Working with LPI Clients in Remote Locations

Robert Thompson

Q: Some of my clients who have completed their LPIs are not available for a workshop due to their remote location. Aside from sending their results, how do I ensure that they benefit from this experience? Telephone, Internet, and email are the forms of communication that I use.

A: Yes, the LPI is a meaty document and experienced facilitators know that the feedback delivered through the LPI can sometimes cause joy and relief, but also confusion and anger. Those emotions are fairly easy to uncover during a face-to-face session, but can be a bit more difficult to observe at a distance.

My first suggestion is to keep in mind that the LPI has a lot of texture beneath the polished surface. However, technically, it is designed to accomplish one thing -- to measure the perceived frequency of The Five Practices that the Observers see, feel, and hear through various interactions with the Leader. During your follow up, please try to ensure that your Leaders do not think of the LPI as a personality test or popularity quiz. It is not a pass/fail exam, either.

There are numerous methods to support the participant in discovering new ways to increase these fundamental behaviors. The following illustrates one suggested framework for a typical LPI coaching session conducted over the telephone:

If they did not go to a workshop and they have no idea how to read the LPI, then you must begin the call with a detailed view of the LPI history and its focus, to create the proper context. A quick review of The Leadership Challenge model contextualizing The Five Practices should also be included.

Once they appreciate the LPI perspective, use the Summary Page to inquire as to what they understand about their scores at first glance. You can also use the Bar Graph pages that follow the Data Summary pages for each Practice to help them see their results more clearly. Once they have shared their thoughts, you can help them see behind their first impressions. They need to understand that this is just about frequency of behaviors and that these behaviors can be learned and/or increased through practice.

With practice in mind, for many of my colleagues, the Leadership Behavior Ranking page is the key place to draw the participant's attention. We sometimes ask the participant to photocopy the page so they can keep it near them?on their desk or in their portfolio. This ensures that they see it each day and enables them to stay focused on their behavior goals.

It is helpful to focus the participant on all of the leadership behaviors, not just the ones at the bottom of their score sheet. Of course, you will want those at the bottom to be raised through an Action Plan, but like the game of golf, it is beneficial to practice the whole game, not just the weak part of your game.

One of the best ways to begin an Action Plan discussion is to offer them long-term homework. Have them select three different behaviors a week for ten weeks and practice them consciously. Then repeat. Even if the behavior is one that is rated high, they should put it into the mix. The more they actively think about doing all thirty behaviors the more likely they will become leadership habits. They should take the LPI again, roughly nine months to a year from the first report. If possible, you can add remote coaching sessions monthly or at various appropriate intervals.

You also may want to walk them through each Practice's Summary page. Have them share with you what they think each Behavior means. This allows you to help clarify the meaning of the behavior, which prevents misunderstandings.

For instance, you may want to help them understand how to increase their scores in the Inspire a Shared Vision Practice.

Many people are a bit intimidated by this practice and their scores usually illustrate it. This is your opportunity to explain the behaviors in your terms. For instance, you might share with them that behavior seven, "Describes a compelling image of the future" is just another way to tell a "story" about the future in detail. Behavior 12, "Appeals to others to share a dream of the future" is just another way to "invite" their colleagues to be a part of the future vision/story. In addition, behavior 17, "Shows others how their interests can be realized" is another way to share with their constituents how they will "benefit" from joining. Doing this with all of the practices helps them see the behaviors more clearly.

The Percentile Ranking page is a great way to illustrate to participants how they rank with several thousand others who also took the LPI.

Moreover, if you have made arrangements for a narrative response section at the end the feedback report, the peer comments will create a deeper dialogue between you and the Leader in a very detailed and relevant way.

With the previously mentioned Action Plan in mind, I recommend that you use the LPI Leadership Development Planner. This helpful tool includes an outline for creating a detailed Action Plan. The workbook also provides exercises and other helpful hints that will help a participant stay focused on their LPI goals. A detailed reading list is also included.

Finally, if you are in an extended relationship, offer some specific tasks to complete before their next coaching session. Be sure to create a check-in date so they have a results deadline. Offer a suggested reading list, so you can discuss the key points with them and how it relates to their world. If you are not in an extended relationship, then be sure to answer any questions and offer to take emails from them on a sporadic basis.

Good luck!

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