Who curates the information you consume and what have they done for you lately?

I was going to write a blog about “content curation” anyway … but when I read Tom’s most recent post i knew i had to “get going.” He’s right … we need to think deeply about our information networks in a conscious and thoughtful way.  Who and what are you relying on to help you focus amid the information overload?

Over the weekend, Jonah Lehrer wrote an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal on “Learning How to Focus on Focus.” The essence of his piece was that in an age of information overload, focus or attention is a scarce commodity.  Instead of being enlightened by vast volumes of information available at our fingertips, we often become overwhelmed.  His point is that it is possible to become more effective in dealing with the excesses of information and proceeds to describe how we can develop higher level capabilities in the area of executive focus.   This is an interesting challenge for corporate learning functions as they develop the next generation of leadership.  How do you help executives learn how to manage the flood of content in an effective way?  As I interface with c-suite executives, I’ve noticed a subtle change in the way in which they are interfacing with organizations like Moxie Insight.  As Jeff Cobb points out “there is such a flood of new content pouring through the Internet pipes these days that being aware of all of it and sorting it out in meaningful ways is simply not possible.” Yes, there are powerful search tools, social bookmarks and community review options but they are no longer adequate.  We are finding that executives tend to rely on colleagues or experts to “curate” content in areas of interest. 

So what makes a great curator?  Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Ray Weaver suggests we use the museum curator as the model … “Many museums have enormous collections, so the possibilities are endless, he says.  And most patrons don’t know anywhere nearly enough to make these decisions on their own, and even if they were armed with some relevant information, most don’t have the time or inclination to pour over it.  So while we sometimes think that particular curators have missed the mark, in general we understand the role and appreciate that an expert who functions as our decision making proxy makes for a much better museum-going experience.”  Good curators don’t randomly put “stuff out there.”  They expertly review a particular field and make choices about what to put in front of the executive.  Furthermore they educate the executive as to why they should care or why it matters in the context of their specific business. 

While there are different models of content curation, we are finding that executives are looking for their content “experts” to be capable of:

  • Aggregation:   The most common form of content curation is aggregation.  In this case the curator “aggregates” the most relevant information about a particular topic into one location on an on-going basis.  The value of aggregation or bundling comes from the act of locating information, evaluating it, tagging and easing the information consumption for the busy executive.   
  • Chronology:  In creating a chronology, the content curator brings a historical perspective to the topic or field.  This perspective is most useful when our understanding of the topic has shifted over time.  Using informational artifacts, an effective curator can bring a different level of insight or understanding about a topic by re-telling its history over time. 
  • Distillation: Executives often look to others to distill the vast amount of information in a way that only the most important or relevant ideas are shared.  To Jonah Lehrer’s point, rather than being consumed by the vast pool of information available, executives value the distillation of information because it creates a focused view. 
  • Elevation:  The most challenging and perhaps valuable type of content curation is elevation as it requires deeper expertise on the part of the person doing the curating.   In elevating content, the curator is identifying new insights or trends from the disparate the pieces of information they are constantly collecting.  Expert curators are able to create a new or unique view on a particular topic or set of topics.  For an executive this becomes quite valuable as they try to find “over the horizon” insight that will help create future competitive advantage. 

I think our (Tammy Erickson Associates) combined work in the “generations” space is a good example of all four curation models.  We have certainly aggregated a great deal of information about generations for member use.  We’ve documented those insights in a variety of ways … on-line and in person, in reports, and in books.  The work is on-going.  As the generations have moved through various career stages we’ve revisited our assumptions and insights.  This fall we are starting work on the newest generation, the Re-Generation (or Gen Z/Gen Next).  Next year we will revisit Boomers as they enter a new career stage. We’ve distilled our insights, applying different lenses, enabling members to apply the information in the context of their unique organizations.  Generations also benefit by a chronological view.  In doing so, one understands that on a global basis, generations differ by geography.  This fall we published a popular “Generations in Geography” series.  Finally, we’ve elevated our understanding about generations to create new and unique insights.  By way of example, we just finished research on Gen X and their development needs now that they are entering leadership roles; in another piece we explored the impact of Gen Y’s digital activism on the workplace.

As the amount of information created continues to explode how will you increase your ability to focus?  Are you, like other executives, relying on others to curate your information flow?  If so, who are you consciously or unconsciously relying on to sort information and share in a meaningful way?   Is your “curation” network sufficient for the requirements of your business… now and in the future?  Who do you need to add to that expertise network?  Are your curators not just “aggregating” but also “elevating” the content?  And are you actively consuming the curated material provided … or are you letting important insights pass you by because you are too busy. I think Jonah Lehrer is right; one of the most important executive competencies we need to develop is “focus.” What and to whom are you paying attention to?

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Self Directed Leadership Development

 

The topic of leadership is like love; it defies definition in any organized manner. The same is the emerging view regarding leadership development as even those organizations, which profess to do it well, acknowledge that there are issues that impact success.

 

A state of the art Leadership Development Process is a stated goal of most CEO’s.  Like many aspirations the “process” becomes dysfunctional despite the best of intentions of senior managers and the Human Resources function.   The principal contributing factors to this are as follows:

·        A lack of visible CEO and top manager commitment

·        The process devolves into initiatives in search of a context

·        A lack of clarity regarding the strategy, linkages among programs, and benefits to managers

·        Cost drivers frequently put process elements “on hold”

·        The program does not achieve the desired performance nor retention objectives

 

Based upon the above my colleagues and I have begun experimenting with a concept we refer to as Self-Directed Leadership Development.  Although like most consultants, we support the development of competency based development, performance management, and training programs, we have found that sustainable success in many respects relies upon personal initiative.  In fact there is an emerging consensus among our subject matter experts that Leadership Development programs designed around this “personal initiative” assumption have merit in addition to, or in conjunction with, the more organized approaches.

 

Managers whom want to take more control over their career development do crave guidance as to the areas on which they should focus, and what are the avenues of support that they can expect to receive from their organizations.

 

As to the former, we have worked with many top managers, both domestically and internationally helping them resolve the question, what will it take to succeed in their organization in the future?

 

In the context, we have developed a protocol we refer to as the Management Assessment Process (MAP).  Over the years, our experience using Management Assessment Process has allowed us to predict general management competencies that define organizational success.  Our data is based upon over 2,000 interviews of CEO’s and only their direct reports conducted since 1992.  Our data base of companies are derived from North and South America, Western Europe, Asia, and several Eastern European countries.  The range of company size is from start up- through large multi-national.  As well our data includes interviews with senior executives from foreign governmental agencies.

 

We have organized our findings into four categories Threshold Attributes, Role Driven Skills, External Leadership Attributes, and Influence Management that are presented in the balance of this document. In the creation of a Self Directed Leadership Development Strategy all four must be considered.   To appreciate the linkages the following graph is presented.

 

 

 

Threshold Attributes

We have defined Threshold Attributes as the “common denominator” skills required by all managers as the baseline for determining success.  Our consolidated experience indicates that these attributes must be possessed by all managers in abundance.  A deficiency in any of the core attributes, in our experience, either has to be corrected or we are not confident in predicting success for the incumbent.

 

Role Driven Skills

Globally successful businesses are made up of a coalition of managers who when acting in concert define their business and the competitive posture of it’s’ place within an industry as a leader or “wanna be”.  To be successful, the incumbent must function as a specialist and think like a general manager.  This balance creates opportunity for the successful and ambiguity for the less successful.

 

External Leadership Attributes

We have defined Leadership Attributes as those skills that when “rolled up” among all managers, defines the organization’s position in the external marketplace.  These skills define a manager’s ability to promote the organization’s interests through motivation, strategic thinking and knowledge transfer.  The syntheses of these skills frame leadership and the strategic thrust of an organization.

 

Influence Management

Companies are organic in their internal maturation and evolution of value systems.  The crafting of an organization’s culture, climate and social system, is a consolidation of managerial willingness to identify and push the organization’s “levers” and lack of risk aversion in promoting positive change.  Organizations grow from the inside out.  Managers’ influence skills define the framework that catalyzes the organizations common sense of purpose.

 

In an effort to provoke thinking, additional detail for each of these four major areas of developmental opportunity are as follows:

 

Threshold Attributes

Baseline attributes for successful general managers reflect the ability to think strategically while acting globally.  We have identified four common skills among successful managers.  We refer to these core skills as Threshold Attributes in that, without proficiency, in each, manager’s effectiveness is disenfranchised.

 

Global Orientation

As companies become more multi-national, it is essential that managers have the ability to think in a “big picture” context and realistically assess the implications of their decisions on a multi-national scale.  Parochially focused managers are not traditionally successful, based on our experience.

 

 

 

Problem Solving

This is the ability to solve business related problems creatively.  As well, and we believe more importantly, is the aptitude to anticipate where difficulties are like to arise and be able to address them innovatively before they take on lives of their own. Our data suggests that this is found to be a “gap” as often there is a restrained bias for action, and/or a lack of organizational support for the implementation of “untested” solutions.

 

Communication

Effective manager require the ability to move effortlessly among three vehicles of communication, the ability to persuade one-on-one, in writing and through speeches/presentations.  Expatriate and Internationally oriented managers need at least cultural sensitivity and optimally host country language skills as well.

 

Finance and Economics

Successful managers, in our experie3nce, have become somewhat expert in the area of Finance, Political Economies, and International Economics.  All managers can read a P&L.  However, we have found that most successful globally oriented managers have a “feel” for the broader international financial world.

 

Role Driven Skills

In the process of achieving General Manager Status, we have found that successful incumbents have architected a reputation as an “expert” in a specific discipline.  Our experience in numerous industries suggests that there is no one a discipline that is a “stairway to heaven”.  Alternatively, in the recent past, we have found that the more successful managers have been associated as a champion of a critical business process such as Supply Chain or Marketing.

 

In our work outside of the United States two trends bear mentioning.  First is that CFO’s who had traditionally been considered logical successor candidates are not being perceived as forcefully.  They have been supplanted by Sales and Marketing oriented managers.  Secondly, the successful International managers have become somewhat expert on the strategic use of total rewards despite the regulatory restrictions and inflationary conditions in the host country.

 

External Leadership Attributes

Leadership Attributes are the corner stone of differentiation among managers.  These skills define the managerial potential and the incumbent’s reputation within an organization.  We have identified a number of proficiencies we categorize as External Leadership attributes which we believe to be predictors of success for Leaders.

 

Strategic Focus

Successful managers understand the impact of their role on the business.  Most importantly, successful managers appreciated the inter-relationship and inter-dependencies of their roles among others.  Successful managers promote successful companies.  Our experience points out those truly successful managers have the organizational and personal maturity to avoid internal rivalries with a focus of realizing there is a need for all to be winners, or all ultimately are losers.

 

 

 

Leadership Challenge Alignment

Our experience repeatedly points out those successful managers have more that one management style they use with individual reports.  Worldwide, when mangers move up the career path, we have found that they become more delegators.  Obviously, there is a need to do this based on demands of time.  Our experience, however, indicates that successful managers, even in top positions, style ranges from directive to delegation, and they choose the appropriate style based on the task and the skill maturity of those direct reports. They are directive in suggesting to their direct reports that they pattern this behavior.

 

Industry Knowledge

Regardless of the amount of time a manger has spent in that organization’s industry, they can be perceived to have a strong content knowledge of the industry, its dynamics and position in world markets. This is an area we have found for extensive self-study if a manager is coming from a different sector.  The more successful managers have developed strongly held views on the future trends in their industry.

 

Integrity

We found that the more successful managers are role models for avoiding expediency.  Basically, we have found that these managers refuse to compromise and cut corners in the belief that their personal reputation is at issue.  These ladies and gentlemen, epitomize management by values.

 

The scandals at Enron, AIG, WorldCom, among others have raised the importance and visibility of this attribute.  Independent of Sarbanes Oxley, these managers “walk the talk” of Ethics.

 

Public Relations

Successful managers cannot practice mushroom management in respect to the general public, or more importantly, their employees and stockholders.  Our experience has found that the more successful mangers have developed a flair for external PR as manifested by the writing of articles or Op-Ed pieces, speeches, and interviews. As well they are pro-active in terms of efficient communication within their organizations.

 

Influence Management

Influence management are those skills that characterize the person’s positive ability to make a difference within the organization’s culture.  These skills build internal trust in a manager as he or she progresses up the career ladder.  This benefits the organization when the manger, through these proficiencies, is more accepted and credible when achieving a senior leadership position.

 

Conflict Management

Among the three options, avoidance, dealing with conflict badly or dealing with it well, our indicators are that successful managers make a good faith effort to resolve conflict in a principled and fair manner.  These managers engender a reputation for balancing assertiveness with compassion.   Above all contentious issues are not allowed to fester.

 

 

 

 

Network & Coalition Building

Successful managers are recognized for the quality of their relationships on multiple levels.  Foremost are their internal and external networks.  They can solicit and transmit information freely and with recognition that what they are being told is truthful and with the quid-pro-quo that they as well, are not misrepresenting their position.

 

Effective team management and participation is also a predictor of success.  My colleagues and I speculate that in the near term, this activity will only increase in importance as the business horizon becomes more competitive.

 

Staff Development

Everyone benefits when mentoring is positive.  We have found that managers who have engendered reputations as sought after mentors have predictably been more successful.  Our proven hypothesis is that these managers have a better appreciation of the energies that can be harnessed through people.  Most importantly, managers who are good mentors are usually good teachers.  As they evolve to higher levels in the organization, building stronger relationships, they are more likely to have their visions followed than managers who are perceived to be peevish, and “not having the time”.

 

Self-Directed Leadership

In the last decade the Management Assessment Process has been for us a core-consulting tool.  Through this work, we have identified predictors for future success. Our consolidated findings support our hypothesis that many of these skills cannot be taught.  Alternatively they require personal initiative in acquisition.

 

Our hypothesis is not intended to diminish the value of organization driven Leadership Development programs.  We take the view, however, that organization initiatives on their own, even when defined and managed, can only be relied upon to a degree.  The managers themselves need to be participants in controlling their own destiny. 

 

The Talent in any company is its only appreciating asset.  With this in mind we suggest that putting developmental onus on the manager as well as the organization, is a sensible request.

 

High Performance Executive Teams

 

 These days you cannot read a business periodical or participate in a meeting where the need for teamwork and frustration associated with sub optimization isn’t being discussed.  The sad truth is that in this era of restructuring where resources are rationed or absent, the need for teamwork has never been greater  The added complexity is the benefits we are deriving from Collaborative Tools and the attitudinal preferences of the Generation Y workers to whom Teamwork is to be expected not a planned for or unanticipated outcome..

 

A plethora of literature exists on why teams are necessary to promote organizational interests with concomitant wringing of hands as to why the forming and effective use of coalitions is so difficult.  Let’s face it folks, eagles don’t flock.  Teamwork at senior levels is counter intuitive in that it has not been an outcome of conditioning or career recognition.  The achievement to executive levels is traditionally recognition of individual performance and personal decisiveness.

 

The effectiveness of teamwork is further complicated by performance management and reward strategies which emphasize the concept in spirit only.  There is no tangible emphasis on recognition associated with participation in or leadership of teams.  Few organizations “walk the talk” when it comes to promoting the need for teams.  All point to the necessity for cooperation within and across departments but few organizations back up the statements with rewards or sanctions.

 

Just saying teamwork is a desired organizational attribute is a little like kissing your sister.  Mechanically, it is the same but there is a certain ambiance missing…I hope!

 

 Senior Level Executive Teams Lessons Learned

 

My colleagues and I have been experimenting with various executive level team-building approaches as an extension or our organization and process redesign work.  A core of our point of view is that there is a necessity to embed into enterprise operations the use of highly proficient collaborative tools.

 

At the senior level what we have found is the critical need for executives to acknowledge that developing the environment for high performing teams goes beyond just framing the need and appointing the people.

 

Our work has led us to hypothesize that although there may be many appropriate interventions to build and sustain teamwork at levels, e.g. Outward Bound, the initial difficulty is persuading the executives that there is a true community of interests.  This deficiency allows executives to pay courteous lip service to the need for cooperating in a meaningful problem-solving way versus spectator level participation.  At the executive level, we infrequently find insincerity but often encounter over-politeness.  The continued denial that the development of a workable coalition with a unique identity and tailored set of operating principles creates a barrier to success.

 


 

Well-Intentioned Confusion

 

A European Company subsequent to a restructuring set up a Top Management team (TMT) with Pan European and American Membership.  The TMT meetings were described as exercises where “we all retreated back to our nationalist borders and ignored the fact our very survival depended on each other.”  “We all spoke English but listened in God knows what tongue.”

 

The popular excuse within the TMT was that cross-cultural differences were the barrier to success.

 

A consultant was retained to give a one-hour speech on Effective Teaming Principles.  Six hours, a spontaneous workshop and intense debate later, the managers emerged from the session having diagnosed the real problems as a lack of role specificity and articulation form the CEO as to what discretion the team enjoyed vis-à-vis decision making.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakpoints

 

Frequently, two major breakdown points are:  (1) a lack of clarity as to the purpose of the team and (2) awareness of the comfort zone of the top manager as to degree of participation.  The fundamental concern is whether or not the group is an advisory or decision-making entity. And (3) the lack of supporting technology compelling face to face meetings vs. ongoing communication.

 

Purpose of the Team

 

Sometimes the basics are so simple they are overlooked.  There is a need for each team to ask:  “What is the question to which our formation is the answer?”  Mission and charter statements do not go far enough.  Specific role delineations, identification of suitable topics to be brought to the team’s agenda, and most importantly articulation by the top manager as to how he or she wishes to see decisions evolve need to be specified.

 

Individual Roles

 

Teamwork is disenfranchised at the executive level by what we call the “I am my function” phenomenon.  This phenomenon occurs when people only represent the point of view associated with their designated role.

 

For example, finance people only participate in financial (or fiscal) economic discussions.  This is self-limiting as the intellectual capital in the room is untapped.  The goal is to create an environment that affords an opportunity for members to demonstrate the broadest skills for the team’s benefit.

 

 

Executive Team Building Approach

 

The desired state of executives to strengthen their potential to become a high performing team presupposes that members recognize the limitations of the status quo.

 

Our approach in “turning the mirror on the team” has a number of steps.

 

Organization Climate Diagnostic

 

We have found that it is necessary to “assess” the organization climate to determine the convergence or divergence of views on factors such as the following:

           

        Role Architecture – the clarity surrounding roles, accountabilities, reporting relationships and performance expectations

        Performance Mentality – the degree of organizational pressure to perform….meritocracy

        Discretion – the freedom, or lack thereof, of management discretion in making and

        executing decisions

        Total Rewards – the perspective regarding the competitiveness and generosity of the organizations Compensation and Benefits programs.

        Infrastructure – the level of support from entities such as finance, HR, IT, Marketing etc.

        Commitment – the level of perceived commitment to the organization for “the next 5 years”

 

Teaming Workshop

 

Our two-day workshops have a threefold purpose:

 

·        Generate awareness as to the dimensions of the barriers facing this team

·        Agreement achieved as to role, meeting focus, decision-making discretion, top management involvement

·        Development of a Statement of Operating Principles, referred to as the Covenant

 

Teaming Workshop Process

 

·        Exercise identifying High Performing Teams

·        Characteristics of High Performing Teams

·        Team evaluation against identified criteria

·        Organizational barriers identification, discussion, mitigation/elimination strategy

·        Meyers Briggs tutorial and implications on team effectiveness

·        Role and decision-making processes discussed and codified

·        Development of Teaming principles established as a covenant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Performing Teams Example

 

The first step in our process is an exercise where the participants are broken into subgroups and asked to give examples of high performing teams.  The five examples found most frequently are:  sports (hockey or basketball), medical (ER or OR), music (symphonies), special ops (SWAT or Special Forces), and ants or bees.

 

Characteristics of High Performing Teams and Assessment

 

Participants are then asked to identify those characteristics that distinguish high performing teams.  The most common characteristics are:

 

·        Clear objectives, roles and accountabilities

·        Tailored participation maximizing individual skills sets

·        Tangible incentives for team performance

·        Effective vehicles for communication

·        Mechanisms in place to resolve conflict if it is encountered

·        A manifested sense of urgency focused on completion

 

Participants then compare desired characteristics with their own performance.  The team is continually asked to frame the dimensions of the sub optimized behaviors and develop action plans to reduce or eliminate success barriers.

 

Organizational and Personal Awareness

 

Using our climate diagnostic methodologies and the Meyers Briggs tool, there is a discussion in terms of how the organization and the personality profiles of integral team members affect the internal workings of the team.  The Meyers Briggs methodology is particularly useful in that the personality profiles point to diversity, the elements of which can be enhanced to promote group effectiveness.  The organizational climate aspects suggest outcomes which can translate into action plans to reduce success barriers and promote the growth and effectiveness of the coalition.

 

Roles and Protocols

 

Working in subgroups, team members identify specific roles and decision-making protocol to be utilized within the team environment.  There is aggressiveness in the context of assuring specificity in terms of both as an element of this component of the workshop.

 

Teaming Principles – Covenant

 

The program commonly culminates with subgroups developing “teaming principles.”  This covenant becomes the contract which the team conducts its affairs.  After each subgroup presents its findings, the members of the team are asked, unless they have severe reservations, to initial the flipcharts or viewgraphs.  We then create some type of display frame or table setting, etc. with signatures.  In addition, we actively encourage the executive teams to use communication organs to broadcast the covenant throughout the firm.  The benefits of that are self-evident.

 

14 Common Characteristics

 

Following is a description of the most commonly suggested inputs for the development of this covenant.

 


 

Characteristics

 

1.      Everyone participates without exception.

2.      Style, cultural and other differentiating filters do not become barriers.  They required validation of communications

3.      Listening is an art form, not a biological function, requiring care, thoughtfulness, and active involvement.

4.      Conflict is unavoidable, requiring principled methodologies for resolution.

5.      Assume good intentions, and do not position people as accidents waiting to happen.

6.      Recognize that the overall interests of the organization are paramount.

7.      Once decisions are made by the working group, there should uniform external communication.  No second-guessing or triangulation.

8.      Maximization of individual skills and contributions.  No one fails.

9.      No debate is engaged in without closure.

10.  Decisions are translated into actions with accountabilities and timeframes.

11.  Metrics are incorporated into an evaluation of group effectiveness and integrated with recognition and reward structures.

12.  Efficient executive teams focus on small numbers of high profile and high priority activities.

13.  Executive teams should demand and receive high quality information for their decision-making processes.

14.  For the staff development of others, non-group members should be allowed to make presentations and participate in relevant discussion and get a sense of the internal dynamics of the working group.  Transform external participants into missionaries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The covenants aside, the two behaviors that can sabotage the best of intensions and most disciplined internal working agreements are:  (1) listening and (2) conflict resolution.  The executives’ listening skills have to continue to be te4sted and reinforced.  It is not something we do as an automatic response.  Often times, more senior executives appear to be listening but their brain is really running ahead in terms of how they are going to respond or, in many cases, focused on something totally outside the conversation.  This must be confronted in order for the team to optimize its effectiveness.

 

Conflict resolution is a result of human interaction.  The need for principled communication and successful conflict resolution versus finger-pointing is a necessity.  The group should agree in advance as an element of its principles how it will resolve conflict, i.e., the CEO makes the final call, etc.  It also should be recognized that no matter how much there is a desire to eliminate conflict, it will happen.

 

High performance Teams take energy.  However, this energy has benefit both in the short-and long-term.  If organizations continue to exist as coalitions of individuals that promote individual self-interest at the expense of the corporation, an organization’s ability to grow and prosper is hampered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Optimization of the Executive Coaching Experience

When you hear the words “a growth of over 2,000%” your first hope may very well be, “I wish that was my portfolio!”  No such luck!  Rather, this is the growth in the use of executive coaches since 1999. During that same time period, the overall corporate investment in executive development represented less than 1% of revenues.

 

The explosive growth in executive coaching begins to make sense when you consider the current status of executive development in corporate organizations. A recent study conducted by The Concours Group indicates that as the global recession has dissipated, companies are looking at new and innovative ways to develop their most valuable asset – their talent!  It is important to understand that The Concours Group research indicates that companies are focusing their primary attention on the top three levels of the organization.

 

A recent Economist cover story highlighted the emerging global shortfall of skilled talent. In addition, between 2010 and 2050 China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Italy and Germany are among countries who will see their workforces shrink rather than grow. The realities of this situation are prevalent in many sectors of the economy, such as oil, utilities, and health care as well as critical positions necessary in all organizations, such as IT.

 

The proliferation of executive coaching is justified both by demand and effectiveness. The Corporate Leadership Council positions the use of external coaching as the single most effective developmental strategy for executives. Where formal training was ranked Number 5!

 

As executive coaching has grown in importance as a developmental strategy, so have concerns about how to measure the impact of the intervention.

 

 

 

 Rationale for Coaching

 

To optimize the intervention it is necessary to justify and position the coaching relationship. nGenera research indicates there are five rationales associated with the inception of a Coaching relationship supported by a dual desire: for the executive to acquire new skills while increasing their engagement.

 

The top two justifications are the most common. The first is to groom “high potentials” for current and future roles through knowledge and skills acquisition.  The second is to correct non-productive behaviors.

 

The next most prevalent rationale is for a senior executive to receive external advice on the caliber of their leadership bench strength.

 

There are two additional rationales found in executive coaching relationships. The first is to allow a senior executive to test an emerging strategic intent with a recognized Subject Matter Expert such as an academic or thought leader. The last rationale is to be fashionable! Although this seems odd, it does happen. Personally, we think buying a Hermes tie or scarf would be a less expensive solution!

 

  Avoiding the Pitfalls

 

To ensure the success of the coaching relationship, in the experience of nGenera there are a number of root causes of failure to be avoided.

 

The first area is when a manager is informed “You need a coach” without appropriate context. Nor do they participate in the selection of the coach. An added complexity is when the highest level of management is not involved in the Coaching program nor appraised of progress.

 

The next area of concern is that the relationship does not have pre-determined criteria for success. In this instance the relationship devolves into sessions that are primarily focused on “How is it going?” This phenomenon can become more problematic when the coach lacks the skills required for confronting the client when necessary.

 

The final area of concern is when there is no set timeframe for the relationship. When this exists, you can count on the relationship going on for an extended period – sometimes regardless of the value delivered!

 

To optimize the executive Coaching relationship we recommend five steps:

 

1)      Utilize coaching selectively and with those who will benefit the most – avoid the fashionable trap!

 

2)      Allow the coaching client to be involved in the process, if not the selection of the coach. Their comfort will contribute immeasurably to the success of the initiative.

 

3)      Set explicit expectations with the client and coach regarding desired outcomes and timeframes

 

4)      Ensure that senior management is involved with the executive coaching program and its progress

 

5)      Do not have the same coach for executives whom have any relationship, and/or organizational affiliation