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.
19Sep/130

Just Enough Anxiety: A Powerful and Practical Tool for Executive Coaches, By Robert Rosen

Posted by Robert Rosen

One of your key challenges as an executive coach is to help your clients make the right choices that get them and their organizations where they want to go. The challenge has multiple steps. First, you must help your clients get comfortable with the idea of being coached. Next, you must gain their confidence and maintain their attention even though they are immersed, entangled and possibly overwhelmed in their day-to-day business activities. Finally, you must keep them moving through the gap between their current reality and their desired outcome, while acknowledging their successes along the way. Throughout the process, you must turn up the heat or back off as needed, especially at critical choice points. You must create just enough anxiety for your client to move forward in productive ways.

I base this conclusion on my 30 years of work as a psychologist, entrepreneur and CEO adviser/coach, and on my interviews with nearly 300 top business leaders. I know from personal experience that conquering this coaching challenge is possible only when I'm able to create just enough anxiety for my clients—as well as within myself.

The level of anxiety is a powerful force and a practical tool for growth for both clients and coaches.

Let's face it: Anxiety is a fact of life. How we use it makes all the difference. If we let it be overwhelming, it will turn to panic. If we deny or run from it, complacency will rule. But if we use the right level of anxiety in a positive way, we can turn that anxiety into a powerful life force. We can tap into the hidden driver of business success.

What is just enough anxiety? It is the emotional charge that tells us we're ready to take action, our signal for learning and growth. Within an organization, just enough anxiety unleashes human energy and creates hope and momentum to move across the gap from where we are to where we want to be.

In contrast, too much anxiety is wrapped in negative thinking and causes people to resist, attack or avoid its source to ease the pain they feel.  It creates discomfort, frustration and wasted movement, or no movement at all. On the other hand, too little anxiety, which arises from an unrealistic belief that all is well and an unfounded expectation that the good times will continue unabated, leads to complacency, boredom and stagnation.

Creating just enough anxiety involves balancing on a continuum between too little and too much anxiety, over time and as circumstances change. The continual movement toward the center maximizes learning, creativity, achievement and performance, no matter what is happening. This healthy range of anxiety differs from person to person, company to company and time to time. No one-size-fits-all definition of anxiety applies to every situation.

As a coach, you need to continually assess your clients' level of anxiety and help them realize the appropriate level of anxiety that will enable them to take the next step toward their goals. And you need to keep your own balance as well.

How does someone acquire an optimum level of anxiety? The first step is to develop two key attributes-an open mind and an open heart. The second step is to live comfortably within three paradoxes: realistic optimism, constructive impatience and confident humility. Here's how.

To develop an open mind...

  • Strengthen self-awareness by being fully present in each moment, learning to recognize and replace self-defeating thoughts and beliefs and cultivating self-confidence.
  • Commit to lifelong learning by being willing to not know, developing insatiable curiosity and seeking out new challenges.
  • Practice non-attachment by embracing the unknown, admitting what can and cannot be controlled and taking inventory of what matters most in life.

To develop an open heart...

  • Be emotionally honest by managing and expressing emotions in healthy ways, befriending anxiety and becoming comfortable with competing emotions.
  • Deepen empathy and compassion by being sensitive to what people feel and need in the midst of change, looking at things from diverse perspectives and seeing the good in others.
  • Become emotionally resilient by finding the positive in each experience, keeping the bigger picture in mind and learning ways to mediate high anxiety.

An open mind provides the freedom to grow and change. An open heart provides the energy required to do so.  Together they enable an individual to cross the gap between "here" and "there"-the vortex where change takes place. People with an open mind and open heart are able to create just enough anxiety within themselves to master three key paradoxes that inspire top performance in others.

We all live with paradox. For instance, I'm a strong, competent, ambitious person who likes to control my own destiny. But I'm also sensitive and have a strong desire to make deep, intimate connections. And I'm no stranger to feeling humble, confused or vulnerable.

I kept these "hard" and "soft" sides of myself separate for years. Like many people in business, I showed only half of who I am to the world. The rest I kept hidden or shared only with close friends and family. I often felt like one person on the inside and another on the outside. But I came to realize that not bringing my full self into my business relationships limited my effectiveness.

Over time, as I've applied what I've learned from top leaders and my own experience, I have embraced the entirety of who I am in both my personal life and my business. Now, as I coach clients, I strive to apply the three key leadership paradoxes that I've found are essential in creating just enough anxiety for others.  To coach with realistic optimism, I acknowledge my clients' current reality while remaining optimistic about their potential future. To coach with constructive impatience, I push clients to stretch beyond their comfort zone to reach defined goals while giving them the support they need to get there. To coach with confident humility, I believe in my own capabilities while remaining open to learning from my clients.

Yes, coaching others to success is a challenge. But there is great satisfaction in helping people get from where they are to where they want to be.

Your client's success story is your success story. It means you have generated just enough anxiety inside yourself and have helped your client create the right level of anxiety.  It means you have each turned your anxiety into productive energy. Both you and your client have effectively modulated your own anxiety levels by keeping an open mind and an open heart and living with realistic optimism, constructive impatience and confident humility.

How close are you to being a coach with just enough anxiety (JEA)? Use the tool below to find out.

Are You a JEA Coach?

Instructions: Rate yourself on the extent to which you demonstrate the following behaviors, beliefs and attitudes.

1=Rarely

2=Sometimes

3=A lot of the time

4=Almost always

___I value and seek change.

___I am comfortable with uncertainty.

___I use anxiety as a positive force for growth.

___I engender hope and optimism in others.

___I take calculated risks in my life.

___I treat failure as a learning opportunity.

___I demonstrate adaptability and collaboration at work.

___I use conflict to find more effective solutions.

___I face tough issues with confidence.

___I trust myself and others to think flexibly.

___I am constantly scanning my environment.

___I am adept at managing my emotions.

___I understand the emotions of others.

___I am able to energize myself and others.

___I maintain a positive attitude in the midst of adversity.

___People describe me as honest and authentic.

___My passion inspires people to do their best.

___I readily help others handle change and uncertainty.

___I challenge people to outperform themselves.

___I pride myself in knowing my strengths and shortcomings.

Results: Add up your score and compare it to the results below. Focus on your lowest scores to strengthen your JEA coaching skills.

  • 62 - 72: You are a strong JEA coach.
  • 51 - 61: You are moving in the right direction to become a JEA coach.
  • 40 - 50: You need to step up your game to become a JEA coach.
  • 39 or below: You have a lot of work to do to become a JEA coach.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (February 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.
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.
23May/130

Playing on a Bigger Stage – A Branding Firm Expands, Winning Ovations from Partners and Clients

Posted by WABC

by I. Barry Goldberg and Martin Thoma

The Business/The Organization

Thoma Thoma is a branding and marketing consulting firm founded and owned by Martin and Melissa Thoma in Little Rock, Arkansas. The company had spent the past three years restructuring its services and repackaging itself as a "brand growth consultant." As activity began to increase and its new positioning gained traction, the leadership team understood that in order to make the leap to bigger markets and clients, they would have to re-engineer everything from basic beliefs to key processes and organizational accountabilities.

The two principals suffered from what might be termed "entrepreneuritis." Since they had founded and built the company, they knew how to do every job in it--so they did. It was clear to the entire team that the two newly promoted directors would have to mature quickly, establishing and maintaining accountability for their departments, if the principals were to relinquish their habitual hold on details. The principals needed to focus on the big picture if the firm was going to live up to its full market potential.

The Partnership

The principals knew that creating this envisioned change would take sustained effort and unprecedented persistence. Barry Goldberg, executive coach and founder of Entelechy Partners, had recently shared his vision for a year-long coaching process for leadership teams with Thoma Thoma's principals. They all agreed that Barry would coach the group and each individual for a year, integrating concentrated off-site team experiences with bi-weekly individual leadership coaching.

The Challenge

While the Thomas and their team had some ideas about what they wanted to accomplish, the design of both individual and group development plans clarified those challenges. Using The Leadership Circle Cultural ProfileTM, the organizational challenges were the first to be clarified:

  1. Thoma Thoma was such a nice place to work that everyone took it for granted. Even employees indicated that more demanding performance standards would be beneficial.
  2. While the vision was clear and compelling, employees lacked confidence in the company's ability to execute in a purposeful manner.
  3. Employees valued the firm's commitment to work/life balance. However, they also agreed that additional drive would translate into increased productivity and client satisfaction. Those ends could be accomplished without turning Thoma Thoma into the sweatshop stereotypical of the industry.

Each of the four individuals involved in the coaching process also established an individual development plan based on personal strengths and opportunities. Issues common to the group included:

  1. Discomfort with direct communications concerning work standards, deadlines and internal processes.
  2. A desire to apply linear processes to creative development, gaining significant improvements in scale and efficiency.
  3. Significantly differing business perspectives between the creative team and account management.
  4. The need for clear accountability, including the transfer of more responsibility from principals to directors.

The four clients made their own behavioral contributions to each of these group issues. They also had opportunities for individual development. Perhaps the most powerful catalyst for change, however, was their willingness to work together to alter collective patterns of behavior through their individual participation in the program.

The Approach

The Leaders' TrekTM for Thoma Thoma started in April 2005 with a three-day offsite session focused on group coaching. As the team engaged in real work, coaching interventions centered on the first two individual development goals listed above. The team was coached on giving and receiving difficult feedback. Working very specifically with Speech Acts, the group engaged in re-engineering key processes through direct communication and clear agreements.

The major outcome of the "BaseCampTM" experience was that the entire leadership team took responsibility for organizational change. They brought their new, well-practiced skills back to the office, where individual coaching centered on unique development plans for each executive. Creative Director Derek Wacaster explained, "My coaching work focused on building greater confidence and taking larger ownership of my position--things critical to my success. From the very first session, I experienced an internal change that resulted in richer interaction with my teammates and significantly enhanced my contribution to the firm."

By involving the entire leadership team, this coaching format had a major impact not only on individual development, but on specific relationships among the team members as well. Common frameworks for bonding patterns, balance and communications delivered a growing set of tools for dealing with new issues. Common language and newly honed skills allowed the leadership team to become independent and self-sustaining, assimilating new capabilities very quickly. As a result, ever deeper material could be explored in coaching without creating dependency on the coach for sustained behavioral change.

The Value Delivered

The value of the Thoma Thoma team's experience with The Leaders' TrekTM can be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively:

  • Roughly one half of operational duties previously held by principals have been successfully delegated to directors. Work continues in this regard.
  • All key processes have been re-engineered as "scripts," and ownership for each process is vested in a "producer/director" who is accountable for process execution.
  • All employees now understand and embrace the focus on quality work completed on deadline, and exhibit a high appreciation for that value in the work environment. (One employee declined an offer at a competing shop for considerably more money.)
  • Principals are focusing on higher leverage strategic activities, spending much more time and attention on developing relationships with client CEO's.
  • Implementation of new discipline in the firm's sales process has improved its close ratio from roughly 30% to nearly 60%. Thoma Thoma is more focused on pursuing the right opportunities, grooming its referral network and ignoring low-potential pitches.
  • After three months on The Leaders' TrekTM, Thoma Thoma increased its monthly sales target by 70%. From May 2005 through October 2005, it hit the new target five months out of six, missing it by only 10% in September.

Throughout this period of increasing business and financial performance, employees report more energy, greater enthusiasm, higher morale and growing esprit de corps. And Thoma Thoma is still viewed as caring and nurturing--an exceptional place to work.
This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Spring Issue 2006, Volume 2, Issue 1). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

goldberg

 

I. Barry Goldberg is the founder of Entelechy Partners. His coaching practice focuses on senior leadership teams and high-potential executives. Barry holds a Graduate Certificate in Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University. Read more about Barry in the WABC Coach Directory. Barry can be reached by email at barry.goldberg@entelechypartners.com.

 

 

 

 

thoma

Martin Thoma is a Principal in Thoma Thoma, a brand growth consultancy. Martin is widely published on the subject of branding. He is an English and journalism graduate of the University of Arkansas. Martin can be reached by email at martin@thomathoma.com.

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