5May/140

Executive Coaching for Your Checked Out “A-Team.” By Scott Robinson

Posted by WABC

by Scott Robinson

Imagine a diver climbing the steps onto a high dive.  The diver, your executive leader, is ready to springboard off of the platform to make a seemingly effortless trajectory and splashless entry.   Instead, as the diver leaves the platform, what follows is a belly flop.  Why?  Your A-team executive suffers from burn-out and exhaustion or has moved onto the next opportunity, leaving a talent breach.

Statistics indicate that more than 70% of employees and senior leaders will change jobs in the next 24 months. In his article in the Los Angeles Times, Richard Lopez reported that a recent Gallup Poll shows "7 out of 10 workers have checked out" and “are actively disengaged." Gallup also estimates this disengagement costs the United States as much as $550 billion in economic activity annually.

The choice is simple:  lost time, lost opportunity, lost clients, loss of consistency or positive development to stave off such losses.  Your real leaders—the “A” players on your team—want to grow and advance in their careers.  Executive coaching will bring both a short-term and a long-term return in your organization. Investing in your leaders’ development and performance offers value both to the individual and to the organization.

Executive coaching as a retention strategy for senior executives, their direct reports, and employees with high potential in the organization has shown a 700% ROI.  Studies designed to pinpoint measurable results delivered from executive management services are met with a certain amount of skepticism. However, despite the subjective variables in any survey, one undeniable component in every study offers unwavering consistency—the bottom-line results. Studies by trusted publications such as Fortune Magazine, Chemistry Business Magazine, as well as companies such as Linkage and International Coach Federation all have concluded that executive coaching delivers a return on investment between 500% and 600%. Some show an ROI as high as 700% for certain positions within an organization.

The tremendous ROI and retention rate attributed to executive coaching is hard to deny when you consider the following factors:

  • Enhanced customer service
  • Increased talent development within the organization
  • Improved workplace performance in both individuals and teams
  • Upswing in revenue-generating activities
  • Work-life balance and attitude factor

Moreover, coaching creates an environmental halo effect.   Coaching as a retention strategy is felt in the culture.  Often management sees an increase in employee engagement, trust, and effectiveness across the entire organization. Sound leadership with engaged employees fosters a culture that attracts the best people for future leadership.

Gallup published statistics showing that an employee who is fully engaged in his/her work is 29% more productive. Gallup and other research companies repeatedly have documented that employees do not leave an organization; instead they leave their supervisor or manager.

Moving executives from “B” level performers to “A” level leaders provides talent increases by the development of the bench players you already have. The assumption is that executives have appropriate technical competency. However, technical competencies alone rarely are adequate for leadership success and longevity.  Too often executives erringly seek to improve by increasing their velocity by working longer, harder, and faster.  An executive coach shows the executive to add something new and different to their tool kit rather than just “swing harder” with the tools they have.

Executive coaching helps identify leadership behaviors that are outside the norm of even “A” performers. With a clear idea of gaps and derailers, the coach and the executive begin to craft the plan for development.  And with executive coaching, success and the culture of success grows.

  Scott Robinson, Managing Partner, Robinson Resource Group

UntitledWith over 35 years’ experience in the human capital industry, Scott is a trusted adviser to executives in the C-Suite.  After Scott founded, grew, and lead the largest full service human resources firm in the Midwest, Scott chose a transition of his own, and in 2011 he returned to his entrepreneurial roots to launch Robinson Resource Group, a premier boutique Executive Coaching and Search firm. To learn more about Robinson Resource Group, click here.

Along with being a member of the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC) and receiving their Registered Corporate Coach™ designation, Scott is a member of the Institute of Coaching Professional Association at McLean Hospital—a Harvard Medical School affiliate, the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), The Executives’ Club of Chicago (ECC), Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and is the current Education Chairman of World President’s Organization (WPO).

Scott holds a Bachelor degree in Psychology from Illinois State University and a Master of Science degree in Psychology as well as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from George Williams College.

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25Oct/1310

Change is Easy, by Dr. Laurence S. Lyons

Turn to the change section in any management textbook and it will be sure to tell you one thing—major change is horrendously hard. However arduous you might think it will be to re-organize operations, introduce a new business model, or beef up global customer service, accepted wisdom will tell you to think again. Estimate the effort needed to bring about the desired change. Treble it. Then add some. You will find that making change happen in the real world will be much, much harder than you'd ever imagined.

If you, or one of your clients, have ever instigated major change, you will wisely nod your head in agreement with all those textbooks. There are well over a million excellent reasons why change is so very difficult and always takes far longer than expected. People have a natural resistance to change. They cannot be rushed through the laborious emotional processes which major change unavoidably requires. The Senior Management Team—often the instigators of change—will be thinking one or two steps ahead of their announced plans, which skews their perception about the speed at which change can take place towards the madly-optimistic. Change is difficult, it looks difficult, and it takes a long time.

Yet this need not be the case. There is some good news; there is another way. While coaching may not eliminate the amount of client reflection that is required when change comes along, it does offer a better and more enduring return from the investment in its efforts. We of course know that coaching almost always encourages dialog, and that early warning is particularly important for reducing risk in change situations. So a coaching context is generally beneficial during change. But coaching can go beyond simply setting a culture conducive to lubricating the change initiative. By helping the client find her authentic voice, a coach may encourage a leader to take a less reactive and more robust stance. To achieve this, the leader may probe and test the organization's ambition in an effort to interpret its intention in a way which finds a desirable role for her in the emerging scheme.

A Question of Coaching

Traditionally, major organizational change is the practical answer to a set of three strategic questions:

  • Where is the organization today?
  • Where do we want the organization to be tomorrow?
  • How does the organization get there?

Organizational change methodologies built on these three questions have undoubtedly stood the test of time. These are good questions. They are the right questions. The top team's answers to these three questions—together with the quality of change implementation they bring—will deliver to any organization the future it deserves.

Yet, however beneficial this approach may seem to be for the business, the coach may feel stymied by it. Having a client respond without challenge to the organization's perceived demands may leave residual feelings of weakness or inadequacy. Additionally, it may be frustrating to find that the textbooks dictate that there is nothing important for the business beyond the realm of strategy. Where, then, can the coach find a space in which each client can be empowered?

I propose a coaching question, the fourth question of strategy:

  • Where do I (the client) fit in the picture?

The great thing I find about this additional question is that it is also strategic—but this time squarely in the interest of the client. To get to work on this new question, simply take the original three questions and change the word 'organization' to 'client.' Your discussions will produce an initial draft of a personal strategy. Importantly, it has now been made explicit. It will be almost impossible for the client to answer these questions without bringing to the surface a much deeper one: Who am I?

Asking this fourth question puts what could have been an important hidden issue right on the table. With all that done, it's now time to explore common futures. Ask this: Within the proposed organizational change, is there any gap between the client's career and the organization's ambition which needs further exploration?

Playing with Fire

Just in case you might have any qualms about asking this extra question in a live coaching session, remember that the ethical justification for doing so is compelling. At worst, it will quickly emerge that your client is the best person for meeting the new organizational challenges. In that case, your conversation only took a moment and you've squeezed out risk to both your client and the organization. Rest happy that your client is in exactly the right job, fired up with opportunity and enthusiasm, and that the organization is well resourced for its future. This represents a fine return on the investment of a few seconds' coaching time. Celebrate!

What if your client is uncertain about the method of change implementation, or even holds serious reservations about some of the assumptions in the change plan? Here is another great coaching opportunity! You encourage the client to go into research mode, which means setting up conversations with colleagues outside the coaching room. Perhaps it simply turns out that some detail or interpretation needs clarifying, and once that has been done all is then well. Great outcome. Or, maybe it emerges from business discussions that it is necessary to modify some part of the original change program. It could be that a major piece of the change plan eventually gets jettisoned or replaced. Having your client set this research in motion doesn't mean that all risks will evaporate, but it does mean that you and your client have done your level best in addressing all inherent, and foreseeable, risks. You did good work. In the real world, it often doesn't get better than this. Celebrate!

What if it should become clear that there is no fit for your client in the organization's future, and no hope of re-negotiating the change plan? It is difficult to see how you wouldn't want to celebrate even more than before! I expect to hear the champagne corks flying. You have just identified an extremely significant and dangerous risk, and are already on your way to avoiding a predictable disaster. Remember: If it ain't going to work, then it ain't going to work. Get started on the exit strategy today. Better to spot and avoid the dead end right here and now in the coaching room than to leave it festering unnoticed until it grows into the full-blown catastrophe of a failed implementation. Working the mismatch issue now will prevent serious organizational embarrassment and disruption in the future, and it may even save a career.

Principled coaching begets principled leadership. The principled way can at first seem frightening, but is often the best for both client and organization. Business coaches are often asked, "What is it that coaches actually do?" That question offers no quick and simple answer. But one element of coaching is crystal clear: Coaches encourage their clients to walk the talk by living their values and by being authentic. One route to that goal starts with a major change announcement and the fourth question of strategy.

I freely admit that the search for those core personal values can often involve the client in a long and tortuous inner struggle. Often a situation of impending major organizational change will be the only device able to prompt such consistent and deep reflection. Finding the limits of Self can be hard. But the reward for the client is enormous: Authenticity. Authenticity is the foundation of principled leadership. Because the principled leader knows herself, she has no cause to worry about change.

She is to be found anywhere in an organization, not only at its top and not only among the management elite. She feels no need to take a long and protracted journey to some unwanted organizational destination. She is self-secure. Organizational change may present her with a fantastic opportunity to grow her leadership skills and get closer to her personal ambition. If so, she and her organization will reap huge rewards, which multiply as each feeds on the success of the other. But if, after researching all possible alternatives, she still cannot find herself within the emerging picture, she will simply start work on the construction of another picture. It will be her picture, in which, for the time being at least, she can clearly see herself, and which she is prepared to share with the world. Organizations hold no monopoly on change.

Is it not the quest of business coaches to create such leaders? Leaders who are at home with themselves? Change is a gale which extinguishes the candle or spreads the bush fire; its effect depends entirely on the material it meets. Who said the flame must always die? Authentic leaders are prepared for change; for them, being true to self presents no difficulty at all. Change? What is change? Change is easy.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Spring Issue 2007, Volume 3, Issue 1). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Laurence S. Lyons, PhD, founding director of The Metacorp Group, has extensive experience in coaching senior teams during major change. A member of the WABC International Advisory Committee, Larry is a scheduled panelist at the WABC 10th Anniversary International Conference. His most recently published book, co-edited with Marshall Goldsmith, is the second edition of Coaching for Leadership: The Practice of Leadership Coaching from the World's Greatest Coaches (Pfeiffer, 2005). Read more about Larry in the WABC Coach Directory. Larry can be reached by email at lslyons@lslyons.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
25Sep/130

You Can’t Win at Golf with Just One Club: Coaching Leaders for Today’s Complex Business World, by Ellen Samiec and Scott Campbell

Posted by WABC

Imagine this scene: Tiger Woods arrives for the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia with only a driver in his golf bag. When asked, "Where are your other clubs?" he replies, "Well, my driver is my favourite club, and I figured I could just use it for all my shots."

As ridiculous as this sounds, many executives and business leaders use the same logic when leading their organizations or business units; they utilize a single approach to leadership--typically "command & control." While business coaches usually try to shake these leaders loose from relying on a commanding approach, they too frequently fall prey to the same underlying assumption: there is one right way to lead that will work in all situations. Not surprisingly, the leadership style usually suggested as the replacement for commanding is coaching.

The truth is, there is no one right way to lead! Relying on any one approach is like trying to win at golf with just one club.

In our book, 5-D Leadership: Key Dimensions for Leading in the Real World (Davies-Black, 2005), we define effective leadership as "achieving desired results through people's willing participation." Through our experience and research, we have concluded that there are five key leadership approaches--what we term Leadership Dimensions--which effective leaders use to respond to the demands of today's complex business world.

What follows in this article is an overview of these Five Dimensions. Readers can refer to the chart at the end of the article for a convenient summary of the definition, strategic objectives, and appropriate contexts for each of the five Dimensions.

Dimension # 1 - Commanding: Taking Charge
As mentioned above, business coaches and leadership experts have been proclaiming the end of the Commanding era in business leadership for at least fifteen years.

However, there is a danger in this dismissal. There are times when Commanding is not only acceptable, it's desirable. In certain contexts, business coaches may actually need to assist their clients in developing the skills and perspectives needed to "command" effectively.

We define Commanding as taking charge and seeking immediate compliance to quickly effect a desired result. The primary context in which this Dimension is needed is a genuine crisis, particularly in turnaround situations or tragedies. In these circumstances, the need for quick decisions, combined with employee insecurities, call for a Commanding approach.

New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's remarkable leadership during the days and weeks following 9/11 are a powerful testament to the benefits of a Commanding approach during difficult days. Giuliani had, in fact, been at his lowest ebb in opinion polls just prior to the attack on the Twin Towers. His reputation was salvaged (to the point of winning Time magazine's Person of the Year award for 2001) due to his strong leadership in its aftermath. His efficiency, aura of authority, rapid decision making, inspirational words, and compassionate actions towards the victims and their families fit perfectly the needs and demands of the moment. The strength of his Commanding approach allayed people's fears, renewed their hope, and gave them an emotional anchor in the days following the terrorist attacks.

When circumstances are dire--during turnarounds and tragedies--people look for Commanders. As Faye Wattleton of the Center for Gender Equality says, "The only safe ship in a storm is leadership."

Nonetheless, it is quite common to find leaders over-relying on Commanding, using it in non-crisis contexts. The result is significant damage to morale, retention, and peak performance. It is therefore critical that leaders, and business coaches who work with them, be aware of the four other Leadership Dimensions and the contexts in which they are appropriate.

Dimension # 2 - Visioning: Pointing the Way
While you can command short-term compliance, you can't command ongoing commitment. One of the most powerful approaches for fostering lasting commitment to excellence is through the skilled use of the Visioning Dimension. As Peter Senge says, "Few, if any, forces are as powerful in human affairs as shared vision."

Visioning is defined as creating and effectively communicating a clear and compelling picture of a worthwhile vision for the group. While visioning is needed in many different business contexts, it is particularly important in times of organizational change.

The story of Jan Carlzon's leadership at the helm of Scandinavian Airline Systems (SAS) in the 1980's is a notable illustration of the Visioning dimension of leadership and its positive impact on staff morale, productivity, and company profitability. Carlzon employed a variety of means to create a new passion around the vision of delivering outstanding customer service each and every time a passenger had contact with the airline. In a single year, SAS employees turned a $20 million loss into a $54 million profit! The airline went on to garner several awards in the 1980s. In Carlzon's own words, "The new energy at SAS was the result of 20,000 employees all striving toward a single goal every day" (Carlzon 1987, 27). That is the power of shared vision.

Dimension # 3 - Enrolling: Getting Buy-In
Margaret Wheatley states, "People only support what they create." As a Leadership Dimension, Enrolling involves creating buy-in and commitment by genuinely seeking input and/or employing democratic decision making processes. A skilled use of Enrolling fosters high degrees of employee commitment and leads to high quality decision making and production.

The recent history of Harley-Davidson provides a powerful example of the benefits of Enrolling. While a Commanding approach--driven by its (then) CEO, Vaughan Beals--had brought the company back from the brink of bankruptcy, Enrolling sustained and improved its performance in recent years. Richard Teerlink, Beal's successor, understood the limitations of a Commanding approach when not facing a crisis, and led instead with an Enrolling emphasis.

In late 1988, Harley's senior management team began a number of initiatives designed to elicit the ideas, concerns, complaints, and dreams of all its employees. In the early 1990s, a "Joint Partnership" committee was created between management and the unions to foster continuous improvement at the company. The ensuing results at Harley--sustained profits and renewed market leadership throughout the 1990s--speak to the power of Enrolling.

Teerlink later stated, "I myself didn't have a plan for the company in my back pocket. I only knew that capturing the ideas of our people--all the people at Harley--was critical to our future success" (Teerlink 2000, 5).

Dimension # 4 - Relating: Creating Harmony
We define Relating as creating and sustaining strong relationships (1) between you and individual staff members, and (2) between staff members themselves. The goal of Relating is the creation of harmonious working relationships characterized by mutual trust, respect, and goodwill. The use of this Dimension has tremendous positive payoffs for both the leader and the organization.

Mike Abrashoff's leadership as Commander of the USS Benfold, an awe-inspiring, guided-missile Naval destroyer, provides an outstanding example of the skillful use and practical benefits of the Relating Dimension. Although a Naval destroyer may be an unexpected setting for this Dimension, under his leadership in the latter half of the 1990s the Benfold went from having one of the worst retention rates in the Navy to 100% re-enlistment, and having one of the worst states of combat readiness to winning the coveted Spokane Trophy for best combat readiness in the fleet. Abrashoff attributes much of this success to the emphasis he placed on his personal relationship with the crew and attending to relationships between crewmembers. Abrashoff demonstrated a skilled use of the Relating Dimension in numerous ways, including:

learning the names, family history, and personal story of every one of his 310 crewmembers
instilling a sense of each member's personal importance to him, regardless of rank
attending to issues of harmonious crew relationships and potential discrimination against women and minorities

Positive relationships are the lubricant that keeps the "work-engine" turning smoothly. The Relating Dimension is the approach that creates and sustains those relationships.

Dimension # 5 - Coaching: Developing People
The Coaching Dimension focuses on developing an individual's potential and performance while aligning the individual's goals and values with those of the organization.

One of our colleagues, Carole Cameron, recently described to us the positive outcome of having a manager (Phil Geldart) who was adept at coaching during her tenure at Nestl Canada. Here is Carole's assessment of Phil's impact on her and the organization:

The lessons I learned from Phil greatly allowed me to develop my skills as a trainer and deepened my confidence to move my career forward in the Performance Development Department. What I experienced in being coached was typical for all his staff. Phil always focused on developing his people.Phil not only enhanced the lives and careers of his direct reports, he also used his coaching style to help create a corporate culture that was founded in respect for the individual and a commitment to the development and strengthening of others. When Phil left Nest he left behind him a seamless succession in his own department, and an organization with a solid leadership base.

Conclusion

Just as great golfers use all the clubs at their disposal, great leaders use all five Leadership Dimensions at their disposal--the choice of Dimension is governed by the context and desired outcomes they want to achieve. The masterful use of all five Dimensions is critical to achieving desired results through people's willing participation.

The Five Leadership Dimensions


Sources:

Carlzon, Jan. 1987. Moments of Truth. New York: Harper Perennial.
Teerlink, Richard. July 2000. "Harley's Leadership U-Turn." Harvard Business Review 78:4, 43-48.

 

 

Ellen Samiec is the Director of Coaching for 5D Leadership. She works with executives and business leaders across Canada, the United States and Australia, helping them leverage their strengths to overcome challenges and achieve breakthrough results. Read more about Ellen in the WABC Coach Directory. Ellen may be reached by email at Ellen@5DLeadership.com.
Scott Campbell, Director of Training for 5D Leadership, is an international speaker, author and consultant whose clients include Nike, IBM, General Electric and Proctor & Gamble. Scott may be reached by email at Scott@5DLeadership.com.Ellen and Scott are co-authors of 5-D Leadership (Davies-Black Publishing, Oct. 2005).

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (February Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 4). Copyright 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
29Aug/130

Cultural Awareness: Preparing for the Global Workplace By Nerella Campigotto

Posted by Nerella Campigotto

Since global reach is a reality for most of us in our business environment, we are faced with challenges and implications that affect how we communicate, negotiate, collaborate and make decisions. For coaches, trainers and consultants it adds an extra dimension when our clients are dealing with the same conundrum. The global workplace is one where we work in multicultural teams (sometimes virtually), lead intercultural employees and/or deal with customers across cultures. We cannot possibly become experts in the myriad of cultures we touch in our daily lives. So how can we best prepare ourselves to meet this challenge? The key, I believe, is to build awareness of the cultural nuances that surround us. To do this, we must ask ourselves three questions:

1. What Is Culture?
The first step is to examine what exactly we mean by 'culture.' Not an easy question to answer, but culture is certainly more than just traditions, customs and etiquette. Ultimately, the culture of a particular group is defined by the 'values' of the people who form the group. This has developed over centuries, if not millennia, and is based on history, politics, religion, ethics, class distinction, regional differences, hierarchy...the list goes on. Furthermore, culture isn't just how members of a particular society live, but also how they view others in their respective cultures. The concept of culture is essentially a subjective one, adding to its mystique.

2. Do You Know Your Own Culture?
Analyzing your own culture is often the best thing to do in the quest to attain awareness, especially when viewed through the eyes of someone from another culture. In doing so, we must take into account not only our own ethnicity, but the influences of others that have touched our lives and continue to do so. Most societies are impacted by the increasingly fluid movement of people across the globe and the instant information supplied by the Internet.

3. How Do Cultures Differ?
There are numerous studies that look at the characteristics of various cultural groups, but the work of Geert Hofstede is perhaps the best known among students of cultural diversity. His research concluded that there are five major areas of cultural variation. These essentially assess attributes such as tolerance of hierarchy, individualism versus collectivism, masculine versus feminine traits, the need of formality or rules, and long-term versus short-term orientation. Of late, there has been some criticism that the cross-cultural training industry emphasizes differences and stereotypes, thereby aggravating the challenges encountered in the global business environment. There may be some truth to this, or is this criticism perhaps driven by a sense of political correctness that may itself be a cultural trait of the West? For many people it may be easier to seek understanding by focusing on the similarities found in other cultures as a starting point. After all, we are dealing with human nature and many traits are shared by all cultures. In my experience however, I have found it easier to deal with cross-cultural conflict and challenges once I have accepted that there are attributes and characteristics that differentiate us. I personally welcome the differences found in various societies, and I am particularly interested in the nuances between similar cultures. What a boring world it would be without these differences!

If you are interested in learning about a particular culture, or more about your own, I would suggest you visit the website for the Centre for Intercultural Learning (part of the Canadian Foreign Affairs Department) at www.intercultures.gc.ca. Government sites such as this will often have ample information intended for people doing business in foreign countries. To find out more about Hofstede's work and analysis of each country he studied, see www.geert-hofstede.com. Of course, another great way to learn is to simply ask others about their culture.

Clearly, culture is a complex matter that is best understood through intercultural dialogue; the challenges it brings are best met by being flexible, open-minded and aware.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (October 2008, Volume 4, Issue 1). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.