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A Team Coaching Process for Complex Leadership Challenges

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Impact and Outcomes: Danielle commented, “This was amazing. It was incredibly powerful to have my vision witnessed here. I had been so engrossed and passionate about pursuing my vision, I had not fully appreciated the expansiveness of it until hearing it reflected back by these respected colleagues.”

• While there have been several well-cited ROI studies of the value of individual coaching (See International Journal for Coaching in Organizations), the group were unable to point to ROI data that addressed Danielle’s culture change question. Thus, future research must focus on this area.

• This group coaching approach, which leverages the best of all that coaching offers, is particularly valuable when addressing a complex situation, such as Danielle’s vision of transforming a large, global, old-school culture; or when one is taking on a new role as president of a large organization or operating as a chief officer during a large-scale merger or acquisition.

• One unexpected outcome surprised not only Danielle, but the entire group. The coaching group caught the vision and the possibility of what could be created, and voluntarily committed to work with Danielle past the end of the ICCO Symposium. “While I expected the [symposium] group to dissolve once I announced my departure from the firm (two weeks after the Symposium), instead they unanimously offered to stand with me for as long as the process was working and I was willing to be a ‘guinea pig’ in the experiment. As a result, not only have I received exceptional coaching, we are documenting the experience and considering the creation of a new offering based on the model.”

Action Items: In an unexpected turn, due to major upcoming organizational changes which required significant trade-offs, the decision was made to discontinue the investment in internal coaching. Doing business as a global, publicly traded company requires making hard decisions in order to keep the business strong on a quarterly basis. While no coaching program is immune to elimination, two moves would help reduce the likelihood of this scenario:

• Where possible, ensure headcount for coaching sits in the business unit where coaching is delivered and ROI is being experienced, rather than in an operational function such as HR;

• Concurrently address issues of scalability, affordability, consistency, and quality. Most coaching programs can address three of these four elements. Large-scale coaching efforts must address and optimize all four.

Case Exploration Three: The stated objective of this successful resource-based company is to move from command-and-control to visionary team, or distributed leadership. What is necessary to make this move successful and sustainable?

“Marcia” is an experienced leadership coach who was brought into the company five years ago in order to make leadership training “stick.” The Founder of the company was a dynamic visionary who was also a top-down controller. He died three years ago, and the new CEO, a family member, is dedicated to carrying on initiatives to establish a more team-oriented approach and to change managers’ language from “my” to “our.” Despite the new CEO’s being steeped in deliver-now, black-and-white thinking from the past, employees know that she is committed to having an effective company where people want to work. Marcia was involved in two pilot projects with teams of managers. The first had a rich educational component, but performance goals were set from above. In the second pilot, the educational component was reduced to allow the teams to set their own goals. Performance increases were higher after the second pilot. Marcia has insisted on having designated sponsors in the company, and she can rely on an Executive VP who owns the business results as well as a Human Resources VP to work with her on the people side. As she gleans lessons from the pilot projects and looks toward an organization-wide implementation, Marcia asks, “What could be done to increase the probability of sustained enhanced results?”

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