Coaching’s Impact on Leadership Competencies at the City of Vancouver

Posted by WABC

By Carollyne Conlinn, MBA, MPH, MCC

The Business/The Organization

The City of Vancouver employs a staff of approximately 9,200 to provide services to the 650,000 residents of the City. There are approximately 650 managers in multiple departments who carry out the daily operations to provide a wide range of services from housing the marginalized to planning complex transportation routes through the City's busy residential and business sectors.

Within two years, the City will be hosting the 2010 Olympics, which will stretch the capacity of leaders to deliver world-class hospitality to international visitors to the Olympic Games. The environment is dynamic, and leaders operate under the constraints of public scrutiny and stretched resources in a labor market that is already struggling to meet the recruiting demands.

The Partnership

The City determined the need for executive coaching as part of its leadership capacity building, believing it was important to develop leadership strength from within the organization.

Coaching firms were invited to present proposals for how they would provide a pool of coaches to address the diverse needs of senior managers across the City's diverse portfolios.

Key considerations in making the selection were:

  • Coach qualifications and experience
  • Company's experience and systems with coaching contracts
  • Comprehensive evaluation protocol
  • Demonstrated understanding of the City's needs

The Challenge

Coaching results were evaluated against ten categories of behavioral competencies as part of a larger leadership development design.

  • Personal values
  • Adaptability
  • Innovation and initiative
  • Understanding others
  • Collaborating
  • Coaching and developing others
  • Communication
  • Service orientation
  • Planning and organization
  • Decision making and accountability

The key priorities for the City's continued success were to increase leaders' capacity for innovation and decision making within a municipal government environment. As well, coaching was seen as a process by which to prepare individuals for increased levels of responsibility and to serve as a retention strategy for high performers.

While all managers at the senior level had participated in a four-day leadership development seminar, the effect of individualized coaching had not yet been tested as a customized approach to development. Individuals were selected by their general managers to participate in the pilot. Although the human resources project leader had provided clear guidelines for criteria and communicated the goals of the pilot, the translation of information was not uniform throughout the organization. As a result, some individuals were recommended for the pilot without understanding its purpose. In the same manner, ten managers in a control group were selected by their managers to participate in the pilot by responding to evaluation questionnaires at the beginning and end of the pilot without being coached.

The Approach

In order to establish consistent understanding of the coaching pilot, a four-hour, in-person orientation session was held, during which coaching was defined, and all participating coaches were introduced.

At the same time, all participants completed a communication-style assessment to be used as the basis for pre-screening potential coach matches. Each participant was provided with two coaches to interview with the understanding that if there was not a good fit for the client, other coaches would be offered. All clients selected one of the coaches they had met during the orientation meeting. They then scheduled ten hours of telephone coaching over the subsequent six months.

The coaching firm was responsible for managing orientation, coach-client matching, reporting hours used back to the City's project leader and administering the evaluation process at the beginning, middle and end of the project.

While each coach developed the specific agenda with the client, they shared similar values and perspective, as they all work as a faculty team at Royal Roads University's Graduate Executive Coaching Certificate program. More information about the training curriculum offered at Royal Roads University is available online at www.royalroads.ca.

The Value Delivered

Leadership Competency Improved

At the end of the six-month coaching pilot, self reported results by participants and the control group indicated improvements in all ten behavioral categories by the group that was coached over the control group.

The greatest improvements by participants pre- and post-coaching were in:

  • Understanding others
  • Decision making and accountability

The greatest improvements by participants over the control group were:

  • Decision making and accountability
  • Communication
  • Innovation and initiative

Several of the coached managers were promoted or given increased responsibilities during the six months. At the end of the six months, retention rate for participants was 100 percent. At the end of twelve months, only two managers had left the City, leaving retention at a high of 87 percent. Specific rankings by participants and control group in all behavioral categories are outlined in Table 1.

[Click on picture for larger image]
In addition to the evaluation questionnaire, brief structured interviews were conducted with the participants, their managers and the coaches to gather more qualitative data for evaluation purposes. Coaching researcher Liz Reyer distilled key themes from the interviews, which were:

  • Positive impact on communication: more use of direct language; the ability to listen better; and the ability to target messages to audiences more clearly
  • Increased confidence and assertiveness: being proactive; communicating without second-guessing
  • Clarified next right steps for career changes: identifying passion; taking away the pressure of moving forward as a "should;" more strategic about career choices.
  • Moved from burnout to life balance: shift attitude toward self and work; taking the heat off, so felt less likely to leave
  • Direct work benefits: evaluating important vs. urgent; analyzing risk, taking on problems rather than skating around them; delegating with greater trust in others

Some positive comments from participants about coaching:

"The City gets a director who is more confident and as a result, more proactive, change-oriented, and emotionally and psychologically energetic."

"Helped me see beyond my current business unit to the whole City."

"[Coaching] helps work with others, communicate and have more harmonious relationships. Offers pragmatic steps, not just psychoanalysis."

From managers:

"Substantial value to the City; high returns in terms of [employee's] deep-seated and personal changes, which may have been needed in order for the City to recognize [the employee's] capacity."

"It is expediting [the coachee's] ability to gain credibility sooner. If this saves four to six months of salary, it's Can$30,000 to Can$50,000. This is based on improved productivity and retention."

From coaches:

"[Coachees] found ways to frame their approach to leadership issues more successfully."

"Multiple employees were considering leaving the City and stayed instead."


The coaching pilot at the City of Vancouver demonstrated the value of coaching in an environment where it had not been previously tested. The use of a control group with similar characteristics to the group being coached demonstrated a significant impact on improving behavioral qualities of emerging leaders. As a result of the pilot, the City has continued to offer coaching to emerging leaders as an integral part of its long-term strategy to build leadership capacity for the future.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2008, Volume 4, Issue 2). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Carollyne Conlinn, MBA, MPH, MCC founded Full Spectrum Coaching to offer coaching services to companies. She also created the Excelerator Coaching ProgramTM offered through Royal Roads University and the Great Question GameTM, facilitated internationally to introduce a coach approach to business. Find more information at www.greatquestiongame.com. Contact Carollyne at carollyne.conlinn@fullspectrumcoaching.com and learn more about her in the WABC Member Directory.


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

Coaching Contributes to the Development of a New Profession

Posted by WABC

By Linda J. Lord

The Business

His name is Paul Foster. He is revolutionizing a profession. He describes his practice as "a business advisory firm," an accounting firm working on a differentiation strategy in the business advisory industry. His focus is on small business owners, farmers and professionals with gross revenues up to $5 million who are looking to grow, are pro-technology and who have the desire and opportunity to differentiate themselves in their markets.

The Partnership

A few months prior to meeting Linda in June 2006, Paul attended his annual conference for Ran One, which focused on the concept of accountants being coaches for their business clients. Recognizing that his firm is also his first client, he determined a need to have his own coach as a means of growing his business as well as for learning and understanding more about coaching skills by experiencing them firsthand.

Linda had been coaching for a few years, but her coaching practice hadn't been as financially successful as she had anticipated. She actually initiated contact with Paul as a means of determining the viability of her practice. The timing was perfect for both business owners. Paul would provide the business advisory expertise and Linda would provide the coaching expertise.

The Challenge

Paul's desired result was to expedite the transition of his firm into a uniquely differentiated business advisory firm. He recognized that to accomplish his goal, he would need someone to hold his feet to the fire and to improve his time management skills. He also wanted to have the type of coaching experience that he could promote to his clients.

After several meetings, Paul expanded the coaching initiative to include his entire team.

This brought to light the fact that some team members no longer fit with Paul's vision for the firm. When it was discovered that one team member in particular was "the wrong person to have on our bus, Linda helped me transition him to the right bus."

The Approach

Linda helped Paul realize that there were certain things he kept thinking he was going to do but never did. Together, Linda and Paul further developed the concept that "in order to grow businesses, you need to grow the owner."

After successfully implementing this concept in Paul's firm, Linda and Paul collaborated to successfully bring this model to other joint engagements.

The Value Delivered

"As for the return on investment, I believe it has been quite high," Paul comments. "The quality-of-life improvements are the most visible to me; as well as the clarity with respect to how to approach business owners and undertake changes in their business.

"We all know that accountants have historically been the most trusted advisors to small business owners. I also know that accountants are business owners themselves, and therefore often suffer from the same challenges as other industry professionals who are excellent technicians but lack the necessary leadership and management skills to operate their businesses productively.

"It is quite clear that the addition of a qualified coach can first assist the accounting practitioner to improve his business and understand the true value provided in the coaching and advisory relationship with the client. The coach and the accountant can then combine to utilize their complementary skills in growing the business clients of the accountant and have a reasonable chance of implementing positive change and growth of a permanent nature."

Linda also assisted Paul in the areas of website development, trademark application, conceptualization of the idea of providing business therapy services digitally and utilizing the Ranone toolbox. Perhaps most significant is the support Linda offered  Paul in his effort to establish the thought leadership that has lead to the formation of a new profession - business therapy.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2009, Volume 5, Issue 1). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.
Linda J. Lord offers a fresh perspective to those who want to make a living and still have a life. She owns Coaching at Work and lives in Canada with her family. Find more about Linda in the WABC Coach Directory. ContactLinda.
If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.

Entrepreneurship: A Heady Business

Posted by WABC

By Sherry Greenleaf

Transitioning skill sets from a corporate environment to owning and running one's own business takes focus and determination. Now think of "Build it and they will come" times two! Flushed with a successful first venture, this entrepreneur was inspired to create a second business which she eventually sold. Working with business coach Sherry Greenleaf, the Interview Doctor's founder Katherine Burik found her new experiences as CEO one of her most rewarding.

The Business/The Organization

Katherine Burik is a human resources professional with more than 25 years of experience growing people and strengthening organizational resources. Her career with Fortune 1000 companies seemed destined to rise with company fortunes until 2004, when she became an entrepreneur with the Interview Doctor, Inc.

The Partnership

National and local organizations were introducing topics about coaching and Katherine considered how coaching could help develop managers and supervisors at MACtac. In the midst of her search for more information, the company began a mass downsizing and she found that she needed to transition out of her corporate position. She decided to open a human resources consulting service specializing in helping others improve their job-seeking skills and win more interviews with potential employers.

Sherry had served as a human resources manager and then transitioned from a corporate position to an entrepreneurial position in the mid-nineties as a result of down-sizing. She joined a local training company and with her business partner helped to expand programs and services, which included coaching. Their joint success was a result of providing training with follow-up coaching.

Sherry invited Katherine to learn more about coaching as a way to expand services to clients who needed support and guidance through a very stressful time.

The Challenge

Katherine wanted to create an infrastructure of financial systems, programs and services, marketing, Internet presence, and business development. She quickly adapted her corporate expertise to strategic planning and finances. With a strong desire to meet the needs of a rapidly growing market, she wanted to test the marketplace to determine if her process and approach would work.

She met with her church leadership council and found that not only were some members of the church possible candidates, but there was a need in the surrounding community. This would provide the opportunity to refine and tweak her concepts. With the support of the church and community, she set up a no-fee program within her church to research her approach.

That left two components for growing a business—development and marketing—both critical to her strategic plan, but areas that Katherine needed to develop if she would be successful as an entrepreneur.

The Approach

Katherine developed a unique approach to coaching candidates that helped the candidate get the job. She found an Internet company that would build her platform and develop web pages, establishing an Internet presence, which gave the business legitimacy to candidates.

Sherry helped Katherine realize that the adage "build it and they will come" is only half right. Katherine had the website, the vision, and was paying the bills without a lot coming in. Entrepreneurship is a heady business. However, without sales, that's where it stays—in the head. Together, Sherry and Katherine worked out a plan to attract new clients that included a corporate base as well as individuals.

Sherry helped Katherine to recognize the power of networking by encouraging her to attend local professional societies and learn how to tell her story to attract clients. Through regular coaching with Sherry, Katherine set monthly goals that pushed her to rapidly apply what she learned about business development. She set specific goals for weekly networking and cold calling targets, wrote articles, and created an electronic newsletter, then set goals for follow-up. The networking through various avenues created relationships leading to referrals and eventually to new clients. Sherry encouraged Katherine, answered questions, and provided research ideas that Katherine could apply to grow the business.

The Value Delivered

Katherine derived so much pleasure out of creating one business, she developed a second one. Having a strong interest in health and wellness, and knowing how the cost of health benefits impacted bottom-line results for her organizations, she partnered with a fitness instructor and created a wellness program to increase the health and fitness of employees.

Following the model of her first new business, Katherine quickly applied many of the principles—developed a wellness program, built a website, met with healthcare professionals, attended and made presentations within her professional network, and targeted key corporate clients. The result was that she was able to successfully attract several local institutions to contract for her Health Initiative Project.

With two budding businesses, Katherine was able to leverage her expertise with two niches. Passionate about both, she developed a strong network with both markets and expanded her services by relying on Sherry's knowledge and professional relationships to develop a team of coaches that could handle the overflow for the Interview Doctor.

Sherry's coaching, feedback, and resources helped Katherine juggle both businesses and find time to spend with her active family. While both businesses were achieving financial success, the relationship between Katherine and the fitness instructor dissolved due to differences in style and direction. It took several months to end the partnership with many coaching sessions focused on communication, conflict resolution, and personal support.

Each coaching session thereafter focused on the many activities that Katherine wanted to accomplish to attract more clients. She continued to network and was successful in attracting a large recruiting firm that invited her to present at a conference. This endeavor resulted in attracting more attention to her interviewing methods.

The final result was that Katherine's expanded skills in networking and business development successfully helped her to sell the Interview Doctor.

The relationship between a coach and coachee works best when both people listen and bring their best experiences to the table. In this case, Sherry shared her own expertise and experience to coach Katherine in setting goals that moved her businesses forward much faster than would have been possible if she had worked alone.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2009, Volume 5, Issue 3). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Sherry Greenleaf is the co-founder of IMPACT Training & Development, Inc., a coaching and training firm since 1995. With more than 20 years of management and business experience, Sherry specializes in helping leaders connect emotional literacy with powerful leadership. More about Sherry in the WABC Coach Directory. Contact Sherry.

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

Social Media Mania

Posted by Dean R. DeLisle

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.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 2). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

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.

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