Feature Article
Coaching the C-Suite in Times of Crises by Professor Errol P. Mendes

An area which has not been given much attention is how to coach C-suite executives in times of crises. This article lays out a moral and ethical framework for such coaching assistance using actual case studies in which C-suite executives took different paths with vastly different results.

Global Convention on Coaching (GCC)
July 2007 - July 2008
Standardizing and professionalizing the business coaching industry—it's our ongoing goal at WABC. Now it's a focus of one of the most ambitious international coaching forums ever, the Global Convention on Coaching. WABC is a key participant. Learn what the GCC is and how you can participate.


Success Story
Coaching's Impact on Leadership Competencies at the City of Vancouver by Carollyne Conlinn

A review of the six-month executive coaching pilot with emerging leaders at the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The evaluation study monitored leadership competencies before and after coaching with the pilot group and a control group. Results indicated improvement over peers in all categories for leaders who were coached.

Get the Edge
The Coaching Frontier for Business Coaching by Robin Linnecar

There is no professional body representing executive business coaching. As executive coaching goes global, what is involved in professionalizing the field appears to be coach selection, global standards, supervision of quality and new coaching relationships in a "faster-faster" world.

Hot Topics
The Five Stages of Change for Small Business Owners by Susan L. Reid

Individuals considering whether they are ready to become small business owners need no longer be left with the question of "if." Instead, they can easily find a clear answer to where they are along the change continuum. As a result, they themselves become powerful and effective agents for change.

Coaching Great Leaders by Marshall Goldsmith

Great leaders demonstrate integrity, but how?

Coaching Models for Business Success by Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

Clients often ask their business coaches: What happens when our contract ends? How can they sustain change that positively impacts their own and others' performance? Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron considers four major components of the coaching conversation: building the relationship, learning from experience, understanding the role of others in the system and developing emotional competence (EQ).

Professional Selling by Barry Trailer

Barry Trailer discusses another challenge to selling professional services: maintaining an ongoing sales initiative.

Based on the Evidence by Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis

In an emerging profession with developing literature, it is quite possible that your area of practice has not come under a researcher's scrutiny. You may consider doing the research yourself. What makes practitioner research different and how does it relate to conventional research? 

A Global Workplace by Nerella Campigotto

Both our communication style and our ethics are defined by our culture. How can we deal with the numerous challenges that the global workplace brings us in this regard?

Ask the Expert by Dr. Laurence S. Lyons

Confidential information isn't necessarily secret. In a business context risk reduction is paramount, which means getting information to people who need it. Sometimes a coach has to do that which can be done only by a coach.

Business Book Summaries
A Rock and a Hard Place: How to Make Ethical Business Decisions When the Choices Are Tough by Kent Hodgson

Author Kent Hodgson explores how decisions flowing from both business and moral values can produce more effective, responsible and defensible resolutions to most dilemmas.

In Our Next Issue

Look for a double feature issue in October 2008! Carol Kauffman will delve into the complicated subject of coaching vs. therapy, and special guest feature contributor Gary Ranker will explore for us his specialty area of corporate politics.

We want to hear from you — send us your feedback!

From the Editor
Attempting a theme-based issue, many of the articles in this issue of Business Coaching Worldwide are dedicated to the subject of ethics and integrity. Enjoy! Complete article.

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Read what others are saying about Business Coaching Worldwide. Perhaps it will inspire you to write us a letter! Complete article.

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Coaching the C-Suite in Times of Crises

By Professor Errol P. Mendes

Catastrophe hit one of the most respected companies in the U.S. on September 30, 1982. Tampered capsules of Extra Strength Tylenol had caused the deaths of three individuals from cyanide poisoning in the Chicago area. Then four more people died from the tampered Tylenol produced and marketed by Johnson and Johnson, which was the leading over-the-counter pain medication at the time. It was also the most profitable pain medication for the company and contributed approximately 15 percent of the company's revenues.1

When notified of the Tylenol-related deaths, the corporate leaders had little information to go on. They did not know if the seven deaths were just the start of many more. This would depend on how widespread the tampering had been throughout the U.S. They did not even know whether the tampering had been done during the production of the pain-reliever, in the distribution systems or in the stores just in the Chicago area. As a precaution, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued a nationwide warning about the use of the pain-reliever, but had not asked Johnson and Johnson to do a recall or order all sales to be ceased.

What the corporate leaders at Johnson and Johnson did know was that there was a "cost-benefit" case to do as little as possible as a recall would result in lost production, destruction of existing stock of 31 million bottles of the medication and other losses amounting to over $US100 million, with little chance of insurance covering the tampering effects and a potential loss of the 37 percent of market share for the drug. The corporate leaders at Johnson and Johnson did know that whatever they did the news of the tampering would affect some of the company's hard-won market share and could result in a sizeable drop in the value of the company's shares, which it did almost by 15 percent amounting to approximately $US1.24 billion.

The corporate leaders at Johnson and Johnson with alacrity dispensed with a cost-benefit analysis to avoid a recall. They had plenty of precedents to follow from corporations from the U.S. and around the world.

For example, one could point to the Ford Motor company's behavior regarding the exploding Ford Pinto in the late 1960s and early 1970s that, in whole or in part, caused the deaths of several owners of the car. These deaths involved the explosion of Ford Pintos due to a defective fuel system design. It is alleged that Ford used a cost-benefit analysis, including assigning a value to the lives of various categories of potential victims in its decision not to upgrade the fuel system based on this analysis. This cost-benefit approach to dealing with corporate crises is often termed the utilitarian approach.

Ford had the ability to retool its assembly lines and improve the fuel system to lessen the chances of explosions from rear-end collisions, but chose not to do so because it would have cost $US11 per car. Company analysis had shown that such an improvement would have resulted in approximately 180 fewer burn deaths (others had estimated approximately 500 deaths), 180 fewer serious burn injuries and 2,100 less destroyed cars potentially along with their occupants. The company then assigned (based on a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate, a product of pressure from the automobile industry) an average value of $US200,000 to each death, $US67,000 to each serious burn injury and $US700 per automobile. Ford then used these cost estimates to decide that since the total cost of potential liability damages of $US49.5 million was less than the redesign costs of $US137 million, it would not redesign the exploding Pinto fuel system. When the slew of liability suits went to civil trials in the U.S., it became obvious that juries in these trials would not buy the cost/benefit analysis of Ford and were prepared to issue multi-million dollar verdicts. Ford eventually settled and hoped that its defense in this notorious case of corporate violation of human dignity would remain sealed in court documents.2 Some have surfaced.3

More recently we have seen examples of a major drug company like Pfizer refusing to countenance any plans to pull its highly profitable and popular painkiller Celebrex off the market, despite data showing that patients using the drug in a long-term cancer study had more than double the risk of heart attacks.

In contrast, the corporate leaders at Johnson and Johnson ordered a recall of all Tylenol containers and their contents. The corporate leaders stated they were unwilling to risk the lives of any further individuals no matter how small or widespread the tampering actually was. The corporate leaders at the company also decided not to put the medication back on the shelves until the company had developed tamper-proof production of the medication and its bottles. For that, the company rightfully has earned longstanding praise for ethical corporate leadership. Within five months of doing the right thing in the Tylenol crisis, the company had recovered 70 percent of its market share for the medication and the overall brand and reputation of the company itself skyrocketed over the succeeding years right up to the present.

The Johnson and Johnson response and the contrasting behavior at Ford and Pfizer present case studies for coaching the C-suite on ethical decision making in times of crisis.

The C-suite at Johnson and Johnson based their actions on the company's mission statement written in the mid-1940s by Robert Weed Johnson. It stated that the company‘s responsibilities were to the consumers and medical professionals using its products, employees, the communities where its people work and live, and its stockholders. Following this mission statement meant that public safety came above all else.

What lessons can coaches of the C-suite draw from the Tylenol crisis? Scholars in moral philosophy and ethics could postulate that the C-suite in Johnson and Johnson followed either expressly or intuitively universal ethics principles proposed by one of the main architects of Western moral philosophy and ethics, Immanuel Kant. Taking his approach to ethics in his seminal work4 titled Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant would have coached the C-suite in companies dealing with a crisis such as the Tylenol tampering that their decisions and conduct should be the basis of a "universal law" for all other moral actors in similar situations. Taking this approach to the Tylenol tampering, the leaders at Johnson and Johnson may well have thought that if it is wrong for any company to endanger the lives of consumers with mass marketing of a contaminated or defective product, no matter how profitable it may be to do so, then it is wrong for Johnson and Johnson to do so.

The "universal law" of Kantian ethics would also advocate that the "categorical imperative" of moral action is not treating human beings as means to an end, but as an end in themselves. This is the core of the content of the concept of "human dignity." Human beings have an intrinsic value beyond any cost-benefit analysis. There can never be a moral cost-benefit analysis that allows corporate leaders and their corporations to unjustly exploit or endanger employees, customers and local communities exclusively as means to corporate profit or in the case of the Ford situation as a means to save expending resources to remedy a defective product or not risking corporate profits and reputation by recalling a potentially dangerous product. In the latter situation there is a contrast between the behavior of corporate leaders at Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer.

One wonders whether the corporate leaders at Ford had personal moral misgivings about refusing to upgrade the fuel system of the Ford Pinto, thus violating a Kantian universal law on defective products, yet the cost-benefit or utilitarian analysis forced them into not doing the necessary upgrade.

One major downside of coaches advising the C-suite on taking the Kantian approach to moral actions in times of crisis is that it focuses too much on the motivation for individual or collective action and not at all on the consequences of such action. The opponents of Kantian moral reasoning in the C-suite would expressly or intuitively prefer a consequentialist or utilitarian basis for their worldview. The main architects of this analysis of moral conduct were John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham.5 The simplest form of their thesis argues that consequences that produce the greatest good for the greatest number are the only way to judge the morality of human actions. One could argue that Johnson and Johnson could also have followed a more humane utilitarian approach in the Tylenol crisis and arrived at the same decision to recall the medication. In this moral framework, the company would consider not only the greatest good for Johnson and Johnson, but also the protection of the potentially very large numbers of actual or potential users of the medication if the tampering had been widespread and possibly the even larger numbers of the public whose family members or close relations may have been affected. Certainly a cost-benefit analysis under this more utilitarian approach demands a recall, while at the same time preserving the human dignity of those who could suffer from not ordering a recall.

But what if police authorities had managed to find the individual who had effected the tampering and coerced (another area where Kantian ethics and utilitarian ethics would do combat) a confession that only a dozen bottles had been tampered, but the person who had done the tampering and the distributor of the medication had no idea where those bottles were now on sale to the public? Some, but not all, applications of utilitarian analysis of moral action would support the refusal to order a recall as the good done by the medication to millions of users outweighs the grave harm done to the potential users of the dozen tampered bottles of Tylenol. One can only wonder if Pfizer adopted this utilitarian approach in refusing to take Celebrex off the market.

If decisions of the C-suite rest on this basic utilitarian approach to moral conduct with such potential grave consequences for the few that are sacrificed for the good of the many, then it violates the basic notions of human dignity that have been espoused by leading moral philosophers of Western civilization such as Immanuel Kant. However, a more humane form of utilitarian ethics could in many circumstances arrive at the same ethical outcome as discussed above.

The ultimate task of corporate leaders in times of crises according to, both the Kantian and the more humane utilitarian approach, is to utilize their power to promote and protect the human dignity and the greatest good of all those who are involved or affected by their operations if at all possible. I suggest that the main goal of coaching ethics in the C-suite is to demonstrate that the exercise of corporate power in times of crises is really only ethically responsible when it takes into account both the human dignity and the greatest good, if at all possible, of all those affected by its operations.

1 For details of this paradigm example of swift corporate moral and ethical action see the following: and (accessed February 10, 2008)

2 See the Mother Jones article on the exploding Pinto case that caused an outcry in the U.S. at (accessed July 21, 2007)

3 See the Ford calculation memo on value of lives versus an $US11 per car cost at (accessed February 10, 2008)

4 Zweig, Arnulf, trans. Hill, Thomas E. Jr., and Arnulf Zweig, eds. 2002. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

5 A variation of utilitarian thinking that could have a greater moral content is rule-utilitarianism. This variation advocates first ascertaining the best rule or rules of particular conduct. This is achieved by ascertaining the consequences of following one or more particular rules. The rule that produces the best consequence is therefore the best rule that should be followed. Proponents of rule-utilitarianism included John Austin in The Providence of Jurisprudence, (1892) and John Stuart Mill in Utilitarianism.

Professor Errol P. Mendes is a lawyer, author, professor and has been an advisor to corporations, governments, civil society groups and the United Nations in the area of governance, ethics and law. Since 1979, Professor Mendes has taught at the leading universities in Canada and published or co-edited five books that are widely read around the world. Learn more about Professor Mendes in the WABC Coach Directory.

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The Coaching Frontier for Business Coaching

By Robin Linnecar

Imagine two extremes. On the one hand there is fun, creativity, adventure, ambition, scope and hope—on the other there is lawlessness, every person for him/herself, money stolen and some individuals aiming to impose standards. The Wild West? Well yes. The business coaching market and frontier? Well yes. Let's explore this coaching frontier a little more.


Unlike accountancy, law and medicine, coaching and certainly business coaching do not have a recognized professional body. Worldwide there is the WABC, the International Coach Federation (ICF), the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) and doubtless many more. Within the United Kingdom I can vouch for at least seven different representative bodies all operating in the same coaching market—Association for Coaching, EMCC, ICF, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Association of Professional Executive Coaching and Supervision, British Psychological Society's Special Group in Coaching Psychology, British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. There may be more for all I know, and I am sure the same is true in other countries.

In the UK we have tried recently to pull all these together under a common banner by issuing a Statement of Shared Values. Even so, there are fundamental disparities on approaches to supervision of coaches, to name but one area where the range is from "no supervision is demanded at all" to "supervision is a fundamental requirement." Supervision means here the supervision of quality and thus more than having merely a mentor for you in your business of coaching.

Standards and Accreditations

What is the calibration between the demands WABC makes for you to be a member, what the ICF requires or what any other body requires? How does an organization decide who the best coaches are in the market? Who does the accreditation and are there benchmark standards?

It is to be applauded that there is a Global Convention of Coaching convened for mid-2008, which brings together academics, consultants, coaching providers and coaching trainers who are seeking to address these issues amongst others.

Confused Buyers

At present there is a situation where global companies from Dell to PepsiCo to Unilever to Zurich Insurance to Citigroup are all setting up their own processes to weed out or select coaches to suit their needs. Assessment Centers for coaches comprising presentations, psychologist interviews and "real live" coaching sessions are occupying the best part of a day. We need benchmarking and standards desperately to prevent this duplication of effort and to unravel the confusion in the minds of the buyers of coaching. The buyer's plea at present is "How can I be sure, and quickly, that I am buying a professional coach?"

Can We Push the Frontier and Turn It into a Border?

Some companies are forcing the issue more than others and leading the field in integrating coaching into their businesses. Diageo is a globally integrated organization famous for Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Guinness, Tanqueray and other well-known drink brands. It has gone public with a year-long scheme for 900 senior managers, which involves two residential events supported by many hours of one-to-one coaching, 360-degree colleague feedback and other interventions. This scheme is central to Diageo's leadership in its business and fundamental to it.

Business coaching is now a global requirement for many, and this push, which is wider (global) and deeper (with keenly articulated standards being developed), will draw the rest of business along in its wake.

Executives find themselves at what we in Praesta call a "faster-faster" world with unrelenting pressure, global travel and high performance expectations—where coaching is uniquely placed as a development intervention.

In our book, Business Coaching—Achieving Practical Results through Effective Engagement, Peter Shaw and I have outlined key developments in coaching good practice for the future:

  • Increased focus on real-time coaching of individuals
  • Coaching more integrated into business development programs and business school courses
  • Greater use of structured internal mentoring relationships for a client alongside an external coach relationship
  • Coaching becoming part of an individual's contractual employment relationship
  • Professional underpinning through the insistence on coaches to undergo effective, quality supervision
  • The oversight of the profession through a professional body covering standards, competence, quality, supervision and continuing professional development.

The Wild West frontier needs to and must become more professional and these developments would certainly help lead us there!

Get The EdgeRobin Linnecar is a Master Coach working in Praesta International. A chartered accountant with experience in Arthur Andersen, Shell, KPMG and PWC, his recent co-authored book is Business Coaching published by Capstone (2007). For more about Robin and Praesta International, please go to Learn more about Robin in the WABC Member Directory.

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The Five Stages of Change for Small Business Owners

By Susan L. Reid, DMA

Change is a tricky thing. Some of us like change. Others of us don't. Some of us like some change some of the time. Others of us will do all that we can to maintain the status quo and cling to what is known and familiar. Yet, change is. Change happens.

If you are someone contemplating the changes that will occur by becoming a successful small business owner, it will be helpful for you to have a bird's eye view of where you are along the continuum. So, too, if you are a small business coach working with clients who are in the process of starting up their own businesses, it will be good for you to have a way to determine which stage of change they are in so you can plan an effective start-up coaching strategy to meet each client's needs.

To that end, Dr. James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente developed the Transtheoretical Model of Change in 1982 that has been applied to everything from weight loss to drug addiction with great success and acclaim. The difference between this model of change and other models is that this one doesn't tell you how to change or what you must do to change. Rather, it describes the stages of change so that individuals and those in the helping professions (that would include business coaches) can see which stage they are in.

Though Prochaska and DiClemente's model has never before been applied to those considering starting up a successful small business, it is a very relevant model that will help take the pressure off individuals thinking they should be further along than where they are, and it will provide a compassionate understanding of where each person is along the scale.

Three Great Things about the Stages of Change

Prochaska and DiClemente's Transtheoretical Model of Change identifies five stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.

  • The first great thing about this model is that each stage is considered a step, and each step is meant to be taken in sequence.
  • The second great thing about this model is that it is cyclical.
  • The third great thing about this model is that there are no prescribed limits as to how long individuals should take to move from one stage to the next, nor are there any rules as to how long the overall process should take.

The Five Stages

Keep in mind that change is a process, not an event. Just "follow the Yellow Brick Road."

1. The Precontemplation Stage (Not Currently Considering Change)

This stage could really be called "the precursor-to-change" stage. This is the pre-small business start-up stage when individuals may not even be thinking about becoming small business owners. In fact, in this stage, they may not even be aware that it would be beneficial for them to make a change, though other individuals around them may be thinking that they should.

Precontemplation is the pre-change stage where, as of yet, there has been no personally convincing reason for change. There may just be the niggling odd sensation that change is in the air. Content to keep the status quo and with no compelling reason to actually think about making a change, this stage's motto is: Ignorance is bliss.

How to know if you are in the Precontemplation Stage:

  1. You're not really thinking about starting up a small business.
  2. You are basically okay with how things are.
  3. Others may be voicing their concerns about the hours you are keeping, the stress you seem to be under or how much you need to take a vacation.

Those in this stage do not intend to take action within the next six months and have a decided lack of readiness to do so.  

2. The Contemplation Stage (Thinking about Change and Researching Options)

In the Contemplation Stage, individuals are aware that a change is needed and they actually desire to make a change. Although they are seriously thinking about change, they have no clear plan of action because they are feeling ambivalent about change. This stage's motto is: Just sitting on the fence waiting to see what will come along. It is a time of inward seeking and searching.

How to know if you are in the Contemplation Stage:

  1. You find yourself going to the library, doing online research and thinking about what it would be like to be a small business owner.
  2. You seek out the perspective of others who have "been there, done that" and consider their advice.
  3. You find yourself attracted to magazines and online journals about entrepreneurship and small business ownership.

Those in this stage are considering taking action within the next six months.

3. The Preparation Stage (Ready for Change and Making Plans)

This stage of change is readily apparent by the amount of activity, decisions and overt action that is taking place in preparation for a small business start-up. During this stage, individuals look outside themselves for assistance or help, and ask, "What steps do I need to take to make this happen?"

This is a time of exploring options and planning how and when the start-up process will begin. This is not a time for quick decisions. Instead, it is a time for thinking, talking, drawing, writing and then doing it all again. It is a time to look at every angle, to weigh the pros and cons, and to connect the dots to successful small business ownership. This is the perfect time to hire a small business start-up coach and get the transition wheel primed and pumped. This stage's motto is: I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

How to know if you are in The Preparation Stage:

  1. Your small business start-up coach has become your best friend.
  2. Your white board or mind mapping software is getting a daily workout as you look at every aspect of small business ownership.
  3. You are regularly experiencing both excitement and fear, although you can't tell how much of either you are feeling at any given time.

Individuals in this stage are intending to take action within the next month.

4. The Action Stage (Making Change and Taking Charge)

This stage is characterized by a considerable amount of steady, forward movement. The planning that was done in the previous stage is being put into action plans that are well-conceived and formulated. All the necessary paper work is filled out, business checking accounts opened, company name registered, business cards selected, website developed and strategic action plans mapped out.

This is the time when businesses are started and launched, when new ways of being in the world are experienced and when excitement and satisfaction are high. The motto for this stage is: Carpe Diem.

How to know if you are in the Action Stage:

  1. You are in full-out action mode.
  2. You're spending most of your day focused on your new small business and loving it.
  3. Each new day brings something new for you to do, be or have.
  4. You are committed to seeing your actions through.

Individuals in this stage are taking action.

5. The Maintenance Stage (Continuing Forward Movement towards Goal)

By this stage, individuals are firmly ensconced in the forward movement and momentum of launching and servicing their new small business. Every day there is a new opportunity for growth and expansion, for learning something new and meeting new individuals. Continued commitment to sustaining the forward movement of their small business success is the goal of this stage. The motto of this stage is: Westward, ho!

How to know if you are in the Maintenance Stage:

  1. Your business is running smoothly.
  2. You have begun cycling back through the stages of change to further develop and expand the growth of your small business.
  3. You are actively looking for new opportunities for change and growth.

Individuals in this stage are continuing momentum.

In Praise of Prochaska and DiClemente's Transtheoretical Model of Change

As has been demonstrated, Prochaska and DiClemente's Transtheoretical Model can be easily adapted to the stages of change that occur in small business start-ups. Though it doesn't tell you how or why individuals change, it does accurately pinpoint where an individual is in the change process. The reason why this is so attractive is that change can be viewed on an individual basis, according to each individual's needs.

Individuals considering whether they are ready to become small business owners need no longer be left with the question of "if." Rather, they can easily find a clear answer to where they are along the change continuum. As a result, they themselves become powerful and effective agents for change. What's more, they learn that change, while life-altering, can be life-affirming and life-enhancing.

Susan L. Reid, DMA, is a business coach and consultant for entrepreneurial women starting up businesses. She specializes in taking the fear out of starting up a business. Susan is the author of Discovering Your Inner Samurai: The Entrepreneurial Woman's Journey to Business Success. Her website is Learn more about Susan in the WABC Member Directory.

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Coaching Great Leaders
Demonstrating Integrity: A Key Characteristic of the Future Global Leader

By Marshall Goldsmith

At a time when shredding documents, creative accounting and ruthless tactics come to light in the media on a fairly regular basis, it's no surprise that the young leaders of today have spotted the need for leaders to demonstrate integrity and ethical behavior. As a matter of fact, young leaders of today believe that demonstrating integrity will become the most important characteristic of future leaders.1

What Is Integrity?
"Integrity is the quality of possessing and adhering to high moral principles or professional standards."2 In other words, it's not enough to simply espouse values; global leaders have the added responsibility of influencing through example.

Indeed, events in the business arena involving companies such as Enron and WorldCom have illustrated how integrity lapses can lead even "benchmark companies" into bankruptcy. These unfortunate negative public examples of integrity violations have clearly made the business case for including integrity as a key quality of the leader of the future.

Demonstrating Integrity
The next question you will probably have is: How do I (or do I already) demonstrate integrity? Following are five significant characteristics of demonstrating integrity as well as some (but not all!) actions you can take to demonstrate integrity.3

One characteristic that demonstrates integrity is to behave honestly and practice ethical behavior in your interactions. You can accomplish this by:

  • Recognizing that you are a model for those whom you lead
  • Being consistent and clear about your ethical standards
  • Providing facts, not smokescreens
  • Speaking up even when it may be risky to do so
  • Challenging any system that encourages dishonesty or rewards unethical behavior

A second characteristic that demonstrates integrity is to ensure that the highest standards for ethical behavior are practiced throughout the organization. You can do this by:

  • Being consistent and clear about ethical standards and expectations
  • Encouraging people to express concerns about questionable practices
  • Reviewing ethical concerns with your staff or management
  • Offering open, candid feedback to management and coworkers
  • Recognizing that honesty and fairness in all relations with others is important

A third characteristic that demonstrates integrity is to avoid political and self-serving behavior. You can demonstrate this by:

  • Understanding that being competent in your job is the most effective method of achieving success
  • Realizing that organizational politics take many forms; list the tactics you are aware of
  • Sharing recognition; not accepting undue credit
  • Being a team player
  • Combating job politics through objective measurements of performance

A fourth characteristic that demonstrates integrity is to courageously stand up for what you believe in. You can do this by:

  • Understanding that risk taking plays a part in nearly every decision made
  • Being willing to take risks to achieve excellence and stay competitive
  • Developing a positive attitude when facing objections
  • Working to gain support and cooperation from key individuals in your organization
  • Encouraging and supporting others to speak up and voice their viewpoints

The fifth characteristic that demonstrates integrity is to be a role model for living the organization's values. You can accomplish this by:

  • Walking the talk: be an example of what you want your employees to be
  • Being sure your performance reflects the best standards
  • Acknowledging the unique knowledge and talents of others
  • Demonstrating pride in your company
  • Coaching employees to follow your example of performing to high standards

People will not follow leaders whom they do not trust. Great leaders, trusted leaders demonstrate integrity and in doing so, achieve the faith and confidence of their workers, colleagues and peers, who then become willing followers, loyal employees and trusted coworkers. This important characteristic is an integral step on the road to success for the great leaders of the future.

1 Goldsmith, M., et al. 2003. Global Leadership: The Next Generation. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. (See pages 311-316 for more about the Global Leader of the Future Project.)
2 Encarta Dictionary [computer software]. 2008. Redmond, WA: Microsoft
3 Goldsmith, M., et al. 2003. Global Leadership: The Next Generation. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Marshall Goldsmith, MBA, PhD, founder of Marshall Goldsmith Partners LLC, is a world authority on helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting behavioral change. His executive coaching expertise has been highlighted in Forbes, Fast Company and Business Week. The most recent of his 22 books is What Got You Here Won't Get You There (Hyperion, 2007). Learn more about Marshall in the WABC Coach Directory. Marshall can be reached by email at,

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Coaching Models for Business Success
How Can Coaching Produce Sustainable Behavior Change?

By Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

Part 2 of 3

Clients often ask their coaches, what happens when the coaching contract ends and you disappear? How will they sustain their own internal process and continue to create visible behavior change impacting positively on performance? Below I consider four ways that client behavioral change can be sustained as a result of your business coaching interventions: building the relationship, learning from experience, understanding the role of others and developing emotional competence (EQ).

1. Building the Relationship

Most research into the "encounter" between client and practitioner has been in the field of psychotherapy, yet it is in the early stages of research in the field of coaching.1 A relationship develops as a result of the "coaching conversation," with client issues skillfully teased out by the coach's interventions. These interventions should be part of a structure such as a coaching model, with the coach operating flexibly to cater for the concerns of the client.

The developing relationship creates a safe "thinking environment," and it is the relationship that helps with the onset of change. The coach must be conscious of staying outside the "system"—particularly not being drawn into the client's narrative or "story." In this way, the coach works with the client to assume responsibility for change. Nancy Kline refers to the coach keeping "attention simultaneously in three streams." In the first stream the coach focuses on the content of the client's narrative; in the second, the coach becomes aware of their own thoughts as a response to the client's narrative; in the third, his/her attention creates a thinking environment conducive for the client.2

2. Learning from Experience

You may be familiar with David Kolb's "Experiential Learning" model.3 Working with our own individual experience is a key to learning. In actively reflecting on experience, coach and client draw meaning from experience, literally entering "into a dialogue with...experience" turning it into useable knowledge.4

The coach's interventions help to build rapport between the client and the coach, with the client's experience being the foundation and source of learning for the coaching conversation. Experiential learning can be viewed as an active process in which the client works with his/her experience to understand meanings he/she has associated with it.

But learning does not occur in isolation from our social and cultural norms and values. While clients reconstruct their own experience, they do so within the context of their own unique social setting and cultural values. Other considerations are language, social class, gender, ethnic background and how clients have learned from an early age. In the context of the coaching conversation, when clients talk about their experiences, they create a story. There is power in both the language and the content of the story, and the significance comes from the interpretation and structure of that story.

If clients do not see themselves as learners or as learning from experience, or even see their stories as "reconstructions" and "re-interpretations" of their reality, how can we then use the coaching conversation to help clients learn, change and achieve their outcomes?

Exercise: Can you think of a time when you were (and were not) living life to the fullest? Describe what you were thinking, feeling, experiencing and assuming. What can you learn from reflecting on your experience?

3. Understanding the Role of Others

Coach and client need to be aware of the powerful role of others in the work they do together. A danger of not understanding the "system" in which the client operates is that the coach risks becoming a part of that system. Set up regular meetings with the client's line manager to align the client's values and goals with those of the organization. In terms of performance, it is critical that changes of thinking, feeling and behavior show up "visibly" in the workplace. Visible behavior is what people say and do—and what they fail to say or do.

If the client has grown in terms of self-awareness, the organization will want to see this "demonstrated" at work: in relationships, management competence, leadership behaviors and in the application of emotional competence (EQ). Regular meetings with the client's line manager give feedback that the coaching is on track. It may be useful for the coach to shadow the client, observing the client's interactions with others, honestly reflecting back observations. Often, change is embedded physiologically—clients demonstrate a visible change in attitude, in feeling and in how they "be who they are" as they interact with others.

Exercise: When recently have you seen a client "physiologically" demonstrate an insight or understanding into how his/her behavior impacted on performance, and what reflection did they have that indicated a willingness to change?

4. Developing EQ

Prior to Daniel Goleman and Candice Pert popularizing EQ, previous research in the realm of experiential learning explored putting the heart back into learning, emphasizing the "capacity to learn" at an emotional level. It is an area where executive coaches work, particularly in Western cultures where "emotion" is considered to be an inhibitor of clear, rational thinking.

Working to develop EQ helps the client to understand the importance of feelings in generating powerful thinking patterns and helps the client to understand the importance of emotional literacy in the workplace. Denial of emotions can lead to a denial of learning.5 Two influential sources of learning are past experience and the role of others, and different kinds of learning emerge depending on whether we view the learning as positive or negative. The way we interpret experience is connected to our view of ourselves and determines how we develop confidence and self-esteem.

Exercise: Jot down what's important to you about both your professional and your personal life. As you answer the question, look for the "intangibles," the "unmeasurables" such as: making a difference, collaboration, integrity, leadership, balance between work and personal life, family, friends, health.


Developing the relationship between coach and client, understanding the role of others in the system, building emotional competence and learning from experience are four major components of the coaching conversation that ultimately impact behavior and performance.

1 Stout Rostron, S. 2006. "Interventions in the Coaching Conversation: Thinking, Feeling and Behaviour." D.Sc. diss., Middlesex University London.

2 Kline, N. 2007. The Thinking Partnership Programme, Consultant's Guide. Wallingford, UK: Time to Think Ltd.

3 Kolb, D. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

4 Boud, D., and N. Miller, eds. 1996 Working with Experience, Animating Learning. London: Routledge.

5 Kline, N. 2005. The Thinking Partnership Programme, Consultant's Guide. Wallingford, UK: Time to Think Ltd.

Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron is an executive director with Resolve Encounter Consulting and chair for the Research Agenda for the Global Coaching Convention. With 15 years experience as an executive coach, Sunny is President Emeritus for COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa), the author of Accelerating Performance, Powerful New Techniques to Develop People (Kogan Page 2002) and contributing author to Sharing the Passion, Conversations with Coaches (AHT, 2006). Her new book about executive coaching is due in 2008. Learn more about Sunny in the WABC Coach Directory.

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Professional Selling
Business Development, Networking, Marketing. It's Still SELLING!

By Barry Trailer

Part 2 of 2

In my last column, I discussed some of the associations that may be hindering your ability to sell your services—and feel good about doing so. In this issue's article, I'll delve into another challenge to selling professional services: maintaining an ongoing sales initiative.

Activity and Productivity

A second challenge to selling professional services, particularly for sole practitioners or smaller firms, is maintaining an ongoing sales initiative. You're either getting work or doing work; and when you're doing work you're not getting work. This balancing act if not managed can mean long periods of doing work ("I'm completely booked out with a major client's entire executive team!") followed by as long or longer periods of finding your next client.

The longer a client drought persists, the more flexible (i.e., desperate, less discerning) you become. This is the precursor to the notion that any client is a good client—which of course is not true.

The best time to do prospecting and selling work is right after you've been engaged by (i.e., closed) a new client. You have momentum on your side, you're much more likely to stick to your standards and maintain your pricing, and most importantly, you're psychologically better able to sustain the inevitable rejection ("Thanks but, NO!") that goes along with prospecting and selling.

Think about it. You've just signed a new client for $US80,000 worth of consulting over the next quarter and you need to get started right away. Still, you contact two new names on your prospect list (more on this later) and they both say, "Thanks for being in touch but now is not a good time for this." Or, more simply, "No, not now, not ever!" How much has that hurt you? After all, you have to get going on your new client and the only reason you took time to be in touch with these two is because you read this stupid article!

OK, same two prospects only now you've been prospecting for the past six weeks and have not had steady income for more than two months. The prospects say the exact same thing: "Thanks for being in touch but now is not a good time for this." Or, more simply, "No, not now, not ever!" How much did you feel it this time? Likely much more.

If you discipline yourself to do the tough work of prospecting when you least need the business, you'll do better: a) because you radiate more confidence; and b) because the rejections or pushbacks you receive are much less damaging to you.

Many sales managers and independent business owners confuse selling activity (A) with selling productivity (P). Their formula for success is:

A = P

And their basic philosophy is "the harder I work the luckier I get." This is true if compared with folks who always intend to go out and call on a prospect but never quite get around to it; however, many people have been involved in a sales "blitz" and have seen minimal or no results.

There is another factor in the sales productivity equation, namely the quality (Q) of the activity. Our selling equation thus becomes:

A x Q = P 

The question then becomes "How do you define quality in sales?" This is the stuff of sales process and the gist of my next article, but here is a quick introduction to quality for now. There are five places to improve sales quality.

1. Prospect Quality—Cultivating and working on the right Sales Opportunities

2. Process Quality—Doing the right Selling and Marketing Actions, with the right people, at the right times

3. Execution Quality—Doing right Actions well

4. Reference Quality—Doing the right Customer Support/Service follow-through well and ongoing

5. Metrics Feedback Quality—Sustaining Performance and Improvement in all of the above

To wrap up this piece, we'll focus on the first of these areas: Prospect Quality. How you define a quality prospect is up to you, but whether you'll do so is not really optional. If you don't create a Perfect Prospect Profile (PPP), you'll be doomed to chasing whatever comes your way or you become aware of. And, if we return to the relationship model, this means trying to establish relationships with people/firms that are really not a good fit for you. Which is what many people have done and is, in my opinion, why so many people hate the idea of selling!

Your PPP

Your PPP can contain both demographic (size, industry, location, budget) and psychographic (professional, honest, energetic, win/win) elements. A truly worthwhile exercise is to not simply identify these components, but also create a scale for each. For example, if a prospective client's Willingness to Play Win/Win is one of your psychographic measures, you could rate each prospect as they demonstrate the following:

+10: We can't win if you are not winning as well; how do we make
         this happen?

  +8: We want this to be a good experience for you as well as us.

  +5: We recognize that this needs to be good for you as well as us.

  +3: Here's what we're looking for.

    0: It's our way or the highway for you.

Clearly these are subjective but it's your scale so make it work for you. Once you've developed similar scales for each of your PPP criteria, then rate prospects accordingly and rank them on desirability. If you have five demographic criteria and five psychographic criteria, the maximum score would be 100. You can set a baseline that says you will not pursue (or accept) business that doesn't rate at least 60.

Now go prospecting to find firms that are a good match for you and your practice. Work to build a list of at least 50 worthwhile candidates (minimum score of 60 percent of your maximum) and keep current research available on your top 10. If you don't know certain aspects, this is a perfectly legitimate business reason to be in touch and ask who has this information and what might be their view of the things that you feel matter. [Note: I'm sure even as I write this, readers will be balking. We'll take this up next time as well.]

Finally, to the extent that you can, putting together some standard packages or information nuggets that are easily and readily assemble into a relevant and timely introductory package or proposal will solve one last prospecting problem—sending them something.

If you've taken my advice and are prospecting just when you've signed a new client, the worst thing that can happen is to have another prospect say, "That sounds interesting, please send me a short proposal." You're now thinking, "I don't have time to send you a proposal, I have to get going with my new client!"

If you have some standard verbiage and informational nuggets (not printed hard copy but pieces you can quickly assemble in a soft copy document) that you can quickly send out, it will be all you need to do to get the ball rolling. Now that you've done so, you can get started with your new client and also have another prospect or two bubbling on the back burner. Go for it!

To Dos

  • Build a list with 50 PPP candidates (emphasis on Quality)
  • Keep current research on top 10 candidates
  • Have readied kits to send out quickly
  • Reach out to prospects each time you close

In my next column, I'll talk about your sales process and the quality of your process execution.

Barry Trailer is managing partner and co-founder of CSO Insights, a research firm specializing in benchmarking how companies leverage people, process, technology and knowledge to optimize the way they market and sell to customers. CSO Insights' survey of over 7,500 sales effectiveness initiatives has become the benchmark for tracking the evolution of how the role of sales is changing, the challenges that are impacting sales performance and how companies are addressing these issues.

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Based on the Evidence
Where's the Evidence? First Steps into the Literature

By Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis

Part 2 of 2

So what makes you think you can do research?

In my last column, we considered how we could sort the wheat from the chaff when we were looking at research. The idea of perspective, yours and your clients', came into sharp focus. But here's the rub, it may be that you can't find research studies that address the questions that are important to you in your practice. We are an emerging profession and our literature is only just developing. So it is quite possible that the area of practice that is your passion, and gives you most pause for thought, has not come under a researcher's scrutiny. The sense of frustration this produces can drive you to consider doing research yourself!

This need not be out of the question even for the busy practitioner. Other professions such as nursing and education have a strong tradition of practitioner research and we can learn a lot from them in terms of how best to frame that research and report it. But what makes practitioner research different and how does it relate to conventional research?

I think we can all agree that the main purpose of research is to create new knowledge and understanding i.e., to help us know something we did not know previously. Conventional research has an emphasis on that "finding out," and there is little, if any, consideration of "using it." In practitioner research the "finding out" is there, but there is also another and very necessary purposeto try and put that new knowledge into practice. In effect, the separation between research and practice disappears in practitioner research. McLeod, in his book Doing Counseling Research, defines practitioner research as1;

"Research carried out by practitioners for the purpose of advancing their own practice."

There are certain general characteristics of practitioner research (adapted from Shaw2):

  • The research questions, aims and outcomes are determined by the practitioners themselves i.e.; they control it.
  • The research is usually designed to have a benefit or an impact that is immediate and direct.
  • It focuses on the professional's own practice and/or that of his/her immediate peers.
  • It is small scale and short term.
  • Usually it will be self-contained and not part of a larger research program.
  • Data collection and management is typically carried out as a lone activity.
  • The focus is not restricted. While it will commonly be evaluative, it may be descriptive, developmental or analytical.

When you are considering your own research, it is clear that the overall size and content of the research has to be appropriate to you as the practitioner, i.e., something that can be undertaken and managed whilst working in practice. Indeed, it is one of the main challenges for practitioner researchers to keep the scale of their inquiries appropriate to their time and resources.

It is worth the investment, however, as there are also benefits for you as a practitioner. There is a whole body of literature considering practitioner research as a form of professional development. As soon as we start really inquiring into our work, our professional practice changes as we notice and reflect upon it in more depth. It is when you research that you are effectively putting your theoretical basis forward and deciding to review it. This makes it, in effect; a deeply personal experience and your own constructs become an important consideration for the would-be researcher.

So how do you start? There is a plethora of books you can turn to on research methodologies, but remember that you will also be playing to your strengths. As coaches you will be bringing to your research the wealth of attributes you bring to your practice. These include an abiding sense of curiosity and interest–the mainstay of any exploration with a client. We also need to be curious and baffled about unanswered questions, keen to experiment and explore, critically engaged in our work and take satisfaction in the ethical and rigorous application of our knowledge. Thus professional coaches already have the key qualities of a researcher–even if they haven't quite gotten around to doing it yet!

Within business coaching, our literature is relatively young with only a small number of academic researchers in the field. Practitioner researchers can therefore make a real contribution to defining the research agenda for the profession by helping to identify what the real questions are for practice. This call has obviously been taken up. When we review conferences and journals we can see a range of practitioner researchers publishing their work.

But there is a trap we can fall into that will make any potential contribution defunct–trying to fool ourselves into thinking that as it is "just" practitioner research we can throw out the issues of robust, transparent design and reporting. "Just" practitioner research should be held in as high regard as conventional research, through the unique perspective it provides for us as a profession. It should be taken seriously enough to be judged by the same standards of rigor and quality.

As practitioners "professional opinions," "observations over time" or "practice cases" make interesting reads that may spark reflections and analysis, but these are not research unless they are undertaken with the critical analysis and appraisal of true inquiry. However, it can be erroneously described and considered research.

In a recent example, a colleague was disappointed when attending a research symposium to discover it was an exchange of views between three professionals on a particular issue. This is, of course, interesting in itself and the dialogue could have formed part of a research inquiry, but it was not research as presented! This suspension of judgment is not restricted to practitioner research, but can be part of our response to eminent members of our field. Let's guard against it and consider everyone's contributions by the same yardstick so we achieve "evidence-based practice" and not "eminence-based practice!"

Worth Reading

No specific journals or articles this time as I would like to recommend a search of the range of websites out there for the would-be researcher. One worth bookmarking is:

Intute: a free online service providing you with access to the very best web resources for education and research. Run by a group of UK universities, it provides a good starting portal with a virtual training suite for research methods and much, much more. Not specific for coaching yet, but there is enough in social sciences to keep everyone happy. Have a look and play in

1 McLeod, J. 1994. Doing Counseling Research. London: Sage.

2 Shaw, I. 2003. "Qualitative research and outcomes in health, social work and education." Qualitative Research 3 (1): 57-77.

Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis is a senior researcher and education coach with the Professional Development Foundation. The author of more than 60 research articles and studies, her recent book The Case for Coaching, presenting a literature review with research case studies and interviews from over 20 organizations on coaching efficacy, was published in 2006 by CIPD, UK. Annette can be reached by email at

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A Global Workplace
Ethical Communication in the Global Workplace

By Nerella Campigotto

Communication skills are considered fundamental in the workplace; but let’s take this a step further and consider the implications of applying these skills in a cross-cultural setting, and doing so ethically.

Effective communication involves expressing oneself clearly, being a good listener, using appropriate body language and ensuring how a message is delivered and received. It is inherently a two-way process. Communication operates through a system of customs and principles that are essentially determined by people’s cultures. When the communicators don’t share these principles, a communication breakdown, or miscommunication, will typically occur. Of course there are various types of communication in the workplace: face-to-face, email, phone, etc., and for each of these, the style of communicating will vary according to culture.

Webster’s Dictionary defines ethical as “conforming to an accepted standard of good behavior,” and the Oxford English Dictionary defines ethics as “a set of moral principles or code.”  Consequently, when we speak of ethical communication in the global workplace we see that cultural customs and principles affect both the communication style and the definition of what is considered ethical.

Let’s look at three areas where communication styles differ across cultures and how we can overcome some of the challenges presented and still ensure we maintain an ethical approach.

1. Explicit vs. Implicit
Most Western cultures, especially Anglo, Germanic and Scandinavian groups, will communicate explicitly, that is, almost all important information is communicated in a direct and unambiguous manner. This style also reflects those cultures’ ethics, which are to communicate clearly and truthfully without being vague or misleading.  Such cultures as Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American tend to communicate implicitly; they rely on the context to communicate the most important information and may take relationships and setting into account, resulting in an indirect and ambiguous style. Ethics in these groups require that politeness and avoiding embarrassment take precedence over truth; in fact, for many of these cultures there is no absolute truth. The avoidance of saying “no” in some Asian cultures is an example of how these two styles can threaten communication.

So how can we ensure that we are not offending by being too direct, and conversely, determine what is being conveyed in a vague response? Simply being aware of the situation certainly helps. Making others feel comfortable and relaxed can override what is said, and asking open-ended questions can help to clarify vague answers. Being aware of your own values and principles, and not judging the other party by your standards can alleviate a lot of frustration.

2. Non-Verbal
We use several non-verbal signals when we communicate, such as touching, facial expressions, gestures, body positioning, eye contact, speech volume and tone, physical distance etc. These can have different meanings across cultures.  Another major difference is the use of silence. Most Western cultures tend to want to fill long silences, and this can be perceived as arrogant by cultures where silence is interpreted as a sign of respect. We may interpret avoidance of eye contact as an indication of dishonesty or lack of sincerity, whereas in many African cultures it is considered respectful.

In the global workplace it is best to observe and then modify our non-verbal communication signals to reflect those of the other party where possible.  I am not suggesting to completely mirror these signals, but things such as avoiding touching when it creates discomfort is an easy adjustment to make. Also, don’t make assumptions based on your own non-verbal communication style. Instead, rely more on verbal clarification. A smile is sometimes used to hide anger so you may want to make sure you have understood correctly by verifying the meaning verbally.

3. Language
One of the reasons English has become the lingua franca of the business world is because of its richness, directness and precision. The Thesaurus exists only in English, and there are about 200,000 commonly used words in English (whereas French, for example, has 100,000). Some speakers of English as a second language, especially those from cultures that don’t want to lose face, pretend they understand when they really do not. On the other hand, pretending not to understand when in fact they do is a negotiation technique used by some others. Unfortunately, we now have the phenomenon where two communicators are often both non-native speakers of English, adding another dimension to the challenge of global communication.

Language is fraught with difficulties such as idioms, slang, jargon and euphemisms; these should be avoided when communicating ethically with a non-native speaker. Keep it simple, clear and use standard language. Clarify what you are saying and offer the other party the opportunity to do the same.

In conclusion, we can see that this is an extremely complex issue, but to begin the process of communicating ethically in the global workplace we should build awareness so we can anticipate the differences, and then observe and adapt, while still maintaining our own values and ethics. In fact, one could say that taking into consideration both your own and the other party’s cultural factors when communicating, in itself constitutes ethical behavior.

Nerella Campigotto is president of Boomerang Consulting Inc., a firm that helps you grow your business internationally. Boomerang Consulting offers services such as market entry strategies, international business partnering and intercultural communication. Nerella can be reached by email at

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A s k  t h e   E x p e r t
A regular column responding to readers' questions by sharing stories from the offbeat life of coach's coach Dr. Xavier Fink (his mother calls him Melvyn) as his colleagues interact at the sharp end of the business world.

Question: What kinds of ethical questions come up for the coach in situations where the client is thinking about leaving the company? How do you best handle the client's emotions in such stressful times? How far is it possible to delve into areas of privileged information?

Dr. Fink
Illustration ©
Janet Schatzman 2007

Musical Fish
E t h i c a l  M y t h s  a n d  R e a l i t i e s

By Dr. Laurence S. Lyons

Lisa runs a small treasury team. To be strictly accurate, that had been the case until she was introduced to the new Head of Finance at 11 o'clock this morning. In that meeting, Lisa finds she's fallen victim to the post-merger variation of that popular children's game known as musical chairs.

"No fish can have two heads," Fat Sid tells her, indicating that the music just stopped. "Before it was like this: You had your treasurer; we had our treasurer. Two companies, two treasurers." Lisa notices that Sid has taken the trouble to structure his explanation in a way that Accounts people can readily understand. Pushing his palms together into a vice-like gesture he continues, "Now we've been merged into a single organization there can only be one treasurer for us all.  I'm sure you see the sense in dat?"

Lisa nods silently in the face of Sid's faultless logic, a lump swelling up in her throat. "Lisa, the most important thing you gotta realize," Sid announces with a fatherly smile, "is that the new treasurer ain't you."

The meeting takes all of five minutes. Lisa rushes off to frantically find Fink.

"I can only apologize for the immense ethical dilemma I've put you in," she sobs, a tear trickling down her cheek. "You're being paid by the very company I'm seriously thinking of leaving. I'll understand if you say you can't talk to me."

Fink takes a bite out of his butter almond croissant then sends it on its way with a large gulp of warm latté. "How buoyant is the market right now for your kind of job?" he asks with an abstract expression suggesting his mind is meandering along the sunny boulevards of some better world.

"I'm not sure," answers Lisa with a hint of surprise in her voice and a pinch of indignation.

"Maybe you should find out?" suggests Fink obliquely.

"Maybe I should," she says slowly through clenched teeth.

"There really is no dilemma," adds Fink brightly. "If you want to go and they want you out, then you both share a common interest. Then the best help I can give," he determines with a conspiratorial air, "is to speed things up a bit. It'll be a lot less painful if we make it happen fast."

Lisa is starting to question the wisdom of calling in her coach. The frustration she now feels reminds her of the sense of worthlessness she'd experienced in her uncomfortable conversation with Sid.

"Of course," he continues, "if you'd wanted to stay and they'd wanted to keep you, you'd also share a common interest. There'd be no dilemma for me in that case, either." Lisa's concern grows.  Fink seems to be distracted with his own ethical riddles and hardly interested in her problems at all. Is this how a coach is meant to behave in troublesome times like these?

"It could only start to become a problem if you both wanted different outcomes," adds Fink with a certain abstract animation. Now that he has emotionally prepared her and captured her complete attention, Fink introduces his critical question, catching her completely off guard.

"Do you?" he asks.

"Do I what?"

"Do you want a different outcome from the company?"

Lisa ponders. "I don't know," she says at last, exasperated.

"Why not?" asks Fink.

"Well, I don't know what they want, and to be truthful, I don't know what I want either."

"Good," says Fink. "Now we're getting somewhere." 


"Look," says Lisa. "I just lost the job I loved. I've lost my team. Sid's talking about redeploying me elsewhere in the new organization."

"From what you say, it sounds as if the company wants you to stay," observes Fink. "Does Sid want you on his team?" he enquires mildly.

"You'd know the answer to that better than I would," says Lisa. "I know Sid confides in you, but I understand you can't tell me what he says."

"I can't?" asks Fink.

"No, of course you can't," says Lisa.

"And why is that?" asks Fink.

"Because of confidentiality, that's why!"

"Ah yes," agrees Fink. "You are, of course, correct to say that I can't tell you what he tells me in confidence."

For the third time today, Lisa feels she's getting nowhere fast. But Fink continues, "You could ask me what I think," he suggests.

"I could ask you what you think about what?" she asks.

"You could ask me whether I think Sid wants you in his team."

"Let's see if I've got this correct," asks Lisa in amazement, "You can't tell me what Sid's told you because of client confidentiality?"

"Right. But you can ask me what I think Sid would tell me if I were to ask him," responds Fink. "That would be totally ethical as it would simply be my personal opinion. Naturally it would be based on everything I know. And I might be wrong. You're not forced to ask me. But I'd be happy to answer you."

"And what would you say?"

"You mean if you were to ask me if I think Sid wants to have you in his team?" he teases.

"Yes," screams Lisa, distinctly pronouncing each word. "What would you say?"

"I'd say he'd welcome you with open arms. Sid might lack a few social graces, but he certainly knows a solid finance person when he meets one. And good people are hard to come by. This company's going through tremendous change right now, and many of the post-acquisition decisions have been based on political turf wars instead of cold business logic. Search beyond the obvious and look towards the future. This place will look very different in six months and there'll be lots of opportunities turning up all the time for good people.

"Of course, if you'd rather take your chances elsewhere..." he muses.

"No," says Lisa with a wry smile, "maybe not just yet. Why go out fishing when the music's only just starting up again in here?"

Do you have a question for Dr. Fink?
Please send it to

© Laurence S. Lyons. Laurence S. Lyons identifies himself as the author of this work. Illustrations © Janet Schatzman 2007-2008. Each "Ask the Expert/Dr. Fink" article is released under license to WABC under 'temporary copyright' limited to a one-time eZine publication. The "Dr. Fink" character and "Dr. Fink's Casebook" story title are proprietary to Dr. Laurence S. Lyons.

Dr. Laurence S. Lyons, unlike Dr. Fink and his friends, is a real person and internationally renowned expert in organizational transformation and leadership development. He is a member of WABC's International Advisory Committee. A library of his work is available at Read more about Larry in the WABC Coach Directory.

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A Rock and a Hard Place
How to Make Ethical Business Decisions When the Choices Are Tough

By Kent Hodgson

Business Book Summaries

Summary by Lydia Morris Brown, Business Book Summaries

Far more attention needs to be given to the values and principles-both business and ethical-that business people hold, for the simple reason that they make up the foundation upon which decisions are made. Solving business/ethical issues and challenges is every manager's responsibility. Value-based decision-making demands basic ethics skills as well as business skills-the implication being that the decision maker knows and uses a process that consciously merges the business and ethical factors inherent in most situations. While not leading to perfect solutions, decisions flowing from both business and moral values can produce more effective, responsible, and defensible resolutions to most dilemmas.

Whenever people make a decision to act, they are touching base with their own system of values-their ground rules. These values and principles, which make up our value system, are uniquely our own. Our values and principles spring from our nature as human beings, the law, public opinion, religious authority, the community, our conscience, and our own experiences. Individuals prioritize their values, knowing at some conscious or subconscious level which ones are most important. That awareness is crucial when the individual's principles come into conflict with each other and/or with the principles of others.

The organization, like the individual, has principles that drive decision-making; thus, organizational decisions spring from the values and principles of the organization as well as from the individuals. Organizational principles are ground rules that dictate the way business is carried out. Whether spoken or unspoken, officially approved or not, they guide the complex organizational decision-making process. Organizations intend that their ground rules be shared values, for the purpose of attaining the mission, goals, and objectives of the company. Organizational principles also identify the organization, giving it a personality and a unique character.

There is another set of principles-norms-which are usually unwritten and unofficial and which let others know what the organization really means. In many cases norms are practical implementations of company policy and practice and serve to reinforce and apply stated values and principles. The problem is that norms often reflect the "don't do as I say, do as I do" mentality. Such norms send a contradictory message and represent a real danger to ethical decision-making. To have unified, consistent, and effective decision-making, the stakeholders must be able to depend on the same ground rules.

The three-step process gives the decision maker a practical means of merging business action options, working values and principles, and accepted General Principles into a coherent picture. It also enables one to choose the best option more effectively, responsibly, and justifiably.

In the first step, the situation is examined by getting the critical facts, identifying the key stakeholders, and identifying what each stakeholder wants done. The second step requires establishing the dilemma. In this part of the process, the working principles and norms that drive each option-a matter of why each stakeholder wants it done-are identified. Next, the possible outcomes of each stakeholder option must be projected, then the actions necessary to produce each outcome must be determined. In both instances it must be ascertained if any consequences or means violate the principles of the decision maker or the organization. The third and final step evaluates the options. The decision maker identifies the General Principle(s) behind each stakeholder option, compares the Principle(s) behind each option to determine which is the most responsible, and chooses the option with the most responsible Principle(s).

In today's global marketplace, there is much to be accomplished and mutually gained; however, the real challenge is to bridge differences, value gaps, judgments, suspicions, and one's own perceived obstacles.

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Not Always Readily Visible

By Sarah McArthur

As editor of Business Coaching Worldwide (BCW), I have the opportunity to dialogue with business coaches from all different parts of the world. I've found that, as a general rule, their approaches to helping organizations and leaders achieve success entail having ethics and demonstrating integrity.

Not always readily visible to the naked eye, ethics and integrity are often far more apparent in their absence than their presence. I'm sure you can recall quite a few examples of this in recent years with minimal effort wherein stockholders have suffered severe financial losses and personal lives have been destroyed, all as a result of leaders without ethics leading without integrity.

In this issue of Business Coaching Worldwide quite a few of our contributors address the subjects of ethics and integrity from a variety of angles. Professor Errol P. Mendes for instance leads with his feature about coaching C-suite executives in times of crisis, and Nerella Campigotto discusses ethics and culture in the global workplace. Marshall Goldsmith  delves into the "how" of demonstrating integrity, and Dr. Fink explains confidentiality to us through Dr. Laurence S. Lyons.

Also find for your expanding knowledge Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis' follow-up article inspiring us to consider the fascinating subject of research; Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron's column, which considers what happens when the business coaching contract ends; and Barry Trailer's practical views regarding the sales side of business coaching. Finally, Susan L. Reid addresses five stages of change faced by small business owners.

I hope you enjoy this issue of Business Coaching Worldwide. And if there is a subject you are interested in reading about, please send Letters to the Editor. Your feedback is not only welcome, it is encouraged!

Sarah McArthur is editor of Business Coaching Worldwide. Founder of *sdedit, Sarah has nearly 20 years experience in the publishing field as a development and managing editor and writer. With numerous books and articles to her credit, she has become an expert in the fields of management, leadership, executive coaching and human resources. Sarah can be reached by email at and

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