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.
25Jul/130

Coaching Models for Business Success: Working with Coaching Models* By Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

Coaching models help us to understand the coaching intervention from a systems perspective and to appreciate the need for "structure" in the interaction between coach and client. They offer flexibility and a structure for both the coaching conversation and the overall coaching journey.

Although models create a system within which coach and client work, it is essential that models are not experienced as either prescriptive or rigid. The coaching conversation is about the client, not the coach. If the model is too prescriptive, it means it is fulfilling the coach's agenda, rather than attempting to understand the client's issues.

This next series of articles surveys a cross-section of models that influence the work of business and executive coaches worldwide. I will highlight a variety of models, including circular, nested, four-quadrant and U-process models.

What Is a Coaching Model?

A model represents a system with an implied process. It is a metaphor or analogy used to help visualize and describe the journey. Models systemically depict or represent a process that cannot be directly observed. In other words, a model represents more than what you see. If you can develop a model that encompasses the coaching conversation and the entire coaching intervention, you will begin to work with considerably greater ease within your practice. A coaching model is representative of what happens, or will happen, in the coaching conversation (micro) and in the overall coaching intervention or journey (macro). I recommend working with simple models that represent both the micro- and macro coaching interventions.

If you imagine that the model is the process you use to work with your client, it embodies all of your tools and techniques, including your question frameworks. A model is a simple representation of the journey that can encompass the skills, experience and expertise coach and client bring to the coaching conversation.

Which Models to Use?

The main purpose of this series is to introduce you to a variety of models, with examples of how to facilitate a coaching conversation using each one. The key principle I want to convey is that it is essential to adopt a structured approach to your coaching conversation. This does not mean that you cannot let the conversation grow and be explorative-I mean structure in a big-picture way. That is the beauty of any model: having the freedom to explore within each part of the model.

Purpose, Perspectives, Process Model

The Purpose, Perspectives, Process model (see Figure 1) was developed by David Lane of the Professional Development Foundation (PDF) and the Work-Based Learning Unit at London's Middlesex University (Lane and Corrie, 2006).

Purpose (Where Are We Going and Why?)

What is your purpose in working with the client? Where are you going with this client? What does the client want to achieve? Where do they want to go in their overall journey with you as their coach?

For example, one client working in the telecom industry said in our first session together, "I need your help because everybody in the organization distrusts me and I'm in a pretty senior position. What can I do about it? I'm highly respected by those subordinate to me in position and disliked and mistrusted by those superior or equal to me in position." As coach, your questions will relate to client purpose, i.e., "Where are we going, and what's the reason for going there?" It is usually better to ask a "what" question rather than a "why" question. For example, "Why are we going there?" sounds intrusive and can create a defensive posture on the part of the client. "What" questions help to create a bigger picture of the journey; "what" creates perspective. This client's purpose in this example was to "build alliances and trust with peers, colleagues and superiors throughout the organization."

Perspectives (What Will Inform Our Journey?)

What perspectives inform the journey for both coach and client? Both coach and client come in with their individual backgrounds, experience, expertise, culture, values, motivations and assumptions that drive behavior.

I recently had a call from a potential client who was a general manager in the energy industry. We chatted about his background, career and current job, and discussed his perspective in terms of his position within the organization, his style of leading and managing his team of people, and the impact of his age on his career prospects. Finally he said, "I have got as far as I can get with what I know now-and I need to know more, somehow."

We then discussed my perspective, i.e., what informs the way I work with clients, my experience and expertise. Based on our mutual perspectives, the client asked, "Would we have some kind of synchronicity or a match in order to work together?" He wanted to understand what models, tools and techniques I used as he wanted to create his own leadership development toolbox for his senior managers. He also wanted to understand how to handle mistakes: did I make them and what would my education, training and work experience bring to our conversation? In this first contracting conversation, we worked through the model like this:

Perspectives: How we might bring our two worlds together;
Purpose: What he ultimately wanted from the coaching experience; and
Process: How we would work together to achieve his outcomes.

Process (How Will We Get There?)

Using this model helped me to begin to understand the above client's needs, develop rapport, and identify not just his overall outcomes but a way to begin working together. At this stage of the model we contracted, set boundaries, agreed on confidentiality matters, outlined the fee paying process and initiated the formulation of a leadership development plan. We also agreed on timing (how often we would see each other and the individual client's line manager), and considered questions such as: What assessments would be useful for the individual client to complete? How would we debrief those profiles? We discussed potential coaching assignments and timing for the overall contract (including termination and exit possibilities if either party was unhappy) and explored how to obtain line manager approval. Finally, we set up a separate meeting to review the process with the line manager and the group HR director.

How Can This Model Help You?

This model can help you in three ways: to contract with the client, to structure the entire coaching journey and to guide your coaching conversation. Out of this specific conversation emerged the client's purpose, clarification about how our perspectives fit together to help him achieve this purpose, and the process within which we would work to achieve the outcomes desired.

This model can be used for the regular coaching conversations you have with your client. The client brings to the conversation a possible "menu" of topics to be discussed, or even just one particular topic. One of my clients in the media came to me one day saying, "My purpose today is to understand why I am sabotaging my best efforts to delegate to my senior managers" (purpose). As the coach, I wanted to understand all of the perspectives underlying the client's aim for this conversation (perspectives), as well as identify the various tools or techniques that could be used in the process.

The Coaching Conversation and the Coaching Journey

This model can represent the process for just one coaching conversation, but it can also represent the overall journey. For example, the client comes in with the purpose, "I would like to work with you; no one else will work with me as they find me too difficult." This client's purpose became to find a coach who would work with her, to help her to identify how she could not only develop the interpersonal skills to work successfully with others, but to demonstrate her new learning through visible behavior change at work. The coach's and the client's perspectives will be unique and different. In working with the client, you bring not just perspective, but your observations as to how this client seems to be working within the organizational system.

In terms of process, you may ask the client to do a range of assessment profiles, or you may shadow the client at work to experience how he or she facilitates meetings or interacts with customers, subordinates, superiors and colleagues.

Conclusion

Coach practitioners have a great deal of flexibility when working with coaching models. In my next column we will explore the use of the nested-levels model developed by New Ventures West (Weiss, 2004). I hope I have stimulated your appetite to further investigate coaching models.

*(Adapted from Business Coaching Wisdom and Experience, Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching. 2009. Knowledge Resources and Karnac.)

Resource Materials

Kolb, D. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Lane, D.A. and S. Corrie. 2001. The Modern Scientist-Practitioner: A Guide to Practice in Psychology. London: Routledge.

Stout Rostron, S. 2006. Interventions in the Coaching Conversation: Thinking, Feeling and Behaviour. Unpublished DProf dissertation. London: Middlesex University.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (February Issue 2009, Volume 5, 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.
27Jun/130

High Flying on South Africa’s First Online Business Coaching Course

Posted by WABC

By Dale Williams

Some years ago, after deciding that I wanted to fly aeroplanes, I enrolled in a local flight school at Cape Town International Airport. It was the start of a fascinating period of learning about everything that had happened since Wilbur and Orville left the ground nearly a century before.

My very patient instructor would help me to navigate my way through the other aircraft so that our tiny Cessna 152 could get into the skies over the west coast to practice turns, stalls, spins and recoveries from spiral dives.

Flying out of Cape Town had its unique challenges as I needed to be very sharp with my radio work while the control tower directed us through the other commercial traffic at the busy airport.

At the time it seemed like a tremendous overhead to have to do all this talking on the radio, when friends learning to fly at out of town or bush fields simply broadcast their intentions and took off.

The value of being adept on the radio only showed itself some years later when hearing pilots trained at country fields flying into larger airports stuttered their way through their radio calls.

The environment in which we learn plays a big role in what we learn. It struck me that there is much overlap between my learning to fly experience and a pioneering group of students who have just graduated from the UCT GetSmarter Foundations of Corporate Coaching course.

Having had my own experience of learning about coaching on the Middlesex Masters programme starting in 2002, and then having taught on various programmes, from introductory programmes for business leaders to Masters level at local universities, I was intrigued and curious when asked to convene the UCT GetSmarter Foundations of Corporate Coaching course earlier this year.

In this article I will share some of the significant learning that I have taken away from the experience with the hope that it may benefit others as coaching in South Africa continues to grow. Of particular interest is the growing international trend of complementing face-to-face coaching with an ever-increasing demand for telephone, teleconference and Skype coaching.

33 participants took part in the pioneer course that came about through an innovative partnership between the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the trailblazers at GetSmarter, who have opened up the field of online learning over the last five years. Dr Suki Goodman from UCT oversaw all academic aspects of the programme, having seen the potential to use an online platform to teach business coaching.

Comparing this online course to the typical classroom learning experience is fascinating as there are very few aspects that are clearly superior in either format. There are many nuances that make for interesting learning about this new and evolving medium for education.

Below I describe five key areas of the online course and then offer a summary of the learning.

 

1. Coaching triads

It is typical in coach training for students to pair up and coach each other with a third person observing. This is done around a particular skill area that is then practiced in a short session followed by feedback by the observer.

In addition, coach training typically requires new coaches to coach each other outside of the classroom, reflecting or at least reporting back on their experiences. As this happens without any observation, learning is limited to self-reporting.page1image30008 page1image30168

We were fortunate in being able to combine the best aspects of both 'in classroom' and 'out of classroom' coach practice.

At the beginning of the course, each student was paired up with a partner. This two-person partnership remained in place throughout the course.

In each module a variety of multimedia formats such as video and written notes were used to explain a new concept or skill. This was followed by an assignment where students were given the opportunity to experiment with the new skills by coaching their partner.

Sessions were conducted with Skype and were recorded and uploaded to the GetSmarter learning platform. From there the recorded session was distributed to three random students who gave written feedback based on criteria covering the competencies taught on the course.

This is a highly effective learning approach as the feedback is available for review throughout the duration of the course together with the recording of the original session. Students can re- listen to their session with the benefit of the feedback, and the students who give feedback are gaining immense value through hearing three different peoples approach to the assignment.

As convener, I also gave feedback to a group of students each week, working my way through the entire class, so that by the end of the course everyone had had two reviews from me.

 

2. Reflection and learning

Students kept an electronic learning diary that was updated after each module. In the diary they answered simple questions about what they had learned and what they still needed to learn. This adult approach to learning was built in based on my experience of how effective this has been on non-online programmes.

As it was electronic we were able to add some interesting benefits to the learning diary such as allowing students the opportunity to easily review previous entries, side by side with their current reflections. This way, on a single page, they were able to see the progress they were making throughout the course.

From a teaching and evaluation perspective it allowed a very detailed assessment of learning, by correlating students' own evidence of learning with that demonstrated through their practice coaching.

 

3. Questions and answers

There is no easy substitute for face-to-face time with a knowledgeable faculty member when learning about coaching. Being able to ask any question and getting feedback from someone who has experience in the field of coaching is incredibly valuable.

In our online version of the course we wanted to provide the same experience while taking advantage of the benefits of an online learning platform. We were able to do this through the discussion forum where students could post their questions and I would answer them.

Although not as rich as a face to face experience, our forum offered other benefits such as allowing all students to engage in the questions in their own time, students providing their own rich and diverse answers to complement that of my own and offering more students the opportunity to interact and dialogue, as we were not limited by the linear nature of a classroom where the process is one question and then one answer.

 

4. Guest lecturers

We invited some of my colleagues to provide us with guest lectures on topics specific to their areas of expertise and interest. Each module had short snappy inserts from people such as Paddy Upton, who shared his views on coaching from the worlds of business and sport, Michelle Clarke on marketing yourself as a coach, and Dr Richard Oxtoby on the psychology of executive coaching.

Trying to organise the same experience in the classroom is of course possible but involves a significant amount of logistics to get the guest lecturer into a room at the same time as the students. In our online version, the short videos were recorded at the convenience of the guest lecturer and were available whenever students had the time to watch.

The videos now form a library available for future students. On the downside, students do not have the opportunity to ask questions of the guest lecturers as they would in a classroom situation.

 

5. Development of a personal coaching model

Students developed their own personal model of coaching over the duration of the course. This is in line with other courses where, rather than providing a specific way that students should coach, they are given many inputs and design their own unique model of coaching.

The journey is deeply personal and reflects a person's background, interests and ambitions as a coach. The online platform again provided us with an opportunity to do something unique here and we gave students an interface where after each module they completed an exercise, which assisted them in making explicit their personal coaching model.

As new insights and learning were integrated from the course so these were built into the model, so that by the end of the last module students had a coherent offering which they could use to explain their coaching proposition to potential clients and others.

With a focus on corporate and business coaching, the model required students to articulate their experiences in a business environment, their own personal background and their learning about coaching.

This was complemented with the desired outputs of their coaching which covered their plan to develop their practice, their specific approach to clients and sponsors together with how they would manage within a business system. Lastly, their personal coaching model covered their on-going growth and development as a coach.

Unintended consequences

I must add a sixth point here, a sixth sense perhaps. One of the unintended consequences of the course was the relationship that developed between the students as a result of the coaching pairs. Having coached each other each week and discussed, on either side of the coaching session, their triumphs and challenges from the course, many students commented at the end of the course how they would miss these regular coaching sessions. Many meaningful relationships developed as a result of the experience students had on the course.

Flying and coaching

When I was learning to fly, being exposed to complex radio work significantly helped my abilities later on and likewise students of the UCT GetSmarter Foundations of Coaching course are now equipped not only with key coaching skills, but they are also very familiar with coaching over Skype or a telephone. This positions them extremely well with the relevant skills and experience required in the growing telephone coaching market.page3image28512 page3image28672 page3image28832

This innovative way of delivering comprehensive coach training is new to South Africa and offers tremendous opportunities for people to learn about coaching. Students on the course came from a cross section of backgrounds. While some were aiming to launch their own coaching practices, many others were interested in using coaching skills in their own businesses, internally as part of an OD or HR function, and in sports coaching.

For aspirant coaches, the ability to work over the phone is becoming more and more of a critical skill. My colleagues in Europe and the United States report that it is very common to have entire coaching relationships over the phone or Skype without having ever met clients in person. This offers new opportunities for the field of coaching and those who embrace it and learn to use the technology in their training will be at an advantage.

Dale Williams is an Executive Coach and full member of the WABC.
He can be contacted for more information at: http://www.connecteddale.com

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
11Apr/130

An Integrated Approach to Strategic Business Coaching

Posted by WABC

By Ernesto Olascoaga

In 1983, Volkswagen devised the concept of an IT company that functioned as an internal service provider. In 1998, VW-GEDAS became gedas, a separate business entity and one of Germany's leading system integrators, serving clients inside and outside the VW Group.

In 2006, under the direction of new CEO, Federico Casas Alatriste, coaching was used by gedas Mexico as an integrated approach to redirect efforts toward three major business imperatives: Exploring new markets, targeting new clients, and improving strategies and work methods. At the time of the coaching process, gedas was in the process of merging with T-Systems to become gedas, a member of T-Systems.

The Partnership

Laura Ceballos, human capital manager, and María Eugenia Díaz Mercado, organizational development coordinator, conducted a 360-diagnostic process to identify the leadership competencies required for the company to become more competitive in the global marketplace. They then partnered with business coach, Dr. Ernesto Olascoaga to design and implement the change process, which had two major goals. First, that all managers understand the company's strategic imperatives. Second, that they work as a team to implement efforts to grow in a competitive market.

The Challenge

With three main clusters of needs, the first revolved around the business imperatives. The second related to developing the coaching competencies of top management, and the third to developing leadership and management competencies in middle management. Detected in the 360-diagnostic were a lack of both teamwork and entrepreneurial attitude. In addition, business results were below annual goals.

The Approach

Design Principles

The coaching process was designed according to the following principles:

  • Communicate key business imperatives to all participants
  • Gain commitment from stakeholders
  • Develop awareness and link significant action to each coaching intervention
  • Include follow-up
  • Review and celebrate progress in a formal closing
  • Define next steps with follow-up commitments

Top management agreed to lead the process using the collaborative research approach suggested by David Coghlan, in which each learning cycle follows four stages: Diagnosis, planning, action, and evaluation.1 Awareness of relevant issues is encouraged during each cycle, which affects four subsystems: Individual, interaction, team, and organization.

Strategic Initiatives

Top managers identified the initiatives that they considered most critical to the business imperatives. These were then plotted against the list of middle managers. For each of the eight initiatives identified, a top manager was designated as its team sponsor and members of a small group of middle managers were assigned as team members. The coaching process was designed to drive the development of required competencies and to provide support to each team.

Kick-off Meeting

In June 2006, during the kick-off meeting, the CEO explained his vision for the company and the implications of the three imperatives. Then, each sponsor presented the main objective and expected deliverables for the respective initiative. An open discussion followed these presentations, and it became clear that deliverables for each team should include a detailed analysis of the current and desired situation, as well as an action plan.

The coaching process and objectives of the process were then explained to all teams. These were:

  • To develop the coaching competencies of top management
  • To develop the leadership and managerial skills of middle management
  • To practice the new skills in the strategic initiative teams
  • To achieve the deliverables in each initiative with the result that the company would align and move towards the business imperatives

The Coaching Process

The coaching process considered the interventions of both the top-management team and middle managers.

The Top-Management Team

The top-management team participated in both group and individual coaching. The Caliper Profile was used to help each sponsor understand his/her motivators and behaviors and to devise an action plan for consolidating strengths and managing behavioral opportunities.

Each sponsor had four individual coaching sessions with the business coach. These were built around the individual's development plan. The team profile was used to help team members understand the opportunities they had to improve and to provide support to the sponsors of each initiative. During several sessions feedforward was used. This methodology emphasizes future opportunities rather than rehashing old events.2

Middle Managers

Using the 360 diagnosis, five competencies were identified that were important for the middle managers to develop: Alignment to strategy, leadership skills, service orientation to clients, development of high-performing teams, and change management. A one-day workshop was structured for each of these topics.

The Coaching Model

The chart below shows the coaching model.

The Value Delivered

Coaching Process Follow-up

Each team met as necessary to work on the initiatives. The sponsor was available as needed and functioned as the team guide. Each sponsor had several individual coaching sessions around his/her leadership, which included improving support for initiative team members. Sponsors also provided coaching to their teams.

Dr. Olascoaga held three sessions with each sponsor and his/her team to review progress on both task and team process issues. During the sessions, teams discussed the learning experience, and identified practical applications of included concepts and exercises. They reviewed their progress, identifying possible improvements for the next workshop.

Comments and suggestions from middle managers and sponsors were analyzed during top management sessions, and two-way communication was encouraged between top and middle managers.

Coaching Process Evaluation

In addition to session evaluations, a final evaluation was included at the end of the last workshop. Most teams reported improvement. The following table shows the average results from each team.

Issue

Level of improvement

Trust

37%

Support

41%

Open communication

32%

Listening

30%

Strategic goals understanding

35%

Commitment to goal achievement

26%

Conflict management

26%

Use of skills and competencies

32%

Follow-up of action plans

42%

Commitment to quality

27%

Image projected to co-workers

27%

Achieved results

38%

 

During the last team coaching session, participants analyzed which expectations were achieved and which were below their expectations.

They recognized improvements in the following:

  • Satisfaction for participating and delivering results through a strategic project that challenged their assumptions
  • Awareness of leadership strengths and weaknesses and learning process for competencies development
  • Interdisciplinary team performance
  • Change management
  • Market understanding
  • Customer service orientation
  • Strategic thinking
  • Commitment to explore business alternatives
  • Global potential
  • Celebration of initial results
  • Clarification of implementation plans

Expectations not met included the following:

  • Participation of some team members
  • Co-ordination and support from some sponsors
  • Some projects did not achieve the required level of results
  • Time spent on each project

Suggestions for improving the learning process included the following:

  • Clarify objectives of strategic initiatives earlier
  • Develop common vision for each project
  • Identify resources required for each initiative
  • Identify empowerment levels required to speed up the change process
  • Increase the interaction among top management and middle management

Celebration

Top management suggested keeping track of the level of progress and making a formal evaluation of each team in order to award a symbolic prize to the best team. This helped organization leaders reinforce awareness, feedforward, and recognition skills, and team members appreciated and enjoyed the process.

Follow-up

Though the merge with T-Systems affected the expected implementation, most teams are applying their strategic initiatives according to the action plans. Top management will initiate the next collaborative research cycle and has identified specific coaching needs for 2007. The plans have been approved to reinforce the needs of key leaders and teams in order that they continue acting on the strategic imperatives.

Coghlan, D. 2001. "Putting 'Research' Back into OD and Action Research: A Call to OD Practitioners."Organization Development Journal, 20 (1), 62-65. See also, Coghlan, D., & Brannick, T. 2001. Doing Action Research in Your Own Organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Goldsmith, M. Feb. 2003."Feedforward" Executive Excellence; 20, 2; ABI/INFORM Global pg. 15

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Fall Issue 2007, Volume 3, Issue 3). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Ernesto Olascoaga(Mexico), is the founder and CEO of Grupo Visión Global (GVG), a consulting firm since 1976. With more than 30 years of experience as a business coach and consultant, Ernesto specializes in strategic change management, leadership development and process redesign for collaborative work systems. Read more about Ernesto in the WABC Coach Directory. Ernesto can be reached by email at eolascoaga@gvg.com.mx.

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