Focus on Coaching: Interview With Kevin Ciccotti

Kevin CiccottiIn this last part of the Focus on Coaching series I interview Kevin Ciccotti CPCC, ACC. Kevin is a coach who has chosen specifically to work with PMPs, although I expect that he would work with all project managers. I asked him why.
Kevin, how did your journey to coaching begin?
My path to coaching was not a straight one. I worked in many different industries, including hotel-casinos (where I grew up in Reno, Nevada), airlines, and a few others, before finally settling down and working for over 25 years in a world-class manufacturing firm that was the largest slot machine manufacturer in the world. The last 16 years of my career were spent in management. This is where I learned how to empower my team members to build on their strengths, overcome obstacles, and create successful careers.
One of my employees said to me, “You’re wasting all your talents here. While we appreciate what you do for us, it’s not that you aren’t appreciated. But you have so much more to offer beyond these walls. You should think about how you can reach more people to help them in the same way that you have helped us.” These words inspired me and scared me. Truth be told, I knew that I wasn’t using my strengths to my advantage. So I began to research coach training programs and found one of the best in my area.
Since I quit my corporate job and started my coaching company, it’s been over four years. It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. I haven’t looked back, nor regretted a second. This is my definition of success.
Why did you choose project managers?
My previous job involved me in product development. This included product concept, planning and development, production, and finally, end of life cycle or obsolescence. One thing that was constant was that, no matter how well our team knew each other, and regardless of their skill sets, we struggled with new projects. It was a fascinating and sometimes frustrating study of the complexity of workplace relationships. We all work together, right? Hence, why is there so much conflict and so little cooperation?
I thought I had left everything behind when I became a coach. I was then able to coach the CEO of a technology company, which specializes in ERP implementations as well as PPM/BPM processes for large corporations. After working with me for some time, he said that my coaching skills could be very beneficial to project managers who have difficulty leading teams, especially when they don’t have direct authority over them.
This sparked an interest in me and I began to investigate further. We’ve witnessed a remarkable shift in the workplace over the past four years and are now facing unprecedented challenges. Companies have drastically reduced staff and asked employees to do more with less. PM’s are now under greater pressure to engage their teams and work together effectively. Since joining PMI, I have spoken at many events, written articles for several publications, hosted webinars and created a one-day workshop entitled The Human Factor in Project Management. I love working with PMs!
We are wonderful people. One thing you mentioned is that brain wiring can play a part in some of our behavior. Does this mean that certain behaviours are impossible to change?
Although it is true that our behaviours are affected by how our brains are wired. However, this does not mean that we are robots that are just running on programs. We always have the option to choose in any situation.
Think of a time in your life when you were faced with major changes or uncertainty. If you’re like most people, your first reaction was likely to be fear or resistance. Because the brain is wired to perceive change as a threat and craves certainty, this is why it’s so fearful of change.