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Top 10 LinkedIN Techniques To Get New Business Coaching Clients

Just released for 2010
Learn how to prospect effectively, fill events, and secure qualified appointments.Learn the secrets of the successful Business Coaches who generate "lifetime business" using LinkedIN.

Feature Article 
Shanghai Motors: A Case Study in GeoleadershipTM by Dr. E. S. Wibbeke and Dr. Cynthia Loubier-Ricca

This case study of Shanghai Motors focuses on the business concept of GeoleadershipTM in action. The approach is to apply a model developed from original research conducted with culture experts to a real-world case study demonstrating how national culture influences business leadership decision making.

Success Story
Real Estate Leadership:  Coaching for Growth Amidst a Changing Market by Freddie Ray

Real estate leaders have faced an unprecedented downturn amidst the recent economic turmoil. Tipper Williams, Regional Director of Virginia for Keller Williams Realty, has faced this challenge head on. Working with Executive and Leadership Coach Freddie Ray, she has executed a plan to hire talent, lead teams to profitability, and hone leadership skills to gain market position in uncertain times.

Get the Edge
A New Twist on an Old Concept: Return on Crisis (ROC) by Omar Khan and Maggie van de Griend

How do we find the opportunity in the crisis? In their article, Omar Khan and Maggie van de Griend reveal how to lead in order to get the best possible return on crisis (ROC).

Hot Topic 
Sustainability—The Impossible Dream by Jeffrey L. Balash

Jeffrey L. Balash states the reasons why businesses have a life cycle and how to extend a business's life cycle.

Social Media Mania 
How to Use Online Social Networks to Grow Your Coaching Practice by Dean R. DeLisle

Dean R. DeLisle gives us a first lesson in how to use Online Social Networks to acquire business in a brand new way.

The AMA Handbook of Leadership

An extraordinary collection of essays on leadership from among the world's greatest thought leaders.

*sdedit | AMACOM | Sarah McArthur


#1 executive coach Marshall Goldsmith shares the ways in which to get—and keep—mojo to build a successful business and/or career.

MarshallGoldsmithLibrary | MOJOtheBook | Amazon | Marshall Goldsmith

Foundation for International Leadership Coaching

Times of extraordinary challenge call for strong, effective, and innovative leadership. Yet, government and international non-governmental organization leaders find sophisticated leadership coaching not accessible.

With its network of senior leadership coaches, who donate their services, the non-profit Foundation for International Leadership Coaching is addressing this need.

To apply as a coach, to be coached, or for more information visit:


Coaching Great Leaders by Marshall Goldsmith

After a tough couple of years, many of us have lost our Mojo. Marshall Goldsmith helps us reclaim it with vigor!

On the Sunny Side by Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

What do we know about coaching-if it works, how well it works, and when it works best? Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron explores these questions in her latest article.

Based on the Evidence by Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis

Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis describes the get-together of nearly 30 coaching practitioners eager to engage in practitioner research-and the amazing benefits to the entire coaching community!

Moving Swiftly with Focus & Flexibility by Holly G. Green

Imagination can be a wonderful thing. But in the business world, making stuff up that has little to no basis in reality can wreak havoc with the strategic planning process. Learn how to identify common MSUs (making stuff up) so you can help your clients minimize their impact on their organization.

Global Leader Development by Jeremy Solomons

Can effective leaders in one region/country duplicate their success on a worldwide level? Jeremy Solomons explores possible answers to this question.

Unwilling Bedfellows by Dr. Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge

Dr. Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge explore a great challenge: What happens when the private sector meets the public sector?

Ask The Expert by Dr. Laurence S. Lyons

We are certain you will enjoy this little tale about an Undertaker, a Board, and a Doctor named Fink.

Business Book Summaries 
The New Age of Innovation by C.K. Prahalad and M.S. Krishnan

In The New Age of Innovation, authors C.K. Prahalad and M.S. Krishnan focus on the nature of innovation in the 21st century. They believe that the changing dynamic of markets, driven by connectivity, technology, industry convergence, and consumer activism and involvement, has created a need for continuous change.

In Our Next Issue

Dean R. DeLisle discusses transformational leadership and the business of adapting to a new online social world. Beverly Crowell and Beverly Kaye explore how business coaches can help managers deal with issues of retention and engagement.

From the Editor

With a new decade just beginning, many of us are now rolling up our sleeves to take on the "New Normal." Complete article.

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Top 10 LinkedIN Techniques
To Get New Business Coaching Clients

Just released for 2010—includes new LinkedIN site features! Learn how business coaches are securing leads, filling events and locking in qualified appointments!

In this in-depth FREE Training Overview, Dean DeLisle, Founder and CEO of Forward Progress—a Chicago based Coaching and Training Organization and a long-standing member with Worldwide Association of Business Coaches, will lead this webinar, guiding you through step by step on what YOU can do to begin leveraging your LinkedIn account to ACTUALLY generate NEW coaching business for 2010!

Featured frequently in news publications, radio and television, Dean DeLisle has helped over 4,000 clients connect with over 25 million leads and close over a billion dollars in sales—all by helping them make the connections that count.

Getting new business is critical in today’s business world where every targeted lead counts! Join the thousands of people who have generated new business in the last few months just by simply attending these webinars!

"Dean DeLisle is one of the foremost experts on using Social Networks for effective business marketing. Others offer introduction classes which provided me no value. Dean’s program got me up and running with immediate results to my bottom line."
— Darlene Ziebell, Executive Coach, Ziebell Enterprises, Inc.

ALL registrants will get access to the recording and materials.

In this jam-packed one-hour webinar, you will learn HOW TO:

  • Optimize your account
  • Find your target clients
  • Leverage the power of Groups
  • Increase your Google rankings
  • Track your success
  • Access new areas of LinkedIN
  • Access new tools available

We look forward to seeing you there!

Register Today!

Register for a session now by clicking a date below:
Thu, Feb 25, 2010 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM USA-CST
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This portion of our eZine is an advertisement. The views and opinions expressed in this portion of our website are not necessarily those of WABC Coaches Inc. Inclusion is not meant to be an endorsement.We are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for a specific purpose. We shall not be liable for any loss arising out of use of this information, including but not limited to any indirect or consequential damage.


Shanghai Motors: A Case Study in GeoleadershipTM

By Dr. E. S. Wibbeke and Dr. Cynthia Loubier-Ricca

Can leaders be successful leading business ventures in cultures outside of their own without understanding those novel cultures? If recent research and news accounts are correct, the answer is no. A conservative estimate suggests that 70% of global business ventures fail because of mismanagement of cultural differences.1 In this article, we address the question of intercultural leadership competence and how to build it. Based on original research conducted with 30 intercultural experts, we developed and tested a leadership preparation model we call GeoleadershipTM. This model does not suggest a blanket approach to leadership preparation approaches. Rather, it addresses missing aspects of culturally biased approaches. The remainder of the article describes the typical problems inherent in intercultural business contexts, presents the GeoleadershipTM Model components, and then applies the model to a specific case study in a global business.

The Problem of Culture

Whether or not we desire to, most adults act from a cultural bias. Culture influences, if not controls, our lives. Culture informs our religious/spiritual beliefs, our ways of eating, our manner of dress, and how we view the world. Our own cultures become so ingrained and second nature that they feel quite natural. When we put ourselves in another culture, we can quickly encounter customs, beliefs, and laws that feel quite unnatural. Therein lies the dilemma for business leaders who desire to conduct business in a culture outside their own. Leading a business venture in another country across national and international boundaries can be daunting. As recently as 2004, the world consisted of at least 200 nations and over 5000 ethnic groups. In many countries, the population is segmented into a dominant majority with one or more ethnic minorities amounting to more than 10% of the population.2

Theorists define culture variously and, as Pedersen and Connerley suggest, culture is often a misunderstood construct in organizations.3 Hall4 viewed culture as a mental exercise for sending, sorting, and processing of information. Kroeber and Kluckhohn5suggested that culture was an abstraction, rather than something tangible. Triandis6 perceived culture as a set of norms, roles, and values that produce meaning. Samovar and Porter7 suggested that culture is the cumulative deposit of knowledge and experience acquired by groups of people and then passed on to subsequent generations. House, Wright, and Aditya8 defined culture as the patterns of shared psychological properties among collective members resulting in attitudes and behaviors transmitted across generations. Such psychological properties include assumptions, beliefs, and values. When shared collectively, such properties become cultural norms or accepted behaviors. Although culture appears to be related to ethnicity, nationality, demography, or status, the typical definition is similar to Hofstede's "the collective programming of the mind that distinguished the members of one human group from another."9

Adding complexity to the picture is the fact that business organizations, too, have or are cultures. Shafritz and Ott10 described organizational culture as "a polemical concept which does not lend itself to a single definition." Van Maanen11 posited that it was "observed behavioral regularities when people interact, such as the language used and the rituals around deference and demeanor." Deal and Kennedy12 argued that culture is "the dominant values espoused by an organization, such as product quality, or price leadership and affects practically everything from who gets promoted and what decisions are made, to how employees dress."

Leadership Is a Cultural Concept

The problem with even the best-intentioned recommendations for leadership competence in intercultural contexts is that there still remains a cultural bias. In other words, the very concept of leadership is culturally bound. For example, in French, leadership (conduit) means "to guide one's own behavior, to guide others, or command action." Although the French are famous for protesting, authority commands deference and respect. In German, leadership (führung) means "guidance," and in organizations, it is construed to consist of uncertainty reduction. The leader guides action by the rules in such a way as to motivate. In Arabic, there is a word sheikh that has different meanings according to the regional culture. Literally, sheikh means a man over 40. However, in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, sheikh means a person from the Royal Family. In Egypt, sheikh means a scholar of religion. In Lebanon, sheikh means a religious leader, even among Christians. The socioeconomic and political culture of the Middle East plays a role in influencing the definition of leadership, though it is generally agreed that leadership is tied to seniority before any other qualification. In most of the Middle East, the term" leadership" is a political term, with the exception that in Iran, it is more a religious term. In Chinese, the characters for leadership, mean "the leader and the led." The implication is that leadership can only be a relational activity. For this article, we focus on a US leader who faced the intersection of American and Chinese business culture.

The GeoleadershipTM Model

We conducted a study with leading intercultural experts from around the world to determine the critical competencies for intercultural leadership and how leaders can acquire them. While the study's questions focused on US business leaders, panelists concluded that their recommendations held for all leaders engaged in global enterprise.

From the analysis, we identified seven critical factors considered necessary for intercultural leadership competence. These seven critical factors were integrated and form the foundation for Geoleadership,TM a new intercultural leadership model. The seven factors are as follows:

Care: Global business leaders should hold and maintain equal concern for the bottom line and for stakeholder groups. One of the starkest criticisms of US business leaders is that their focus is on profit above all other considerations. While we can agree that one objective of business is profit creation, we also believe that a longer term and broader social system ultimately serves business.

Communication: In order for business leaders to lead effectively in intercultural situations, they must engage the people of the cultures in whose countries they work. Closely related to context is that leaders must reach out to people in other cultures with a desire to understand and appreciate that culture and its people. Leaders must learn communication skills that promote listening and open, respectful dialogue.

Consciousness: A person filling the role of leader (or manager) needs to develop self-awareness. A leader's awareness must be expandable as contexts shift such that the leader becomes aware of his/her own personal cultural background and bias relative to that of other people. Building consciousness means being able to expand self-awareness.

Contrasts: Leaders must be able to work comfortably and effectively with ambiguity. Developing a tolerance for working with contrasting perspectives, methods, and differing value systems is critical. Working in ambiguous contexts requires patience and consciousness. Working at such a high level of consciousness means that leaders must be able to perceive multiple levels of contrasting meaning simultaneously.

Context: Global business leaders must develop the ability to A) perceive, discern, and adapt to the situations within which they work, and B) suspend judgment. As trite as it may seem, the old expression "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" seems to apply. This is not to suggest that leaders patronize the people with whom they interact in intercultural contexts. Rather, global business leaders must attend to the situation in which they find themselves. Leaders need to be able to recognize their own culturally learned behavior and adapt it according to their new context.

Change: Postmodern organizations require leaders who demonstrate flexibility in adapting to dynamic cultural environments. Intercultural leaders must shift from the old mechanistic mindsets of the industrial era to the flexible adaptive perspective of organizational life as a complex sociocultural system.

Capability: In order for a leader to be effective in intercultural situations, sufficient personal and organization capabilities must be developed. Intercultural competence requires that leaders are able to assess their own and others' capability and build it where there is deficit. Most important is the leader's influence in facilitating the creation of an organizational culture capable of intercultural learning agility.

In the following section we present a case study and illustrate how each of the seven model principles potentially contributed to the success of a leader who transferred from the US to China, and who, as president, led his company's expansion into that country.

The Case of Shanghai Motors Parts

Tom Fontaine is the president of Shanghai Motor Parts, the second largest auto interior parts manufacturing company now operating in China. He is from Wisconsin, graduated from Princeton and Harvard universities, and is fluent in Mandarin. He has lived and worked in Shanghai with his wife and children for 15 years and become thoroughly immersed in the culture. The company's strategy for entering China was rather simple. China had a large workforce that was willing to work for much lower wages than laborers in Europe and North America. Moreover, there was a thriving economy and the Chinese people had acquired an appetite for driving automobiles. Before the current economic crisis, China was the third largest producer of automobiles in the world, although a large number were foreign carmakers. China's own auto manufacturers are not well known outside of that country. Shanghai Motor Parts found a niche selling interior parts and components to the largest of the homegrown Chinese auto manufacturers.

When Tom Fontaine took the assignment to explore the possibility of going into China, he had several concerns about navigating the Chinese culture. Tom's first consideration was related to the corporation's goals of expansion. Chief among those was his intention that whatever agreement was forged had to benefit all stakeholders. His worry was how to do that given that he was a novice, even though he was well traveled and had taken three years of Mandarin in college. Tom's first step before traveling to China was to contact someone who had experience with both business and Chinese culture. He knew from his Mandarin studies that there were many pitfalls that could befuddle someone who did not understand the subtleties of Chinese society. Tom cared about not only the impression he made, but also about the company's effect on the Chinese.

Tom's coach had advised that the Chinese, especially in the north, still live by the teachings of Confucius. For this reason, Tom began reading to reacquaint himself with Confucian ideals. What occurred to Tom was he had better do a lot of listening. Communication would be essential in building trust, and trust was a cornerstone of building relationships upon which business agreements could be forged.

Tom had an edge on some people who take on foreign assignments because he was a leader who had developed a high level of self-awareness. Consciousness, or being mindful, is important when shifting between situations and in maintaining integrity. What Tom learned was that the more he focused on the present and less on a goal in the future, the better his relationship building went. He learned he could be charming and humorous and that these qualities served him well. He learned the importance of attending to details and following through on everything he promised. Most importantly, Tom learned to cultivate every interaction by attending to the person and their needs.

The differences between how American and Chinese businesses operate is striking, and the ability to manage ambiguity and appreciate the contrasts between cultures is an essential skill for leaders working across cultural contexts. The key to understanding these differences struck Tom as requiring patience and perseverance. He determined that one important building block in forging relationships with the local people in Shanghai would be solving interpersonal problems rather than problems of process and legality. To the Chinese, building a relationship is about building trust; it is not about money.

 In China, every interaction between people is based on a relationship. The concept of guanxi, which literally means "relationship," is held as a primary value. In business relationships, guanxi takes on additional meaning, referring to the network of relationships forged over time, relationships built on reciprocity. The Chinese society is much more complex than most Westerners imagine, differing vastly across many regions. Customs, language, and norms of each region must be recognized and honored. The Westerner who assumes that she/he has mastered China by coming to a base level of understanding of one city could blunder seriously.

 Negotiating a business expansion into a new country, especially for those leaders who physically move to that country, entails monumental change. Through Tom's work in learning about Chinese culture, building greater self-awareness, and living in the moment, he increased his ability to adapt and be flexible.

By the time Tom had finished assessing the expansion to China, he knew what capabilities he and the company needed to grow. While he was confident, he was always tuned into the context and open to growth. As the relationship grew, Tom determined that if the company was going to move forward with expansion, it could not be on an American timetable. Tom had once heard an expression in the American business lingo that said to "slow down to move fast," and he began to understand the wisdom of the saying related to his company's endeavors in China. The most important capabilities that Tom acquired were cultivating self-awareness, developing appreciation for and knowledge of another culture, forging deep interpersonal relationships, creating a vision for the long-term, and learning to assume nothing.

We developed the GeoleadershipTM Model based on our research into the competencies required for business leaders to be successful in intercultural business contexts. The seven dimensions of the model foster comprehensive preparation for global business ventures through cultivating similar, but heightened, skills to what has been taught in traditional leadership models. While most leadership models advise attention to communication, intercultural contexts require heightened listening skills. While most models advise leaders to acquire an ability to live with ambiguity, a much greater emphasis is needed when entering different cultures. Cultivating skill in all seven dimensions is how one leader, Tom Fontaine, brought his company to China with success.

1 International Labor Organization. 2004. World Employment Report. Geneva.
2 United Nations Human Development Report Office, 2004
3 Pedersen, P., & M. Connerley. 2005. Leadership in a Diverse and Multicultural Environment: Developing Awareness, Knowledge, and Skills. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
4 Hall, E. T. 1976. Beyond Culture. Garden City, NY: Anchor.
5 Kroeber, A., & C. Kluckholn. 1985. Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. New York: Random House.
6 Triandis, H. C. 1993. The Contingency Model in Cross-Cultural Perspective. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
7 Samovar, L. A., & R. E. Porter, eds. 2001. Communication between Cultures, 4th ed. (1991). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
8 House, R. J., N. S. Wright, & R. N. Aditya, 1997. "Cross-Cultural Research on Organizational Leadership: A Critical Analysis and a Proposed Theory." In New Perspectives on International Industrial/Organizational Psychology, edited by P. C. Earley & M. Erez. San Francisco: New Lexington.
9 Hofstede, G., & G. J. Hofstede, 2004. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, 2nd ed. (1996). New York: McGraw-Hill.
10 Shafritz, J. M., & J. S. Ott. 2000. Classics of Organization Theory, 5th ed. (1977). San Antonio, TX: Harcourt College.
11 Van Maanen, John. 1979. "Reclaiming Qualitative Methods for Organizational Research: A Preface." Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, December: 520-524.
1 Deal, Terrence E., & Allan A. Kennedy. 1982. Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life.  Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Dr. E.S. Wibbeke is the recognized management expert in how culture affects the bottom line. Dr. Wibbeke teaches Business Leadership courses at the University of Liverpool (UK) and Thunderbird School of Global Management (US), and holds a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership and an MBA in International Management. Dr. Wibbeke spent 20 years leading international projects at Fortune 500 firms, including 10 years in Silicon Valley. Dr. Wibbeke is author of Global Business Leadership (Elsevier, 2008), winner of the 2008 Best Business Book-San Diego Book Awards Association. Contact Dr. Wibbeke.

Dr. Cynthia Loubier-Ricca has been working as a consultant to individuals and organizations for the past 15 years. She regularly teaches courses in sociology, psychology, leadership, and research at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. She serves as a research mentor, dissertation chairperson, and dissertation committee member quite often. She has served as principal investigator or chairperson for various research or evaluative projects employing qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-design methodologies. Cynthia has conducted her own research using such methods as case study, ethnography, grounded theory, and quasi-experimentation. She holds doctoral, masters, and bachelor degrees in social science and business fields. Cynthia holds certification in conducting ethical research with human subjects (University of Miami), including international research and Internet-based research.

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Real Estate Leadership: Coaching for Growth Amidst a Changing Market

By Freddie Ray

Keller Williams Realty is the third largest real estate company in the United States, with over 670 offices. The organization is divided into regional franchise ownership groups and boasts a healthy complement of training to augment the success of its agent base. Residential real estate is the primary business of the company, with additional focus on commercial real estate and luxury homes.

The Partnership
Tipper Williams is the Regional Directory of Virginia for Keller Williams Realty. In the past 20 years, she has earned awards as a top salesperson, owned her own real estate company, and grown from salesperson to top leadership. During the term of this engagement, she has successfully led the largest franchise ownership group in the Keller Williams system.

Freddie Ray is the President and CEO of Motivation Coaching, an Executive and Leadership coaching company founded in March 2003.

The two met at a conference Freddie was attending with another client. "I was skeptical about hiring a coach," Williams said. "I chose her because of her success in business leadership and her credentials. She leads by example, she pushes me to be better than I thought I could be, and she challenges me to think before I act. Freddie has been my coach since 2005, and has helped me to grow as a leader, experience and respond to change, and helped me to focus on what is important for my teams and me to succeed."

The Challenge
At the beginning of the coaching engagement, the company identified desired results as leadership growth and business profitability. Tipper also had personal goals to achieve, including to exceed profitability goals and ultimately be promoted to the Regional Director position.

During the engagement, Tipper's role took her from Texas to Colorado to Virginia. Throughout, the desired results stayed the same; however, the issues were multifaceted. They included the lack of sustainable profitability in multiple offices, development and rollout of a new leadership position, the economic changes that disrupted the real estate market, and multiple moves that required Tipper to "start over" repeatedly-new roles in new states all within the same parent organization.

The Approach
Tipper was coached on leadership, accountability in systems development, business metrics, and change management.

In order to be successful, the client first had to learn what strengths augmented her efforts, and what behaviors hindered her success. First, a personality assessment was used to gauge her strengths and to open frank dialogue regarding leadership behavior. This allowed her to identify growth areas that would lead to greater success.

Second, the company was growing at a record pace, and this led to changes in position, changes in needs, and change management with teams. In order for Tipper to be successful, she had to focus on implementing systems that would allow for sustained success over time. These systems included hiring talent, developing business metrics to gauge current and potential growth opportunities, accountability systems to develop teams and new leaders, and more. Keller Williams Realty has a committed focus on training and development. In order for Tipper to succeed, she had to choose what company systems to implement, and how to apply those systems to individual and regional office needs.

"Gaining clarity is one of the best results I have from coaching. Weeding through everything that is thrown at me, stepping away from the challenges of a fast-paced industry and the frenzy of trying to be six places at one time, combined with the changing market and the needs of my team at times seemed impossible. Coaching with Freddie has taught me how to make sense of it all, how to identify what is most important, and how to make good decisions. Before, I might have made a decision based on what was right in front of me. Now, I have a process to follow."

Third, Tipper was faced with a multitude of changes. These changes included personally being moved from state to state, dealing with franchised offices that each had unique teams, and facing the uncertainty that came with the economic downturn. Change management became a major focus throughout the coaching engagement—from personnel to industry to leadership role-and continues into Tipper's newest position as Regional Director.

The overall key to this engagement is focus—focus on what is needed to be successful in business (sustainable profitability), on developing talent (hiring, training), on personal growth (change in positions, leadership scope), and more.

The Value Delivered
Tipper's results are many, and her commitment to success as well as to the success of the coaching engagement is tied to her "coachability." Throughout the process, she remained open to trying new things, to debriefing successes and failures, and to focusing on her goals and those of the company. This is a short list of some of her successes to date:

  1. Leadership skills development including business acumen, team building, and communication;
  2. Profitability for all offices under her watch, including franchise group success that exceeded company goals and benchmarks, placing her team at #1 for the group;
  3. Recruiting top leaders from competitive companies for office leadership positions, training them, and holding them accountable to goals;
  4. Systems rollout for sustained profitability;
  5. Regional training programs to augment team building and goal achievement;
  6. Successful rollout of the new "General Manager" position in the system, with record profitability numbers associated with groups in Colorado and Virginia;
  7. Attainment of the Regional Director role in Virginia;
  8. Attainment of a position on the Master Faculty for training at Keller Williams International;
  9. Change management to address the economic downturn and changes within the offices under her watch;
  10. Focus on a personal development plan to ensure growth as a leader, avoid stagnation, and lead by example.

Coaching enabled Tipper to stay focused amidst turmoil, to be accountable to the profitability goals set by the company, and to stay on track to attain her personal growth goals. "I don't say that something can't be done. Instead, I think in terms of how it can be done. I've always been an overachiever, and thought I could do it all on my own. I guess I thought I was supposed to do it on my own. What I found out was that I succeed when I'm challenged, and coaching has made me a better leader and helped me achieve my goals."

Freddie Ray is the President and CEO of Motivation Coaching, Inc., providing executive and leadership services to corporations, organizations, and executives seeking improved leadership skills, increased productivity, teambuilding, and bottom-line revenue results. An accomplished business professional with over 20 years experience, her longevity and experience are highlighted by a solution-oriented approach. Since opening her company in March 2003, she has logged over 8,000 coaching hours. See the WABC Member Directory for more about Freddie. Contact Freddie.

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A New Twist on an Old Concept: Return on Crisis (ROC)

By Omar Khan and Maggie van de Griend

We've heard people saying "don't waste a crisis." There's something to that. When facing a crisis, we're inevitably invested in it, whether we'd like to be or not. The crisis influences the competitive landscape, our customers, our teams, our financial options, and so on. So how do we get the most out of the investment, the challenge, and the potential opportunities? How do we lead in order to get the best possible return on crisis (ROC)?

Leaders may wish the financial crisis hadn't happened on their watch. On the other hand, one of the key ways leaders are known is by the impact they have on a situation, on the value they add to whatever status quo is around. For leaders eager and willing to show their mettle, this may even be the best possible time. Winston Churchill once said that his entire life had been a preparation for this moment. "This moment" for him was World War II. For business leaders today, it may be what we are calling The Great Recession.

Why Do You Believe Getting a Return on Crisis Is Possible?

Return on crisis is possible. In fact, some of today's major companies were formed during deep recessions, including GE, Hyatt, Burger King, Federal Express, Microsoft, CNN, Intel, and Wikipedia. Some famous companies were born during the Great Depression, among them HP, Revlon, Fortune Magazine (marvelously ironic) and Motorola. And companies like Google and PayPal were able to drive dramatic growth even during the "bursting of the technology bubble."

Crisis does not have to demotivate our teams—it can, in fact, be leveraged better than any other circumstance to foster community when people are focused on a truly important, common bull's eye (if not utilized in this way, it can sadly lead to unproductive panic...a real danger many companies face today).

Common mistakes made by companies that can create difficulties include aiming for across-the-board measures that are dangerous. Judgments should be made on a value basis, not just a cost basis. So if a business unit is performing particularly well, a key brand delivers a big chunk of profitability, a sales executive has historically high closing rates but needs to travel to deliver this, or a service team excels in customer retention and loyalty, perhaps the organization should invest more in these areas rather than less.

The Container Store doubled its training budget postcrisis, arguing they couldn't afford to lose a single customer. But they focused this on service and sales. Non-business-critical investments should indeed be deferred. But that can't be decided by applying an across-the-organization axe.

There are risks as well. For instance, what if a particular newly formed team must perform for the business to have any chance of thriving, and that team is wasting time in pointless go-arounds and ineffective decision-making processes? Perhaps a team engagement conference based on business and interpersonal dialogue and relationship building should be a mandate during these times (even if other conferences in the company have been cancelled).

What if an organization loses the top 10% of its talent because they have decided to find a smaller shop with better work/life balance, head out on their own, or use this year for that long-awaited educational or travel sabbatical? What if a large part of the organization's institutional knowledge, know-how, and key relationships walks out with them? Maybe this is the year to improve employee value proposition.

What about the slump in productivity when people are overworked and under-rewarded? Finding innovative and affordable ways to say "thank you" should be an imperative during these periods. Such engagement and recognition of those who are delivering in tough times is now front and center, and rightly so, on leadership agendas around the world.

To get ahead of the curve and to improve ROC, there is one practical step that all companies would be well advised to take: gather the senior team to decide how they intend to lead at this time. What are some critical "big hits" not only in terms of playing defense but also in terms of making 2010 as productive and profitable as possible?

The team may also have to assess the quality of its own interaction. One of the largest costs in companies comes from the pass-off chains between departments and functions. Members of the team may have to investigate their relationships with each other as well as ensure that their energy is going toward leading the business in key ways for critical outcomes, rather than being squandered in turf protection or agenda promotion.

Equally, they may wish to look at things they can do to improve the business. For example:

  • How can they strengthen customer loyalty?
  • How can they make a compelling case to current non-buyers?
  • What new products or services can be created in light of emerging realities and needs?
  • How can unwanted turnover be reduced, while non-performers are replaced with top talent?
  • What are key corporate makeover areas that were always put on the back burner for lack of slack time?
  • Those with decent balance sheets also now have a chance to make acquisitions and to be market leaders as markets consolidate.

In short, if organizations don't take on some of the deeper destroyers of value, the hit they'll take in terms of "opportunity costs" and temporarily hidden costs (e.g., loss of talent, employee burn-out or apathy, customer defections, poor execution of key strategies due to infighting) will be far greater than any of the more obvious costs they may be taking out.

With ROC, our fundamental message to leaders is to seize the opportunities in this crisis that will bring people together, get them to own the challenges of today and to co-create solutions, thereby being "fit for growth" as the economic tides turn and we learn to create the future in these extraordinary contexts. 

Let's really engage our leaders, our customers, our stakeholders. Let's make sure our organizational behaviors at this time are paving the kind of future we aspire to. Arguably at this time, that's not a merely "nice to have," but the very essence of the leadership required.

Omar Khan is senior partner of Sensei International, a global leadership consulting firm.  He is the author of Liberating Passion: How The World's Best Global Leaders Produce Winning Results and The Global Consultant. Contact Omar.

Margreet (Maggie) van de Griend is a senior partner at Axialent. Her consulting and facilitation are aimed at creating business value through effective corporate culture and human capability. Contact Maggie.

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Sustainability—The Impossible Dream

By Jeffrey L. Balash

All of us are attempting to fight one of the key laws of nature in both our business and personal lives: its life cycle. This process of birthing, growing, maturing, and dying applies to everything in the universe-including our own sun. So when our leaders, in both business and government, refer to "sustainability," they are to be applauded for attempting to lengthen the life cycle. However, they still can't repeal this essential law of nature. This note explores the reasons why these life cycles occur as well as some brief thoughts about how to extend them.1

1. Inability to Persevere in Doing Things That We Don't Want to Do

We all talk about staying in shape and watching our weight to enjoy and to extend a healthy lifespan. However, obesity is epidemic in America. As a Hall of Fame tennis player explained to me: "I've trained hard for 20 years. I'm done and going to enjoy life." This world-class athlete had become obese and completely out of shape.

Similarly, as corporations grow and become successful, complacency sets in. The culture changes from the quick, lean culture of the initial employees to a much larger group who are attracted because the firm is a successful enterprise that offers potential for wealth and security and an "easy" job with an "entitlement" to all of the associated benefits.

So the "tough stuff" of watching costs, changing the business model to preserve market leadership, and being "paranoid", in the words of Andy Grove, are no longer done—or acceptable.

Potential solutions: The CEO and his/her team need to concentrate on maintaining the culture of the company through A) hiring only those people who will adapt to the culture and embrace it, and B) structuring the proper incentives to motivate employees to maintain that culture. They must recognize that employees who excelled at a particular position may not have the skills to operate optimally in that same position as the company grows and matures.

2. Inability to Recognize That the Game Has Changed

Andy Grove also observed that he was the last to know things as the CEO. Because senior management and government leaders are typically far removed from the "front lines," it's difficult for them to identify critical changes as early as possible. Similarly, many employees aren't creative thinkers. They merely carry out orders. Those who sound the early warning alarm are frequently "shot" as messengers of bad news.

Potential Solutions: Structure a fairly flat organization where information can flow to the top quickly. Establish a separate email address for each member of the senior management team that is different from his/her primary email address, so that rank-and-file employees can send emails directly and allow the sender to screen his/her email address, if desired. In this way, the sender will know that no reprisals will occur. An intranet employee chat room, once again allowing for anonymity, will let employees interact quickly on line so that new ideas can be exchanged and issues can come to the surface quickly. It will also allow the senior management team to learn how the company and themselves are viewed by employees.

3. Inability to Change Strategy Tactics Even Though the Change Has Been Recognized

Professor Clayton Christiansen of Harvard Business School has done exhaustive research in this area and in the area described above.2 Organizations are typically a prisoner of their own business models. To effect the necessary change is painful, requiring the adoption of an entirely new paradigm, which may entail reengineering, retraining, and restructuring (including layoffs). Most firms don't have the will to do this.

Potential Solutions: Accept the fact that "you need to do it to yourself-or it will be done to you." A company can either be a victim (as in the Big Three automakers) or a survivor (as IBM has expanded its business into the services area instead of continuing to concentrate primarily on hardware manufacturing). This not only demands a tough "look in the mirror" on a periodic basis and the will to do what has to be done; it also requires significantly different management talents and styles to maximize the profits of declining businesses. (These can remain high for a long period, if appropriately operated). These talents and styles are different than those operating in growth businesses or mature businesses. A company needs to have all three types of managers on its "pitching staff" (e.g., starter, middle relief, and closer) and to establish the appropriate incentives for each group.

4. Loss of Flexibility and Nimbleness as the Bureaucracy Grows

As a firm achieves ever greater success, it grows larger, less nimble, and more bureaucratic. Rules and procedures tend to be inflexible rather than adaptive. The behemoth can't move as quickly as the fox. When Intel switched from DRAM (dynamic random access memory) as its principal product to microprocessors, it took a year for Gordon Moore and Andy Grove to gain managerial acceptance of the new strategy.

Possible solutions: Organize the company to operate in smaller units, allowing it to be more nimble in its responses to challenges and change, as well as to attract and retain entrepreneurial managers. Delegate decision making downward, so that the decision chain is shortened and response time is improved. An interesting example is Johnson and Johnson, which permits its key managers to run their businesses on their own, except that they must get all significant capital expenditures approved by the CFO.

This note is brief of necessity. It can't possibly address all of the issues and potential solutions. I also don't have a monopoly on knowledge. Therefore, I would encourage comments, suggestions, and criticisms by the reader, which is how I learn and adapt to the changing environment as well.

1 For a very thoughtful discussion of how our human "health span" can be maximized, please consider: Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You're 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge and the successor book: Younger Next Year for Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy - Until You're 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley, Henry S. Lodge, and Gail Sheehy (both, Workman, 2007). The strategies and tactics articulated in these books can frequently be mapped into business situations.

2 Christensen, Clayton M. The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business. Collins Business Essentials: 2003 (1997).

Jeffrey L. Balash has created over $4 billion in value across five continents in different industries as an investment banker, strategist, operating executive, and investor. His experience includes seven startups. Contact Jeffrey.

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How to Use Online Social Networks to Grow Your Coaching Practice

By Dean R. DeLisle

It's not a new way of doing business; however it's a brand new way of acquiring new business. It's the Online Social Network phenomena. We often see many of our coaches come through and ask us point blank, "Can I really grow my coaching practice using Online Social Networks?" Our answer is always consistent—yes!


Then, of course, comes the "how" question. We begin by telling them that it's similar to when we are coaching: it all starts with the right mindset. First of all, make sure you are ready to do some new things. It's like when you take that bold move to switch from a conventional cell phone to a Blackberry® or iPhone—you want to make sure you are ready to commit. Just like that example, when you make the change, you accept the change, and when you work with the change, it works for you. However, I always repeat this: only when you commit to it are you really making the change!

Social Networking

Now that our coaches are ready for something new, we tell them that they already know how to do most of this. They look puzzled and we continue to explain. Remember when you first started out in business and you joined a chamber, network club, private club, leads club, association, or even a health club? You most likely did this because you wanted to connect and network with "like-minded" people, people who had something in common, whether it was at a career level, industry level, belief level, health level, or charity level. Then, based on that foundation, you built trust and connected to those with whom you found similarities, who you liked, or who you would consider doing business with until given a reason not to.

The Right Club

Online Social Networks function the exact same way. So let's go through the basic steps of being successful with what you already know. First and foremost, find a club or social network that you think will be the most successful with your "like-minded" people. We recommend you ask those you respect and find out where they hang out. Most of our coaches gravitate toward LinkedIN, as it has a very professional flavor and maintains a high level of integrity with its members. However, you have to like your "club" and Online Social Network, so make sure you know others who are there as well.

Your Image

After you have made your choice(s), make sure you are ready to complete a full profile. Do not skimp here, for if you are complete and relevant to what your website and articles say, and connect this to your coaching practice, the networks will typically do a ton of work for you. Make sure you don't leave anything relevant out of your profile.

Some key areas NOT to overlook in your profile:

  • Picture
  • Full Professional Description
  • Professional Postion(s)
  • Board Position(s)
  • Charity Affiliation(s)
  • All Education
  • Military Background
  • Awards and Certifications
  • Special Interests and Hobbies

Remember, when you fill these out, do not cut and paste the old stuff. Make sure you are extremely current and relevant. We also recommend that you freshen up this area quarterly as you progress with your practice. You are likely to expand your methods, techniques, accomplishments, and approach-update this information on your profile. You might also speak differently depending on the ever-changing economic climate. This will begin to build your Internet footprint and as we like to say, your eReputation!

Your Hard Work

We are not really sure why, but it seems that everyone always forgets their hard work. They write so much web content, articles, Powerpoints, speeches, emails, blogs, etc. and take so many pictures and videos that they actually forget to use them. Take all this hard effort, your expertise, and your knowledge and extend your reputation to the network that is looking for you. This is the most common part overlooked. People forget to continuously post their hard work all over the Internet for people to find. The network you choose will most likely allow you to feature your items prominently for your new prospects to find.

Start Talking

Remember that social networking the "old way" or the "new way" only works if you are active. Just like everything else in life, you get out what you put in. Decide where you should go within your new Online Social Network and start talking. For instance, there are very relevant groups, subgroups, discussion boards, and blogs in which to partake. If you're new at this, you can simply jump into an existing conversation, making it easy and fun! If you are not sure or are hesitant, then watch others' conversations, responses, comments, and replies first, then begin when you are ready. However, do not wait too long, for while you were reading this article, someone already found a coach just like you because they responded to a post or answered a key question. Don't forget, people are on the Internet because they are "looking for answers"!

Acquire New Business

The last and very important step is that we are doing all this not only to build our reputation, but also to obtain new business, right? It is quite simple. Let's go back to the first section of this article and get back to what we know. Now take those people who find you online based on your complete and relevant profile, content, or expertise and conversations, and take that connection out of the online network to an offline phone call or even an appointment. How? Ask!

You will do fine from here!

Dean DeLisle has proven his ability to accelerate contacts, business development, and operations with sound business practices, the ever-evolving power of technology, and his consulting, coaching, and training skills over the past 25 years. More about Dean in the WABC Member Directory. Contact Dean.

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Coaching Great Leaders
Find Your Mojo and Find Success!

By Marshall Goldsmith

In my work, the most frequent question I hear is: What is the one quality that differentiates truly successful people from everyone else? My answer is always the same: Successful people spend a large part of their lives engaging in activities that simultaneously provide meaning and happiness. In other words, truly successful people have Mojo. Because the only person who can define meaning and happiness for you is you, I've recently written a book to help people to define and achieve Mojo.

Mojo is that moment when we do something powerful, purposeful, and positive and the rest of the world recognizes it. To me, Mojo is about achieving two simple goals—loving what you do and showing it—and it plays a vital role in our pursuit of happiness and meaning. These goals are what govern my operational definition, which is: Mojo is that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside. Our Mojo is evident when the good feelings we have toward what we are doing come from inside us and are apparent for everyone else to see. There is no gap between the positive way we perceive ourselves-what we are doing-and how we are perceived by others.

There's something I haven't brought up yet and it may be the most critical piece of advice within this article: You should not feel obligated do any of this alone! If you want to improve your performance at almost anything, your odds of success improve considerably the moment you enlist someone else to help you.

I know this from personal experience, because for several years I have enlisted the help of a friend, Jim Moore, in achieving my own personal goals. Every day, no matter where either of us is in the world, we try to connect on the phone so Jim can ask me a series of questions. They're important day-to-day lifestyle questions such as "Did you say or do anything nice for Lyda [my wife]?" "How much do you weigh?" or "How many minutes did you write?" Jim happens to be an esteemed expert in leadership development, but his qualifications for this ritual rest more on the fact that he's a friend who's genuinely interested in helping me and will always make himself available for our daily phone call.

The process is incredibly simple. At the end of each day, Jim asks me twenty-four questions (the number has changed over time as my goals shift between maintaining my weight and being nicer to my family). Each question has to be answered with a yes, no, or a number. I record the results on an Excel spreadsheet and at the end of the week get an assessment of how well I'm sticking to my objectives. (I return the favor by asking Jim a series of questions about what matters to him.)

The results are astonishing. After the first eighteen months of adhering to this ritual, Jim and I both weighed exactly what we wanted to weigh, exercised more, and got more done (and I was nicer to my wife). As an experiment, we quit for about a year to see what would happen. Each of us put the weight back on and did not achieve nearly as much-a result that was both predictable, depressing, and sent us rushing to back to the program, where we resumed hitting our targets immediately. I was never unhappy, but my life seems happier and more meaningful to me when I use this process.

(To see my ‘daily questions,' Jim's daily questions, and get an article describing this process, go to

The lesson is clear: we don't just have to rely on self-help!

Marshall Goldsmith, MBA, PhD, 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. He is the WSJ and NYT best-selling author of What Got You Here Won't Get You There (Hyperion, 2007). His most recent book is Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back If You Lose It. Learn more about Marshall in the WABC Coach Directory. Contact Marshall.

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On The Sunny Side
Global Gifts to Coaching Practitioners

By Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

I have recently experienced some of the gifts offered to coaches worldwide to enable them to develop their discipline. These include practitioner research, international conferences, and research grants. My first column for the year discusses the importance of these gifts and how we can make good use of them.

Practitioner Research and Reflective Practice

What do we really know about how coaching works, exactly how well it works, and when it works best? In essence, not much. Our "knowledge" is based mainly on what coaches say they do, or on what they think makes sense-rather than on observation of what they really do, or on research into coaching outcomes experienced by individuals, teams, and organizations. As a coaching practitioner, it is essential to continually research your own practice, ultimately developing your own professional competence through reflective practice.

David Peterson (2009) suggests simple ways to do this. For example, try different techniques in your coaching, i.e., with alternate clients do a background interview that is only one third of your normal interview; see what happens and take notes on what you observe. Secondly, you can generate a list of experimental ideas for your coaching from reading about new techniques, new types of questions, or new processes. Try one new thing every coaching session and record your findings. Thirdly, you can ask your coaching participants what was the most effective thing you (as coach) did in the session, and why was it helpful.

Also ask what was the least effective thing, and why was it not helpful? Record your feedback, looking for patterns, and substitute new processes for the least effective things. Think about participating in coaching research studies, or finding clients from your own practice to participate in such studies. Most importantly, think critically about and read current coaching research, trying to incorporate findings into your own practice.

The general characteristics of practitioner research are that (Fillery-Travis, 2009):

  • The research questions, aims, and outcomes are determined by the practitioners themselves;
  • The research is usually designed to have an immediate and direct benefit or impact;
  • The focus is on the practitioner's own practice and/or that of their immediate peers;
  • The research or enquiry is small scale and short term;
  • The process may be evaluative, descriptive, developmental, or analytical.

Coaching Conferences

Coaching in Medicine and Leadership

In late September 2009, I attended and spoke at the second International Harvard Coaching Conference on Coaching in Medicine and Leadership. Coaching has emerged as a competency dedicated to helping individuals grow, develop, and meet personal and professional goals while at the same time building personal and professional capacity and resilience. Although every year coaches are servicing a US$1.5 billion market, the most developed market segment is leadership coaching in organizations-less than 20 percent of professional coaches are from the mental health or medical fields. The Harvard conference was therefore a groundbreaking event, with lectures and workshops by world leaders in coaching and coaching research. There were three tracks: Overcoming the Immunity to Change; Coaching in Leadership-Theory and Practice; and Coaching in Health Care-Research and Application.

ICRF2 London: Measuring Results

In November I participated in the second International Coaching Research Forum (ICRF2) held in London, sponsored by the IES (UK Institute for Employment Studies) and the International Coaching Research Forum (ICRF). ICRF2: Measure for Measure looked specifically at how to design coaching measures and instruments, with the ultimate aim of discovering what makes coaching effective. Researchers from around the world met to discuss three major topic groups: process measures, outcome measures for executive/leadership coaching, and outcome measures for health, wellness, and life coaching. The format for each discussion was:

  1. Discussion of what inputs should be measured;
  2. Identification of aspects of the coaching process to be measured
  3. Identification of outcomes to measure, based on coaching purpose;
  4. Specific suggestions on how best to measure areas of greatest interest.

Critical issues in measurement and methodology were discussed, the biggest concerns relating to:

  1. How do we evaluate instruments and measures? What are the important considerations, such as reliability, validity (quantitative research), and trustworthiness (qualitative research)?
  2. How can we incorporate measures into our research? What are the issues and considerations in research design and methodology for incorporating measures and interpreting results?
  3. What qualitative research issues have arisen in recent coaching research?
  4. What are some of the most compelling coaching topics and challenges and how can they be measured?

A final report will be made available on the websites of both the International Coaching Research Forum and COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa) early next year. All of the group forums were recorded, and key points from each discussion will be included in the final report.

GCC Rainbow Convention-Cape Town 2010

These recent conferences have implications for all coaches worldwide, and particularly for the work being carried out by the Global Coaching Community (GCC), an international dialogue aimed at furthering the development of coaching. The GCC's last convention took place in Ireland in July 2008 and produced the momentous Dublin Declaration on Coaching. The declaration was supported by recommendations from the GCC's ten working groups, and has been endorsed by organizations and individuals representing over 15,000 coaches around the world.

It is now South Africa's turn to host this pivotal event and help take the dialogue forward, and so the GCC Rainbow Convention will be held in Cape Town during 10-16 October 2010. The convention will showcase the results of pioneering practitioner research being undertaken by "pods" of coaches around South Africa. It will also continue the development work undertaken by the GCC's ten working groups, as well as host specialist workshops on aspects of coaching practice.

Grants from the Institute of Coaching

Another boost to the professional development of coaching practitioners is an endowment of US$2,000,000 from the Harnisch Foundation to the Institute of Coaching based at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital. The Institute is able to translate this generous endowment into grants totaling US$100,000 per year to fund rigorous research into coaching, thereby helping develop the scientific foundation and professional knowledge base of the field.

The Institute offers four types of grant, with deadlines for applications on the first day of February, May, August, and November each year:

  1. Graduate student fellowships of up to US$10,000 for high-quality research projects. To qualify, applicants must be Masters or Doctoral candidates looking for financial support for dissertation research on coaching.
  2. Research project grants of up to US$40,000 annually for individuals who would like to conduct empirical research in coaching.
  3. Research publication grants of up to US$5,000 to assist with the writing, editing, and publication of coaching research in  peer-reviewed journals.
  4. Travel awards to cover travel expenses related to presenting coaching research at the annual Harvard Coaching Conference.

Please visit to learn more about the Institute's various grants, membership programs, current research, and publications  and for information on the recent Harvard Conference. As a Founding Fellow of the Institute of Coaching and a member of its Research Advisory Board, I am keen that all practitioner researchers in coaching are aware of these research grants. It is crucial that we begin to build the body of knowledge on what is working and what still needs work within the discipline of business coaching worldwide.


How Can You Play a Part in the Development of the Field?


Our goal in developing reflective research and enquiry is to make a substantial contribution to the emerging practice of coaching worldwide (Stout Rostron, 2009). Your gift to our emerging discipline is to play a practical part. For example, you can:

  • Participate in WABC activities to develop the field;
  • Offer to participate in coaching research studies (see box below);
  • Continue to develop your own reflective practice;
  • Write up your own cases studies for coaching journals;
  • Apply for a research grant for one of your studies through the Institute of Coaching;
  • Attend conferences and stay abreast of current research practice;
  • Find out how you can participate in the GCC Rainbow Convention in South Africa in October 2010.

Systemic Team Coaching Research Survey

Professor Peter Hawkins, creator of the Seven-Eyed Supervision Model1and founder of the UK Bath Consultancy Group, is currently writing a new book on Systemic Team Coaching to be published by Kogan Page in 2010. He would like this book to best represent what is known and practiced in the field of team coaching. He is asking thought leaders, leading researchers, and senior team coaches to contribute from their experience. All contributions will be fully acknowledged and you will be referenced. Everyone who fills in the questionnaire will also be invited to the book launch in the UK in autumn 2010. Key questions are as follows:

  • What is the most common difficulty you have noticed in teams being effective?
  • What is the best way you have found to address this difficulty?
  • If you were responsible for teaching a new cadre of team coaches in just three months and were restricted to teaching them only five things, what would they be?
  • How do you define team coaching?
  • What three issues or questions do you think most need addressing in the field?

Please email responses to: Professor Peter Hawkins or send to Barrow Castle, Rush Hill, Bath, UK BA2 2QR.


Fillery-Travis, A. (2009). Practitioner Research Workshop, GCC Rainbow Convention, notes.

Peterson, D. (In press). "Executive Coaching: A Critical Review and Recommendation for Advancing the Practice." In Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, edited by S. Zedeck. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Stout Rostron, S. (2009). Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching. Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources. Available from

Wilkins, N. (2009). "Countdown to the GCC Rainbow Convention!" COMENSAnews, November. Available from

1Hawkins, P. and Shohet, R. (2007) Supervision in the Helping Professions. United Kingdom: Open University Press.

Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron, DProf, MA is an executive coach and consultant with a wide range of experience in leadership and management development, business strategy and executive coaching. The author of six books, including Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching (2009), Sunny is Director of the Manthano Institute of Learning (Pty) Ltd and founding president of COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa). More about Sunny in the WABC Coach Directory. Contact Sunny.

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Based on the Evidence
Everyone Has a Passion

By Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis

When we last met I was walking off into a rather damp and grey Norfolk sunset with my soapbox tucked neatly under my arm. Well, it wasn't long before I was packing my bag and taking the train to Heathrow Airport. What adventure could possibly persuade me to board an airplane and face my flying phobia for 11 solid hours? Well, kind reader, you will not be surprised to learn it was to work with nearly 30 coaching practitioners eager to engage in practitioner research for the good of their community! How could I refuse!

It all started with a call from Sunny Stout Rostron from South Africa who had volunteered to host the 2010 Global Coaching Convention, which they have designed under the title the Rainbow Convention. A central core of the convention program will be the outputs of groups (or pods) of coaches coming together to actively research a shared passion or concern. They had a year to do it and wanted support in setting up their activities.

The trip showed just what can happen when a community works together. Annual leave granted from my company, the Professional Development Foundation, flights paid for by donated air miles, kind hospitality at homes instead of hotels, and people giving their time and energy pro bono allowed three two-day workshops to be run in Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town for the smallest fee to the participants.

I had designed the workshop to enable the coaches to "work" their research from initial idea straight through to proposal. We shared a lot of hard work, laughter (and chocolate) and I was truly impressed at the innovation that was brought into the room. I would like to take this space to share my reflections upon those fabulous days spent in such excellent company.

Everyone has a passion: All of us have a question that current books and journals can't answer but is important to us. We research because we care. We care about getting the very best for our clients; we care about our colleagues and our profession. We are blessed to be at the beginning of the profession with such opportunities for enquiry and discovery.

Everyone has a unique perspective: This perspective is akin to a spotlight that reveals a dark corner that no one else has seen. An area of coaching I thought reasonably well described would suddenly come alive as a research topic when coaches revealed just what was still missing for them and their clients.

Everyone is researching already: When we shared our experience, every person in the room was undertaking research in some form during their normal work. Coaches read, reflect, and experiment with new approaches and tools. They share best practice with each other and are constantly on the hunt for better understanding of the coaching intervention.

Everyone knew what they wanted and needed to produce: One of the real discriminators of practitioner research is the focus on an output that has a direct benefit to real practice. These outputs ranged from new models and workshops to toolkits and evaluation criteria.

Everyone wanted to share their knowledge: Researchers and coaches share many similarities and one of the most important is the joy in sharing their discoveries and seeking feedback from their peers. We all need to protect our intellectual property, but there are ways of sharing that that reduce the risk of theft.

Everyone can contribute to research: All of the practitioners are full-time working professionals, but their passion and their research are part of the day job. They are bringing them real market edge and also providing their clients answers to the questions they have today. Whether their contribution is as a leader of a pod or as a critical friend, their work will impact the final output.

The range of research people are doing is really breathtaking. We discussed coaching within townships to achieve sustainable change and how work with other vulnerable groups in Europe and America could inform this type of coaching and how to research it.

We looked at the dominant coaching agendas in the public sector and I realized how much coaches I know in Local Authorities in the UK shared similar concerns. Coaching in education was a hot topic, as it is in the UK, and dialogue with others globally will add value here. Although the issues are larger in South Africa, the commitment of the people and their vocation are shared. We looked at evaluation in the private sector and this research will really add to our global conversation of how context impacts delivery.

You can share in this journey of discovery and help your fellow practitioners by getting in touch and/or coming to South Africa this year to hear about the results. The dates are 10th-16th October 2010. Please visit Rainbow Convention to stay in touch.

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. Contact Annette.

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Moving Swiftly with Focus & Flexibility
Is There a Monster Living Under Your Bed?

By Holly G. Green

Remember all the things as a young child that you knew to be fact but later on found out weren't quite so true?

Things like, every night a monster lives under my bed. When I grow up, I'm going to be a movie star. If I wish upon a star, all my dreams will come true.

Conventional wisdom says that as we grow older and wiser in the world, we lose the ability to pretend, that by the time we reach adulthood, we forget all about how to make stuff up and spend the rest of our lives in dull reality.


As adults, we have an even greater capacity to make stuff up. And we use this enhanced capacity all the time. The only problem is that we tend to use our imaginations in negative ways as well as in ways we don't recognize as fantasy.

In the business world, we constantly make stuff up based on deep-seated beliefs and assumptions we hold about our customers, competitors, markets, employees, and the business world in general. In a stable world, this doesn't pose much of a problem. In a world where constant change represents the norm, it can wreak havoc on our businesses.

The problem is not that we have assumptions and beliefs; it's that we rarely take the time to examine them. In today's world, if the information that we "know to be true" has been in our heads longer than six months, there's a good chance it is no longer valid or is only partly true anymore. So we go around acting and making decisions based on information that may or may not be true.

MSUs (making stuff up) occur in every organization. But at no time do they have more impact than during the strategic planning process. Here are some of the most common and harmful MSUs I have encountered:

  • Ambiguity effect: The avoidance of options for which missing information makes the probability seem unknown.
  • Bandwagon effect: The tendency to do or believe things because many other people do the same.
  • Confirmation bias: The tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms your preconceptions.
  • False consensus effect: The tendency to overestimate the degree to which others agree with you.
  • Herd instinct: The tendency to adopt the opinions of others and follow the behaviors of the majority in order to feel safer and avoid conflict.
  • Hindsight bias: The inclination to see past events as being predictable.
  • Illusion of transparency: The overestimation of others' ability to know you and your ability to know others.
  • Information bias: The tendency to seek information even when it cannot affect action.
  • Mere exposure effect: The tendency to express undue dislike for something merely because you are not familiar with it.
  • Planning fallacy: The tendency to overestimate task completion times.
  • Projection bias: Unconsciously assuming that others share the same or similar thoughts, beliefs, values, or positions as you.
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy: The tendency to engage in behaviors that elicit results that will (consciously or unconsciously) confirm your beliefs.
  • Status quo comfort: The tendency to like things to stay relatively the same.

Keep in mind that MSUs operate at the unconscious level. People don't stand up in meetings and say, "Hey, even though I disagree with everyone, I'm going along with the crowd because it avoids conflict and makes me feel comfortable!" But the MSU is definitely there, lurking just below the level of conscious thought. And it has a real impact on people's behavior.

When MSUs rear their ugly head, goals get set too low or too high. Opportunities are missed. Changes in customer needs and expectations get overlooked. Planning assumptions are made that have no basis in reality. People choose the status quo over change that needs to happen. Strategic initiatives get launched that have no chance at success. The list goes on and on.

How can you avoid, or at least minimize, the impact of MSUs? And how can you support your clients in recognizing and minimizing their own MSUs?

Start by becoming aware that MSUs exist. Acknowledge that you, your clients, and employees still have very active imaginations that you use all the time. Then make your thinking process transparent. During the planning process, put everyone's beliefs and assumptions about your customers, competitors, and markets out on the table and challenge them. Ask, "What do we think we know to be true? Is it still true? If not, what has changed and how do we need to respond to that change?"

Turn the dial on your MSU meter from negative to positive. Strategic planning involves imagining a future for your company and planning what needs to happen in order to get there. Instead of focusing on problems and what you can't do, turn your imaginations toward what you can do. Instead of saying things like, "We can't do that," or "That will never work," try asking, "What if our assumptions are wrong? What if we did it this way...?"

In today's business world, it may seem like monsters are everywhere, just waiting to steal your customers and devour your business. But in reality, they live inside organizations, feeding off the MSUs that leaders and employees make up every day.

The question for today's business leaders is not, "Are we making stuff up?" It's, "What are we making up and how does it impact our decisions and actions?"

So, what are your business "fantasies"? What are you making up?

Holly G. Green is a consultant, author, and speaker. She is CEO of The Human Factor, Inc. and author of More Than a Minute, How to Be an Effective Leader and Manager in Today's Changing World (Career Press, 2008). Contact Holly.

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Global Leader Development
What Helps Leaders to Be Effective on a Global Level...and What Doesn't - Part I

By Jeremy Solomons

As business becomes more and more global, many organizations are asking themselves if an effective leader in one country or region can duplicate her or his success on a worldwide level?

For example, Lucia Mannone may have a proven track record in the southern European region, but is she still able to develop new client relationships, manage projects, and run teams in the very different markets of Latin America and East Asia? And if she can't, what is the best way to prepare her and other budding global leaders like her to be fully productive and effective in the future?

This is the first of three articles that will explore and explode some common myths around global leadership development and then come up with some alternative approaches that coaches can use to help all leaders be successful across international boundaries.

In order to do this, let's go back to Lucia. She is a 38-year-old Italian senior marketing officer for a German medical instrument company. The company headquarters are in Stuttgart and she is based in Milan. She has worked on Italian national accounts and then the southern European region for the last 12 years and her performance and that of her teams have been consistently high.

As her company is expanding in the key markets of Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea, she is now being asked to take on a more global role. Her technical knowledge is beyond compare and her ability to motivate her colleagues has been demonstrated again and again, even during economic downturns and company restructurings. But she has not traveled much beyond the Mediterranean, except for a professional conference in Baltimore and family holidays in Phuket and Cancun.

For someone like Lucia, the first step is usually to help her become more "culturally competent," but this can be interpreted and realized in many different ways.

Myth 1: The Behavioral Approach

A typical way to launch "cultural competence" coaching might be for Lucia to read one or two of the many books or websites that outline all the things to do—and more importantly, not to do—in a particular country.

If Lucia is like most businesspeople and she does not want to give offense or look stupid, it might be very helpful for her to learn how to give someone a business card in Osaka or what not to discuss at an initial business lunch in Monterrey. All of these hints and tips can certainly help with those important first impressions, but what happens after you kiss, bow, or shake hands?

Lucia might have done her homework and diligently learned the top 50 or 100 or even 500 etiquette tips for working and communicating with Brazilians or Koreans, but what would she do in situation 501? Unfortunately, she would have no idea what to do or say, because the behavioral approach on its own only gives the "whats" and the "hows" but not the "whys." There is no context for the content. No framework for the structure.

Myth 2: The National Values Approach

In order to get at the "whys," Lucia might then be directed to some well-grounded research on the differences between national values. The innovative works of Geert Hofstede and Fons Trompenaars are frequently studied during this stage of global leadership development.

Through her reading, Lucia will probably be delighted to discover that the traditional importance that Italians place on such values as family, relationships, creativity, aesthetics, love, passion, and even calcio (football/soccer) are also shared by Brazilians. She might be surprised to find out that the Chinese value "face"—social harmony and personal honor-just as the Italians do. In China, it is called mianzi and in Italy, bella figura. And she might appreciate the warning that "respect" does not mean the same thing in Mexico as it does in Italy or that the Japanese are much more concerned with centralized authority than the autonomy-loving Italians.

Similarly, explanations of the different concepts of "quality" and "seriousness" in Germany and Italy might shed  light on some long-running tensions with certain people in the Stuttgart headquarters. But this approach can only help so far, because it is based on a rather dangerous assumption: that everyone—or even most people—within a national culture will conform to the norms of that culture.

This is a particularly dubious claim in the vibrant cultures of international business and among young people, where change is a constant and deviation from the norm is much more prevalent.

On an individual level, Engineer Lee may not be very Korean in his value system, because he studied for his undergraduate degree at Delft University in the Netherlands and his master's degree at MIT in Boston. And Señor Trujillo may not be very Mexican as he grew up in seven different countries on three continents as his mother was a diplomat.

And what about Lucia herself?

At first glance, it would seem that she is typically Italian, having lived and worked there her whole life apart from her frequent business trips around Europe and a few work and pleasure jaunts beyond the continent.

But what if you knew that she was an orphan from North Africa, who was brought up by her nonna (adoptive grandmother) in a clean, safe, but very modest home in a small town outside Naples. As a math genius and natural athlete, she excelled in school and was the youngest MBA ever to graduate from the prestigious Bocconi University in Milan. She is now married to a struggling artist and has three young children, one of whom has cerebral palsy.

How might these unique environmental and genetic factors affect her personal value system and how she behaves and communicates with other people?

We will explore this and related issues in the next Global Leader Development article to be published in the June issue of BCW.

In the meantime, if you want to respond to any of the points raised in this column, please email the article author.


Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations across Nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Hofstede, G. (2005). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind (Revised and expanded 2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Hampden-Turner, C. and F. Trompenaars. Riding The Waves of Culture: Understanding Diversity in Global Business (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Jeremy Solomons, is the UK-born and USA-naturalized founder and president of Jeremy Solomons & Associates, which helps current and future leaders to connect and communicate effectively across all cultures-national, organizational, professional, and individual. From his base in Austin, Texas, he coaches, consults, designs curriculum, facilitates, and trains in many areas of leadership. Contact Jeremy.

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Unwilling Bedfellows
Learning to Be ONE: The 7 Challenges of Working in a Public-Private Setting
(Part 1 of 2)

By Dr. Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge

What happens when the private sector meets the public? Is it all about private sector efficiency versus public sector values or are other factors involved? Drawing on our experience of coaching in both sectors and coaching people who suddenly found themselves working in an organization taken over by the government, this article raises awareness of commonly occurring themes/challenges. By making the themes clear we hope that executive coaches and their clients can be better prepared for the challenges ahead and thus contribute to raising performance standards in these settings.

Banking is the latest sector to become involved in public-private partnerships; previous sectors include infrastructure and health. The current/recent global financial crisis created many new and unexpected partnerships. For example, in the UK we saw the nationalization of Northern Rock. Almost overnight, bank executives were thrown into cooperation and collaboration with civil servants. They were charged with achieving the best possible solution for the general public through the most appropriate allocation of resources, risk, and rewards.

However, what may sound fine and straightforward in theory is full of challenges for the executives working in these settings. To be successful, they need to understand the new culture in which they will be working and have a healthy appreciation of the themes that will be part of their daily working lives.

Over the last 18 months, during the economic slowdown and subsequent crisis, we conducted coaching assignments across industries and countries. We began to notice patterns and themes emerging. In all, we looked at 30 executive coaching cases. What struck us was the high degree of "convergent validity," meaning great similarity, of the themes irrespective of country or specific organizational environment.

We have grouped the most commonly recurring themes into seven categories. These are:

  1. Different cultures—behaviors and expectations;
  2. Greater complexity of stakeholder groups;
  3. Leadership and management style;
  4. Process versus purpose;
  5. Depth and breadth of subject matter know-how;
  6. Murkier measures of success;
  7. Language and vocabulary.

In this article, we look at the first three of these themes from the perspective of executives coming from the private sector into these new partnerships. In the June 2010 issue of BCW, we will explore the remaining four themes.

1. Different Cultures—Behaviors and Expectations

One theme that was common to all of our clients, regardless of country or sector, was that they had really underestimated the difference in working cultures and hence the differences in behaviors and expectations. Of course, they were aware of perceived differences between private and public sector organizations, but what they had not anticipated was that public ownership of a hitherto private organization could make such a dramatic and immediate difference. It was an experience that was not only organizational, but personal, and, as with any personal change, potentially a source of anxiety.

For our clients, there were two main elements to the meeting of private and public sector cultures. One is the nature of relationships, and how relationships work differently in the public sector. Relationships up, down, and across the organization can hinder management. For example, the established hierarchy and deference to those in more senior positions can make it difficult for executives to manage their teams if members of the team are used to acting on directives from the top. In addition, different functions appear to have different levels of power and influence.

The second element concerns the ability to act and make decisions. For the former private sector executives, there was much ill-disguised frustration with their lack of autonomy. As one of our clients said, "I'm used to getting the go-ahead from my boss or maybe one other. Now I have to submit a proposal which has to go through several layers and be referred to the project board. What used to take hours now takes days." Intense public scrutiny either via the media or through answering questions to parliamentary committees means that every decision is analyzed and agonized over before action is taken. Particularly in the UK, another new challenge is the responsibility to Ministers, which means that government policy and political imperatives will influence the direction in which the organization is travelling and may impact on priorities so that commercial considerations are no longer the only driving force.

Ministerial relationships provide a particularly interesting challenge as access to Ministers is closely guarded and very much regarded as the "turf" of senior civil servants. This severely impacted the decision-making process as the former private sector executives found that they had less time with the Ministers and therefore found it more difficult to incorporate their views into thinking. This lengthened the process and also meant that contact was brief and limited to crisis situations.

The significance of this is especially highlighted in an election year. In Germany, 2009 was a major election year with voting in local, state, and national elections. This means that issues which were at the heart of public attention, e.g., the state of banks and their stability and what was happening to state guarantees, emerged as key topics for politicians. The elections promised to bring a fundamental shift in Germany's political landscape, causing civil servants to slow or put off decisions until after the election in anticipation of changes in their political masters, and hence priorities. This in turn led to further frustrations for the former private sector executives. The situation in the UK is similar with a general election approaching in 2010. The government, and hence civil servants, have gone into a period of "purdah" where no new initiatives or schemes can be announced to prevent the current government from gaining advantage by announcing attractive policy changes. Again this will slow decision making.

The degree to which the new arrangements affected our clients depended on a number of factors, including how the civil servants responded to them personally. For us, it was initially difficult to find a way to discuss with our clients the cultural differences in these new organizations. We eventually used Geert Hofstede's cultural framework1 to discuss it in a more systematic manner. In this way we were able to help them gain an understanding of their own and the other culture and the impact this had on behavior and expectations. This enabled them to target their messages much better and proved to be an excellent preparation for negotiations.

2. Greater Complexity of Stakeholder Groups

The different culture of a public sector organization also involves a much wider stakeholder group. One executive from a private organization said he used to think it was "complex" when a private equity company entered the matrix structured organization he used to work for. Now that he is on the board of a bank where the state has given a guarantee and invested millions of taxpayers' money, he truly understands, "for the first time in my life what ‘complex' really means."

He described that his "mind was blown away about the arguments that were floating around in a meeting when different people described what they will have to consider before coming to a decision." In fact, at times the factors were so diverse that it really was impossible to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders and situational alliances had to be created to ensure that certain objectives were achieved. Whilst this is "normal" in a board setting, it was particularly delicate here and scorings about who does what for whom and when were carefully monitored and guarded.

A key stakeholder is the general public that is both customer and, indirectly, investor. Private sector executives are used to working within organizations that are very customer focused, but come from a background where the chief interest of the investor is usually the bottom line. Clearly there is still a major imperative to deliver value, but it is value derived in both monetary and social terms.

We found that what helped our clients most was a visual display and a very sound stakeholder mapping. Based on this, we developed strategies for specific people and/or target groups. From feedback we understood that clients felt that this provided them with a more solid foundation that led in turn to feelings of greater security and self-confidence.

3. Leadership and Management Style

Talking to our clients, it has become apparent that there is a move toward more collaborative leadership in their new environments. It would be simplistic to blame individualism and command-and-control approaches for the current economic situation. However, it is clear that working in partnership requires a much more cooperative approach where shared responsibility and accountability are embedded in the culture. Collaborative leadership is a process used in situations where there is a diverse group of stakeholders to find solutions to complex problems that affect them all. Inevitably, this also involves systemic change.

In both public and private settings, it has become increasingly common to use this more team-based approach to problem solving. Collaborative leadership requires people with differing backgrounds and perspectives to come together, discuss issues openly, and put aside their self-interests.

To achieve this type of leadership in their organizations, our clients found that they needed to use negotiation, persuasion, and patience to even greater degrees to see their ideas put into action.

It can take time to create alignment. Getting all parties on board requires time and patience. Our clients commented on the length of time required for decision making in the new environment. Of course, this is one of the fundamentals of the democratic process—making decisions collectively. However, for those new to the process, it can seem to be overly complicated and very, very slow.

From the analysis of our coaching cases and the feedback we received, we understand that the key strategies that helped our clients were to step back and "walk in the moccasins" of the other person, i.e., to take on the perspective of the other party. Once this was done, they then thought about how to incorporate this into their own arguments. The second strategy we identified was the skill to create and use alliances.

In the next issue, we will discuss the remaining four themes/challenges we discovered that people face when private meets public.

1 For a brief synopsis of this framework, please see

Dr. Sabine Dembkowski is founder and director of The Coaching & Communication Centre in London, Cologne, & Frankfurt. Together with her colleagues, she supports members of boards, executives, and high-potentials in Fortune 500, DAX 30, and leading professional service firms across Europe. Before she established The Coaching Centre, she was a strategic management consultant with A.T. Kearney and Monitor Company in London. Contact Dr. Dembkowski. More about Dr. Dembkowski in the WABC Member Directory.

Fiona Eldridge is director of The Coaching & Communication Centre. Much of her work centers on supporting leaders across the public sector. Previously she was Head of Leadership and Coaching at Veredus. In addition to her work for The Coaching & Communication Centre, she is non-executive Chairman of Teaching Personnel and a non-executive Director of NHS Professionals, a special health authority set up to manage the supply, cost, and quality of the temporary workforce within the UK's National Health Service. Contact Fiona.

Sabine and Fiona (along with Ian Hunter) are the co-authors of The Seven Steps of Effective Executive Coaching published by Thorogood in 2006.

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A s k  t h e   E x p e r t

First published in Business Coaching Worldwide, Ask the Expert is a regular column of 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.

Dr. Fink
Illustration ©
Janet Schatzman 2007-9

A Study in Logic: Sometimes It's Best to Just Walk Away

By Dr. Laurence S. Lyons

Based on a true story. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

The Undertaker stands to deliver his presentation and a dreadful hush fills the boardroom. The CFO's nickname is prophetic; his given name of Herb (Herbert) is equally apt. A small, squat, emaciated man, he resembles the Grim Reaper.

"Tough times," he says. A roomful of executive heads nod sagely in unison. Tough indeed. Apparently things have gotten so bad that no money has been spent preparing the usual overhead presentation. Herb performs unaided and in the raw.

"...require tough measures," he concludes bluntly. "We're running out of cash. We gotta do something fast." There is no resistance. They all know it.

"Us guys in finance have figured out the most logical way. I'm not expecting no arguments." Interestingly, the audience doesn't appear to be in an argumentative mood as Herb scours the room.

"Point One. Our biggest ticket item is salaries. So we gotta let people go. No two ways about it. The only question is who." The brick has been dropped, his audience's psychology deftly managed. At least, so far. Several VPs gulp audibly as if the noose already draws taught around the neck. Having hit the low point, now is the time for Herb to lift their spirits and offer his prepared plan as bait.

"Point Two. No board members are on my list." A large grin slowly spreads across Herb's cunning face. They can hardly believe their luck. But the point hasn't fully sunk in yet. Herb now has to reassure them. "Of course," he says as he smiles, nods, and chuckles lightly. It works. One by one they chuckle with him. "Of course!" they uneasily agree. Naturally it is understood but never stated that Herb, being the most accommodating of men, would happily bend Point Two for anyone who isn't completely happy with his entire plan.

"Point Three. The board will use the most efficient decision system for identifying the names on the goodbye list. The method we'll use has no names on the list." This is not as crazy as it sounds. They're not expected to get it quite yet. For now, he merely wants to grab their attention. He has, and no one dares question him. Yet.

"You see, I've noticed that when we've done similar exercises in the past, we end up with internecine wars between the functions. Right now, I'm sure you'll agree, we ain't got time for no boardroom carnage. Instead we gotta to be sensible and we're gonna be scientific."

Dr. Fink has noticed to his chagrin that jam donuts are not normally provided when he attends board meetings. Instead he tucks into the full platter of chocolate éclairs which he finds in the center of the table, typical fare for these occasions, each dainty pastry no larger than his little finger. A shame the tea is Earl Grey; Fink prefers Strong Breakfast. Yet he figures himself luckier than the poor souls whose names appear on The Undertaker's list. Or, to be more accurate, don't appear, so to speak. Fink understands that the full list-with names and salaries-is held captive somewhere in the dungeons of the finance department. Being quite sensible himself and something of an expert in the scientific method, Fink listens attentively to Herb and waits for the second boot to drop.

"Instead we've simply listed the salaries on your handout. Fully loaded of course, and ranked with the highest at the top." Herb hands out a printed page. Fink notices it contains just a single column of numbers.

"Point Four is an easy one for us to agree on," claims Herb. "Letting anyone go means certain disruption and every departure eats up our management time just when we should be concentrating on the business. So we propose to ditch the smallest number of employees necessary to make the required cost savings. Minimum layoffs equal minimum disruption."

There are so many nodding heads around the table, Fink regrets he has not brought along some fluffy dice. "Ahem," he interjects, "is that really so?" But they'll have none of it. Herb's plan gives them a way out, which is exactly what they want. And they don't want to hear otherwise. After all, Herb's plan is scientific, logical, and protects them, or so they think.

"Moving down the page we draw the line when the cumulative total reaches our savings goal. It really is that simple," says Herb.

"Oh, really?" questions Fink. But his is a lost cause. They are about to lynch him.

"All in favor?" asks Herb, who immediately gets the unanimous response he wants. Bar Fink.

"A request?" asks Dr. Fink. "In order to do my bit in the cost-saving exercise, I will not raise an invoice for my attendance here today. I cannot accept payment if no one will listen to me."

* * *

"And I didn't because they wouldn't," exclaims Fink as he relates this story in his keynote address to the Fellowship of Practitioners in Bankruptcy and Liquidation.

"It was a foregone conclusion. What with all the bonuses, inducements, commissions, flashy cars, and fat expense accounts essential for impressing high-ticket customers, The Undertaker's logic wiped out their entire direct sales force. As you might expect, turnover flattened off pretty fast. Within six months a small competitor bought the company up for a song and fired the board.

"Mathematics is the closest thing we have to unassailable logic. Physical laws can maybe make a similar claim-subject to paradigm. But businesses are complex social organizations with several logics in play. Healthy organizations allow these logics to compete in open decision making."

The fellows are most impressed with Fink. So much so that the chairman of the meeting offers him honorary membership.

"Thank you so much," says Fink. "But I don't think that would help my image."

It's nice to be asked. But sometimes it's best to just walk away.

© Laurence S. Lyons 2007-10 | Laurence S. Lyons identifies himself as the author of this work. | Illustrations © Janet Schatzman 2007-10. All rights reserved. | All trademarks acknowledged. The "Dr. Fink" characters 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, the Leader to Leader Thought Leaders' Forum (formerly Peter F. Drucker Foundation), and is a Visiting Academic Fellow at Henley Management College. He is the author of Creating Tomorrow's Organization (Pitman) and Coaching for Leadership (Jossey-Bass). A library of his work is available at Read more about Larry in the WABC Coach Directory. Contact Larry.

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The New Age of Innovation

By C.K. Prahalad and M. S. Krishnan

Summary by Leslie Johnston, Business Book Summaries

In The New Age of Innovation, authors C.K. Prahalad and M.S. Krishnan focus on the nature of innovation. Traditionally, it was assumed that companies create value and exchange it with customers. This firm- and product-centric view is being replaced, however, by customers' personalized experience with products and services, which leads, therefore, to a co-creation view of value. This focus on personal experience extends to industries as diverse as toys, financial services, travel and hospitality, retailing, and entertainment. Even if a company is dealing with a hundred million customers, each manager must focus on one customer experience at a time, with the company providing the platform around which customers co-create their own experiences. Prahalad and Krishnan call this phenomenon N=1.

While in the past most large firms were vertically integrated, now most have moved to global supply chains to access specialty and low-cost suppliers. This trend toward access to resources is increasingly becoming multi-vendor and, in many cases, global. It is a trend the authors designate as R=G. Companies should, therefore, build capacities to access the global network of resources to co-create unique experiences with customers. No industry is immune to this trend-traditional industries as well as emerging industries.

No single company can provide the range of skills to create the N=1 world. There will need to be a nodal firm at the center, influencing the entire ecosystem through a shared framework as well establishing the standards and customer interfaces, but all of them have to work together. The connection between strategy, business models, and business processes must be carefully understood, and the broad understanding of the basic business model must be translated into business processes. Business processes affect and are affected by the technical architecture (information and communication technology systems, or ICT) and the social architecture (organizational structure, decision-making processes, and performance management systems).

Competitiveness favors those who spot new trends and act on them expeditiously. Spotting new trends requires understanding consumer expectations and behaviors and technological changes as well as the nature of the supply chain and opportunities for its improvement. Therefore, today's competitive landscape requires continuous analysis of data for insight. Digitization of business processes, the Internet, and evolving ICT architecture enable real-time predictive modeling. It is these capabilities that are the heart of effective management in an N=1 and R=G world.

Visibility in the global supply chain is a prerequisite for managing the complex web of products and information. The visibility of processes and data is critical for dynamic reconfiguration of resources. Innovation and flexibility must coexist, however, with efficiency and reliability. The challenge rests on the capability of internal business systems to support both efficiency and innovation.

The focus must be on the skills of individuals as well as on the competence of teams and the ability to continually reconfigure task-based teams with the best talent. The key message is that for the transformation to N=1 and R=G to be effective, managers must focus on mobilizing talent from both within and outside a firm. The patterns of resource reconfiguration depend on the nature of the projects and where the firms can find the appropriate skills, and these patterns will change continually. The phenomenon can best be described as a dynamic configuration of talent based on the specificity of needs. The core platform for value has shifted from product and service to solution and experience for the customers. Each co-creation opportunity (customer interaction) can be viewed as a specific project involving a unique configuration of resources.

Privileged access to talent, not ownership of talent, will be the defining characteristic of this transformation. The move toward N=1 and R=G is an evolution. Future sources of competitive advantage will rest on how systematically firms shape these capabilities to the demands of N=1 and R=G, and how business processes can seamlessly connect consumers and resources and manage simultaneously the needs for efficiency and flexibility.

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Coming to Terms with the New Normal

By Sarah McArthur

With a new year and a new decade, we all find a new normal with which we must come to terms. No longer is it "news" that we are living in a rapidly changing interconnected world, communicating and working with others globally at speeds many of us never dreamed possible.

How do we navigate the "New Normal"? That's a great question with which to start this decade and this first issue of Business Coaching Worldwide for 2010. And it's one to which you'll find many answers as you read through the articles in this outstanding issue.

We begin with a fascinating case study, "Shanghai Motors: A Case Study in GeoleadershipTM. In this feature article, Dr. E. S. Wibbeke and Dr. Cynthia Loubier-Ricca explore how national culture influences business leadership decision making . Freddie Ray contributes the Success Story, "Real Estate Leadership:  Coaching for Growth Amidst a Changing Market," an account of a real estate leader facing the challenges of the unprecedented downturn and recent economic turmoil head on. Omar Khan and Maggie van de Griend reveal how it is possible to lead for the best possible return on crisis (ROC) in their Get the Edge article, "A New Twist on an Old Concept: Return on Crisis (ROC). The Hot Topic article, "Sustainability—The Impossible Dream," is an interesting take on organizational sustainability and life cycles by Jeffrey L. Balash. Finally we've added a new section, Social Media Mania by social media expert Dean DeLisle. In this issue, Dean reveals "How to Use Online Social Networks to Grow Your Coaching Practice."

You may notice a few changes and additions to our regular columns. Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron has taken a decidedly optimistic turn, changing her column's title to On the Sunny Side. Holly G. Green, too, has shifted her stance and is going to share with us how Moving Swiftly with Focus & Flexibility will help us succeed in this new decade.

Two new columns have been added. The first, Unwilling Bedfellows by Dr. Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge, explores the great challenges when the private sector meets the public sector. The second, Global Leader Development by Jeremy Solomons, will focus on what leaders can do to be effective on a global level.

And we continue with tried-and-true favorite Dr. Fink in Ask the Expert by Dr. Laurence S. Lyons. This issue's article is a fabulous "study in logic," not to be missed. Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis describes the passionate get-together of nearly 30 practitioner researchers and its amazing benefits in her column Based on the Evidence. And, finally, Marshall Goldsmith hands us the keys to finding our mojo and rediscovering success after a difficult couple of years in his column Coaching Great Leaders.

For me, on a personal note, I am very pleased to begin this new year and this new decade with the publication of my new book, co-edited with Marshall Goldsmith and John Baldoni. Entitled The AMA Handbook of Leadership, it is a collection of previously unpublished essays by some of the world's greatest thought leaders on leadership, some of whom are also contributors to Business Coaching Worldwide!

With this first issue of Business Coaching Worldwide 2010, we have a great start to a Happy New Year!

Sarah McArthur is editor of Business Coaching Worldwide. Founder of *sdedit, Sarah has nearly two decades of experience in publishing 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. Her most recent book is The AMA Handbook of Leadership, co-edited with Marshall Goldsmith and John Baldoni. Contact Sarah.

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