Getting to the Results the Client Really Wants

The “Results System™” is about results, right? We talk about “startin­g with the result in mind.”

But, how do you know the client is working on the right result?

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW IF YOU DON’T…

Ask. The best way to find out if you’ve gotten to what the client really wants is to ask the question, “If you had that result, what would it do for you or what would it give you?” If they have a further answer beyond the initial one, then that new answer may be the actual result and the first, a goal. To be sure, ask again, “If you had that result…”

Keep going to peel back the layers until 1) the client starts to repeat the same answer signaling you’ve reached the ‘end of the line’, or 2) they seem to be getting impatient. Always, any deeper exploration of this kind helps.

PORING (OVER) THE CONCRETE

If the client’s articulated goal is something fairly tangible or concrete such as “I want a million dollars” or “My kid is accepted to college,” then chances are you haven’t quite gotten to the underlying result.

When asked, the “Million Dollar” answer may become “Freedom” or “Peace of Mind” or “A Meaningful Life” or “Fulfilling my Potential.”

Clients have different comfort levels with abstraction. Some easily move to the bigger, more conceptual results. Others find it difficult to depart from the more pragmatic. Pursue it as far as the client will allow to help them get the most.

DISTINGUISHED RESULTS

So, the greatest help you can give your client is helping them distinguish between what is a goal and what is a result.

So often, the presenting goal is what the client thinks they want. However, upon further examination, they discover that the specified result is really their anticipated strategy for getting what they think they want.

However, that strategy may not be the best way to get there. Their assumptions or expectations may be limiting their perceived choices.

Will “Losing 20 pounds” really give them “Self-Love” and” Joy?” Maybe. Maybe not. Or, perhaps there are some other companion goals like “Set Better Boundaries” or “Reduce My Impatience” or “Expand my Spiritual Life” that are needed to accompany the fitness activities to really reach that joy.

Only when they know the “bigger picture” can they make the best choices about their options for actions through their goals.

MO’ MOTIVATION

Why search for a deeper result? Because change takes motivation, perseverance, and some grit to be sustainable over time. What you are after must be sufficiently motivating to the client to keep them working at it long enough to effect the change.

“Getting My Website Up and Running” is a lot less inspiring than “Freedom to Do What I Want.” Find what is truly behind “the website” and they can find the energy to do the heavy lifting.

ENGAGE AT WILL

Consider using this process when discussing a new client’s coaching goals (results) at the onset of your coaching engagement. Clients come to coaching thinking they want one thing but turn out to be seeking something else.

Using this method helps them to quickly get to the heart of what they really want to gain from their coaching experience.

BE DESIRED

With the Results Roadmap™, use this method to help the client become clear on what the Desired Result is that they want to create the roadmap about. Often, they come up with something like a “Marketing Plan” or “Better Health” when what they really desire is a “Sense of Peace” or, “Fulfilling my Purpose.”

Getting to that higher result creates a broader understanding and enhanced Action Calendar that gets them what they really want

THE POWER OF NOW

In the Results Accelerator™, the Now Goals on the Goals Panel represent the results they want immediately and signal on-going themes for the client over time.

If the Now Goals they articulate trend toward the more concrete side, try questioning them about those goals to see what the result is behind them.

While a “New Car” might be what they first say as a Now Goal, getting to the fact that they really want “Freedom and Flexibility” gives them a broader perspective beyond just an automobile. It opens their perceptual lenses to see more solutions during their Results Accelerator™.

THE RESULTS ARE IN THE SYSTEM

So, there you have it. For the Results System™ model to work best, the client needs to set their “eyes on the prize.” Helping them get clear on what that actual prize is creates a satisfying and fulfilling coaching experience for your client.

Supercharge Your Leadership Development with Real Self-Awareness

Supercharge Your Leadership Development with Real Self-Awareness

 

There’s a saying out there, “It’s self-awareness or self-destruction, pick one.” Pretty dramatic, but pretty true.

I daresay you’ve seen this in action in organizations… the leader who is so confident in their opinions of how things are, that they drive the business or mission into the ground. It’s also those leaders whose style leaves “scorched earth” and makes your best employees run for the hills.

Even if they aren’t quite this extreme, they don’t know what they don’t know and executive blind spots can become executive blunders.

The good news here, it that there’s a fix for this in how you develop and groom leaders in your organization. And, it’s solved with real self-awareness for leaders.

So, how are you creating self-awareness for your leaders?

‘Who’ Not ‘What’

The temptation in designing leadership programs is to focus on skills and strategies, which seem so much more pertinent to the business challenges at hand. Leaders are looking for quick fixes and immediate practicality, so they prefer to be absorbed into that type of subject matter.

I refer to this as the “What” because it focuses on “What You Are”, essentially boiling the leaders down to what competencies they have and what ones they need to develop.

These are, of course, important to include but not at the expense of helping executives develop the “Who,” which refers to “Who You Are” as a leader.

People don’t follow leaders for “What They Are” but instead “Who They Are.” When was the last time you heard an employee remark, “Yes, I work even harder because he is a very competent communicator” or “I chose to join the company because she is excellent at understanding financial statements.” I think not.

Awareness of Who You Are

How does a leader, especially one whose ticket to success has been preferring action over reflection, come to accept greater self-awareness?

For some, it is because they realize that, to quote Marshall Goldsmith, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” For others, it’s that what they were doing previously isn’t working so well, typically accompanied by some humiliating setback. Finally, some leaders have smart, trusted lieutenants who impart the reality that they do have to change.

For any of these leaders, even small increases in their self-awareness pays off in results they can see.

The Managing Director of a large branch of one of the biggest construction firms in the U.S. was encouraged by a trusted colleague to improve his self-awareness. As with many strong leaders in pragmatic fields like construction, he operated intuitively based on his instincts and “common sense” with which he had been very successful.

He was reluctant to ‘waste time’ reflecting and exploring what was ‘behind the curtain.’ However, when we started looking at his Core Authentic Self and his Core Needs, he became very engaged.  Suddenly he could give a name to what his gut had been telling him for years.

Making it more conscious and clearer is something he found he really enjoyed. It was like turning on a faucet (yes, a plumbing metaphor) and it set him on an amazing road of discovery.

In my experience, the hardest part of doing self-awareness work with executives is getting them to block time in their calendar to work on it. Despite their protestations, once you get them talking and they start seeing things about themselves that they never connected, they don’t want to stop. They rarely, if ever, get a chance to be in this space and they like it once they are there.

Half the battle is for you to maintain the confidence to persist through their skepticism and resistance to get them into the work. It takes courage, but it pays off.

Beyond Assessments

Some leadership developers equate self-awareness with assessments. Assessments are great, I use many of them… behavioral assessments, 360s, EQ, etc. They provide very useful data, but they are just a part of the self-awareness picture.

You may have experienced leaders who reject the data from assessments saying things like, “That’s not me,” or “I’m more (fill in the blank) than that,” or “They just have an ‘axe to grind.'”

You have to add a more qualitative experience for them to even validate what the standardized tools are telling them. Only when it’s in their own voice do they really believe it. This involves insightful conversation.

Not the Same as Woo Woo

If your self-awareness work is anything more than some report spit out of a computer, they start to get nervous. Any kind of dialogic work has them terrified that you are suddenly going to go ‘woo woo’ and ‘touchy feely’ on them.

You can have profound and engaging conversations that help them see new things about themselves if you make it easy for them to go there. The least threatening path is to provide a framework that logically makes sense to them to understand what you are doing before you start to discuss anything but the most superficial of topics.

When they ‘get’ where you are going and why it will become useful to them, they are more likely to trust you to guide them in a deeper exploration of who they are.

 

 

Beneath the Surface

I’m not a trained therapist. I’m a certified coach and an experienced leadership developer. However, I can have deeper conversations that bring the client clarity without bordering on therapy. I’m clear where the boundaries are.

And, the well-used iceberg metaphor says it all. There’s way more that is invisible and beneath the surface than is visible above. Well-crafted self-awareness experiences shed light on the highly impactful but opaque parts that can make the difference between success and less-than-stellar outcomes.

Mastering the Inner ‘Software’

The strides in neuroscience research about leadership from firms like David Rock’s NeuroLeadership Institute has helped bring brain-based insight to how the internal ‘software’ works.

Leaders need to understand how their own personal “Results System” approaches getting results. When they are consciously aware of patterns of thinking and behavior that work well for them in getting results, they can repeat it to be more effective more of the time. And, without an understanding of the patterns that do not work for them, they are doomed to repeat them.

To keep it practical for executives, the key is to keep the focus on the perceptions, beliefs, expectations, assumptions and the habits of thinking and behavior they practice as they pursue getting the results they want.

Looking at their real-life experience as a data set is far better than some abstract exercise or navel-gazing. When you tie the insight to examples from their own work and personal life (yes, both… since the patterns repeat in both places), they make connections in a more profound way.

However, this self-awareness work is not unstructured “sharing”. Few executives are willing to do that. The insights and connections come from using an easy-to-accept structure or framework to guide them through the exploration together.

Dealing with Change

Why do all this intensive work? Because it’s the foundation of all change.

Since your brain is wired to perceive change as a threat and automatically resist it, only when you understand how your internal ‘software’ operates can you deliberately take the needed steps make a change sustainable. Otherwise, you fall back into your old, familiar patterns.

All you have to do is to try brushing your teeth using the opposite hand from the one you are used to. You’ll see how awkward that feels and how much you want to go back to the way you usually do it. BTW, how is your consistency with that new commitment to daily exercise coming?

Staying on cruise control will make you miss the exit to a new destination. So much for embracing change.

Creating Resilience

Unlike the popular notion, resilience isn’t ‘bouncing back’ to the way you were before. That is reinforcing the former status quo and is actually a form of resistance.

Instead, think about resilience as ‘bouncing forward’ to a new outcome. This requires changing your thinking, shifting your expectations and taking new and sometimes very different actions.

For instance, do you really want go back to investing a large amount of time (and stress) in a daily roundtrip commute to the office? How have you re-deployed that time and energy into something different for yourself? That’s resilience.

The thing about the internal system is that it is backward looking – it only knows what it’s seen before. It’s all about the rear-view mirror. To move ahead in a better direction, you must be intentional about examining and changing your patterns of thinking and behavior.

If you aren’t self-aware, this is a complete mystery to you and you end up stuck where you are while pining for the way things used to be.

Finding Authenticity

A significant part of real self-awareness is finding out who you are and what is genuine for you. To be an authentic leader, you must actually know who you are authentically.

This means mining through all the things you’ve been told about who you should be, what you should want, and what you should do to get to the real person inside.

Many leaders spend a great deal of time and energy protecting that true inner person from view (if they even know it at all) for fear of being vulnerable. Yet there is massive strength in the ability to show who you really are as it gives those who work for you the inspiration to do the same. It’s permission to be a human being, not know everything and to try things and make mistakes.

If you don’t think that authenticity is important in a leader, all you have to do is watch a movie with the sound turned off. After a few minutes, you can tell who is being truthful, who is lying and who is really authentic in their words and behavior, even without the audio. Are you going to trust and follow someone who you read as inauthentic?

Isn’t it better for a leader to really know who they are so they can be congruent and effective? Their people know. Sometimes the leader is the last to know. Help them find themselves as a leader.

Thinking Beyond

Innovation is a much-sought-after commodity these days. At the heart of it, innovation comes from the ability to look at things differently, identify different possibilities and then have the courage and risk-taking ability to try something new. It’s a complete inner game.

Helping a leader see how their perceptions, beliefs, expectations and assumptions are having an impact on their results and frees them break out of the box. Being aware of their habits and patterns of fostering ideas, practicing creativity and taking risks is the first step in being able to do it consistently and create new solutions to the presenting challenges.

It’s all about being able to innovate rapidly in an accelerating business climate. Real self-awareness opens the door to taking a leap forward. Maybe opens a window too. Or, just blows the roof off completely!

“Best of Breed” Self-Awareness Tools

No matter what leadership development programs you are using, from a vendor partner or homegrown, incorporate strong self-awareness experiences and coaching into your learning strategy and curriculum.

Among my “best of breed” favorites to add are a behavioral assessment from The Predictive Index®, a Leadership Circle Profile® 360 from Leadership Circle®, an emotional intelligence assessment (EQ-i®), and the deep-dive coaching experience tools Results Accelerator™ and Results Roadmap™. All layer well into any leadership program.

Whatever path you choose, make sure that you have real self-awareness front-and-center to supercharge your leadership development.

Your leaders will thank you (after they finish grumbling, of course).

 

 

How Are You Going to Handle “The Great Discontent?”

How Are You Going to Handle “The Great Discontent?”

 

Gallup consultants Vipula Gandhi and Jennifer Robison coined the term not long ago in an article called “The ‘Great Resignation’ is Really the ‘Great Discontent.'” They hit the nail right on the head.

They focused on the root cause of why so many employees are looking out the door and choosing to leave your company. And, it’s your best talent with their eyes outward. Do you really want to lose them?

What are you going to do to deal with the “Great Discontent?” Read on.

The Facts (and Costs) Speak for Themselves

You have seen the numbers on what turnover costs, I don’t have to quote them here. Suffice to say that preventing the direct costs of recruiting and on-boarding as well as the absent productivity and opportunity cost inherent in losing key talent impacts your business or mission. But, what can you do about it?

What They Don’t Know Hurts You

Many employees are exhausted, burned out and wanting a change from the whatever the status quo may be. They just know they need things to be different. Their first thought is to look for another job. They aren’t sure what it will be, they just know they want something new.

This means they may jump without knowing what they really want and why they should actually make the change. The “shiny object” of a new job and a new organization is overwhelmingly attractive. Unless they are very self-aware, it’s likely they are choosing for the wrong reasons and leaving your company when they could have stayed and been satisfied… if only they knew what they really were seeking.

Are You Willing to Act?

With the disruption and angst caused by the turbulence in the labor market, many leaders do one of two things: they throw money at the employee (if they can) or they throw up their hands and say “There’s nothing I can do!”

This is true, unless you can think about it more creatively and in a more individualized way.

The thing is, if they stay for money they will leave for money, now or in the future. You need to anchor them in a more substantive way. All the money in the world only goes so far. In addition, they think “Why weren’t you paying me this before if I’m that valuable?” Good for morale, eh?

You can take substantive action if you are willing.

Are They ‘Talent’ or Talented Individuals?

Here’s the big secret… your employees are individuals who need to be treated individually. So often, leaders look for broad-brush solutions that are efficient and scalable but leave employees feeling that you can’t see them as an individual. Think implementing broad new benefits or policies across the board.

“Talent” doesn’t leave your organization, “individuals” do… talented individuals. Why are you treating them like a herd?

There’s a Core Solution

When you begin to look at your employees individually, you realize that each person has a set of personal Core Needs that motivate, engage, satisfy and fulfill them.

Core Needs are factors like achievement, collaboration, learning, being part of something bigger, connection, challenge, contribution and the like. There are 100 or more of these factors. People have between 8-20 of these ‘gas tanks’ that power them around and personal criteria for getting each of them filled.

These represent the types of experiences people need to have from time to time to feel energized, engaged and fulfilled. How well these Core Needs are fulfilled at your organization keeps employees productive, performing and happy. You can’t afford to pay people enough to stay if their Core Needs are being unmet.

If you want to keep them, find out what their unique combination of Core Needs is and look at how you can help them ‘fill their tanks.”

Meeting Them at Their Core Needs

An employee with a Core Need for “accomplishment” might be offered a project or responsibility that they can ‘sink their teeth into’ and make things happen. Check the box on “accomplishment.” So, you offer them what you think is the perfect opportunity of running an initiative that would benefit the department and they aren’t really interested. What gives?

It’s the combination of their Core Needs that satisfies the individual. For instance, an employee with Core Needs of “accomplishment,” “independence” and “having a big impact” is going to be attracted to a different kind of assignment than one who has “accomplishment,” “collaboration” and “learning” among their Core Needs.

The wrong kind of accomplishment is as de-motivating as no accomplishment at all.

Behavioral assessments are great and can give you generalized information about motivational drives. Someone with a high drive for dominance, for example, is going to want to take on greater responsibility, but what kind of responsibility. Core Needs work gives that next level of insight.

When you start seeing your employees as individuals with a unique combination of Core Needs, you have the foundation for high performance, energized engagement, and strong loyalty. Absent this understanding, you are ‘shooting in the dark’ in attempting to retain them.

Redemption from the Brink of Burnout

One of the big drivers of the ‘discontent’ is burnout. The recent history of the pandemic, economic upheaval, social justice and global issues have made the ‘gas tanks’ low for many people. Very low ‘gas tanks’ equal “burnout.”

For example, for people with Core Needs for “connection,” “collaboration” and “meaningful communication,” Zoom just doesn’t cut it. Perhaps you are one of these people. Even a hybrid workplace with distancing and masks doesn’t quite fill the bill. It’s unlikely to change anytime soon. So, what can you do about it?

The answer is to put enough into your ‘gas tanks’ to get you through until things change. You may not have it filled to the brim, but you can make it through the day.

The beauty of this is that you can add to your tanks using different experiences than the usual ones. Especially not those that are unavailable at the moment.

If you can’t see family, friends and colleagues face to face right now, think about what you experience when together… perhaps a feeling of warmth, curiosity, being grounded and feeling trusted.

Then ask yourself, “What is something I can do in the next few days that gives me a feeling of warmth, grounding, trust and really intrigues me?” The answer might surprise you. It might be something like, “I feel that way when my dog Tyler and I go for a walk and have an adventure in a new place. It’s really fun for both of us.” It’s not the same as getting big hugs from your faraway best friends, but it will get your through the afternoon.

Being creative with how you get your Core Needs met brings you back from the brink.

Expand Your Ideas About Engagement

Gallup’s Q12 is great. But I invite to think of true employee engagement as employees getting their Core Needs met. Employees thrive when their tanks are full.

Your strategy for employee engagement should be to provide an environment (and management support) where employees can work in a way that gets their Core Needs fulfilled.

Do you have to roll out an expensive new benefits program? Maybe. Could you gain employee engagement by focusing on their Core Needs? Definitely.

Check out my blog post, “Employee Engagement is Not What You Think” for more on this.

Finding and Creating Fit

Like many organizations, you are probably seeking employees that fit your culture. And, of course, you are looking for an employee’s suitability and fit for their role.

The standard bearers for culture fit are values. Are an organization’s and employees’ values aligned and compatible? I would suggest that values alone do not signal a cultural fit for an employee. Core Needs reflect the way an employee’s values are lived. There is not always a match.

For example, organizations and employees frequently value “integrity.” It’s a great, high-minded ideal. But how is that integrity lived out in practice? An employee who values integrity and has related Core Needs of “honest communications,” “partnership” and “consistency” may find themselves at odds in an organization focused only on “doing what you said you would do” as their brand of integrity.

Sometimes fit with a role can be tweaked to meet the employee’s Core Needs better. Perhaps there can be an adaptation of how a particular responsibility is accomplished. Or, perhaps there is a special project that could provide some ‘gas to the tanks.’

For instance, an employee who works in a chaotic environment and has Core Needs of “individual reflection” and “change of scenery” might be permitted to be the team member who twice daily retrieves mail and messages from the adjacent building – 20 minutes of respite and diversion twice a day recharging their battery. Plus, the job gets done.

There are the circumstances where adaptation and creativity just aren’t sufficient to meet an employee’s particular combination of Core Needs even if they have the right knowledge, skills and expertise. In this case, they aren’t a right fit for that role at your organization (even if they had a similar role in another organization). You need to find them a more suitable role or they may need to find a more suitable organization to work for.

Better to make a change before insufficient performance or burnout sets in.

Provide a Foundation for Career Development

Employees are clamoring for support for their careers. But how will they make career decisions that are right for them if they aren’t clear on their Core Needs? The foundation of all career development and career paths is understanding your Core Needs. Otherwise, you make unfulfilling decisions.

Some employees seek to be promoted to management or executive roles because they think that’s what they should do. Yet, when you look at their Core Needs, they may have a definite mismatch for what it takes to be a people manager or to lead strategically (preferring to remain in the details). They become promoted to their highest level of misery.

A top global software company in Silicon Valley was worried about losing female senior engineering managers (already a rarity in the tech industry). The problem was that they were ambitious, high performers who wanted to progress  and didn’t necessarily want their boss’ jobs (and the bosses weren’t going anywhere anyway).

So, they were looking outside the company for their next career step. After attending a Core Needs workshop, the most common remark was “I didn’t think I had any options left here, but now that I understand my Core Needs, I see that there are a number of things I could do here that I would find fulfilling.” They stayed.

Open Their Eyes

The biggest mistake you can make is to keep your employees in the dark about their Core Needs. Some short-sighted managers think “If they know their Core Needs, they’ll leave us.” I would suggest that knowing their Core Needs is the only way to get them to remain.

If you have so little confidence that you can meet your employees’ Core Needs if they know them, you need to re-think your work environment. And, those that separate are probably the ones who aren’t well suited to your organization anyway. That’s a win-win.

Be Creative and Flexible

Once you know an employee’s Core Needs, take a look at their job design and see if there are tweaks you can make to make their Core Needs better fulfilled. It doesn’t even have to cost money, just creativity and flexibility.

For example, an employee who has Core Needs of “accomplishment” and “completion” who is working on a never-ending project will end up frustrated and unsatisfied. Why not adjust their work stream to include some finite small projects that can easily be “tied up with a bow” in short order?  Fill ‘er up, thank you!

Educate Managers to Do Their Part

The pivotal role in helping employees get their Core Needs met is their immediate manager. Who else is in a position to know them well enough and be creative about the job design and working conditions?

Employees don’t leave companies. Employees leave managers who don’t try to support them in getting them get their Core Needs met. If your managers don’t know how to coach employees in this way, get them some training.

Make a Commitment to Fulfillment

The sum total of this discussion is this… give your employees the gift of understanding of their Core Needs and work with them to find options to get them met. You’ll go a long way to stem the “Great Resignation” and the Great Discontent.” It’s up to you.

 

 

 

Jonathan ‘Jeb’ Bates

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Short-Term Executive Coaching… Really???!

Short-Term Executive Coaching… Really???!

 

In over 15 years as an executive coach, I’ve witnessed a huge mindset change among talent development professionals in organizations. You’ve moved from skepticism about the value of coaching to embracing it as an essential element of helping leaders grow, develop and apply their learning.

Hooray for us coaches! However, with expanded experience with coaching comes new questions about its effective use in the organization.

Beyond Coaching as Usual

I often hear, “We believe in coaching, but how do we get the most from what we spend for executive coaching?” Many have adopted the “gold standard” convention of six- or twelve-month coaching programs for senior leaders – a substantial investment of money and time.

I’ve done many of these engagements over the years and have been successful in supporting my clients to grow and create great impact through this work. However, I don’t think this is the only way to implement coaching.

One Size Fits All?

Even though my fellow executive coaches will be aghast, I believe that some clients are not well served by longer coaching engagements and their focus and attention waxes and wanes over the tenure of the coaching.

I’m a very skilled coach, if I do say so myself, so I don’t think it’s my coaching skills. I think it’s the structure of the way we work together that is not the best fit for every client. There is wasted time (and therefore money) in these situations. It becomes a missed opportunity.

It’s time to re-think the options.

Lean into Coaching

What I am suggesting is borrowed from the lean philosophy of manufacturing, product development, entrepreneurship, etc. It’s the idea of starting with “minimum viable product” and then adding to it incrementally to create value and eliminate waste in the process. With coaching, I prefer to think of it as “minimum vibrant product,” but you get the idea.

Start Fast, Focus and Extend

What I have found works with virtually all clients is to begin with a short coaching intensive followed by three or four focused coaching sessions. We have a fast start upfront with a day-long in-person intensive or four closely-scheduled virtual meetings. We dive in quickly to get to the root of what is going on with the executive and who they need to be to overcome their challenges. Rapid self-understanding followed by clear action helps them make progress quickly. Executives like quick, impactful wins.

Over the years, I’ve evolved a method that gets to the client’s core in a way that is non-threatening, engaging and not “touchy-feely.” Offered this way, executives embrace it and are open to more.

We then extend the coaching engagement in increments evaluating at the conclusion of each whether and how to continue. Some clients may end up working for three, six or even twelve months ultimately. However, it’s time that is focused and productive making the investment of time and money worthwhile. I think this is a better way to help clients get exactly that they need.

Some clients find the coaching intensive plus three sessions sufficient for the moment. Some extend immediately to continue more of a good thing. Some decide they want additional coaching later once they’ve gained momentum with what they’ve learned and practiced thus far. It’s about giving them enough, but not too much, at the right time.

Agile on the Way to Agility

Agile methods are also prevalent in many organizations today, especially in the area of software development. There, the work streams are organized into short, focused “sprints” where portions of work products are completed and deployed before moving on to the next sprint.

So too, with short-term executive coaching. Following the initial intensive engagement, we add coaching “sprints” of six weeks of coaching with weekly conversations (or 12 weeks of biweekly sessions) focused on a specific objective. These sprints build on the previous self-understanding and action to help the clients accomplish their growth objective. We use tools like strategic learning contracts, assessments and roadmaps that combine awareness and action to help the client advance their learning.

The client continues with these extended sprints for as long as they are getting the results they want from the work. They know when they are ready to finish with coaching or whether to pause and re-engage at a future time.

Who’s There?

So, how does an initial coaching intensive make an impact in such a short time? It’s by focusing on “Who” the executive is. So often, the impetus for coaching is the “What” – what they need to get better at or what problem they want to address. Yet, the more they develop the “Who,” the more the “What” falls into place.

Understanding their core – core values, core authentic self, core needs and core patterns is the foundation for resilience, agility, innovation and influence in their leadership. Until those are in place, coaching, training, mentoring and cajoling can’t help the executive integrate new behaviors and ways of thinking. Starting with the “Who” and helping them quickly move to action makes the experience valuable and impactful.

Expand Access to Executive Coaching

Let’s face it. Every leader who is open to learning and growth needs to work with a coach at some point. They can’t see their blind spots, get reality checks on their ideas and strategies nor have an objective, trusted resource to challenge and support them. They can’t get that from their boss, colleagues, spouse or family. A coach fulfills that unique position. However, organizations don’t have unlimited budgets.

So, my invitation is to spread the benefit around. You can use short-term executive coaching to create transformational impact with four leaders for about the cost of one long engagement. You can do the math.

Those that take to the coaching can extend with sprints that add more, useful value. And those who stop after the initial coaching intensive work are never unchanged for the better.

I believe this is a model that broadens the impact of coaching in the organization while getting the most from the investment.

It’s also a simple, flexible way to integrate profound coaching value into leadership development cohorts as well.

With one global vehicle and equipment manufacturer, in adding coaching to a cohort of selected executives in a year-long development program, we gave them the option of “conventional” coaching or this coaching intensive approach. In follow-up surveys, those that elected the coaching intensive reported that their coaching was much more satisfying and effective over those that elected the standard approach.

Innovation Requires Experimentation

For most client organizations, seeing is believing. I’ve gotten pushback from talent development leaders who don’t believe that one of their leaders can get much from such limited coaching engagements.

Only when you try it with a few of your own leaders can you assess the comparative impact. Innovation requires trying new things. It’s a process of experimentation and optimization.

So, short-term executive coaching?

Yes, really.