Leadership, The Water We Swim In, and Gratefulness: A Discussion with Award-Winning Allen Hauge
Episode #1038: Severin Sorensen and Allen Hauge discuss the importance of economics, the true meaning of leadership, trends of today, and the importance of gratefulness in this episode of the Arete Coach Podcast. Join us for insight on how Allen Hauge has become a high-impact executive coach and has received not only the Don Cope award, but also the Pat Hyndman and Star Award as well.
About Allen Hauge
Allen Hauge has been an executive coach with Vistage for over 27 years and a recipient of the following awards: Vistage Best Practice Chair, Master Chair, Chair Excellence, Don Cope, Pat Hyndman, and Star Award (2010-2020). Currently, Allen leads five peer groups of over 100 CEO, C-level executives, and emerging leaders in the greater St. Louis area.
Before entering the executive coaching industry, Allen was a part of ITR Economics and the Great Economic Forecast. There, Allen developed his expertise in the world of economics. He has also served as an advisory board member for the Institute for Trend Research and as the president and board member of the Civic Entrepreneurs Organization.
Upon his entrance into executive coaching, Allen embraced the learnings and lessons ahead of him by attending all the trainings available to him. His ambition for knowledge has enabled him to be not only a skilled executive coach, but also a wealth of knowledge to new coaches as a Vistage coach trainer. Allen’s passion for impacting the lives of others has ultimately created ripple effects of positivity and growth in all the lives of those around him.
Allen’s journey into executive coaching
Allen was inspired to join Vistage after seeing an advertisement that introduced the organization and its impact. After seeing the ad, he started the coach training process in San Diego and began the group recruitment process. Allen started his career with Vistage by incorporating those he had already recruited into a pre-existing group that he would take over and lead. Throughout his journey, Allen shares that he “took advantage of” the many “great training opportunities” afforded to him by Vistage. Allen states that “I would not have any of the success I’ve had as a chair, but for the training that they offered early on.”
In response to Severin’s question about how his previous career has affected his coaching today, Allen shares his learnings on the concept of leadership versus authority. As he grew into the great coach he is today, Allen states that leadership is more about “attitude,” “choice,” “having a little guts,” and being “willing to ask that great question” or “challenge someone.” Allen has learned that “anyone” regardless of their level of authority in a corporation “can be a leader.”
Economy: the water we swim in
Allen sees the economy as “the water” business leaders “swim in.” Because of this, he intentionally incorporates a discussion of economics into his coaching sessions. In response, Severin shares a story of how having discussions about the economy helped him as a Vistage member. By having these discussions, Severin was able to make predictions about the future of his economic sector. Allen developed his knowledge of the economy through both his educational background and his experience with ITR. A key element in the use of economic predictions and data is understanding the “business cycle.” Allen states that the heart of economics is knowing that “there will be recessions and there will be expansions…the key is to be ready.”
Economic trends of today
In response to Severin’s question about the economic trends of today, Allen shares how the COVID-19 virus has only spurred on changes that were “going to happen anyway.” He also shares the effect that working from home has had on the hiring process. Recently, job applicant ghosting has become an increasingly popular challenge faced by executives and business leaders. Allen believes that working from home “has to some degree contributed to” the rate of job applicant ghosting because “people are not as attached to the culture of their organization.” Severin agrees with Allen’s statement and mentions the new “free agency” that employees have in the current economy stating that employment is “becoming more transactional.”
Having an H.R. Brand
During Severin and Allen’s discussion on the changes of the employee-employer dynamic, Allen shares some insight he gained form H.R. pro, Hunter Lot. Not only do business leaders need to have a brand that is directed towards customers, but they also need to have branding directed towards job applicants. Severin relates to this idea by sharing insight about an employer review website: Glassdoor.
Business trends to be aware of
Allen predicts that there will likely be a “Great Depression 2” by the year 2029 or 2030 because many baby boomers who have retired will be brought back into the workforce for financial reasons. However, Allen also predicts that there will be much more technology available. He emphasizes the changing demographics and culture of the American community as well. In spite of all of these changes, Allen states that “America has always been good at adjusting…It’s going to be about how we respond.”
A lifetime of learning
Allen has taken the stance of a lifelong learner. At the beginning of his career, he went to “all the trainings that Vistage had for new chairs.” He even attended some trainings twice because he really wanted to understand the information well. His introduction to the training side of executive coaching began when he helped Charlie Davis lead a training workshop. From there, he did co-trainings with Susan Scott, which ultimately lead him to be a part of the Vistage faculty for 15 years. One of the ways that Allen keeps his knowledge green and growing is his reading and writing. Allen writes a blog that often references books he has read and learned from. He attributes his vast amount of knowledge to the old saying “if you really want to learn something, teach it.”
When discussing challenges or issues with a client or group member, Allen takes special care in the preparation of discussing the issue/challenge. Allen shares that “issues are emotional” and helping leaders work out the emotional side of challenges can be a huge help before working with them towards a solution. During Zoom meetings, Allen will utilize breakout rooms to help individual groups clarify the challenge before bringing it to the whole group. This helps people take advantage of the perspectives of those around them, see different approaches, and “access” all of “their faculties.”
Advice to aspiring executive coaches
Allen’s advice to aspiring executive coaches is to understand that clients are “much more likely to take action and then make a decision… if they come to the conclusion themselves.” Allen states that as an executive coach, “your job is to help them… think through what the issue is… ask questions,… [and] bring in resources.” Instead of consulting and providing answers, executive coaches walk with their clients towards a solution.
Powerful questions: “why is this your problem?”
Allen shares that often in his executive coaching groups and one-to-ones, he will hear or deliver the question “why is this your problem?” Sometimes the business leaders need to realize that what they are facing is not actually their problem and that they need to bring in additional resources. Other times, Allen must show business leaders that some challenges only have a “best” solution, not a “good” one. He shares that “a lot of CEOs have trouble with anything less than a good answer” even though sometimes that is their only option. Another powerful question that Allen will use is “if ____ were here right now, what would they tell me?” When Allen uses this question, he states that he is “trying to get the person to understand that they may not have all the information they need to make a decision.”
History and its lessons
One of Allen’s favorite quotes is “history offers lessons, not rules.” Severin and Allen use this quote to discuss the importance of learning from history and how different people can take away different life lessons from the same experience. Severin shares a quote from Peter Drucker that emphasizes the importance of learning from others’ experiences as well. He also shares an example of how the Great Depression affected his grandparent’s outlook on finances years after the crisis. In this discussion, we learn that as the world around us changes, the lessons we’ve learned from history might also need to change.
A life of impact
Allen is currently chairing a Vistage program called “Emerging Leader” which focuses on younger up-and-coming leaders. In this group, he shared an article written by a very popular business leader in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. However, none of his group members knew anything about him due to their age. In this moment, Allen learned that like this previously famous business leader, people will probably not remember his name, but they can be influenced by the impact he made on their lives. Allen states that “What I want to focus on is the influence that I can have in framing the future… whether you’re a chair or a coach, whatever we do things that set forth a chain of events that will extend through time.” One way that Allen has seen the impact he has made on others is through his Cope Award. When Allen received this award, he was able to see many of the individuals he has coached, trained, and learned from all in one room. Allen explains that the award meant so much to him, not because of the award itself, but because the relationships, friendships, and business relationships that it reflected.
A friend will tell you
When asked about a valuable failure that he has learned from, Allen shares a story of a good friend who gave him some valuable constructive criticism. Early in his coaching career, Allen was coaching a key executive group the same way that he was coaching CEOs. A good friend of his advised him to “work on” his approach to this group because it wasn’t having the desired impact. Allen states that while he “hated to hear that” he was “really glad” that he did. Allen then started a conversation with the group about their needs and readjusted his coaching practice to better suit the group.
A grateful life
A huge part of Allen’s perspective is gratefulness. He shares with Severin that he has a list of 30 things that he is grateful for and reflects on these every day. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, being grateful is something that has helped Allen “manage” himself despite the challenges. “I’m very grateful for learning how to be grateful,” states Allen.
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