Inspiring coaches help their teams by clearly and specifically defining the actions, timing, and results they expect from others and from themselves. For each member of your team, make certain you communicate the 3 W's-- What, Who, and When.

To ensure alignment, inspiring coaches do not shy away from discussions of consequences, but they use a broad definition of consequences. We tend to think of consequences in terms of the short-term, immediate impact of our performance (positive or negative). That's the easy part of defining specific consequences. But it still leaves a lot to the imagination.

As the Circle of Consequences below illustrates, you need to help employees see and understand the longer-term, downstream impact of their performance on team results, on the organization, on customers, on shareholders, and ultimately on them- selves. This helps you align with your team by explaining the fourth W--Why.

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When employees see how their actions help or hinder each of their various constituents, the personal consequences of their performance become self-evident.

External performance is ultimately a reflection of internal commitment. The personal impact to an employee might include opportunities for more (or fewer if the performance is substandard) promotions, development opportunities, exposure to executives, public recognition, responsibilities, flexibility in the job, oversight of others, ownership of projects, and/or financial rewards. It is fair and appropriate to bring personal performance full circle back to these consequences.

My clients have found it useful to follow the Circle of Consequences with respect to their own leadership behavior, particularly when they face tough situations. It illuminates the impact of their actions (or lack thereof) on various constituents and usually moves them from complying with the task to being committed to it.