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Over the years I’ve employed several highly regarded CEO coaches to kick my ass, point out my management weaknesses and suggest strategies to improve teamwork, productivity and sales growth in my company.

One of the most basic, common and effective coaching techniques I noticed being used over and over was identifying their client’s weaknesses through asking a series of basic questions.

While the questions seem simple enough, a very low percentage of their clients were able to last more than a minute or two before they start sounding amateurish. The most basic questions about a person’s business–when put on the spot, can fumble the best of us and show how weak of a grip we really have on how to grow our business. Most of us rely on our strengths to get by, but in actuality, that’s not a successful formula for growing a business.

Here are a few common questions you might get asked in the first hour after spending a few thousand dollars employing an effecting executive coach.

– What is your company’s mission and vision?
– What is the most important role for you to play in the business?
– What are your top three strategic objectives right now?
– What key result areas are you holding your managers accountable to achieving this month?
– What are your goals for this year?
– Are you on track to reaching your goals this year?
– How do you know you are on track or why are you off track?
– What area of your business has the most room for improvement?
– What is your revenue-per-employee?
– What are your top competitors revenue-per-employee and can you explain any significant differences?

Once a management coach has determined the level of clarity and focus his/her client has (which can always improve), they proceed to drill into their head how futile and perilous it is running a business without the proper level of information, clarity and focus.

I suppose I’m a bit of a masochist as I’d rehire the most brutally effective coaches I could find who could identify and exploit my every weakness, until eventually I developed habits and systems for myself that couldn’t be beat.

As usual the most complicated problems can often be solved with very simple approaches, and in my case, the simplest little tool proved to do the job. I learned over time that every one of these expensive management coaches asked pretty much the same questions. By preparing myself for the beating, I developed this system that has now lasted for years and it just gets better and better with time.

The concept is simply to write down all these questions and answers in the most brief and clear language possible, on a single sheet of paper and carry them with you everywhere. This single sheet was what I called my “Management Dashboard.”

See, your business or your business coach doesn’t care if you use a calculator to determine your profit margin and they don’t care if you carry a piece of paper around with you everywhere to remember what strategic objectives are most important for you or your team members to be striving for on a daily basis. Over time, my piece of paper turned into an electronic dash which came up every time I opened a new web browser.

Today I’m working to perfect the manager’s dashboard to make it simpler than ever for entrepreneurs, executives and managers at any level to improve their leadership effectiveness with effortless visual repetition and reminders. This system will be easier than ever to imprint your mission, vision, objectives, goals and strategies on your brain and extend them through your team.

If you have any thoughts on the topic, I’d love to hear them.

Be well,

John Valenty