is a show that I’ve, I’ve really wanted to do for some time because I found great value in having an executive coach and I wanted to explore for our listeners what a good relationship with an executive coach looks like. Our guest today is appropriately my executive coach for probably probably a decade or so. Bob Perkins. Uh, Bob Perkins is with Bob Perkins Consulting and vision for Your Life, author of a couple of bucks and a recently released book, which I hope we’ll have some time to discuss at some point in the show. Uh, Good Morning Bob, and welcome to the show.

Bob Perkins:                 01:05                Morning. It’s great to be here. Thank you.

Bill Russell:                   01:07                So try, so trying to squeeze in this executive coaching with your authoring of books. Is that hard to do?

Bob Perkins:                 01:16                Well, the first book was excruciating, but the second book was a little easier than this book has been. Just a total labor of love. I have a collection of stories from my years of going to France and I could spend the next hour talking about all that too, but probably we should talk about executive coaching.

Bill Russell:                   01:39                Yeah. Well, and I’m looking forward to getting my autographed copy of a defeated by lunch. Right. Is there a subtitle too?

Bob Perkins:                 01:46                Yeah, defeated by lunch my times in France. And, uh, just, uh, just tell a quick story that it comes because Debbie and I went to lunch one day and nine courses paired with wine and we came back to the place we were staying and I said, Debbie, I’m going back to bed. I am defeated by lunch.

Bill Russell:                   02:10                That is, and you’re the one who introduced me to France. And uh, before going over there and you, you sort of, that you knew, you knew my background. You know how fast I eat. And you’re like, Bill, you got to prepare for this. The meals, the meals are the event. It’s like, and they will make you sit for two and a half, three hours. And I’m like, there’s no way you can eat for three hours. And you do,

Bob Perkins:                 02:33                You do, you wait? It’s part of French culture, French culture action.

Bill Russell:                   02:38                Yeah. And it’s wonderful. I mean you, I mean not only talk to the people at your table, you’re talking to people at the other tables because the restaurants are different than they are in the states. It’s not big loud, you know, get as many people through as possible. It’s really almost like dining in somebody’s home and you’re, you’re interacting with people. Anyway. We should probably talk about executive coaching cause we can, we can easily talk about this for a while.

Bob Perkins:                 03:04                France.

Bill Russell:                   03:05                Yeah. Hi, by the way, last, last side note, I’m wearing my Baylor hat because my daughter finally selected a school, my youngest daughter and she’s going to go to Baylor and I’m very proud and excited. I do have hats from every school she went to, but this is going to be the only one that I don’t exercise in. So, um, yeah, so it will be good to go. So Bob, you’ve been my executive coach for a decade. I think the first question I hear a lot of people saying is, uh, you know, what, what, what exactly is executive coaching?

Bob Perkins:                 03:36                Good question. I think executive coaching is very similar to what coaching is in any other field. It’s somebody who comes along side, see’s a bigger pig picture and is with you. Uh, you know, if you’re coaching a football team, you’re not playing the game. You, the players are playing the game. But the coach is there to give some perspective and the it may be even in that sense call plays, which executive coaching does not do, but it’s really somebody who was in it with you. You know, number one definition of leaders. The top thing about leadership leadership is by definition lonely. Nobody wants to really kind of face and admit it. But that’s what it is. It’s lonely. And the coach really comes alongside and says, listen, I’m in it with you. And I think the really, really effective coaching happens, uh, in those moments when you have to make big decisions.

Bob Perkins:                 04:42                And uh, there, there is somebody there to walk with you through that decision making. There’s a, there’s a story. One of the presidential biographers says that really we pay these presidents for a couple of big decisions in their, in their tenure there. And every one of them has to make a couple of really big decisions. And that’s what they’re known for. That’s what their presidencies are known for. And in one sense that’s the value of having that outsider, that person who has a perspective from the outside who can see the whole field. And can, uh, it can be in it with you.

Bill Russell:                   05:20                Yeah. It, it’s, it’s a, you cut out a little bit there, but, um, but that’s fine. It’s interesting cause I do, I do something that I call Cio coaching right now and I make it very clear to people, I’m not doing executive coaching, what I, I’m not looking at emotional intelligence. I’m not looking at now a lot of those things, what I’m doing is literally diving deep into healthcare and saying, hey, here’s the movements we’re seeing and those kinds of things. But from your perspective, you don’t have a healthcare background and you don’t have a technology background. So I think some people are probably sitting back and going, you know, what do you, what does executive coaching look like between you and CIO for a healthcare organization?

Bob Perkins:                 06:00                Yeah, because leadership is leadership, right? And that’s what I do. I’m very clear about this too. I’m not your technology coach. Good God. I mean that, that would be a nightmare. But, um, but my history and my experience has been in leadership and uh, so that’s what I, that’s what I bring to the party. And I’m, I’m in it with you for leading your team, you know, the, as you know, the Tagline for my coaching practices that every business is a people business. Every problem is a people problem and every solution as a people solution, we’re in the people business. And uh, your number one job as a leader is leading people. Even the technology guys, it’s a people business. And so, you know, that’s, that’s where I really come alongside.

Bill Russell:                   06:51                Yeah. So when you, when you start a relationship, a coaching relationship, and is there like a minimum amount of time or do you, uh, that you know, is required or are you looking for like a year? I mean, we’ve been doing this for a decade because every time I turn around and say, okay, I’m not going to need you, it’s like, it doesn’t make sense to say, okay, I don’t need a coach. And it’s interesting because for the last three years, I’m not a CIO for health, so I’m starting a new business and it’s a whole different set of things we’re talking about.

Bob Perkins:                 07:26                Yeah. Well, you know, there is a curve that you have to come up. As you know, I start with my own proprietary emotional intelligence assessment that we call core motivator. And that’s the first step when you, when someone works with me, is identifying your core motive in why do you do what you do the way you do it. That’s the uniqueness of who you are. We can talk about that, you know, for, for hours also. But we start there and then it’s a, then it’s a, it’s a, it becomes a conversation about how are you leading out of who you are. And uh, because most people don’t know their core motivator. That becomes, you know, in the front end. That’s it. That’s the biggest challenge. How do I help you really live proactively and lead proactively out of who you are? Because it’s your longest suit.

Bob Perkins:                 08:24                It’s your greatest strength. Who you are is your greatest strength. And so to help you lead out of who you are is a, the number one thing. And then the second thing is to say, what are my blind spots? What don’t you see? And how do I help you see what you don’t see? Uh, so those two kind of go hand in hand. Um, obviously it helps when I’m working with as I have with you. When I know the team, I get to the team and the people that are reporting to you and that you’re leading. That’s really helpful because now I, if I know the core motivators of the whole team, now we’re really able to get everybody on the team living out of their long suit and helping you lead them out of their long suit.

Bill Russell:                   09:11                Yeah. Core motivators. Interesting. And it’s also, um, you know, a vision for your life. Is this the title of your second book, which goes into the core motivator, um, uh, assessment and process, uh, in, in some detail. But what I found was really interesting is it’s you go through it, then you go through the process and when you get to the other side and you say, this is my core motivator, it’s like, it’s like all of a sudden a whole bunch of things start to fall into place. Like, that’s why this, that’s why it’s, and I’m sure people have had this experience where they go, oh, but when you have that across the team and now you’re looking at it and you’re going, oh, this is why, this is why this interaction doesn’t work. This is why, this is why these two have trouble working together. This is the one, one doesn’t see things the other, um, it, it from a, from a leader standpoint, there was so much value in just understanding that and then being able to, to help people to be successful, uh, and help them to even self coach once they understand who who they are and who, what, what their strengths are.

Bob Perkins:                 10:17                Well, exactly. And you know, the very things that caused the conflict, uh, many most times are because of the core motivators. And so part of the, part of the role for the coaches to help you see the world from the perspective of the other person on the team, but it’s because of their core motivator and then you know, and also for them to see yours, it’s where it gets really powerful. I will say that the discovery process of core motivator is the Aha moment. And that’s a big deal and it’s huge. But the real power, the after burner is the coaching because the discovery moment is just that. But if you don’t take it and start living it out every day, it’s, it’s just that it’s just a discovery moment.

Bill Russell:                   11:03                Yeah. And we’ve had several conversations where you, you know, you’ll see what I’m doing and you’ll say, you know, I’m not going to say what my core motivator is cause I don’t want the whole world to know. Well actually I don’t care if the whole world I just might as well make a shirt. Um, but you’ll say, you know, know who you are and be, it is a phrase you use over and over again, which is what your strengths are. Know what your core is. It’s more than your strengths. It’s like, know who you are at the core and just be that. And when you, when you do, even if you don’t like what that is, if you, if you work and operate out of that, you will tend to be more successful because it’s, it’s what drives you at your core.

Bob Perkins:                 11:44                Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s, it’s how you are hardwired. So it’s the most natural way for you to live. There’ve been big surprises in the, I’ve been doing this for now for just over 20 years. And two big surprises. The book, surprise number one is that no one, no one knows their core motivator. I, that’s been shocking to me. I thought we’d come along, you know, somebody would say, oh yeah, it’s this. And I’d say, ah, yeah, that’s right. No one a number one, number two. And this is the real, real a shock. Most people are living out of their second that at some very early point in their life, they kind of, um, recognize that they were going to run away from their true core and live out of second. And so a lot of what I wind up doing with the coaching is helping people begin to really live out of first,

Bill Russell:                   12:44                because none of the cores are bad or living at their second, it looks good. It’s good as the enemy of the best. It’s good, but it’s not who you really could be.

Bob Perkins:                 12:55                Exactly. Uh, so, so the challenge is to help people really live out first. And by the way, first is the how you see the world. We all see the world through the lens of our core motivator, even if we’re living out a second, which is crazy too, but, but, uh, I’m just helping you live out of first identify the second that you’ve been living out of and then see what is last, what do you completely blind to, uh, so that you really can help build teams. The best teams have, you know, multiple core motivators on them and people seeing the world from different perspectives.

Bill Russell:                   13:36                Yeah. You know, as you’re digging in here, I wanted to throw this question in, which is, um, is there a difference between coaching and really therapy sessions? Sometimes they do devolve into the therapy sessions

Bob Perkins:                 13:51                and I don’t do that. I don’t let those conversations go very far without saying, you know, this is really where counseling is needed and you should probably get some counseling. Although I have not had to do that very often. I have to say that, um, most because I’m working with senior executives who are fairly healthy or they wouldn’t be in those jobs. Not all the time, but that’s the general rule. There have been a couple of times where I’ve said, you know, this is outside my realm. You need to go get some counseling.

Bill Russell:                   14:23                Right. So coaching is really focusing in on being effective in the role and be effective in the job. Um, there aren’t a lot of conversations where you’re talking about the family or talking about, I dunno, other extraneous things. I mean, you really are focused in, on, on, on helping them to be as effective as they can be within coaching or do you or do you branch out from there from time to time?

Bob Perkins:                 14:48                Well, you’d be surprised how many conversations we wind up having around, uh, particularly family because the same principles of core motivated or are rolling over into your family, you know, the people closest to you. And then, uh, and so, yeah, I mean, it applies across your whole life. Now you’re right that most of the conversations are focused on, on work, but, uh, you know, it bleeds over to, it’s, it’s your whole life.

Bill Russell:                   15:13                What, what does someone look, Okay. So somebody is listening to this and they’re a CIO or even a CEO for a health system and they’re gone, all right, I’m ready to hire an executive coach. What should they be looking for? I mean, there’s, there’s some sort of affinity or connection you’re looking for, or is it just, uh, do they need industry background? Do they need a certification? What, what does somebody looking for?

Bob Perkins:                 15:38                Well, again, great question. I think it depends on the individual. What do, what do I need? Uh, you know, I, I certainly think that the more responsibility you have, the more the more people you have to lead. The, probably the number, I would suggest that the number one thing that you’re looking for is someone who really understands leadership. I think one of the mistakes is going and getting a subject matter expertise because you probably are the subject matter expert in the field. So I, you know, it’s partly a lot of why you have the job, but it’s the leadership role that at the end of the day is going to be the thing that matters most and that’s what you should be looking for. I in my view. Um, and then I think secondly, I do think there’s a sense of which there’s, is there a connection? Do you just, you know, are you going to pick up the phone and call? Because if there’s not the connection, you’re not going to call. So that does have to be there. It’s, it’s about trust. Do you really trust the guy on the other end of the phone? You better cause it, you know, it’s everything.

Bill Russell:                   16:47                What kind of questions? So I’m going to interview an executive coach will kind of questions. Should I ask?

Bob Perkins:                 16:52                Yeah. I, I think number one is what’s your perspective philosophy on leadership? You know, um, I’ve told you mine, every business is a people, business every problems a people, every solutions. So that’s my, that is my perspective on leadership. That it’s a, it begins and ends with the people. And we are all about understanding the people and, uh, leading the people. That’s my perspective. So that, you know, has to align. If you have a, if you’re looking for a coach that has a different perspective on leadership, well then, you know, I’m not your guy, but you got to go find somebody who is that number one question is do our perspectives align? Um, and I think the number two, the question is, you know, is there chemistry? Do I, do I trust you? And, um, and then the number three question would be, you know, is it a perspective that I, is it a perspective on this leadership thing that I probably may not have right now? Yeah. The uniqueness.

Bill Russell:                   17:55                So what, What does coaching success look like? I mean, do you set up a framework ahead of time to evaluate success over time? And, um, uh, I mean this is one of those things where I don’t think you’d sign up a coach for three months because you just don’t get the value. You almost have to do it over a, you almost have to be thinking this is going to be my coach. If I’m in an executive role, this is going to be my coach. And if that goes doesn’t work, you get another coach like in football, but you should almost have a coach and then there should be a way of evaluating. So how do we evaluate success?

Bob Perkins:                 18:31                Well, it renews,

Bill Russell:                   18:34                somebody says there was value, I’m going to keep doing this. Yes.

Bob Perkins:                 18:39                I mean that’s a, that’s a simple is simple answer it renews. Uh, yeah, because, because that’s the um, the, the, the client has to look back at the end of the year. I agree with you. It’s not a three month thing. Um, you know, my pretty much my minimum is a year. In some cases we’ll talk about six months, but a really it’s a year and a, the end of the year I think the coach and the client sit down and say, was this good? You know, were there those times, when the big decisions? And, uh, I was able to be there and, and really help you process through those big decisions.

Bill Russell:                   19:25                Give me a little bit of color on a leadership philosophy.

Bob Perkins:                 19:28                Uh, you know, I talked about, uh, perspective on leadership or my other, my other fundamental truth about leadership is visionary, participatory leadership and what that means and unpacking that and helping the leader, a process,

Bill Russell:                   19:43                visionary, participatory leadership. So visionary, you’re leading with pictures. Yeah. Uh, participatory, you’re bringing people along and they’re a part of defining solution. And then leadership at some point. It takes courage. You have to get out there and you have to make something happen.

Bob Perkins:                 19:59                Exactly. Um, and each of those are, you know, have their own unique challenges.

Speaker 4:                    20:06                Okay.

Bill Russell:                   20:06                Yeah, no, absolutely. All right. So I happened to be in an organization where I walked in and said to the CEO, I wanted to have, I had an executive coach and she said, absolutely all of our leaders have executive coaches. But that’s not always the case. So how does someone in a CIO role go to their executive and say, look, I want to, I want an executive coach. I mean, what, how did they build the case?

Bob Perkins:                 20:29                Well, I think they say that, uh, this is you’ve hired me to do a job. But if you go back to my original example, you know, we’re, I’m in Philadelphia, we’ve, we’ve hired Carson Wentz to do a job, but we want the out of Carson Wentz. And so not only do we have a great head coach Ceo that’s Doug Peterson, but we’re going to hire a quarterback’s coach just for the quarterback, and they’re focused on that quarterback to make sure that we get the best Carson Wentz on the field that we can possibly get. That’s the same deal that I would sell to the CEO.

Bill Russell:                   21:09                Yeah, that makes sense. And at the end of the day, to be honest with you, in a health system, it budget and an executive coach is a drop in the bucket. It technically is a drop in the bucket. Sorry. Um, yeah. So you have, uh, uh, I mean we’re, we’re getting pretty close to the end of the show, but anything else you would say about an executive coach or anything else you would say about the process?

Bob Perkins:                 21:34                You know, it’s, um, I, I to go back and just say we think we can do it all. We all think we can do it on our own and yet leadership by definition is lonely. And that’s kind of the starting point to just admit that, uh, which is not that fun to admit because if we all want to be, you know, the guys out there doing it alone and yet by definition leadership is lonely and get the different perspective,

Bill Russell:                   22:09                Yup. And it’s being in it with somebody being able to have those conversations, that was so valuable. So I appreciate you being my coach. Is there a way for people to follow you do outside of writing books? I mean,

Bob Perkins:                 22:22                let’s plug the books building a vision for Your Life. Is this the book about the core motivator? It is Bob Perkins And you can go there and find out more about what I do and the coaching and all my contact information is there. It is be Perkins at vision for your life .com. Yeah.

Bill Russell:                   22:45                You also have a wine club. Not that I’m plugging the wine club, but I am a member, like the hair club for men. I am a member of your wine club. I uh, um, yeah. So you go, you go over to France every year now and you pick out wives that aren’t, aren’t generally important and you, you uh, you get those. And uh, I get, I dunno, four to six, I forget how many cases I get. Now what do I get? Four cases,

Bob Perkins:                 23:10                let me get you get your five. But here’s the thing that pulls it all together yes. I go to France every year. I spend six to eight weeks. I import wine. I right. But here’s the one back full circle to what’s the one question you ought to be asking your coach. And that is, is it working for him or her, you know, Vision for your life, hair club for men. The first client for vision for your life was me and I had to say, what do I want my life to look like? And um, you know, and I made the decisions 20 years ago that this is the life, uh, that I wanted out of who I am. And, um, that may be the really the first question they ask a potential coach, is it working for you?

Bill Russell:                   24:00                Yeah. The thing you share with me a long time ago was plot-driven life versus a character driven life. And I’m now plot driven. Life is just, it’s time to get married. I get married, it’s time to get a job. I get a job as time to, and you know, life just sort of happens to us in a character driven life and it’s just sit back and go, you know, where do I want to live? What do I want to spend time with? What do I want to, what do I want to be about? And, uh, and, and that’s what you yeah. Who am I?

Bob Perkins:                 24:31                How does Everything else I’m doing in my life, my work, my family, all those things fit into the picture. That is my whole life as opposed to saying, how does my life fit into other people’s pictures of what they want me to do?

Bill Russell:                   24:48                Yup, absolutely. Well, thanks for coming on the show. The show’s production of this week in health it for more great content, and you check out the website this week in health or the youtube channel. and you check out Bob’s books. They’re on Amazon, uh, who was going to take over the world, including healthcare, uh, someday. So, uh, we’re all looking forward to that. We’ll see. All right, well, thanks. That’s the end of the show. Thanks for listening. That’s all for now.


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