CLO Magazine on Executive Coaching


It was an honor to be mentioned in the June issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine in their article “What Really Happens in Executive Coaching?” by Madeleine Homan-Blanchard.
I highly recommend you read the entire article (linked above), but wanted to share the excerpt below:
Why Coach?
It’s rare for an organization to offer coaching to someone who doesn’t offer enormous promise and potential. For the uninitiated, the resistance to working with a coach is often rooted in not knowing what to expect. So, what should a manager or an executive expect from a coach?
The coach as lamplighter. A coach is often the only person in an executive’s life who will hold the lamp high enough for the client to see beyond immediate commitments and goals.
Sloane Perras, chief legal officer for The Krystal Co., has worked with several coaches over the years. “My first coach helped me deal with an enemy at work. I was able to understand my own part in the situation and to mitigate the effects of the drama. I learned so much from that situation that now I use my coach to facilitate and focus me on setting goals. If I didn’t have a coach, I would never take time out to think about my future and navigating my way forward.”
The coach as gap filler. A coach can help identify and close skill gaps. Most people have a sense for where they lack skill, but a coach can quickly get to the pain point. “Our executives ask for a coach when they realize that even though they are really good at some things, they may have a couple of edges to smooth out,” Clark said.
Shawnte Mitchell is general counsel and vice president of human resources, legal affairs and compliance at Aptevo Therapeutics Inc. At her previous employer, she was offered a coach, Suzi Pomerantz of Innovative Leadership International, to address certain internal team challenges. “[Pomerantz] helped me define the things that were contributing to those challenges — and sort out which of those things were mine.”
She also helped Mitchell expand her awareness of how she connected with others. Mitchell learned how to moderate her communication to suit each person, and she said by using a coach she got to the next level more quickly and smoothly.
The coach as context builder. Every environment has qualities that may not be immediately apparent to the client. The coach will have experience from many different environments — and the benefit of an outsider’s perspective.
Dorian Denburg was in-house counsel for a public corporation when she became president of the National Association of Women Lawyers. She said she immediately realized the not-for-profit environment was radically different from what she was used to. She was going to have to make some shifts. Her coach helped her understand the big picture and the importance of context.
“Volunteers are driven by completely different motives than employees are,” Denburg explained. “I had a habit of rolling in and expecting people to keep up and jump into action. With this job, I had to learn to be more intentional about setting the stage to engage people.” She made the shift from leading through accountability and authority to leading through influence.
The coach as mirror. The coach will often be the only one to reflect brutal reality and remind the client who they are and what is most important to them.
Ajay Jagtiani, a principal with Miles and Stockbridge, had just hired a coach to help him navigate the environment at his new law firm when he had a heart attack. He had planned to use the coach to adapt to the new culture, decode political factions and crush it on the way to becoming managing partner. The heart attack changed everything. “I was young enough to survive it, but old enough to appreciate it,” he explained.
His coach challenged him to identify what was important and align his behaviors accordingly. With his coach’s help, Jagtiani redesigned his life. “I’ve been asked to join the senior partner ranks several times, but I’ll only consider it after my daughter is in college, and I have a year to support my wife in finding her next chapter.” For the first time, Jagtiani said he feels aligned. “I can feel the difference in the way clients trust me. They know what they see is what they get.”

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