Posts Tagged ‘executive coaching’

‘And then she burst into tears!’

Monday, February 4th, 2013

The Director was describing his recent experience of being an In House coach at his high tech, world competitive company.   An intelligent and empathic man, he had been unable to manage the encounter according to the training materials and course, and his own expectations.  The experience had been really difficult. He was embarrassed for himself and his trainee.

 What about the trainee?  How did this emotional experience affect  her sense of professional competence, in this knowledge based, rather logical organisation?  Was it associated with feelings of shame? Had it made Learning and Development more obviously a risky activity? What had been touched that this coping strategy from her personal life had asserted itself in the coaching session?

 The attraction of an ‘In House’ coaching programme is evident.  Surely it should help spread that sector specific knowledge that makes the difference in today’s competitive markets?  It should be more productive than hiring external coaches, who will not understand the business as well as your own managers?  However, this case shows some of the unanticipated difficulties and it seems unlikely that the pilot will be extended.  Coaching is not training.  It is a powerful learning tool which engages a trainees experience and emotions. This, and its one to one nature which necessarily also involves the emotional responses of the coach, make it complex. With jobs and promotions on the line, feelings and expectations which are often not overtly expressed or even acknowledged will be in play.  However bright and concerned the individuals chosen to deliver In House coaching, they need more than a short course and a reference manual to be able to do so.  Without appropriate development and continuing support it is highly likely to go wrong. 

Sometimes it is better to hire the expert.  Talk to us today!  


‘One out of every 25 business leaders could be psychopathic* ‘

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Is your Boss a psychopath?
Is your Boss a psychopath?

What a great headline and timely – we’ve all worked with bosses from hell, and at times of turbulence when people are very stressed, these stories have a particular resonance. But the headline is a gross simplification.  **1 in 25 out of small sample of 200 individuals – that’s 4% of a really small population. 

Many of the skills sets required to be a good boss could easily be confused with those described as psychopathic traits.  Doing business means that we are not always authentic in our emotional response to situations.  Appropriate senior management behaviours include:

·         Always outgoing and charming in public, (even if you’ve just lost a major contract).

·         Knowing when not to engage at an emotional level, and even when to ignore individuals (and how not to give offense when you do not).

·         Staying adult, (whatever the provocation), with staff, and customers.

·         Maximising time to useful contacts; minimising time given to those who are not useful – and making assessments about the ‘usefulness’ of the people concerned.

·         Firing people  – even if they have families to support and there is no other employment for them.

·         Making political accommodations and contracts with people and companies you do not ‘admire’.   

Consider also entrepreneurs?  Individuals who succeed against the odds – be it in commercial or not for profit sectors tend to have different psychological traits to those of the general population.  Some of these traits are not very attractive.

Here is how to protect your organisation from psychopaths:

1                    Know your business – it’s hard to fake when managers are knowledgeable about their business. 

2                    Manage performance – manage performance against objective criteria and agreed timelines.  To underline the point, business plans usually come with numbers and dates. 

3                    Have robust hiring systems.

4                    Inform everyone one of and apply relevant processes (including informal networks) to stamp out bullying.

5                    Ensure the Organisational Values are alive, not just written on a piece of paper – which means including them in performance management.


 Talk to us, in confidence and without obligation about helping your managers develop the competence and confidence to manage effectively.  Solutions that engage, motivate and fit around, rather than disrupt the business.

*The Guardian newspaper and other media sources.

**The study was conducted by Dr. Paul Babiak, you will find more – including a (n interesting) check list of psychopathic traits at

Attracted by Super Heroes?

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Super Hero In these uncertain times, substantial comfort is possible from a belief in Super Heroes, not least from the possibility of rescue. High achieving staff and managers are at particular risk of believing their own PR simply because it is easier.  Confronting difficult markets and working on those challenging influencing skills is not so easy. 


When an entire management team subscribe to the belief, then it often leads to significant trouble. ‘Star’ cultures often make organisations vulnerable.

  If the team believe themselves Super Heroes, the resultant loss of contact with the real world leads to significant reputational and other market risk.  Goldman’s and Lehmans may be recent examples.  Worse is when the customers have bought your ‘Star’ PR taking their business away when the star leaves. 


Cultural consequences may include difficulties with motivation and engagement as Super Heroes, (being marvellous), tend not to see the talents of other functions, or to be able to communicate with them.  Effective team working will probably prove impossible as the organisation evidently values the Super Hero income earners only.   Depending on the tax advice, the result is an atomised group of service companies/consultants with greater or lesser commitment to ‘customer’ satisfaction. 


Yet it need not be like this; Super Heroes are capable of and may be encouraged to learn how to both respect and talk to their ‘mortal’ colleagues.   Talk to us, in confidence and without obligation about ensuring your Super Heroes develop the competence and confidence to manage in uncertain times.


AQ & Market Crunch – Seduced by Schwarzenegger?

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

As the global recession crunches markets, organisations are entering the unknown. What worked in the bubble is no longer applicable, and previously high performing talent is finding itself challenged by uncertainty. What to do? One of the suggestions is that we add the Adversity Quotidient (AQ) to IQ and EQ as an element of individual manager performance to be measured and required in new recruits and existing staff. We are talking in essence about emotional (and intellectual) resilience in the face of professional challenge. I find the idea worrisome – let me explain why.

The focus on the individual is a concern in itself. Globalisation means that anything simple has been off shored and outsourced. Western organisations compete in open markets and at the higher end of the value chain. Effective and sustained competitive performance in such complexity requires a team response.

Even if we are seduced by the focus on the ‘strong man’ (Schwarzenegger for Governor?), an individual’s ability to deal with adversity is not set it changes over time, and from situation to situation. Domestic influences are important – bereavement. Divorce etc., as well as the corporate and team environments. It’s quite usual for individuals to be considered as a star in one team and then fail when moved into another.

At the Performance Practice we see an active process in successful entrepreneurial companies of a ‘live’ testing of resilience, and a development of competence over many years. The senior core of managers will have usually been in the team for a long time – their strengths and weaknesses are known. Their internal relationships/networks are solid and have been built up slowly. This testing is not possible in organisations which are unable to, or choose not to, grow their own talent.

As such the concept of AQ is attractive, particularly in turbulent times when organisations, their HR teams, and recruitment agents try to reduce the risk of new hires and promotions. But is it really a break through or is it an attempt to codify elements of experience, knowledge and maturity? When markets change fundamentally and the risk management software is no longer so effective in predicting outcomes, knowledge and competence really matter – and the individuals who have that are likely to be older, more expensive and harder to manage.

Next steps
• Talk to us about how to making this ‘hard’ soft stuff easier and improving practical performance management skills.

Executive coaching, business coaching and market breaking change

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Constant change is a fact of business life and with the global recession, now it’s market breaking.  Executive coaching is one way of providing your team with the space to think and try ideas out, before they go public in such challenging times.  Business coaching often helps to  increase individual accountability, improve productivity and enable creativity as well as ensuring that your key talent or high potential employees are motivated and retained.  That said coaching is a long term investment and not suitable for everyone.  The relationship with the coach is key, and must be properly bounded and managed on both sides ……. wherein lie some skill.

?  How well are you supporting your managers effectively through these challenging times?

Next Steps 

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