The Building Blocks of Coaching

Coaching that is limited to making the coachee better at what they have always done or fails to factor in the emerging business context is a poor investment. The coaching conversation must be informed by:

  1. The emerging economic environment.
  2. Tomorrow's customer's needs.
  3. The business strategy.

Within that future-oriented mindset, regardless of level, a number of coaching disciplines are common.

  1. Coaching isn't about giving advice. It's framing the conversation such that the coachee finds their own way (power to).
  2. What the coach believes the coachee will perceive. The coach must thus work from the belief that the agreed outcome will – not might – could or should happen.
  3. An experienced coach learns how to work from a beginner's mind.
  4. To coach is to listen in the way the coachee has always wanted to be listened to.
  5. New behaviour emerges only when the coachee changes the conversation they are having with themself. To coach is to help connect the coachee with their own story, ask great questions, introduce a new metaphor, share a compelling story, open the door to best practice and personally model the behaviour being sought.
  6. A great coach is tough-minded. Tough questions, candour and the capability to talk to power become the tools of the trade. Silence is invariably the best question of all.
  7. Coaching is a supportive behavioural dance.

Coaching mastery draws on a robust coaching model, meaningful executive experience, cultural relevance, interpersonal sensitivity and mental agility. As an example, if the coachee's role involves significant international experience, a coach without that experience is a poor fit.

It's Lonely at the Top - Coaching The CEO

A study by Stanford Graduate School, co-authored by Stephen Miles and David Larcker, suggests that only about one-third of CEOs receive formal coaching. Meanwhile, half of senior managers operate without external coaching support. The same study, paradoxically, suggested that nearly 100% of those same leaders (CEOs and senior managers) said that they would like to be coached.

A wish isn't an action; saying isn't doing; and desire isn't delivery. Confidentiality, the time available, "if it ain't broke …", "what would I really gain", and "I'm getting all the coaching I need inside the business" loom large among the reasons why coaching at the top gets set aside. Although quickly eroding, the stigma of "needing to be coached" still concerns some. "I didn't realise that the CEO had problems."

In virtually every other form of endeavour where excellence is the benchmark of success, coaching is a given. No one even makes it to the Olympics, let alone medals, without a great coach. Paradoxically, that same executive who pushes coaching aside for the activity where they make a living will gladly pay for support in improving thier golf swing.

It is not at all unusual for top executives to be so dialed into the results and share price that they overlook how impactful their everyday behaviour is. A friendly smile and addressing employees by name go a long way. Take also the example of coaching as a company-wide intervention. No matter how much time and money is invested with middle managers, if coaching isn't evident at the top much of that investment is lost.

There is the Board of course. Although it is changing, all too often the Board, including the Human Resource committee, focuses on issues that directly impact the balance sheet and/or the investment community (financing, strategy, results, compensation, benefits, succession). Day-to-day executive behaviour is often too far removed for directors to be able to interpret how the business is impacted. Remedial coaching for a CEO who isn't meeting the numbers is, of course, a different matter.

It doesn't help that the conversation at the top around issues such as succession and leadership development – issues of genuine importance to the Board – are dominated by the organisation's strategic imperatives. Important as "the plan" is, in a turbulent and uncertain world, strategy is, at best, a work in progress.

Here it should be emphasised that there is a big difference between performance and developmental coaching. The former is about enhancing performance in the role as it is today. The latter implies developing the skills and capability needed several years out. The short-term nature of the capital markets puts an emphasis on today's performance. A smart executive understands that success is a marathon … not a 100-yard dash. Here today … gone tomorrow isn't much of a plan!

There is a case to be made that CEOs often sidestep coaching because they don't fully understand how coaching will benefit them. Two points are significant here:

  1. Every coaching conversation is different and the approach needs to reflect the needs of the individual being coached.
  2. Coaching at the top is not the same as coaching in the middle of the organisation.

The time span of discretion (how far one looks into the future), the balance between strategic and operational actions, the degree of complexity, the need to spend far more time managing from the outside-in and even the language used becomes more complex and/or is reframed, the higher in the organisation you go. These are not small shifts of behaviour.

Insights from "Coaching the CEO".

Ongoing talent development is crucial to maintain a competitive advantage over one's competition. TRANSEARCH's leadership consulting solutions are delivered by highly experienced professionals who have access to research-based intellectual property, methodologies and cutting-edge tools.

Talent War Part 1: The Skilled Labour Gap
transearchusa.com

More than nine million jobs are open and waiting to be filled in the United States right now. Even more eye opening is that the number of job postings has skyrocketed over 40% since February, according to government statistics.

Why are companies finding it so challenging to fill roles with talented people? Simply put, we are experiencing a skilled labour gap.

Read "Talent War Part 1: The Skilled Labour Gap" leadership insights

Three Tips to Flourish in the Hybrid Working World
transearchusa.com

A wave of hybrid workforces are going to emerge as the norm for organisations across America, according to a series of recent studies.

The Prudential's Pulse of the American Worker survey found more than two-thirds (68%) of U.S. workers would prefer a hybrid workplace model after the pandemic ends. And nearly 80% of C-suite executives polled by WeWork and Workplace Intelligence, said plans are in the works for a hybrid model, meaning a mix of in-office and remote teams will become a permanent fixture of post-pandemic workforces.

With data demonstrating hybrid is the way of the future, we are pleased to help you build a robust and productive hybrid model with some practical tips and factors to think about …

Read "Three Tips to Flourish in the Hybrid Working World" leadership insights

How The Call For Specialisation Is Narrowing Our View

There was a time many years ago when general management skills were the be all and end all. If you brought broad vision into many different functional and operational pieces of an enterprise, you could write your own ticket and your career trajectory was both assured and rewarding.

In recent years, however, the call for specialisation of management and leadership skills has led many executives to dig deeper and deeper into the practice of a certain functional role, perhaps within a market niche or even still, within a very specialised industry space.

During one conversation with a highly experienced and globally informed organisational consultant, the dialogue turned to the notion of specialisation - not with an eye toward how leaders are discovering new efficiencies and innovations, but, rather, how specialisation has led to some losing their ability to focus on the big picture.

In today's world of work, and especially in the realm of the global management executive, it would appear to some that we're collectively pushed to know more about our own operating environment and less about how it might apply in others. Specialisation, he surmised, is moving us to know less and less about the organisational construct, the people around us, and the opportunities that exist beyond our individual focus.

As a result, what beckons is a meaningful loss of perspective on how one function and what is learned down to its most minute of details, might engage and transform another.

The takeaway? At a time when executives have been incentivised to bring and demonstrate specialist knowledge, it may just turn out that general management perspective is what companies need most, especially when the specialists plumb the depths and seek other views on what their work really means and what it might achieve.

Why Diversity & Inclusion Matters In Organisational Culture
transearch.com.au

Often seen as a problem for boards, a Human Resources issue, or a concern for hiring managers to address during the recruitment process, Diversity and Inclusion should really be discussed alongside organisational culture.

How diversity is reflected in an organisation and how it responds to inclusion is in its genes, and that its everyone’s responsibility. For however well intentioned, any D&I objectives cannot be achieved unless they are driven by the business as a whole – from senior leaders and executives, through to middle managers and at grass roots. This is the only way to land an organisation that fosters a workplace culture where diversity and inclusion are valued, cultural safety is promoted and the ways in which intersectionality affects our workforce is recognised.

Read "Why Diversity & Inclusion Matters In Organisational Culture" leadership insights

Why It All Comes Back To Company Culture
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Recruiters are working over-time to meet the demands of companies that cut back during the global outbreak, and which now are overly reliant on too few steady performers who have been pushed very hard for too long.

As the global economy ramps up, professionals across a wide swath of industry spaces and management job functions are finding once again that they have good options to consider a career move, and more of them are again exploring what’s possible with other employers.

Yet companies planning on the same approach to employee retention may find themselves on the wrong side of the talent market pendulum shift.

Read "Why It All Comes Back To Company Culture" leadership insights

Helping Executive Job Seekers Get To Where They Want To Go

Where exactly do you want to go?

This is the pivotal question for executive job seekers to consider as they attempt to differentiate themselves in the highly competitive waters of management transition these days, and the critical question for prospective employers to establish.

For too many proven and aspiring business leaders, their résumé or C.V. simply doesn't balance their experience, credentials and management accomplishments with that all-important statement about their 'Objective' and their ideal next role, employer and preferred locale.

We can discern much about a person's abilities by reviewing their work history and the roles they've held over the years. But alas, not even the best executive recruiter or corporate hiring manager, for that matter, can establish where a talented leader wants to go and do next unless the job seeker has taken the time to write this 'Objective' statement into their résumé or C.V. It is, after all, the only forward-looking statement the job seeker might include in such documents.

For the job seeker, it's incumbent to state one's business case clearly and succinctly so the parties to the recruitment process can quickly and accurately establish their fit for the role requirements, given they may have many other candidates or applicants to consider.

Don't just tell us where you've been and what you've done.

Tell us something about the role you believe is your right next step and why. Tell us which business challenges you can help us overcome. Tell us about the strengths you bring and tell us something that proves it. Tell us where you want to go, and let us connect you with opportunity:

 

Women's Values of Sustainable Leadership
transearch.com (PDF)

It is clear that the issue of Sustainability is part of a collective awareness within civil society, business and politics, which strives to respond to these paradigm shifts and the resulting contradictory injunctions. How do we reconcile the need for immediacy, reinforced by the expansion of digitalisation, with the long-term reconstruction? How do we instil a shared value at the time of a new era marked by individualism?

These transformations profoundly modify the fundamental principles of our society and tend to define new balances, such as developing our business models towards a tripartite balance "People, Profit, Planet", or paying more attention to gender stereotypes.

Diversity and Inclusion are founding principles of a more sustainable business model, and even if they encompass several components, including that of gender equity, it is obvious that good intentions are not enough. The principle of reality still bears witness to this in France, with so few women in leadership positions.

The introduction of quotas at board level, and soon within management committees has surely started demonstrating its virtues. But doesn't strengthening a company's performance in the deployment of its "Sustainability" imply the development of a new, more balanced leadership model that upholds both feminine and masculine values? Wouldn't promoting women's values be an additional performance lever? Is it not time to design a woman leadership model, similarly to the way the men leadership model that has prevailed so far?

In the continuation of their first study conducted in 2020 on the definition of a "Sustainable Leader", TRANSEARCH Paris wondered about the feminine components of a new sustainable leadership, its assets to support the tall orders of Sustainability, the actions to be taken and the challenges to be met to promote sustainable parity.

Read "Women's Values of Sustainable Leadership" leadership insights

Great Leaders Are Known By "The Company They Keep"

In our increasingly interconnected world, it's easy to understand just how small the world can feel at times.

Chances are you've encountered senior business leaders who happen to know friends, former classmates, social acquaintances and confidants of executives who are already part of your professional or industry network or perhaps even your own personal board of advisors and trusted mentors.

Yet these meetings and connections and whatever relationships grow out of them, however, are often circumstantial. Yes, they are revealed in the course of doing good work and having a great reputation, but they are indeed a matter of serendipity.

A more meaningful measure of "the company one keeps", however, is evident in your reputation for coaching, inspiring and developing the young leaders in your organisation. That is, if you have invested the time and attention to do just that.

Some of the world's most respected business leaders have been known for their own work and expertise, but also in part because of the high esteem that some of their protégés have likewise been held. In such instances, there is an incredible transfer of knowledge and insight that powers leading global brands and enables enterprise growth.

As the global business environment continues to demand more of business leaders, it will be easier to see which leaders are creating sustainable stakeholder value and competitive advantage, and there will be no more effective lever than helping to grow the next generation of leaders committed to corporate goals.

Now, more than ever, great leaders are known by the company they keep, no matter the company brand, industry, function or region. Investing today in the leaders who might drive performance long into the future is one of the best ways to raise the bar on corporate performance - and your own reputation as a global leader.

10 Succession Failures And How To Avoid Them

1. Lack of direction from the Board

The ultimate accountability for succession lies with the HR Committee of the Board, but it is no less a fiduciary responsibility for the CEO and the top team. Indeed, anyone privileged enough to hold down a leadership role has an ongoing responsibility to develop a successor.

The need? A far more rigorous approach to Board selection. A periodic assessment of Board "fitness for purpose". A regular review of governance provisions. Appointing adjunct Board members with specialised experience and know-how – for example, organisation culture, technology, the succession process.

2. A broken or incomplete process

A flawed process has one defining characteristic – it's not going to take you where you need to be. Conversely, a meaningful process displays all the attributes of a good map. It allows you to identify where the beginning of the journey is, where you need to get to and the key steps along the way.

The need? A rigorous and transparent succession process that allows the Board to understand the thinking and methodology behind "the names on the charts". A succession process that delivers a distinct and sustainable competitive advantage.

3. Confusing 'succession' with 'replacement'

'Succession' and 'replacement' planning build on very different assumptions. Replacement is essentially tactical - a contingency plan to put into effect should a mission-critical role unexpectedly become open. Succession is strategic - it's about tomorrow's leadership.

The need? Recognise the inherent value of both replacement and succession but don't confuse the two. Leaving a mission-critical role unfilled for an extended period of time can be horrendously expensive. It may even put the very future of the business at risk.

4. Casting too wide a net

The shorthand for focus is "less is more". This is especially the case when it comes to succession. The challenge? To identify mission-critical roles.

The need? Restrict the work on succession at the top of the organisation to mission-critical roles – the roles that really matter; the roles that, if filled poorly, can sink the ship.

5. Confusing 'high performance' with 'high potential'

Like riding a rocking horse, not everyone who 'rocks' is going places. It's a mistake to assume that outstanding performance translates into high potential.

The need? Define the specific competencies that describe future success in both the mission-critical role and the generic competencies that capture what it means to be 'high potential'. Selection isn't an exercise in abstract thinking. Make both succession decisions and identifying high potential candidates evidence based.

6. Poorly defined leadership competencies

A leadership competency describes future success in the role. It also captures the behaviours that separate an outstanding performer from one who is merely middle of the road. Three common pitfalls: falling back on generic terms; a myopic focus; relying too heavily on the manager in the role to capture the characteristic of future success.

The need? A comprehensive, up-to-date library of future-looking, thought-leadership-based, context-oriented, role-specific leadership competencies that embrace leadership balance.

7. Future culture is a "best guess"

Your culture is your brand. Succession based on wishful thinking is to place a blind bet on the future without any understanding of what you are actually betting on and without appreciating the damage you are doing to the brand.

The need? Responsibility for culture lies directly with the top team. What you don't measure, you can't manage. It is essential to (really) know: 1) where your organisation culture is today, and 2) where your culture needs to be to compete successfully in the future.

8. Coaching is "something we need to get to"

You can't grow the organisation unless you grow the people in the organisation. At the heart of 'growing' people lies coaching. Coaching isn't a 'sometime skill'. It's a systemic way to think about what it means to be a leader.

The need? As the business environment evolves, new knowledge, skills and capability are demanded. Without coaching, succession is an engine of future performance that is not firing on all cylinders. Those at the top must strive to become masterful in the art of coaching.

9. Misunderstanding what it means to be a team

It is little short of managerial incompetence to enter into the succession conversation without the key decision-makers stepping back to assess the future nature, needs and norms that shape the behaviour of the team(s) involved. And it matters … because tomorrow's organisation will be a team of teams.

The need? Factoring in the makeup and working approach of tomorrow's team(s) is a business imperative. As is uncovering meaningful ways to assess the team.

10. Succession candidates are poorly integrated into the new role

Derailment, no matter what form it takes, destroys value. If they don't land, they won't stay. It's not just a matter of fulfilling all of the requirements of the new role. The challenge is to do so as quickly as possible.

The need? A comprehensive executive induction process supported by both an internal mentor and an external coach. Assessment tools, access to supportive materials and the full support of both the hiring manager and HR are clearly essential. We have also found that a well designed and easy to access workbook is invaluable.

What next?

There are a good many issues that can derail a successful business. None, however, contain the potency for failure as having the wrong leader in the wrong role at the wrong time. Succession is a critical investment that you cannot afford to get wrong.

Why is succession so often adjudged a failure? Limited strategic awareness is the start of it. Being overwhelmed by the problems of the day is clearly part of it. But, more often than not, lack of practical intelligence is at the heart of it. To speak to a TRANSEARCH consultant about shaping tomorrow's leadership success today, please get in touch.

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