Blogging to Grow Your Business Coaching Practice

While blogging has been around for a while, there are new techniques for lead generation. In less than one hour we will not only show you HOW to generate more business from Blogs, but WHY they work.

Feature Article 
Coaching for Engagement and Retention by Beverly Crowell and Beverly Kaye

Disengaged workers cost the U.S. economy more than $300 billion annually. Coaching for Engagement and Retention reduces the risk and empowers leaders in any organization to tap into their employees' discretionary effort and bring some "love" back into the workplace.

Success Story
Transformational Leadership: Leadership Institute Commits to Shift Their Staff, Students and Prospects to a New Online Social World by Dean R. DeLisle

Designed to show what is possible when there is commitment from the top down, this success story reveals how the Wright Leadership Institute tooka bold move with the very new world of social networks.

Get the Edge
Are You Plugged? Dig Out and Get The Right Things Done! by Krissi Barr

Based on the core lessons from her new book Plugged, Krissi shows how the acronym "PAR" turns workplace frustration into a proven process for producing winning results.

Hot Topic 
Benchmarks Are Dangerous by Howard Morgan and Cathy Swody

How do we compare against the competition? Do we really want to know? Learn about the pitfalls of benchmarks in this article by Howard Morgan and Cathy Swody.

Social Media Mania 
Social Network Building: A Whole New Approach to Building New Coaching Client Relationships by Dean R. DeLisle

In his article, Dean R. DeLisle explores a new approach to building coaching client relationships that you have got to try!

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

By understanding the impact and interaction of identity, achievement, reputation, and acceptance, we can begin to alter our own Mojo-both at work and at home.

On the Sunny Side by Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

It is useful to understand the psychology behind adult behavior, goals, and motivation when helping clients improve behavior and performance. Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron shows us how.

Based on the Evidence by Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis

Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis takes us into a discipline on the minds of many coming into the field of coaching: neuroscience, the study of the brain and its influence on the mind.

Moving Swiftly with Focus & Flexibility by Holly G. Green

In today's topsy-turvy business world, many of the rules that informed and guided previous generations of business leaders no longer apply. Most business leaders intuitively know that they need to do things differently. But they struggle when it comes to determining which rules to hold onto and which rules to cast aside for newer ways of thinking.

Global Leader Development by Jeremy Solomons

Can effective leaders in one region or country duplicate their success on a worldwide level? In the second of a series of three columns, Jeremy Solomons explores possible answers to this question.

Unwilling Bedfellows by Dr. Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge

In the second part of their two-part article, Dr. Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge continue to explore the great challenge: What happens when the private sector meets the public sector?

Ask The Expert by Dr. Laurence S. Lyons

Unusual Capitalization is Quite Deliberate and should not be "corrected." Also: colons and semicolons; like these. Please do resist at all costs. This light-hearted jolly piece takes a few liberties with style lest anyone should misunderstand its Amusing Message of Friendly Farewell.

Business Book Summaries 
Words That Work by Dr. Frank Luntz

Communication is about the effective use of language in the context of understanding the audience. The best product or service can have a great slogan or advertisement, but the message fails if the communicator does not create the message from the receiver's point of view.

In Our Next Issue

Trudy Triner will delve into her concept, "Make Mom Happy by Mail"--and how to use it in the professional arena.

From the Editor

A little note of farewell as I sign off from Business Coaching Worldwide. Complete article.

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Blogging to Grow Your Business Coaching Practice

Learn how business coaches are retaining clients, 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!

While blogging has been around for a while, there are new techniques for lead generation. In less than one hour we will not only show you HOW to generate more business from Blogs, but WHY they work.

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

  • Understand Blogs
  • Distinguish the Types of Blogs
  • Actually Start a Blog
  • Make the First Step
  • Create the Content that is Searchable
  • Leverage Your Social Network

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 is the highest value and integrity I have experienced in 30 years of business. His coaching and training methods in Social Networks have shown our entire coaching staff a whole new world of business opportunities." – Dr. Robert Wright, The Wright Learning Institute

PLEASE NOTE***If you cannot make the scheduled time, upon registering, you will automatically get access to the recording and materials.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Register Today!

Once registered you'll receive an email confirming your registration with information you need to join the webinar.

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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.


Coaching for Engagement and Retention

By Beverly Crowell and Beverly Kaye

In today's tough economic times it seems pretty crazy to be talking about employee engagement and retention. If so, then crazy is what all smart managers need to be a little of right now. Today, more than ever, employees are stressed out, wigged out, and even a little freaked out by what's happening in the economy. News reports detail who is losing what, where, and when. Distracting? You bet! Intimidating to those with good jobs? Most definitely!

All employees, even the best and brightest, can't help but be affected by the economic downturn— wondering what's next, who's next, and if it will be them. In fact, the stress is thought to be greater and last longer for those who survive cutbacks. Those who are not at risk of losing their jobs have to pick up the slack created by a leaner workforce and increasing responsibilities, as well as take part in restructuring and realignment.

Organizations are spending big money in annual employee satisfaction surveys and action plans to sustain a workforce that is engaged and productive. These action plans generally create new programs, resources, changes in policy, and some measurable, short-term victories. An organization we've been in touch with recently found that lack of career development opportunities was cited by employees as a key source of dissatisfaction. A team was assembled to address the problem and as a result, a state-of-the-art career resource center was created. Great news, except for the employee who asked his boss if he could go to the center one day and heard, "You don't have time for that right now. I need you to get the work done at your desk."

For this manager and many like him, engagement and retention consists of the annual employee satisfaction survey and the "tedious" action plan that has to be created as a result. What he fails to realize is that all the best plans can and will fall short if they aren't supported. That's where coaching for engagement and retention can create a sustained and measurable difference.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, disengaged workers cost the U.S. economy more than $300 billion annually. The task of re-engaging those who "quit and stay" falls on the shoulders of the leadership and management team. While many managers know the importance of engaging this talent, the "how" is often left up to chance.

Coaching for engagement and retention reduces the risk and empowers leaders in any organization to tap into their employees' discretionary effort and bring that energy into the workplace. When the coaching relationship is directed at these issues, it helps managers find simple, yet meaningful, ways to engage this talent beyond everyday distractions.

A skilled engagement coach must begin by understanding the unique employee engagement and retention challenges of each manager. This work is done through the manager, not directly with individual employees. If employee engagement, satisfaction, or culture surveys are readily available, the coach can work directly with the manager to study the results and identify key issues and opportunities. The good news about these surveys is that they provide a great place to begin analysis because individual managers can learn about the engagement needs of their team. They are only a start, however. The true value comes from frequent conversations. Surveys set the tone, but it's the conversations that set the direction.

Managers have a huge impact in retaining and engaging people. Employees want this relationship. They feel engaged by their work and cared for by their organizations when they are able to have open, honest, two-way conversations about their ideas, careers, motivations, and challenges. They need managers who listen to their perspectives, offer their own points of view, and provide encouragement, guidance, and opportunities. If individuals feel heard, understood, and valued by their manager, they commit more of their energy and enthusiasm.

One of the difficulties that a coach will most likely encounter is that although managers have the best of intentions, they feel that time is their enemy. Coaches must work with managers to help them realize that time isn't the enemy, but their perceptions are. The reality is that engagement builds or diminishes in every interaction between a manager and an employee. So it's often not just about doing more, but "doing with purpose." Purposeful engagement, simply put, is the ability to focus on employee talent in every interaction. It's the realization that, as a manager, you don't necessarily have to do more to engage your employees, but you need to commit to specific actions that meet the engagement needs of each employee. The ongoing challenge, however, is that what employees want or need is as different as each person, so no "one-size-fits-all" approach will work.

Once a manager accepts this responsibility, the coach can serve as a resource to generate ideas based on what managers are learning in their conversations and interactions with employees. The coach works with the manager to demonstrate the difference between engagement and performance. Managers and employees alike are accustomed to talking about performance-what engages us is a different story. Good engagement conversations can feel like you're "peeling an onion" with the objective of getting to the true motivations of each employee.

An employee wants more opportunities to learn and grow? The manager might consider the following:    

  • Conduct a career conversation to learn more about their unique skills, interests, and values. Offer your perspective, discuss trends and options, and co-design a career action plan.
  • Link employees to others inside or outside the organization who can help them achieve their professional goals.
  • Take time to mentor your employees. Share your success stories and failures. Teach organizational realities and let your employees mentor you too.

Another employee doesn't feel valued by you or the organization? Build loyalty by trying the following:

  • Recognize employees for a job well done. Offer praise that is specific, purposeful, and tailored to each employee.
  • Notice your employees. Pay attention as you walk down the halls and say hello to them by name.
  • Get honest feedback and a clear picture of how you look to others. Do you have any high-risk behaviors that may be getting in the way of your efforts?

All your employees want to work in an environment that they love. Try implementing some of the following:

  • Have fun at work. Do something new or different, or create an environment where it's okay to laugh and smile.
  • Show enthusiasm for what you do; it will encourage others to do the same. Disengaged managers will have a tough time engaging their employees.
  • Values define what we consider to be important. The more employee values align with their work, the more they will find it meaningful, purposeful, and important. Ask your employees, "What makes for a really great day?" or "What do you need most from your work?"

So much of coaching for engagement revolves around commonsense approaches to good leadership. Alas, common sense is often uncommonly practiced. The coaching partnership can do more than provide insight to managers; it can also be the motivation managers need to do what they know should be done. Managers with engagement coaches often remark that it's the coaching that reminds them to put these commonsense strategies into practice.  Here are some examples of the actions managers in one organization implemented:

  • Helped a "disengaged" direct report open up about real concerns, which led to productive career discussions about future options and receptivity to performance improvement ideas in the sort run.
  • Conducted a series of relationship-building phone conversations with remote employees, combined with intentional in-person get-acquainted meetings when onsite to build trust and rapport with new direct report staff.
  • Conducted monthly debriefings after each closing period to identify what went well and what could be improved the next month.
  • Created motivational Monday morning e-messages to the group as a way to get the week started positively. The manager received many compliments from the team for doing this.

The true mark of success happens when managers assume the role of engagement coaches in their organizations. While managers can be the catalyst for good engagement and retention, it's the employee who must step up to identify what actions they can take to find more satisfaction in the workplace. Managers with a good handle on engagement can empower employees to take control of their own workplace satisfaction.

Engagement and retention are critical in today's workplace. If the coaching relationship goes well, it will extend beyond the individual manager and his/her team. It will impact others in the organization. Coaching for engagement and retention can create managers who think of their talent first and employees who truly commit to bringing the best of their capabilities to the organization.

Beverly Kaye, Founder and CEO of Career Systems International, is an internationally recognized authority on career issues, focusing on retention and engagement in the workplace. She is the author of Up Is Not the Only Way: A Guide to Developing Workforce Talent (Davies-Black, 2002[1997]) and the co-author of Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay (Berrett-Koehler, 2001 [1999]) and Love It, Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want Out of Work (Berrett-Koehler, 2003).

Beverly Crowell, Senior Consultant for Career Systems International, specializes in the fields of employee engagement and retention, career development, and coaching. She currently provides employee engagement and retention coaching to senior leaders in the healthcare and food service industries.

Contact the authors.

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Transformational Leadership: Leadership Institute Commits to Shift Their Staff, Students, and Prospects to a New Online Social World

By Dean R. DeLisle

The Business/Organization

The Wright Leadership Institute is a human potential business offering both credit and non-credit courses in human performance and fulfillment. Formed in 1997, the Institute today generates 2.5 to 2.8 million in revenue while serving an ongoing base of 200-300 students in addition to the thousands it reaches through its corporate training and consulting, publications, speakers bureau, and media appearances.

Dr. Bob Wright and Dr. Judith Wright began the business as a merger of their existing businesses --- Bob's  leadership development and executive coaching business begun after selling his top-ranked national employee assistance program, and Judith's spiritual and personal development business, which she founded upon leaving her joint appointment as clinical program director for the Illinois Department of Developmental Disabilities and the University of Illinois, Chicago. 

Today, the Institute's offerings include four main modalities: coaching, seminars, learning laboratories, and time-limited group projects aimed at developing individuals to their fullest potential in all areas of life.

The Partnership

Dr. Bob Wright contacted Dean DeLisle to consult with them. Having been recently engaged in a nationally known social media trainer they were dissatisfied with, Dr. Wright heard from a graduate of one of the Institute's personal transformation programs, James Gustin of Fig Media, that the methods of Forward Progress had helped firms generate sufficient inbound referrals as to replace cold calling and a number of other sales practices that the twelve-member staff of the Wright Leadership Institute engaged in regularly.

The Challenge

Three years prior to engaging Dean DeLisle, the Wright Leadership Institute had begun changing their business model. Rather than engaging a small number of high-dollar clients in one-on-one coaching and small groups as they did in their early incarnation, they began offering large-format public seminars gratis to introduce their philosophy and services. These weekend-long seminars were also the vehicle for selling their year-long signature program, the Year of More, which retails at $8k and is discounted to $6k only on these public weekends.

Having relied on media and book tours in the early stages of the program to generate traffic for this weekend, program enrollment had reached a plateau, and Dr. Wright recognized the need to change the culture to become more of a sales and marketing organization.

The task they gave the Forward Progress team was to coach and train their staff and students on Social Networking in order to increase enrollment into their core programs. Dean's first contact with the Wright Leadership Institute and Dr. Judith Wright were weekly staff social media training sessions they had begun a few weeks prior, in which they auditioned Dean and the Forward Progress team as an alternative to the trainer they had previously engaged. Since this initial meeting, the organizations have developed a very deep partnership. Forward Progress's regulated coaching program empowers Wright students and staff alike at all levels of the organization-from coaching Dr. Bob Wright and Dr. Judith Wright individually, to weekly and as-needed staff coaching sessions, to trainings and seminars for all interested students.

The Approach

In order to support the immediate needs of the Institute, Forward Progress began with a general training engagement. However, with the recognized decline in enrollment, mostly to do with the economy, Forward Progress quickly proposed a shift in strategy to focus on a coaching program for the staff and executive team while maintaining training for their student body.

The coaching was comprised of establishing the immediate goals and objective for the very next weekend training. Since we had less than sixty days to work with, we agreed to use the existing goals they had missed in the last two events to see if the goals were realistic. There also was the challenge of the upcoming holidays, during which the senior management team would be leading training overseas.

Forward Progress assigned a two-person coaching team to assist the twelve-person staff and created an aggressive sixty-day coaching schedule. With no time to spare, sessions began almost immediately. Within those sessions, the coaching staff made sure that the outcome of the event was tied to the personal goals of each participant so they could be emotionally engaged.

With the support of Forward Progress, the Wright Leadership Team began to quickly coordinate, improve, and execute in the following areas:

  • Clarified Objectives
  • Confirmed Target Prospects
  • Defined Partnership and Alliances
  • Assembled Content
  • Coordinated Delivery
  • Aligned Team
  • Conducted Online Community Outreach

The Value Delivered

 Within sixty days of the first coaching and training sessions, the staff and student body seemed to respond very well. Being in an environment where "transformation" is enforced and practiced permitted the adoption process to accelerate. Normally, Forward Progress would be hesitant to take such a large group without a pilot program; however with early testing in the first few weeks, they knew this had increased potential.

Enrollment in the next More Life Training weekend program, which took place in the first 90 days of coaching, increased by 40%. Other amazing shifts took place along the way. The Wright staff team's enrollment increased by100%, doubling any previous efforts.

Furthermore, students who were trained reported that the social media skills they learned for the More Life enrollment effort were impacting their sales in their own businesses-vaulting some to trusted advisor status with clients they'd courted, and boosting seasoned salespeople to as much as 180% of their goal in the first two months of the year, among other transformational results.

Since the writing of this article, the Wright Leadership Institute is on pace to surpass this mentioned performance and are now realigning their growth plan to include new facilities and a national expansion.

This proves that with the right mindset and a willingness to transform, there is no bad economy.

Dean R. 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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Are You Plugged? Dig Out and Get the Right Things Done!

By Krissi Bar

There's a reason why business coaches exist. It's because the business world is so complex that people get stuck in difficult situations. It's our job as coaches to help them dig out and get the right things done.

In many cases it's just a matter of simplifying things for our clients. When that's the problem, I tell them to shoot for PAR. No, I don't tell them to skip work and play a round of golf, but rather to focus on three core concepts that help put them on a path to success. The three ideas I tell them to focus on form an easy-to-remember acronym: PAR.

Prioritize-Focus on what matters most

Adapt-See change as an opportunity

Be Responsible-Take ownership of the opportunity

I was reminded of the importance of PAR when I saw the hilarious Mel Brooks movie History of the World Part I. In a scene in which Mel Brooks plays Moses, he comes down from the mountain carrying three stone tablets under his arm. He addresses the crowd saying, "I have just met with God and he gave me these 15..." Just then, one of the stone tablets slips from his arm and shatters into a million pieces. He assesses the situation, then readdresses the crowd, saying "Like I said, God has given me these Ten Commandments."

When I stopped laughing I realized that Moses/Brooks had used the PAR model perfectly. His priority was to lead his people out of the desert, and nothing was going to stop him. When he dropped the tablet, he adapted. And finally, he knew he alone was responsible for leading his people, so he took ownership of the situation.

The good news is that PAR works just as well in business, and you don't have to rely on divine intervention to make it work.

Prioritize-Focus on What Matters Most

It almost goes without saying that getting the most important things done is critical to the success of any organization. The truth is it's a lot harder to keep that focus amid all of the distractions. The business world is so competitive that the difference between winning and losing often comes down to whether leadership has the ability to focus the entire organization's attention on the things that are most important.

So job number one for every leader is making sure they stay headed in the right direction. That starts with stating the goal to the team and repeating it on every occasion. This first step is both the easiest and most important. After all, if a business doesn't know where it is going, it isn't likely to get there.

Adapt-See Change as an Opportunity

The business world is changing so fast it's mind-boggling. Only one generation ago, college graduates entered into a business world that had no personal computers, no Internet, no cell phones, no fax machines, no DVDs, and-most startling-no Starbucks. How anyone did business is still a mystery, but the point is that everything is continuing to change at a blistering pace. There's unrelenting pressure to do things faster, better, cheaper.

To compete and win in business, companies need to make sure they keep looking a few years down the road. They must find new ways to serve customers, eliminate wasted effort, possibly merge with a competitor, and move into new markets.

The best firms foster an environment that encourages innovation, regardless of how small the change. Once this spirit of innovation is engrained in the culture, people move faster, build loyalty among employees, and discover new ways to stay ahead of the competition.

Be Responsible-Take Ownership of the Outcome

Here's a little tip: in the short sprint for power and money, you don't have to smile, hold the door open for grandmothers, or even have a shred of decency. But a business career isn't a short sprint; it's a marathon. Customers actually do remember the people who do whatever it takes to give great service. And they stay with them.

Responsibility starts at the top of a company and flows down to the frontline workers. Companies that take responsibility for caring about their customers, their employees, and their communities will do better in the long run.

Businesses need to earn a profit, but the days are gone when they can ignore their impact on the environment, the safety of their products, and the well-being of their employees. In today's world these are non-negotiable issues, and any organization that refuses to accept them will have to deal with the painful consequences.

Here's an example of how PAR works in an organization. In 2007, I worked with a multi-billion-dollar global manufacturing facility in an area so remote that AM radio only picked up five stations. When I met with the president, he said, "Krissi, I've got a list of about 50 things management thinks are important. They can't all be priorities. Plus we need to be in synch with what our European headquarters wants us to do. I feel like an octopus with all these legs drifting unconnected."

Despite protests from the team that they were too busy for strategy meetings, we immediately got management together to define the vision, culture, top priorities, what they needed to do differently, and who was responsible for getting the work done.

Taking these steps helped break down silos in the organization and when the economy took a nosedive in 2008, they were better able to come together as a team to adapt plans from growth mode to survival mode. The moral of the story is that this facility was the first in North America and in its industry to resume full operations when the economy turned and is now the most efficient and profitable plant in their organization and one of the best performers in their market! Not one person lost their job and the latest employee survey results show that, despite the economic downturn, trust in leadership and employee engagement actually improved! There's an enormous economic upside and competitive advantage when you practice PAR.

OK, the PAR ideas are nice, but how do you take them and turn them into meaningful action? I use three tools: my new book, Plugged - Dig Out and Get the Right Things Done, the PAR Assessment (a free online way you can see how well you get the right things done), and the PAR Scorecard (another free online tool you can use to plan and implement what you need to get done) to turn the ideas from concepts into real progress toward business objectives. Go to and you can use them too.

My advice? Keep things simple, use PAR to help your clients, and watch Mel Brooks' History of the World Part I. It isn't going to help you work with your customers but it'll put a smile on your face. And sometimes, even a serious business coach's top priority should be a good laugh.

Krissi Barr is Barr Corporate Success president and founder. She helps individuals of Fortune 500 companies identify, implement, and achieve their goals. Krissi's results-oriented consulting firm delivers strategy and execution, executive and team coaching, leadership training, and assessment programs. Barr Corporate Success converts ideas into practical action so the right work gets done. Krissi co-authored (with Dan Barr & Paul Hersey) the book Plugged - Dig Out and Get the Right Things Done, published by Clerisy Press (2010). More about Krissi in the WABC membership directory. Contact Krissi.

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Benchmarks Are Dangerous

By Howard Morgan and Cathy Swody

As leaders and coaches, we recognize how important it is for people to understand how they are performing. To increase understanding, we encourage the use of assessments and 360-degree feedback as tools for providing insights into leadership. Progressive clients even use employee surveys to inform leaders how well they are engaging their teams. We hope that these tools will provide a better understanding of the current situation in an organization and form the foundation for positive personal/organizational change.

Regardless of the type of assessment or feedback process, leaders frequently want to know how their scores compare to everyone else's scores. "Is this a good score?" "How do other people typically rate here?" These questions come as no surprise to any of us. People want to compare their results to a known standard or benchmark. Basically, we are all competitive and like any other competition, we want to perform at the highest level.  As companies, or individuals in companies, we want to know how good we are doing compared to the competition. But do we really want to know? If we do, relying on benchmarks from other companies to interpret a person's results can be problematic. In our own experience, we have seen the following three pitfalls in making these dangerous comparisons:

1. Benchmarks are ambiguous.

Uncertainty about what benchmark numbers truly represent limits their value. Benchmarks, in many ways, are a "black box." What goes in the box? The selection of companies represented in the benchmark is often biased. Benchmarks are not necessarily the best companies.  Rather, benchmarks typically reflect a sample of convenience-the best clients of a particular consulting firm, for instance. Even if details such as the industry, geographical location, and organizational size are supplied, the benchmark may not be a useful referent point. Such factors as the type of instrument and the commonality of the questions can also be challenges in uniquely different companies. Many times, it is unclear when the benchmark information was collected. For example, leaders are comparing their current performance to how other companies performed years ago. When it is unclear who exactly is in the benchmark and when the information was collected, making fair comparisons is nearly impossible.

2. Benchmarks are in the eye of the beholder.

When leaders score better than the benchmark, we have found that the benchmark serves as a "pat on the back" rather than a catalyst for better performance. Scoring lower than the benchmark is not a recipe for motivation either, as leaders often then criticize the validity of the benchmark. This draws away from the important question: How am I doing against my fullest potential?

3. Benchmarks distract people from real work.

Leaders do not improve by virtue of knowing how others leaders are doing. A focus on how everyone else is performing takes attention away from pursuing real results. Benchmarks add noise and are not actionable by themselves. Benchmarks don't offer solutions. They don't explain how to improve performance. At best, benchmarks encourage people to catch up with competitors, but not surpass them; benchmarks encourage mediocrity, but not superiority. This is similar to "teaching to the test" rather than fostering real learning.

Moving Beyond Benchmarks

If leaders and their coaches avoid the trap of benchmarks, what can be used instead to help leaders understand their results and motivate improvements? Our advice is to simply focus on information that provides real value. Within an organization, the best comparison numbers are inspirational. How does the person compare to the best leaders in the organization? What do scores look like in the parts of the organization with the best business results? Comparisons like these can provide leaders with context and help them understand their relative performance.

More importantly, it's time to remind ourselves why leaders ask for feedback from the people they work with. People ask for feedback as a way to hold a mirror up and see themselves as others see them. Let's forget about how leaders at unnamed companies were rated years ago. It doesn't matter. Instead, let's focus on the behaviors we see in the mirror and make the changes necessary to be successful.

Howard Morgan and Cathy Swody are with the Leadership Research Institute. They specialize in helping leaders see the connection between their behavior, their efforts, and business performance metrics. Contact Howard and Cathy.

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Social Network Building: A Whole New Approach to Building New Coaching Client Relationships

By Dean R. DeLisle

When you log into a social networking site, it seems very new to most of us. In fact, we just feel lost. Most of us are used to the good old-fashioned process:

  1. Attend an event or get an introduction
  2. Get the card
  3. Connect with the person
  4. Schedule a meeting
  5. Submit a proposal
  6. Close the business
  7. Ask for a referral

Now while we conduct this old approach, we want you to take a fresh approach using the knowledge you have gained to this point.

The goal is still the same! Get the meeting, provide an amazing proposal, close the business, then get a referral and repeat the cycle.

However, we want you to learn two new techniques to get you there quicker. One is a new best practice for when you meet a targeted prospect, and the next is a proven method to getting targeted, closable appointments.

Building Your Network Consistently

Amazing things happen fast when we do them on social networks as opposed to the old way. With the old way, we get the business card, enter the info into our email system, phone, or if we are really efficient, a contact manager or CRM system. What we would like you to do is a network building practice that will pay off tenfold, using just one of your social network accounts. For the example below, we will use LinkedIn, however this will work with most interconnected social networks on today's market; only the numbers will vary based on the size of the network.

Let's assume that LinkedIn still only has about 60,000,000 active members at the publishing of this article. With that in mind, when we connect it's like adding conservatively 1,000 targeted, like-minded contacts into your system. The reason is degree of separation. On average with LinkedIn, we find the following formula to be very consistent.

1st Degree: If you have 90 direct connections (these are people you know directly that you are connected to), it is equivalent to entering these contacts directly into your contact management system.

2nd Degree: Based on average user counts, you should have roughly 15,000 to 20,000 connections that your first degree contact can introduce you to or that you can effectively see to use your own approach.

3rd Degree: Based on the same average user counts, you should now have 1,600,000 to 2,400,000 connections that can turn into introductions.

Using these rough conservative formulas, this means if you have one contact whom you meet at a networking event, speaking event, business meeting, or just casually, you can then determine whether that person is a good prospect for your business coaching. Once you take the time to enter them into your social network (like LinkedIn), then you will have just picked up about 17,000 3rd degree connections just by adding that one person. Now of course these numbers will vary based on the person's connectivity level, but keep in mind it is conservatively the equivalent of adding only 1,000 targeted like-minded contacts to your system. This gives you a margin of error by 16,000 bad connections that your contact has made, which we typically see is highly unlikely!

Getting the Appointment

So you have your core contacts, and now you have visibility and "access" to their contacts. Now, let's get to the appointments!

There are several techniques, though the most important thing is to make sure you don't just barge into someone's network too quickly. We highly recommend the safest approaches first.

  1. Ask for a recommendation from the person you are connected through
  2. Directly compliment/congratulate them on a visible accomplishment, such as an article, promotion, or press
  3. Ask them for advice on a relevant topic
  4. Join a group or sub-community in common

These are value-based techniques that will allow you easier access and a more secure method than just blindly jumping into their network.

Once you have established a relationship, it is more appropriate to invite yourself into their network. Nevertheless, as a best practice, we recommend waiting until some level of relationship is built.


In this business coaching industry, our job is to help people, so building a large network is not always necessary. In fact, many of the coaches that we coach are very successful with working on quality rather than quantity. Whichever type of social network you choose to build, just make sure you have a method by which to communicate and build on the relationships you have worked so hard to secure.

Dean R. 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
The Building Blocks of Mojo

By Marshall Goldsmith

The pursuit of happiness and meaning is short when we realize that they can be found when we achieve two straightforward goals: loving what we do and showing it. I call this Mojo and all of the successful people I know have it. It is apparent when the positive feelings toward what we are doing come from inside us and are evident for others to see. In other words, there's no gap between the positive way we perceive ourselves-what we are doing-and how we are perceived by others.

Four vital ingredients need to be combined in order for you to have great Mojo.

1.      Identity: Who do you think you are?

This question is more subtle than it sounds. It's amazing to me how often I ask people this question and their first response is, "Well, I think I'm perceived as someone who..." I stop them immediately, saying, "I didn't ask you to analyze how you think other people see you. I want to know who you think you are. Taking everyone else in the world out of the equation, including the opinions of your spouse, your family, and your closest friends, how do you perceive yourself?" What follows is often a long period of silence as they struggle to get their self-image into focus. After people think for a while, I can generally extract a straight answer. Without a firm handle on our identity, we may never be able to understand why we gain-or lose-our Mojo.

2.      Achievement: What have you done lately?

These are the accomplishments that have meaning and impact. If you're a salesperson, this might be landing a big account. If you're a creative type, it could be coming up with a breakthrough idea. But this too is a more subtle question than it sounds-because we often underrate or overrate our achievements based on how easy or hard they were to pull off.

3.      Reputation: Who do other people think you are?

What do other people think you've done lately? Unlike the questions about identity and achievement, there's no subtlety here. While identity and achievement are definitions that you develop for yourself, your reputation is a scoreboard kept by others. It's your coworkers, customers, friends (and sometimes strangers who've never met you) grabbing the right to grade your performance-and report their opinions to the rest of the world. Although you can't take total control of your reputation, there's a lot you can do to maintain or improve it, which can in turn have an enormous impact on your Mojo.

4.      Acceptance: What can you change, and what is beyond your control?

On the surface, acceptance-that is, being realistic about what we cannot change in our lives and accommodating ourselves to those facts-should be the easiest thing to do. It's certainly easier than creating an identity from scratch or rebuilding a reputation. After all, how hard is it to resign yourself to the reality of a situation?

You assess it, take a deep breath (perhaps releasing a tiny sigh of regret), and accept it. And yet acceptance is often one of our greatest challenges. Rather than accept that their manager has authority over their work, some employees constantly fight with their bosses (a strategy that rarely ends well). Rather than deal with the disappointment of getting passed over for a promotion, they'll whine that "it's not fair" to anyone who'll listen (a strategy that rarely enhances their image among their peers). Rather than take a business setback in stride, they'll hunt for scapegoats, laying blame on everyone but themselves (a strategy that rarely teaches them how to avoid future setbacks). When Mojo fades, the initial cause is often failure to accept what is-and get on with life.

By understanding the impact and interaction of identity, achievement, reputation, and acceptance, we can begin to alter our own Mojo-both at work and at home.

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
Achieving Your Desired Outcomes

By Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

The focus of the coaching conversation is to help the client work toward achieving their desired outcomes. It is in this process, where coach and client reflect on the client's experience, that the potential for learning and action emerges. Business coaching has been defined in many different ways, but is essentially a one-on-one collaborative partnership designed to develop the client's performance and potential, personally and professionally, in alignment with the goals and values of the organization. Business coaching should be aligned strategically with the overall values and objectives of an organization.

However, an important question is raised for executives: if goals are to be motivationally achieved, are they also aligned with the individual's values, beliefs, and feelings? Often organizations merely pay lip service to organizational values, and don't necessarily create them as a synthesis of the core individual values that make up the culture of the organization. Ethical dilemmas can arise during the coaching process if the executive needs to make difficult choices that are incompatible with their own value system.

Goals, Motivation, and Performance

If you wish to help your clients improve their behavior and performance, it is useful to understand the psychology behind adult behavior, goals, and motivation. Alfred Adler, who worked with Sigmund Freud for ten years, reasoned that adult behavior is purposeful and goal-directed, and that life goals provide individual motivation. He focused on personal values, beliefs, attitudes, goals, and interests, and recommended that adults engage in the therapeutic process and reinvent their futures using techniques such as "acting as if," role-playing, and goal setting. All these tools are utilized and recognized by well-qualified business coaches worldwide.

Motivational theories primarily focus on the individual's needs and motivations. I have typically worked with coaching clients to help them understand more fully their intrinsic motivators (internal drivers such as values, beliefs, and feelings), and how to use extrinsic motivators (external drivers such as relationships, bonuses, environment, and titles) to motivate their teams. If an individual's goals are not in alignment with their own internal, intrinsic drivers, there will be difficulties for them in achieving those goals.

In an International Coach Federation study (ICF, 2008a), Campbell confirmed that coaches often assume clients are aware of their values, but within the confines of the study this appeared to be incorrect. The clients interviewed indicated they were not aware of their values, and that acquiring a process of awareness and reflection led them to become more aware of their emotions, their values, and the need to clarify their goals. Whitmore (2002) supports this and states that the goal of the coach is to build awareness, responsibility, and self-belief.

The coach's intervention and questions help the client to discover their own intrinsic drivers or motivators, and allow both coach and client to identify whether the client's personal, professional, and organizational goals are in alignment.

Adult and Experiential Learning

Adult learning theory has influenced coaching from the start: the goal of adult learning is to achieve a balance between work and personal life. In the same way, most business coach-client relationships involve an integration of personal and systems work. Personal work is intended to help the client develop the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual competence to achieve their desired goals; systems work may be found within a partnership, marriage, family, organizational team, or matrix structure.

Another powerful influence on goal-setting in coaching is experiential learning because it emphasizes a client's individual, subjective experience. In this process, coach and client probe the essence of an experience to understand its significance and to determine any learning that can be gained from it. The importance of experiential learning is that coach and client use the business coaching conversation to actively reconstruct the client's experience, with a focus on setting goals that are aligned with the client's intrinsic drivers, i.e., values, beliefs, and feelings.

Other considerations may be language, social class, gender, ethnic background, and the individual's style of learning. In learning from experience, it is useful to understand which barriers prevent the client from learning. Often it is a matter of developing self-reflective skills as much as self-management skills. What clients learn from their experience can transform their perceptions, their limiting and liberating assumptions, their way of interpreting the world - and their ability to achieve results.

Types of Goals

The coach is responsible for ensuring that goal-setting conversations get the best results. O'Neill (2000) differentiates between two kinds of client goals, business and personal, and links the coaching effort to a business result, highlighting and prioritizing the business areas that need attention. Business goals are about achieving external results; personal goals are what the leader has to do differently in the way they conduct themselves in order to get the business results they envision.

Yalom (1980) talks about two types of goals: content (what is to be accomplished) and process (how the coach wants to be in a session). However, he also describes the importance of setting concrete attainable goals - goals that the client has personally defined, and which increase their sense of responsibility for their own individual change.

Developmental Goal-setting

If the client is to learn how to learn, they need to cultivate self-awareness through reflection on their experience, values, intrinsic drivers, the impact of these on others, the environment, and their own future goals. This process is often implicit in the coaching relationship through the process of questions and actions that develop critical reflection and practice. As a coach, you will be asking questions to help clients reflect, review, and gain useable knowledge from their experience. A useful structure for your work with business executives is along the continuum of a development pipeline developed by David Peterson (2009). Your questions and challenges in your coaching sessions can help your clients reflect in five areas:

  1. Insight: How are you continually developing insight into areas where you need to develop?
  2. Motivation: What are your levels of motivation based on the time and energy you're willing to invest in yourself?
  3. Capabilities: What are your leadership capabilities; what skills, knowledge, and competencies do you still need to develop?
  4. Real-world practice: How are you continually applying your new skills at work?
  5. Accountability: How are you creating, defining, and taking accountability?

Business coaching places great emphasis on clarifying and achieving goals. Often within the complexity of the organizational environment, the client's overarching goals may be set by a more senior power; where that senior individual may have different worldviews, paradigms, and limiting or empowering assumptions. It is crucial that the client have a "living sense" of what their goal may be. In other words, goals must be aligned with the values of the individual as much as with those of the organization if they are to be achieved.

This article is adapted from "Goals and Goal-Setting" by Sunny Stout Rostron (COMENSANews, February 2010 (


Griffiths, K. E, and Campbell, M. A. (2008). Regulating the Regulators: Paving the Way for International, Evidence-Based Coaching Standards. International Journal of Evidence-Based Coaching and Mentoring, 6(1):19-31.

International Coach Federation (ICF). (2008a). Core Competencies. Lexington, KY: ICF. Webpage:

International Coach Federation (ICF). (2008b). ICF Code of Ethics. Lexington, KY: ICF. Webpage:

O'Neill, M. B. (2000). Coaching with Backbone and Heart: A Systems Approach to Engaging Leaders with Their Challenges. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Peterson, D. (2009). Executive Coaching, A Critical Review and Recommendation for Advancing the Practice (in S. Zedeck (Ed.) Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Stout Rostron, S. (2009). Business Coaching International, Transforming Individuals and Organizations. London: Karnac.

Whitmore, J. (2002). Coaching for Performance: Growing People, Performance and Purpose. London: Nicholas Brealey.

Yalom, I. D. (1980). Existential Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.

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
What Is Neuroleadership?

By Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis

We in the UK are finally emerging from a rather long and cold winter. The sun is showing up before we arrive at the office and overall there is a renewed spring in the step of my fellow commuters on the 6.40 a.m. train to London. The coming of spring also heralds the start of the conference season and I am sitting here preparing to give a keynote next week and wondering what my audience will find most exciting in the recent coaching research.

On reflection, my most stimulating reading this year has not been in coaching at all but in our related disciplines. The learning and development literature has always provided rich pickings in the past and psychology is a constant source of insight, but there are other literatures which have some rich contributions to make to our practice. One field in particular has been mentioned by every doctoral student I have interviewed this year: neuroscience, the study of the brain and its influence on the mind.

My first reaction to the evolving area of neuroleadership was one of scepticism: "Oh no, not another bandwagon claiming to be the answer to life, the universe, and coaching." However, upon mentioning neuroleadership on a researcher discussion board, I was met with such an extreme and mixed reaction that my interest was immediately raised. Yes, there is always a temptation to flock to any new area that by its very name implies 'scientific credibility,' but how does it extend our understanding? The researcher in me was awakened and I started to ask "What's going on here?"

A little context is useful to start with: Neuroscience has been an important area of medical inquiry since the first trepanning 'operations' in early civilizations. Its discoveries have informed medical and therapeutic interventions for centuries. The tools it had at its disposal were fairly blunt (sorry for the pun!) and required elegant research on injured or diseased brains to come as far as it has. The results have had impacts not only in therapy but in the learning and development arena. Good training designs have used neuroscientific research to provide optimum learning environments for their participants. The real explosion in interest in recent years has come from the development of noninvasive probes for assessing brain function. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and related spectrometries have allowed  a glimpse into the brain as it works. This dramatic improvement in the 'probe' has illuminated a whole new area of work-that of the functioning of the healthy brain in real time as it deals with stress, emotions, and everything life has to throw at it. The result is an upsurge in researchers choosing to work in the field and a burst of creative activity in identifying applications. Neuroleadership and neuromarketing are but two. Research is starting to map the physiological bases of many of our human behaviors and preferences.

This explosion in activity and creativity is occurring at the intersection between two disciplines: neuroscience and leadership. As social learning theorist Etienne Wenger1 reminds us, it is at the 'interface' between two communities that creativity can be unleashed, but also where there is most discord as new paradigms emerge. There will always be detractors from both sides of the interface who feel that those working at the intersection are not doing justice to their original discipline and that multidisciplinary work is somehow of less worth.

There has been good reason for such caution in the past when there has not been a full collaboration between researchers from both sides and a new program or model is launched without being validated by research. Often, the interpretation of the research has been inappropriate to the new application and 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing' has proved to be true.

So we as researchers need to keep a critical eye on what is happening, as there is a temptation to be blinded by the unfamiliar science and to let our enthusiasm run away with itself. Luckily, I have some background in Magnetic Resonance Imaging and have been able to read the literature from both sides of the neuroleadership interface. The field looks promising and I look forward to seeing how it will develop.

But how can we critically engage with this type of multidisciplinary work in the future so we as a profession don't go down a blind alley, but maintain appropriate standards of evidence?

Interrogating my own criteria, I have come up with the following points:

  1. There should be a clear collaboration between researchers from both fields so each is able to 'police' the other.
  2. The research progress is stepwise and cautious, NOT a giant leap, i.e., the claims for the approach do not outstrip the evidence and you are not being asked to believe that one experiment with mice in a laboratory means that all humans do XYZ.
  3. Good research practice is observed in all publications and evidence is provided from both sides.
  4. The researchers are clear about when the approach doesn't work as well as when it does. For me, this shows real authority in a piece of work.

This isn't an exhaustive list but one to prompt your own reflections. Have fun at the neuroscience-leadership interface, but let's keep it real and relevant.

Worth Reading

David Rock has been the major leader in neuroleadership and his book with Linda Page is highly readable and relevant:

Rock, D. and Page, L. Coaching with the Brain in Mind: Foundations for Practice (Wiley: NJ, 2009).

1Wenger, E., Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity (Cambridge University Press, 1998).

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
Are You a Rule Fool?

By Holly G. Green

Wait your turn. No pushing in line. Yield to pedestrians. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Certain timeless rules are better obeyed than broken. But in today's topsy-turvy business world, many of the rules that informed and guided previous generations of business leaders no longer apply. If you're not breaking rules on a regular basis, your customers and markets have probably already left you behind.

Most business leaders intuitively know that they need to do things differently. But they struggle when it comes to determining which rules to hold onto and which rules to cast aside for newer ways of thinking.

In working with clients around the world, I have found two areas in particular where throwing out the old rulebook is essential for keeping up with today's frenetic pace of change. One involves the skills, attitudes, and mindsets required to manage people and work processes. The other has to do with how you go about analyzing and assessing your competitors and your markets. In these two areas, I highly recommend forgetting most (or all) of what you think you know.

For example, from a people/process perspective:

Old rule: Strive to maintain the status quo, but react quickly when change happens.

New rule: Don't wait for change to hit you. Anticipate it, plan for it, and make it happen on your terms.

Old rule: Management's job is to make decisions.

New rule: Management's job is to facilitate decisions made by those closest to the customer.

Old rule: Avoid conflict.

New rule: Rock the boat! Purposefully create conflict and manage it in a constructive manner.

Old rule: Tell employees what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

New rule: Give employees the resources and support they need. Then stand back and let them do their jobs.

From a competitive analysis perspective:

Old rule: Focus your research on competitors inside your industry.

New rule: Stretch your horizons. The next competitor that causes your world to implode may well come from outside your industry.

Old rule: Markets have predictable life spans and earnings curves.

New rule: Today's markets can (and do) disappear overnight.

Old rule: Strategic planning involves creating a five-year plan.

New rule: Look 12 to 24 months (at most) into the future. It's almost impossible to accurately predict what will happen after that.

Perhaps the most important new rule for today's chaotic market realities is to constantly challenge what you think you know about your business and the world in general. Don't allow yourself to get comfortable with the status quo. Don't allow yourself to get stuck thinking that what has made you successful so far will continue to make you successful in the future. And if you haven't reevaluated your customers' wants and needs within the past six months to a year, do so now!

Letting go of rules that have served you well in the past can be difficult, but holding on to them can be fatal. What rules are you holding onto that you should be letting go?

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 II

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?

In the first column in this three-part series (Business Coaching Worldwide, February 2010), we looked at how Lucia Mannone, a 38-year-old, Italian, senior marketing officer for a German medical instrument company with little global experience beyond Europe, could help her company expand in the key markets of Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea.

She could begin to become more globally competent through the “behavioral approach” of learning what to do and what not to do in different countries. Then she could move on to the “national values approach” of understanding why people behave the way they do in different countries.

But both approaches are limited in how far they can help because they only embrace some of the factors that affect human behavior and can easily lead to misleading stereotypes, e.g., “Mexicans are more interested in family, relationships, and security than in getting quality work done on time and moving up the career ladder” or “the Chinese are always avoiding conflict and will never directly own up to a mistake.”

So what are the other factors that may be influencing individual or group behavior?

Additional Factor 1

This columnist revisited the first stereotype, about Mexicans being family- and relationship-oriented, etc., while doing some recent values work for two teams at the central Mexican subsidiary of a large German company.

Although most of the members of each team were Mexican nationals who had never lived outside that country, they expressed a clear preference for such values as personal achievement, getting the job done, risk-taking, individualism, and egalitarianism, values that would not be considered as typically “Mexican” according to the research of Geert Hofstede and others.

Neither would these values be considered typically German.

So what was going on here?

Beyond national culture, it seems that organizational culture was at play.

These Mexican employees had deliberately chosen to work for an innovative, hi-tech, global communications company that happened to be headquartered in Germany and have a subsidiary in their hometown.

As this company expands across the world, it is developing its own unique value system and way of doing things, which may have little in common with the traditional culture and values of Germany or any other single country or region.

So, for example, if Lucia Mannone is now trying to develop a new strategic partnership with a large Korean chaebol (business family or conglomerate), she should probably spend a lot more time learning about that company’s values, history, traditions, and culture rather than focusing on those of Korea as a whole.

Additional Factor 2

Let’s go back to the oft-quoted lament that “the Chinese are always avoiding conflict and will never directly own up to a mistake.”

While this may be true in some cases, it is certainly not true in all of them; even if it does appear to be true in a particular case, it may be masking a much larger issue.

For example, a US-based hi-tech company was noticing that many of its software engineers, including all of the East Asian ones, were grossly underreporting errors in responding to monthly questionnaires.

It would have been easy to zero in on the East Asian engineers and try to deal with issues of national “face,” honor, and pride.

But then managers noticed that they were getting similar omissions from engineers at their offices in other parts of Asia, Europe, Latin America, and even North America.

Maybe the corporate culture was becoming too “success oriented” and employees were reluctant to report mistakes for fear of letting down their colleagues and harming their future career prospects?

But that was not the case at this organization, which did not have a hyper-aggressive, punitive culture. It was well understood that occasional errors were part of the learning process.

So what else was going on?

From careful analysis and many interviews, it seemed that the underreporting had more to do with the professional culture of the software engineers, for whom an “error” is like an admission of incompetence and failure.

So the managers decided to eliminate all mention of “errors” from the monthly questionnaires and instead they asked the software engineers for their lessons learned, best practices, and suggestions for improvement.

Suddenly, the managers starting getting a flurry of invaluable insights and ideas from the previously reticent engineers and, not coincidentally, errors were drastically reduced.

By recognizing the value and power of professional culture, global leaders can actually help their colleagues find a new way of connecting across the world.

In Lucia’s case, this may be a good way for her to build trust and rapport with her marketing counterparts in Tokyo or Buenos Aires, as they may well have studied exactly the same textbooks as she did in university, just in Japanese or Spanish.

Unfortunately, professional culture can sometimes work the other way if two “experts” butt heads over who knows best about some arcane technical issue.

But it is certainly something to bear in mind when trying to develop relationships and build business around the world.

Additional Factor 3

As any budding global leader can now see, it is a lot more than national customs and values that explain why someone behaves the way they do halfway around the world.

Like a “cultural detective,” a competent leader must try to decipher how behaviors are influenced by geographical, organizational, or professional culture…or a mixture of all three.

Even then they may not have the whole answer, because they also need to understand the “individual” culture of each employee, i.e., that created by their social background, family, race, ethnicity, education, sexual orientation, thinking style, character, personality, etc.

Just as Lucia Mannone may not be typical of her country, her company, or her profession, anyone she meets with around the world may well be similarly unique.

Given this complexity and uncertainty, how can a global leader possibly be effective with counterparts he or she may have never met nor ever meet?

We will explore this and related issues in the third and last Global Leader Development column to be published in the October issue of BCW.

In the meantime, if you want to discuss any of the points raised in this column, please email Jeremy Solomons directly at the email listed below.


Adler, N. (2007). International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior. Florence, KY: Cengage Learning

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

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

Hofner Saphiere, D. et al (2010). Cultural Detective Online Learning Series.

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 2 of 2)

By Dr. Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge

What happens when the private sector meets the public? We draw on our experience coaching both sectors and coaching people who suddenly found themselves working in organizations taken over by the government. We hope to raise awareness of commonly occurring themes in order to better prepare executive coaches and their clients for the challenges ahead.

In Part 1 (Business Coaching Worldwide, February 2010), we grouped the most commonly recurring themes into seven categories and discussed the first three themes or challenges:

   1. Different cultures-behaviors and expectations;

   2. Greater complexity of stakeholder groups;

   3. Leadership and management style.

In Part 2, we explore the remaining four themes:

   4. Process versus purpose;

   5. Depth and breadth of subject matter know-how;

   6. Murkier measures of success;

   7. Language and vocabulary.

4. Process versus Purpose

For some of our clients, a key difference stemmed from the public sector's apparent focus on process, i.e., the way things are done rather than the achievement of objectives. Previously they had been very task/objective focused, emphasizing the ‘what' without much thought to the ‘how.'

In the public sector environment, things seem to have to be done in the ‘right way.' For example, one client was looking for sign off for a purchase. In his old world he would either have just signed off on his own authority or simply asked his direct manager. In the new role, he was told that the chief executive of the agency would have to sign. When he went to ask the chief executive, he said that he could only sign after the expense had also been approved by procurement. A further week elapsed before the form came back from procurement and was then passed on to the chief executive. Finally, nearly five weeks later, our client was able to place his order.

In our coaching assignments, we soon recognised that our clients had to learn how to understand the need for process, which is so much a part of public-sector culture. We worked with them to develop new strategies and to ensure that they built in allowances in their project plans for the necessary time delays that have become part of their everyday life.

5. Depth and Breadth of Subject Matter Know-How

Traditionally, senior civil servants have had a career pathway that has taken them through several different government departments, which gives them a consummate skill in policy development and a deep understanding of the process of government but, frequently, a lack of professional expertise in specific subject areas. Obviously there are exceptions to this, such as government scientists, but in general, civil servants' backgrounds are in stark contrast to the bankers working alongside them.

Certainly this has been the case for many of our clients, who come into these new partnerships with a background steeped in banking and finance at the highest levels. We found that our clients experienced much frustration with having to explain terms and procedures that were second nature to them and then having to incorporate new, seemingly bureaucratic processes before decisions could be acted on. What helped our clients was to analyze the causes of their frustration and to recognise and acknowledge the different types of expertise held by them and their civil servant colleagues.

6. Murkier Measures of Success

In private-sector companies, the measures of success (both organizational and personal) are relatively clear. Measurement is connected to the bottom line and return on investment.

In the public sector, measures are less clear -- this is not to say that finance is not important, it is just that the organization is not profit driven. For our clients, this cloudiness created some challenges both in terms of their own performance and in developing metrics for their teams. Another difference is the wider group of stakeholders for whom performance monitoring is important. In general these are:

  • General public (both as individuals and representative groups);
  • Clients, consumers, users, and customers of the services provided;
  • Individual politicians;
  • Government -- central and local;
  • Regulatory, inspection, and audit agencies;
  • Managers within the organization;
  • Employees within the organization.

Success tends to be measured in terms of impact, public perceptions, and outcomes, as well as obtaining value for money and coming in on budget. For example, some of the indicators against which success is measured for the UK Treasury include:

  • Achieve an improvement in value for money in public services year by year;
  • Increase employment over the economic cycle;
  • Make substantial progress toward eradicating child poverty by reducing the number of children in poverty by at least a quarter by xxx;
  • Increased policy cost-effectiveness;
  • Impact of policy measures on taxpayers;
  • Trend growth in output per worker (productivity) over the economic cycle.

These indicators illustrate one of the key private-public sector differences highlighted by our clients: success depends on a multitude of interrelated factors and is often out of the direct control of the individual or organization being measured. For this reason, for some of our clients, stress levels had become so high that their key goal was simply to work hard to enable their bank to "pay the money back asap" and to then "get on with business as usual and do the work we are trained to do."

7.   Language and Vocabulary

One of the challenges of moving between public and private sectors is the difference in language and vocabulary. This is commonly experienced when joining any new organization, but is more marked when moving between the sectors. One client told us how she had been given a file containing literally hundreds of acronyms when she joined the organization.

There is also an expectation of understanding  phrases and a need to build a common vocabulary if misunderstandings are to be prevented. As one UK manager commented, "I was told that there was a ‘yellow file' on my desk. I thought, that's nice but...." What she later learned was that this was an important document containing a ministerial question which needed a quick response. Another example from the UK comes from the National Health Service. Here the term ‘overperformance' is frequently used. For the unwary, this might seem to be a good thing, but it actually means that the organization is overspending and is likely to be in financial difficulty.

Clearly, the common usage of phrases and acronyms is not confined to the public sector. The banking world has its own terms and phrases such as ‘structuring derivatives' which mean little to the outsider. There is a need for both sides to learn the language and to ask for clarification when something is not clear.

Our clients ended up by creating their personal vocabulary books which helped them to learn and make use of the new language and vocabulary. This, in turn, strengthened their level of confidence and their position in meetings and negotiations.


Coaching is about change and moving into a new public-private setting is a fundamental change in an executive's career. One of the key roles that coaching can fulfill is to provide support and structure. Working with a coach can help the executive to identify the fundamental differences in his or her new situation and then to develop options and action plans for both adapting old behaviour and acquiring new knowledge and understanding.

It takes time to get to know a new sector, but by making the specific themes and challenges transparent, we hope that executive coaches can begin to understand some of the challenges their clients face. In addition, we hope that this might also help bring about a more rapid improvement in management performance so that better results can be achieved in crucial public services.

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

Midnight Express or the Strange Case at the End of the Contract

By Dr. Laurence S. Lyons

(Strange=a weird story; Case=crazy Capitalization)

As this will be his last visit to the company, Filomena has booked a limousine to Central Station. Her instructions are to accompany Dr. Fink, buy his ticket, and see him safely on his way. She isn't sure if her boss intends this as a respectful act of kindness or to make absolutely certain Fink never comes back.

"Thank you so much for coming along with me to the station," says Fink. "In a world that's so hard to comprehend and full of trouble, perhaps the greatest service one human can bestow on another is to accompany them on their Final Journey."

While Filomena has gone off to buy his ticket, Fink muses that it is past Close of Business, that magic time when all daily toil is formally suspended. In the perforated reality of corporate life, offices are closed at this hour yet Fink realises that he's still engaged in business transit. He often says that in all planned journeys the psychological departure always precedes the physical. Mind moves first, then Body follows after it. This causes Fink to reflect that while the substance of This Evening is rightly counted as part of Today, its spirit has been borrowed over from Tomorrow.

Whilst he knows that consumption of food would be totally inappropriate at a grave juncture such as this, Fink feels obliged to consider his duty of parental respect. As his journey will take far in excess of the stipulated fifteen minutes, Fink's promise to his mother compels him to purchase an assortment of filled bagels, a family bag of lightly salted potato chips, and two cans of root beer to help him on his way.

Back from the Ticket Office, Filomena hands over the Final Artefact, something that is familiar (Fink has held many train tickets in his time) but is also different - its bold sans-serif lettering announcing the stark fact that he is never to return: Today. One Way. The Last Train. By confronting the Undelayable Inevitable in the Undeniable Indelible, Fink is overwhelmed with a profound sense of Moment -- that rich intermingling of Achievement and of Hope; of Separation and of Survival, all condensed into an Inescapable Immediate: The Now.

For the Convenience and Comfort of Our Customers, the Train Company recommends Reserved Seating on all Long Distance journeys. Or so it says in the Ticket Office. And there's choice. He can face forwards or back. Today marks the only occasion when Fink states a preference for a Coach that's Internal.

Due to the strict requirements of client confidentiality, the reason for his departure must remain unclear, although there is certainly no question of any ill-feeling. Perhaps his client has developed to the point where Fink has done himself out of a job, in which case this journey is a fitting celebration of resounding success. On the other hand, it's equally likely that the business simply ran out of budget in these stressful economic times. Perhaps we shall never know.

Fink defines Emotion as the feeling that (along with Logic, Interest, and Values) informs our Motivation towards a person, object or situation. He notices evidence of emotion right now as he observes in his companion a formative tear.

"Don't  cry for me, Filomena," says Fink reassuringly. "The truth is I never left you."

"Wot?" she asks.

"Although I'll be gone, I never really left."

A wicked thought passes through Filomena's mind together with the words absolutely certain he never comes back. "What?" she asks again.

"It is all to do with our attachment to organizations. When I was young there was Company Man. You were either a loyal Company Man or a Dastardly Rogue who was out only for his own ends. Incidentally," declares Fink, "it was never Company Woman; that was unthinkable back then. I personally consider the access available to women to share power to be the Litmus Test for any liberal society..."

Filomena is momentarily distracted by a spec of dust recently landed on her sleeve.

"Then there was Job for Life: Join us now and we'll look after you forever. Of course that's all changed. Now it's all rogues and dented glass ceilings. But my point is..."

There are only a few minutes to go before Fink has to get aboard. Filomena forces herself to look interested for the duration.

"In the short time individuals have together we exchange and share value. In some small way your life has changed as a result of knowing me. The converse is certainly true. That's all about the osmosis of Learning and Development. Hopefully the same it true between me and my clients; this dynamic is at the very heart of the Coaching Experience. And the thing is this: we can't turn back the clock, we can't rewrite history. Once exchanged, that value endures whether a person is physically present or not. So although I'm off, if I've done my job properly I haven't really left at all. In perplexing times you will still ask: What would Fink have to say about this? and I'll be there to show you a way. And hopefully, that will be helpful. You see, we've simply substituted Linear Career with Rotation in our clover-leaf world."

Filomena has become curious. "Rotation," she asks, "what's that?"

"It's the new model of corporate relationships where the individual acts like a honey-bee collecting pollen-goodies from the Jamboree-Bag flowers in the institutional garden. She sucks out the best and chucks out the rest. Her life is a constant rotation of fresh flowers."

"But how can the uncultivated garden be sustained if there's never any continuity or caring in such a relationship?" asks Filomena.

"How indeed," observes Fink.

Filomena pauses for a moment to think about her own company, her job, her boss, and her garden. Unexpectedly, she comes to a profound realization: she knows exactly why Fink is leaving.

"Wait!" she shouts. "Dr. Fink!. Dr. Fink... I'm coming with you!!"

"Smoked salmon or cream cheese?" he asks.

And then they were gone.

With acknowledgement to Charles Handy for the Clover Leaf concept.

The motivational model mentioned in this story is explained more fully (and more formally) in the hot-off-the-press AMA Handbook of Leadership 2010, Goldsmith, Baldoni, McArthur eds., Chapter 20, Situational Intelligence by Dr. Laurence S. Lyons

A personal message from Dr. Laurence S. Lyons. This is the last Dr. Fink story in the series. I hope you have enjoyed reading about Fink as he meanders through our complex and interesting world of business coaching. Perhaps you have learned something or reflected again on some idea you once took to be obvious. I do hope so. Anyway, I certainly expect you will have laughed once or twice, and hopefully in the right places! Dr. Fink is alive and well. Look out for Dr. Fink's Fan Club, and Dr. Fink's Casebook (hopefully to be published later this year). Announcements on, or write me if you want to comment or have a topic suggestion for new stories. Larry 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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Words that Work

By Dr. Frank Luntz

Summary by Ed McFadden, Business Book Summaries

Communication is about the effective use of language in the context of understanding the audience. The best product or service can have a great slogan or advertisement, but the message fails if the communicator does not create the message from the receiver's point of view. 

In Words That Work, Dr. Luntz provides his Ten Rules for Effective Communication, and illustrates with many examples taken from his experience in both the political environment and from his research with corporations. These are the ten rules, or principles, for constructing an effective message: simplicity, brevity, credibility, consistency, novelty, sound, aspiration, visualization, questioning, and context. If the slogan, tagline, or communication follows these, there is a higher degree of success whether it is selling a product, communicating to employees, resolving union disagreements, or stating a political position. 

The subtitle "It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear" is extensively covered throughout the book. To be an effective communicator, the audience must be understood in terms of demographics, education, social standing, gender, and economic status. There are ten myths about the American people that the author has documented and that are supported by market research. These ten myths go a long way toward explaining why there are many poor messages in corporate and political realms. The communicators who can best establish the correct tone by addressing what Americans care about will develop the most effective words. 

For effective communications, the rules for simple and straightforward language must take into account the meanings of words as they change and as new words enter the language. For one segment of the audience the meaning of the same word may have a different meaning than for another segment. 

Key themes that resonate with the American people are based in basic principles or beliefs of the people. These themes are the result of many, many interviews, focus groups and dial sessions conducted by the author and his market research firm. They provide the basis for identifying Words That Work for the twenty-first century. 

Although possibly best known as a political consultant and pollster, the perspective of the author is that the effective use of language crosses the boundaries of politics, business and the media. All can use the lessons learned from both the effective and ineffective use of language in advertising, political, and corporate communications. 

The methodology for creating and validating Words That Work is as important to understand as the words themselves. The tools and techniques are polling, focus groups, and, most importantly, dial sessions. These techniques are valid tools for any issue, but especially so for discovering and evaluating good and bad language. The dial sessions are particularly valuable for their ability to capture, not just the right words, but to understand the feelings behind the words. Understanding the intensity of feelings that are evoked by the language is important for choosing the Words That Work

To present a truly effective message, whether it is political or in business, the deliverer of the message must be believable as a representation of the content and language. Authenticity is key - messengers must be true to themselves! 

When all components of the presentation are aligned - the company persona, the product or service, the message, the messenger, and the appropriate audience - there is success. If there is misalignment, some indicators in the business world are the sales force using different language than the marketing people and when a company with multiple products is diluting each by selling in the same market segment. 

Using the market research techniques in hundreds of focus groups and dial sessions, Dr. Luntz has identified twenty-one words and phrases that will work in the twenty-first century. Some of the words are applicable in the political sphere and others in the business world, but those twenty-one words are the words that will continue to work.

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All Good Things Do Come to an End

By Sarah McArthur

It's been a wonderful experience being the editor of Business Coaching Worldwide. And though it's now time for me to move on, I am very grateful for the time I've had working with Wendy Johnson, Jon Peters, Kathlyn Hyatt Stewart, and all of the extraordinary writers and business coaches who have contributed their time and works over the past few years. I really must just say a hearty "Thank you!" to everyone I have come in contact with through BCW. And, I know that the next person who rotates into the position of BCW editor can look forward to an amazing ride! Now on to this issue.

Our feature by Beverly Crowell and Beverly Kaye, "Coaching for Engagement and Retention," explores how to reduce the risk and empower leaders in any organization. Dean R. DeLisle contributes not just an interesting Success Story this issue, but he also graces us with another informative Social Media Mania column. Krissi Barr illustrates her PAR model in the Get the Edge article, "Are You Plugged?", and in their Hot Topic article, "Benchmarks Are Dangerous," Howard Morgan and Cathy Swody explore whether or not we really want to know how we compare against the competition.

In "Midnight Express" Dr. Laurence S. Lyons' Ask the Expert column, the author bids us a fond farewell as Dr. Fink will take a slight hiatus from BCW to eat more jelly donuts. Marshall Goldsmith explores "The Building Blocks of Mojo" - and gives us some clues on how we might find meaning and happiness in his column, Coaching Great Leaders.

With a focus on "Achieving Your Desired Outocomes," Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron explores the psychology behind adult behavior, goals, and motivation, as she continues her On the Sunny Side column. Holly G. Green takes a look at which rules to keep and which rules to toss in her Moving Swiftly with Focus & Flexibility article, "Are You a Rule Fool?"

With the second part of the three-part series Global Leader Development, Jeremy Solomons continues to put the focus on what leaders can do to be effective on a global level. In her Based on the Evidence article, "What Is Neuroleadership?", Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis explores the discipline of neuroscience and how it relates to coaching. And, finally, Dr. Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge give us part two of Unwilling Bedfellows, "Learning to Be ONE: The 7 Challenges of Working in a Public-Private Setting.

I hope you enjoy this issue of Business Coaching Worldwide. And, again, thank you for reading!

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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