Executive Coaching On The Rise

Isn’t it funny what we assume about leaders in senior positions. They no longer have anything to learn about interpersonal relationships or leadership. They have arrived, proof positive of their skill level!

Furthermore, only a fearless few people will give them the honest, useful feed-back that self-development requires. The “culture” expects them to be role models and our models are supposed to get it “right.” Showing their vulnerabilities is a “no-no,” not to be done in front of those who report to them and certainly not advised in front of competitive colleagues on their leadership team. Of course, the CEO is too busy (and often not sufficiently skilled) to help them grow interpersonally.

The fact is that many individuals arrive at the senior level with much still to learn about people. Often they bring to the executive wing styles, habits and beliefs that have worked for them since they were a supervisor. Suddenly these formulae for success no longer work and, in many cases, must be unlearned and replaced with behaviors more in line with modern leadership.

This is why so many organizations today are investing in coaching for their key leaders. The benefits from being coached stem primarily from the leverage that is obtained. When a senior leader operates with a less-than-functional style, its negative impact on performance and morale can reverberate from within the senior leadership team right out through the frontlines to the customer. The good news is that turning this individual’s style around will have the same multiplier effect in a positive direction.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a series of periodic one-on-one consultations, usually with an external resource, over a period of time- typically anywhere from three to eighteen months. Between sessions the “coachee” (whom we will call the “client”) applies newly learned approaches at work, receives feedback, then reassesses, and refines his/her behavior accordingly. Coaching is not therapy, however, occasionally a coach may suggest counselling as a promising course of action for deeper seated issues that are blocking effectiveness. Well done coaching yields a high return on investment because the process is totally customized to the “client’s” challenges and needs and it maximizes the executive’s time off the job.

The goal of the coaching process is to generate, in the client, effective skills and attitudes that are self-sustaining, selfcorrecting and directly supportive of his or her expected performance results.

When does one engage a coach?

Usually-but not always-it is the individual’s boss who initiates the coaching intervention. Typically this is in response to a need to turn around a significant performance problem or to improve an interpersonal skill deficiency that is holding back an otherwise excellent executive. Coaching is also used to prepare someone for a promotion, generally enhance leadership potential, and provide support for a particularly challenging leadership situation (e.g. managing a major change, inheriting a new department).

On the other hand, Coaching is not always indicated. I would not take on a coaching assignment when the boss has already decided to fire or demote the individual, when there is insufficient time to generate the results required, or where the person is entering a coaching process against his/her will. This latter condition is sometimes a judgment call but my ethical and business bottom-line is that the client must buy in to the process freely and genuinely.

What should you look for in a coach?

Consider the mix of (1) skills, (2) knowledge and (3) attributes of any coaching consultant.

Critical skills are:

? communications (interviewing, listening, feedback, summarizing)

? facilitation (including the ability both to confront and support)

? teaching

? the ability to take a systems perspective (the client does not operate in isolation but as an integral part of complex organizational systems)

Look for knowledge in three areas:

1. psychology and human behavior
2. business, management and organizational life
3. how adults learn

The ideal attributes in the coach you select include:

? flexibility
? work experience and maturity
? self-confidence
? confidentiality
? comfort with complexity
? ambiguity

I believe your coach should be someone who places a high value on-even has a passion for-the growth of others and who is willing to learn and grow himself/herself in the process. And, of course, the relationship must work for both parties, client and coach.

Some coaches are clinically trained, that is, they are psychologists or professional therapists. This is not necessary but neither is it negative. Clinicians bring a deep understanding of human behavior and effective interpersonal techniques. They are trained to recognize deeper pathology should it become evident during the process. As long as they have a solid understanding of business and organizations and they stick to coaching, certainly do consider them for coaching.

What does a coaching process look like?

Each intervention is unique but let’s look briefly at a typical sequence.

1. Coach meets with the client’s boss and the client to ascertain issues, objectives and the standards expected by the organization.

2. Coach and client meet. In this meeting I particularly check out our chemistry and my client’s degree of buy-in to the overall process. Once that is confirmed, I conduct an in-depth interview with him/her to scope in detail his/her personal and work background, version of the issues, feelings, needs, concerns, and how the client currently perceives and interprets his/her world.

3. Data gathering. This may involve interviews with key players in the team, the client’s direct reports, and others who interact with him/her. Often a 360 degree feedback instrument is used to obtain perceptions from the client’s boss, peers, and subordinates. Psychological measurements also can contribute a lot. I routinely use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator© with great success. Another technique is to “shadow” the client and observe him/her in typical interactions and meetings.

4. Coach compiles all this information, feeds it back to the client, and facilitates a discussion-sometimes lengthy and emotional.

5. Client identifies and commits to specific objectives and deliverables for the process.

6. Client develops an action plan.

7. With the on-going involvement of the coach, the client implements the plan over an appropriate number of months. This is the core of the process.

8. Once the plan has been accomplished, client and coach conduct a final assessment of the client’s progress against the objectives. Here we may determine the need to gather data once again to confirm others’ perceptions and experience of the progress made.

9. Finally, a ninth step might be contracted where the coach checks in occasionally over the next year or so to provide on-going support.

When we look to the world of athletics and entertainment we see that those who aspire to excellence understand the value of coaches. The seasoned masters in my field of professional speaking certainly use them. I have several coaching colleagues amongst whom we coach one another.

What about your key people? What about you?

Ian G Cook

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3 Responses to Executive Coaching On The Rise

  1. witnessprotectionprogram says:

    Did anything like this take place on Collins project ?<Backlash: Women Bullying Women at Work

    Katherine Streeter

    Published: May 9, 2009
    YELLING, scheming and sabotaging: all are tell-tale signs that a bully is at work, laying
    traps for employees at every pass.

    Skip to next paragraph
    Enlarge This Image

    Peter DaSilva for The New York Times
    Kent Kaufman and Laura Stek, right, of the Growth and Leadership Center, coach Cleo
    Lepori-Costello, left, a vice president at a Silicon Valley software company, on
    communication skills.

    During this downturn, as stress levels rise, workplace researchers say, bullies are likely
    to sharpen their elbows and ratchet up their attacks.

    It?s probably no surprise that most of these bullies are men, as a survey by the Workplace
    Bullying Institute, an advocacy group, makes clear. But a good 40 percent of bullies are
    women. And at least the male bullies take an egalitarian approach, mowing down men and women
    pretty much in equal measure. The women appear to prefer their own kind, choosing other
    women as targets more than 70 percent of the time.

    In the name of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, what is going on here?

    Just the mention of women treating other women badly on the job seemingly shakes the women?s
    movement to its core. It is what Peggy Klaus, an executive coach in Berkeley, Calif., has
    called ?the pink elephant? in the room. How can women break through the glass ceiling if
    they are ducking verbal blows from other women in cubicles, hallways and conference rooms?

    Women don?t like to talk about it because it is ?so antithetical to the way that we are
    supposed to behave to other women,? Ms. Klaus said. ?We are supposed to be the nurturers and
    the supporters.?

    Ask women about run-ins with other women at work and some will point out that people of both
    sexes can misbehave. Others will nod in instant recognition and recount examples of how
    women ? more so than men ? have mistreated them.

    ?I?ve been sabotaged so many times in the workplace by other women, I finally left the
    corporate world and started my own business,? said Roxy Westphal, who runs the promotional
    products company Roxy Ventures Inc. in Scottsdale, Ariz. She still recalls the sting of an
    interview she had with a woman 30 years ago that ?turned into a one-person firing squad? and
    led her to leave the building in tears.

    Jean Kondek, who recently retired after a 30-year career in advertising, recalled her anger
    when an administrator in a small agency called a meeting to dress her down in front of
    co-workers for not following agency procedure in a client emergency.

    But Ms. Kondek said she had the last word. ?I said, ?Would everyone please leave?? ? She
    added, ?and then I told her, ?This is not how you handle that.? ?

    Many women who are still in the work force were hesitant to speak out publicly for fear of
    making matters worse or of jeopardizing their careers. A private accountant in California
    said she recently joined a company and was immediately frozen out by two women working
    there. One even pushed her in the cafeteria during an argument, the accountant said. ?It?s
    as if we?re back in high school,? she said.

    A senior executive said she had ?finally broken the glass ceiling? only to have another
    woman gun for her job by telling management, ?I can?t work for her, she?s

    The strategy worked: The executive said she soon lost the job to her accuser.

    ONE reason women choose other women as targets ?is probably some idea that they can find a
    less confrontative person or someone less likely to respond to aggression with aggression,?
    said Gary Namie, research director for the Workplace Bullying Institute, which ordered the
    study in 2007.

    But another dynamic may be at work. After five decades of striving for equality, women make
    up more than 50 percent of management, professional and related occupations, says Catalyst,
    the nonprofit research group. And yet, its 2008 census found, only 15.7 percent of Fortune
    500 officers and 15.2 percent of directors were women.

    Leadership specialists wonder, are women being ?overly aggressive? because there are too few
    opportunities for advancement? Or is it stereotyping and women are only perceived as being
    overly aggressive? Is there a double standard at work?

    Research on gender stereotyping from Catalyst suggests that no matter how women choose to
    lead, they are perceived as ?never just right.? What?s more, the group found, women must
    work twice as hard as men to achieve the same level of recognition and prove they can lead.

    ?If women business leaders act consistent with gender stereotypes, they are considered too
    soft,? the group found in a 2007 study. ?If they go against gender stereotypes, they are
    considered too tough.?

    Skip to next paragraph
    Enlarge This Image

    David Kadlubowski for The New York Times
    Michelle Cirocco, left, and Donna Kent of Televerde, a company in Phoenix
    that set up call
    centers at a state prison.

    ?Women are trying to figure out the magical keys to the kingdom,? said Laura Steck,
    president of the Growth and Leadership Center in Sunnyvale, Calif., and an executive
    leadership coach.

    Women feel they have to be aggressive to be promoted, she said, and then they keep it up.
    Then, suddenly, they see the need to be collegial and collaborative instead of competitive.

    Cleo Lepori-Costello, a vice president at a Silicon Valley software company, came to the
    center for training. She got off to a bumpy start when she stormed into her new role ?like a
    bull in a china shop,? Ms. Steck said.

    In gathering feedback about Ms. Lepori-Costello, Ms. Steck heard comments like: ?Cleo is
    good at getting things done but may have come on too strong in the beginning. She didn?t
    read the different cultural unspoken rules like she could have.?

    So Ms. Steck and Kent Kaufman, another coach at the center, began a one-year, once-a-week
    individual coaching program. It included role-playing and monthly group discussions with
    other female executives who acknowledged that they also had major blind spots about being
    politic at work. (The group was once nicknamed the Bully Broads.)

    When she came to the center, Ms. Lepori-Costello said, she thought her colleagues were not
    initially open to her ideas. Through coaching and conflict role-playing, she came to realize
    that her behavior was perhaps ?too much overkill? and that she was not always attending to
    all the people around her.

    Joel H. Neuman, a researcher at the State University of New York at New Paltz, says most
    aggressive behavior at work is influenced by a number of factors associated with the
    bullies, victims and the situations in which they work. ?This would include issues related
    to frustration, personality traits, perceptions of unfair treatment, and an assortment of
    stresses and strains associated with today?s leaner and ?meaner? work settings,
    ,? he said.

    Mr. Neuman and his colleague Loraleigh Keashly of Wayne State University have developed a
    questionnaire to identify the full range of behaviors that can constitute bullying, which
    could help companies uncover problems that largely go unreported.

    Bullying involves verbal or psychological forms of aggressive (hostile) behavior that
    persists for six months or longer. Their 29 questions include: Over the last 12 months, have
    you regularly: been glared at in a hostile manner, been given the silent treatment, been
    treated in a rude or disrespectful manner, or had others fail to deny false rumors about

    The Workplace Bullying Institute says that 37 percent of workers have been bullied. Yet many
    employers ignore the problem, which hits the bottom line in turnover, health care and
    productivity costs, the institute says. Litigation is rare, the institute says, because
    there is no directly applicable law to cite and the costs are high.

    Two Canadian
    researchers recently set out to examine the bullying that pits women against
    women. They found that some women may sabotage one another because they feel that helping
    their female co-workers could jeopardize their own careers.

    One of the researchers, Grace Lau, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Waterloo, said the
    goal was to encourage women to help one another. She said: ?How? One way we predicted would
    be to remind women that they are members of the same group.?

    ?We believe that a sense of pride in women?s accomplishments is important in getting women
    to help one another,? Ms. Lau said. ?To have this sense of pride, women need to be aware of
    their shared identity as women.?

    In the workplace, however, it is unlikely that women will constantly think of themselves as
    members of one group, she said. They will more likely see themselves as individuals, as they
    are judged by their performance.

    ?As a result, women may not feel a need to help one another,
    ,? she said. ?They may even feel
    that in order to get ahead, they need to bully their co-workers by withholding information
    like promotion opportunities, and that women are easier to bully than men because women are
    supposedly less tough than men.?

    Skip to next paragraph
    WHAT better place to be a bully than in a prison? Even so, that is exactly where Televerde,
    a company in Phoenix that specializes in generating sales leads and market insight for
    high-tech companies, set up shop. About 13 years ago, the company created four call centers
    in the Arizona state prison in Perryville, employing 250 inmates (out of 3,000).

    Through immersion training, mentoring and working with real-world clients, these women can
    overcome their difficult circumstances, said Donna Kent, senior vice president at Televerde.
    ?Often, they will win over bullies and we see the whole thing transform. That?s what gives
    us inspiration and our clients inspiration.?

    TODAY, about half of Televerde?s
    corporate office is made up of ?graduates? from Perryville,
    including Michelle Cirocco, the director of sales operations. She has seen how women treat
    one another in other settings and she thinks the root cause is that women are taught to
    fight with one another for attention at an early age.

    ?We?re competing with our sisters for dad?s attention, or for our brother?s attention,? Ms.
    Cirocco said. ?And then we go on in school and we?re competing for our teachers? attention.
    We?re competing to be on the sports team or the cheer squad.?

    To be sure, the Televerde experience is not for every inmate, and those who are in it still
    must work hard to maintain a highly competitive position.

    ?As we get into the corporate world,? Ms. Cirocco added, ?we?re taught or we?re led to
    believe that we don?t get ahead because of men. But, we really don?t get ahead because of
    ourselves. Instead of building each other up and showcasing each other, we?re constantly
    tearing each other down.
    Televerde reversed that attitude in Perryville, Ms. Cirocco said, by encouraging women to
    work for a common cause, much like the environment envisioned by the Canadian researchers.

    ?It becomes a very nurturing environment,? Ms. Cirocco said. ?You have all these women who
    become your friends, and you are personally invested in their success. Everyone wants
    everyone to get out, to go on to have a good healthy life.?

    If the level of support found at Televerde were found elsewhere, Ms. Klaus said, it would
    solve a lot of problems.

    ?The time has come,? she said, ?for us to really deal with this relationship that women have
    to women, because it truly is preventing us from being as successful in the workplace as we
    want to be and should be.

    ?We?ve got enough obstacles; we don?t need to pile on any more.? >
    To gameface,

    Thanks. Terrific.

  2. gameface says:

    An overactive dopamine reward system in the brain may help explain why psychopaths pursue rewards without regard for consequences, according to new research published this week in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Previous research has found that individuals who suffer from antisocial personality disorder—often referred to as sociopathology or psychopathology, despite debate over whether these are distinct conditions—lack empathy and fear. Yet this new study, from researchers at Vanderbilt University examines what these individuals may have in excess. According to the study, led by Joshua Buckholtz, a graduate student in psychology at Vanderbilt, individuals with antisocial personality disorder traits show signs of dysfunction in dopamine reward systems—suggesting that, in psychopaths, the drive toward reward can overwhelm all else.

    Prior to participating in two different experiments, study subjects completed personality tests to identify presence and severity of psychopathic characteristic—including aggression, lack of empathy, and capacity for manipulation, among other things. Drawing on previous research that has established a strong link between substance abuse and psychopathology, in the first experiment researchers gave participants amphetamine, then used functional Magentic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) brain scans to monitor how dopamine release was affected by the stimulant. In a second experiment, study participants were told that they would be paid for performing a simple task, and researchers conducted brain scans while they completed the tasks.

    In both experiments, researchers found that participants who had psychopathic characteristics according to the personality test, were more likely than those without those traits to have greater activity in the nucleus accumbens, the area of the brain associated with dopamine reward processing—whether in response to the chemical stimulant, or the suggestion of monetary reward.

    The findings suggest that individuals with antisocial personality disorder may not be unaware of or simply dismissive of consequences, Buckholtz indicates, but instead that their intense reward-seeking motivation consumes their attention wholly until they have fulfilled their desire for reward. These findings may shed light on the violent and criminal behavior often characteristic of psychopaths, and even open doors toward new forms of treatment.References :

  3. Debbie's angel says:

    Yes, unfortunately ~ I didn’t even know that this went on until your link so thanks :)References : DA

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