After teaching Biology and Chemistry to high school students in Munich, Germany and Sao Paulo, Brazil for 17 years, he started his company Genius Coaching in 2002 in Scottsdale, Arizona to serve high-performing individuals. His individual and team programs are customized for high performing executives, entrepreneurs, parents and teenagers to decode and activate hidden natural genius to increase productivity and engagement in companies and at school.
An excerpt from an interview with Otto Siegel where he shares more about coaching and developing young leaders:
Tell us your story.
I am originally from Germany. I was a high school teacher there in my first life. I stumbled across bright and gifted children who found the classes too slow and boring. Such students acted up in the classroom and ended up with behavioral issues. That grew to be my speciality. One day a parent came up to me and said that my strategies worked really well for his daughter. He was a leader at a big company where he found that he was like a parent to his employees. That was the beginning of leadership development. Currently, I work with parents of gifted children and executive leaders. The two are similar in the way that it is behavioral-based and not knowledge-based. Leadership is about ‘Can I deal with diverse people in my life?’. Having majored in Biology and Chemistry, I am also personally interested in finding what our human body is capable of doing and defying the age barrier.
What are your favorite questions to ask those you coach?
These questions help me understand the patterns and commonalities that will guide me to coach the leader.
What is “Execution” and why is it important?
Execution is the core of coaching. Coaching bridges the gap between words, knowledge and the action. To get someone to execute, I bank on his or her intrinsic motivation. If a leader wants to be more efficient, he or she would also want to change their behaviors and patterns. If a leader wants to see it happen, they will have the drive to own the tasks and strategy to get it done. This provides the structure, the buy-in, and ownership to implement strategies. The more leaders know about themselves, the better they are as a leader.
How do you develop intrinsic motivation in a person?
Let me explain with a story. A 15-year-old came to us one day because his school grades went down. He scored very high in the business intelligence section of our intelligence assessments. Later, he shared that 400 students in the school know him by name because he creates T-shirts with gold letters and symbols that are very popular in the school. He is an entrepreneur. When he found out who he really is, he understood that in order to be a successful businessman or business leader in the future, he needs to have Math and English on his side, and the grades went right back up.
What are the keys to developing the next generation of leaders?
Aspiring leaders need to understand from the get-go that leading is a people game. You can get inspiration from books, but you can only learn leading by interacting with people. The next generation of leaders need to spend time with people and add value with the people they are with. Take every opportunity to be in leadership circles (like the leadership boot camp) to hear and learn from peers and to obtain feedback. By sharing that you are looking for authentic and open feedback, your peers will feel less intimidated to share their perceptions.
What do you do to break from the everyday hustle of work?
I like to stay active and athletic. I also travel internationally. I am an active member of International Coach Federation (ICF) and read a lot to keep up with coaching and leadership development.
Otto will be presenting at our Leadership Boot Camp on the topic of Emotional Intelligence.