. 4
( 8)


about how people grew personally and professionally with the guid-
ance of their coaches. In Chapter 3, Jane was under ¬re as the HR
manager responsible for, among other things, dealing with the
challenges of a merger. She felt overwhelmed trying to do all of her
responsibilities, was underperforming, and lashed out at her col-
leagues. Her coach was ultimately able to get Jane focused and per-
forming at a higher level. Jane™s relationships with colleagues
improved along the way as well.
In Chapter 4, Jack had major issues with relationships, and given
his new promotion to client relationship VP, these issues had to be
urgently addressed. Jack™s coach helped him work more effectively
with clients and adopt partnering skills that enabled him and his
extended team to deliver what the clients needed.
We learned in Chapter 5 how Mark utilized coaching to expand
his repertoire of leadership behaviors, which enhanced his ability to
manage those situations that were especially challenging. As a result,
his team™s on-time performance for project delivery increased, the
team was more satis¬ed with their work, and two team members
were brought back from the brink of termination.
In the fourth and ¬nal story presented in Chapter 6, Clare hit her
stride as a VP. She tempered her enthusiasm, learned how to listen,
gained in¬‚uencing skills, and was able to rally consensus for her
business proposals.

112 Coaching That Counts

The Leading with Insight model demonstrated how coaching
created value for people at four different levels. As the coaching rela-
tionships evolved, more value was created. The opportunity facing
organizations is how to harness that value and drive the value to the
business. Coaching taps into a well that is rich in resources. Our
challenge now is how organizations can draw from this well to drive
tangible results to the business, without losing what makes coach-
ing so powerful in the ¬rst place.

The Organization Context for Individual Growth

These stories, as powerful as they were, were played out on a greater
stage”that of their respective organizations. At this point, we tran-
sition to this greater stage. Let™s begin with Jane. Originally, Jane™s
boss convinced her to work with a coach. At ¬rst she was unwilling,
because no one else was working with a coach. There were no orga-
nizational objectives for coaching, other than to make sure that Jane
was at the top of her game to successfully deal with the merger. Jane
clearly bene¬ted from the coaching, and we suspect that the orga-
nization did as well, although the organizational bene¬ts are intan-
gible. Jane™s boss was satis¬ed with her progress and the outcomes
from coaching, but it did not dawn on him that others in the busi-
ness might bene¬t from coaching as well. For Jane™s boss, coaching
was something that “¬xed” people, rather than a developmental
process with potential business impact.
Jack™s situation was similar to Jane™s in that both were struggling
and both were directed to a coach by their respective bosses. Jack™s
boss, however, had his eyes set on a bigger prize than just Jack
“getting ¬xed.” There were clear business implications for the out-
comes of Jack™s coaching experience: increased client satisfaction,
improved project management, and better teamwork. Jack™s boss
was satis¬ed when he heard all of the unsolicited testimonials from
clients and team members about the progress Jack had made. So,
these bene¬ts, while valued, were intangible and as such did not hit
Coaching as a Strategic Initiative 113

the boss™s radar screen. Coaching was not continued in the organi-
zation despite Jack™s success.
Mark™s situation takes us to a bigger stage. He was part of a lead-
ership development program that included 80 other leaders, and
coaching was an important element of this program. The company,
PharmaQuest (a ¬ctitious name), a large pharmaceutical manufac-
turer, had a lot riding on this leadership development program. The
pipeline of new products was dwindling, and in the COO™s words,
“the bureaucratic sclerosis was killing us!” Coaching, in contrast to
Jane and Jack™s experience, was an initiative with an expected busi-
ness payoff. We will learn in the next chapter just how important it
is to set the strategic context for coaching in order for the business
payoff to be realized. Without this strategic context, coaching may
produce value but not the kind of value expected by senior leader-
ship or most needed by the business.
This begs the question: What makes a coaching initiative strate-
gic? Clare™s experience sheds some light on this issue. Clare was a VP
who, along with her peers and boss (the company president), was
being coached. Coaching was initiated for many reasons. Clare, for
example, wanted a coach to help her rally her peers to embrace her
ideas for integrated solutions. The company president was most
concerned about the eroding product margins and his inability to
focus his direct reports on this issue. Everyone had their own issues,
and coaching was viewed as the solution to each of these issues.
There was no strategic glue to hold all of these coaching relation-
ships together. The glue was structural in nature (e.g., they were all
part of the senior leadership team), but just because the coaching
was directed at the top of the house does not necessarily mean that
the coaching initiative was strategic. Let™s now turn to answering the
question about what makes a coaching initiative strategic.

Criteria for Coaching as a Strategic Initiative

The missing ingredient in three of these four stories is understand-
ing how coaching created value for the business (the jury is still out
114 Coaching That Counts

with Mark, and we pick up the rest of the PharmaQuest story in the
next chapter). In order for coaching to deliver on its value promise
to both individuals and organizations, the coaching initiative must
be designed and managed as a strategic initiative and, as such, meet
the following criteria:

Sponsorship for coaching must be sustained and unwavering.
The strategic needs of the business must be articulated and
Clear goals for the initiative must be set that link to the strate-
gic needs.
The outcomes of the coaching initiative must be evaluated to
determine if the initiative delivered on its value promise.
The initiative must be actively managed in a way that respects
the privacy of the coaching relationships.

Let™s examine each of these areas in more detail and look ahead
to see how the subsequent chapters illuminate these critical criteria.

Sponsorship for Coaching Must Be Sustained and Unwavering

Sponsoring a coaching initiative may be done at many levels in the
organization and requires more than just paying for the coaches.
Sponsorship takes on several responsibilities. The sponsor has
decided to make an investment of time and money that will have
value to the business. These investments must be managed, and the
value must be realized. Many people will look to the sponsor for
leadership and guidance on how best to manage and participate in
the coaching initiative. Business conditions change and sometimes
unexpectedly worsen. The sponsor cannot ¬‚inch at the continued
investment in coaching. Sponsorship must be sustained in order for
the value to be realized, and keep in mind that this value may take
more than a year to be realized. The mentality of managing quarter
to quarter or having all ¬nancials neatly tied up in a bow every ¬scal
year will not work for coaching.
Coaching as a Strategic Initiative 115

Sponsors are also champions. They must be perceived as active,
visible advocates of the coaching initiative and articulate the bene-
¬ts that will come from coaching. Sponsors must educate themselves
about what coaching is (and is not). They have taken on the respon-
sibility, whether they accept it or not, of driving the value of coach-
ing to the business. They must understand the strategic needs of the
business and how coaching will address these needs. The next
chapter explores the role of the sponsor for the PharmaQuest coach-
ing initiative. We will see how sponsorship was put at risk by not
covering some of the bases just discussed.
Sponsorship may be viewed as a capability, rather than as just a
person. Spreading sponsorship more broadly in the organization
expands the ownership of coaching and spreads the wealth of
knowledge about the kind of value coaching can deliver. Governance
bodies comprising leaders who are chartered with oversight for
coaching can be an effective way to expand sponsorship in an orga-
nization. Chapter 9 discusses how to leverage a governance body to
sustain sponsorship of a coaching initiative.

The Strategic Needs of the Business Must Be Articulated
and Shared

Launching a coaching initiative, or any strategic initiative for that
matter, requires leaders to clearly articulate the strategic needs of the
business. These needs must be communicated, shared, and widely
accepted by others in the organization. These actions cannot be
taken lightly; in fact, many leadership teams do not adequately artic-
ulate and share the strategic needs of the business. Clare™s team is a
case in point. Every leader had an important issue to address with
his or her respective coach. These issues varied, based on their recent
experiences and leadership roles in the organization. The company
president™s issue struck right to the heart of this point: how to align
his leadership team to what he believed was the most critical strate-
gic issue the company faced.
116 Coaching That Counts

Conducting a needs assessment for the organization is often
required to understand the deeper, strategic needs of an organiza-
tion. The rationale for this assessment is similar to the rationale for
conducting needs assessments for individual coaching clients: to get
below the surface and get past presenting issues. The next chapter
reviews several ways of conducting a needs assessment and explores
the consequences of skipping these assessments for gaining value
from coaching. We will learn that a lot hangs in the balance. Without
a needs assessment, it is dif¬cult to see how coaching is part of a
strategic solution for the company. Coaching may not get the trac-
tion it needs, and sponsorship may be put at risk.

Clear Goals for the Initiative Must Be Set That Link to
the Strategic Needs

A line of sight must be drawn from the coaching initiative to the
strategic needs of the business. Realistic and achievable goals for
coaching are set that have a direct bearing on addressing these strate-
gic needs. In all likelihood, coaching will be only a part of the
solution, but without drawing this line of sight, the potential
contribution of coaching becomes opaque. Drawing this link to the
strategic needs also provides a ¬rm foundation later on for isolating
the effects coaching has on the business from other potential in¬‚u-
encing factors.
Goals for coaching that are not linked to the business will have
little value as time wears on. Month by month, the investment in
coaching builds and the gap between the investment and the
expected payoff widens. The chorus of senior leaders questioning
the value of coaching gets louder. In the next chapter, we see how
linking coaching goals to the business opens new doors to increase
the traction of coaching in the organization. A business case for-
mally establishes the value of coaching. Decisions about initiative
scope and timing can be better made. It becomes clearer how to best
integrate coaching with other HR and business initiatives to maxi-
mize the bene¬t of all initiatives.
Coaching as a Strategic Initiative 117

Goals that are developed for a coaching initiative must go beyond
simply aiming for better learning or leaders having increased insight.
From a business perspective, learning and insight are not enough.
Applying what is learned and taking action on insights is required
in order for the business to bene¬t. Sights can be set even higher for
coaching. Goals can specify business impact areas such as increased
productivity or reduced costs. A goal can be set for having coaching
provide a satisfactory ROI. Chapter 12 explores how a company
articulated a clear strategic need: penetrating the consumer elec-
tronics market for point-of-sale optical scanners. Objectives for
coaching were set that had a direct bearing on this strategic need.
Monetary bene¬ts were documented and the ROI calculated. This
chapter explores the mechanics of evaluation and how to build
credibility for the analysis.

The Outcomes of the Coaching Initiative Must Be Evaluated to
Determine if the Initiative Delivered on Its Value Promise

Hope springs eternal. Without an evaluation architecture in place,
it is dif¬cult to know whether coaching delivered on its value
promise. Leaders may hope that it did deliver value, but it is dif¬-
cult to bank on hope alone. Evaluation objectives are developed that
¬‚ow from the initiative goals. In this way, the line of sight is extended
from the overall strategic goals of the business to the evaluation
objectives of coaching. The evaluation of coaching then has a direct
bearing on achieving business results. Chapter 12 provides an
example of how this can be done in a way that shows monetary as
well as intangible bene¬ts. ROI was the icing on the cake.
An ROI evaluation has bene¬ts in and of itself: there is an ROI to
ROI. This message is brought home in Chapter 11 as the evaluation
strategy was developed for a company. The soundness of this strat-
egy sets up the payoff punch for gaining results illustrated in
Chapter 12. Evaluation is not an after-market accessory. Rather, eval-
uation is most effective when it is built into the fabric of the initia-
tive. Interim evaluations are taken as the coaching progresses to nip
118 Coaching That Counts

problems in the bud. Corrective actions can be taken that will
increase the overall value of the coaching initiative. Managers of the
initiative watch program expenses like a hawk, knowing that a ¬nal
accounting will be made and that costs will be compared to the
return. Consequently, managers will continue to drive down costs,
which will ultimately increase the ROI.
Not everyone is looking for monetary bene¬ts or an ROI from
coaching. In fact, this is usually the case. Just knowing that leaders
successfully applied what they gained from coaching to their work
responsibilities may be suf¬cient. Chapter 13 explores how coach-
ing may be evaluated in terms of application, rather than by mon-
etary terms. The case study shows how to best plan for this type of
evaluation and the major decision areas that must be addressed
along the way.

The Initiative Must Be Actively Managed in a Way That Respects
the Privacy of the Coaching Relationships

Managing a coaching initiative is like doing a high-wire act in the
circus. You must have excellent balance between managing the
coaching initiative and honoring the privacy of the coaching rela-
tionships. One misstep in either direction and you can come crash-
ing to the ¬‚oor (or hopefully the safety net). If you do not set a
strategic context for coaching then you cannot reasonably expect
coaching to deliver strategic value. However, if you micromanage
coaching relationships the privacy and integrity of the relationships
may be compromised. Executive coaching is a high visibility activ-
ity”everyone is watching. When the executive coaching initiative
has successfully completed and you make it to the other platform at
the end of the high wire, there may be cheers, or most likely, quiet
recognition that the initiative was effectively managed. How do you
as the initiative manager strike this balance? Chapter 9 speaks to
those who manage coaching initiatives by presenting the best prac-
tices that have been observed during formal evaluations of coach-
ing. In one case, a manager set up signposts for how coaching would
Coaching as a Strategic Initiative 119

progress in the organization. The manager then asked each client
and coach to record the date when each signpost was reached. In
this way, the manager tracked the progress of each coaching rela-
tionship without getting into the private content of their work.
Chapter 9 also introduces the role of coaching companies.
Coaching companies work with many different client organizations
and can be an excellent source of best practices. These best practices
are valuable to the client company in that the overall value of coach-
ing can be improved. Coaching companies also provide a valuable
service to the coaches. They perform the consulting services, such as
client relationship management, contracting, billing, and gaining
extension work, that coaches are unwilling or unable to perform
themselves. Chapter 10 is dedicated to helping coaches sort out how
to be an effective consultant, if they so desire. Earning more coach-
ing work in an organization requires more”and different”actions
than simply providing great coaching. For coaches who do not wish
to be consultants, coaching companies are waiting in the wings.

The Cast of Players”and Their Responsibilities

As these stories have unfolded, new players have emerged. We started
with the coach and the client. At the close of this section, we ¬nd
ourselves peaking behind the scenes to see what™s next, and new roles
have emerged: the sponsor of coaching, governance bodies, the
manager of the coaching initiative, providers of coaching services,
and the evaluation specialist. Let™s look brie¬‚y at the top ¬ve roles
and the responsibilities for each of those who ful¬ll these roles for
a coaching initiative.

The Sponsor of Coaching

Provides the overall strategic direction for coaching
Ensures that the coaching initiative will impact a strategic need
of the business
Provides funding and resources for the initiative
120 Coaching That Counts

Evaluates progress and makes decisions regarding signi¬cant
changes to the original deployment plan
Continues to be an active, visible advocate of coaching
Organizes, and often leads, a governance body that oversees
coaching as a strategic initiative

Governance Body

Provides direction to the initiative manager
Performs “blocking and tackling” for the initiative, removing
barriers and opening doors
Makes major decisions about design and deployment
Ensures that coaching is appropriately integrated with other
Oversees the evaluation of the initiative

The Manager of the Coaching Initiative

Develops the project plan, the evaluation plan, and the deploy-
ment plan
Makes the day-to-day decisions regarding the initiative
Facilitates the governance body meetings, setting the agenda,
cueing up the decisions to be made, and providing periodic
updates on progress
Periodically meets with the coaches, the coaching company,
and/or the broker to gain their perspective on progress
Manages the communications activities so that people are
appropriately informed of the coaching initiative, its progress,
and accomplishments

Coaching Companies

Educate potential clients about the value of coaching and the
organizational requirements for a coaching initiative
Contract with the client; agree on the investment, scope, and
Coaching as a Strategic Initiative 121

Share best practices and thought leadership for designing and
managing coaching initiatives
Qualify coaches and ensure that successful matches are made
between coaches and clients
Partner with the initiative manager to manage the deployment
of coaching and, if appropriate, determine how to expand
coaching to others in the organization

The Evaluation Specialist

Provides expertise on setting objectives for coaching and deter-
mining how to evaluate success
Develops an evaluation architecture for the life cycle of the
coaching initiative, which includes all data collection instru-
ments and materials
Conducts interim evaluations and recommends how to
improve the deployment of coaching
Performs the ¬nal evaluation that is guided by the evaluation
Recommends how to improve the impact of coaching and
leadership development

This cast of characters must work in unison to deliver on the value
promise of coaching. If any of these roles is left out or not success-
fully performed, the entire ability of coaching to deliver value may
be compromised. If sponsorship wanes, then people in the organi-
zation will begin to shift their time and resources to other endeav-
ors that enjoy stronger sponsorship. Without a governance body, the
coaching initiative will lack the visibility and broad-based owner-
ship required for success. Without a strong manager, the coaching
initiative will quickly dissolve into a chaotic collection of coaching
conversations. Brokers who do not leverage their expertise deprive
organizations of taking advantage of best practices. Not inviting an
evaluation specialist to the party leaves the punch line hanging and
people asking: “What value did coaching create?”
122 Coaching That Counts

Managing Value Creation

The stories presented in this section illustrated how coaching ini-
tiatives created value for the individual being coached and, conse-
quently, for the organization. In order for coaching to be sustained
and to grow as a value-added profession, it must create value in both
camps because individuals who do not feel that coaching is valuable
will not sign up with a coach, and companies that do not gain value
from coaching will no longer sponsor it. It is therefore important to
think of coaching as more than just a string of coaching relation-
ships. Coaching is a strategic initiative that expands leadership capa-
bility. As a strategic initiative, coaching can be managed in a way that
honors the individual coaching relationships and drives value from
these relationships to the business. Individual value and organiza-
tional value are not mutually exclusive: each is enhanced by the
The Leading with Insight model shows that as the coaching rela-
tionship evolves, new doors open for individuals. New levels of
insight are tapped. Leadership styles expand, and new sources of
value are created. These developments produce big dividends for the
organization as well. Until now, people sponsoring, managing, or
participating in coaching initiatives did not have an effective way of
capturing the monetary value of coaching. The subsequent chapters
in this book show how to create the strategic context for coaching,
to capture the monetary bene¬ts of coaching, to isolate these effects
from other potential in¬‚uencing factors, and to calculate the return
on investment. The practical tools, best practices, and methodolo-
gies in this book are proven to create bottom-line value from
leadership coaching.
Creating Context and Purpose
for Coaching

Coaching has proven to be effective in developing people to assume
greater leadership roles. Section One tells the stories of four such
people as they utilized coaching to springboard their careers and
self-development. The coach and client deserve all the credit for
making such great progress; however, these stories could have taken
a different turn if these coaching relationships were not so strongly
grounded in the organization. In order for coaching to ¬‚ourish,
many choices have to be made about creating the right context
for coaching. As we will learn later with PharmaQuest, rushing in to
initiate coaching with several leaders without ¬rst setting the strate-
gic context for the initiative can have unforeseen and unwanted

Choice and Context for Coaching

For most businesses, developing people is a means to an end”not
the end itself. Investing in the development of people must return
value to the organization. Developing leaders raises the stakes given
the higher expectations for how leaders will impact the organiza-
tion. A lot is riding on how quickly leaders develop to the point at
which they can assume greater responsibilities. Coaching adds value
by accelerating the development process and focusing development
on the most salient and higher impact areas for the leaders.

124 Coaching That Counts

One way of looking at the organizational context for leadership
development is with a supply and demand model. Ideally, an
organization wants to achieve a balance between the leaders it needs
(demand) and the leaders it has (supply). In a balanced situation, if
the demand for leaders increases, then the company has a ready
supply of leaders who can meet this demand. In today™s turbulent
business climate, the demand for leaders can spike or tank with little
notice. When either of these situations happens, a lot of stress can
be placed on the leader supply process.
When the demand for leaders spikes (i.e., the demand rapidly and
unpredictably increases), there may not be enough leaders on hand
to meet the demand. People in the organization may be tapped to
take on leadership roles they are not quite ready for. In these cases,
added support such as coaching must be given to these new leaders
so they may succeed. Another source of leaders comes from recruit-
ing leaders from other companies. In these cases, newly hired leaders
will need support to readily ¬t into the new organization. Whether
the leader is sourced internally or externally, coaching can be highly
effective in providing the support required for these leaders to
succeed. Coaches can enable the newly appointed leader to more
quickly develop a winning leadership style and gain acceptance from
others for the new role. Coaches can work with a newly hired leader
to effectively adapt his or her leadership style to the company™s
culture and business priorities.
When the demand for leaders tanks (i.e., the demand suddenly
drops), several leaders may ¬nd themselves without a position or
underutilized in their positions. CEOs may issue the “abandon ship”
order precipitating the exodus of many employees. This situation
would seem to eliminate the need for developing leaders, let alone
coaching them. In fact, this is what typically happens. The experi-
ence of Nortel Networks, however, suggests a different and perhaps
better path. In 2001, the markets in which Nortel Networks was a
dominant player all took a nosedive. Over the course of a year or so,
half of their 100,000 employees were laid off. The business and HR
leaders reasoned that during these extremely challenging times, the
Creating Context and Purpose for Coaching 125

Transitioning Selecting


Managing Developing
Figure 8.1 Leadership Supply Process

need for leadership was even greater. Moreover, these markets would
come back at some point, and they knew they had to have the right
leaders in place to hit the ground running when the business climate
improved. Nortel Networks stayed the course with its coaching ini-
tiative during 2001 for more than 70 of its top emerging leaders.
This strategy had an immediate payoff in terms of more effectively
managing through the tough transition and a longer-term payoff of
having a strong bench of leaders ready to seize new market oppor-
Coaching is but one development activity in the greater leader
supply process, and it is important to understand this entire process
so that coaching can be placed in an organizational context. A leader
supply process has four major components, as illustrated in Figure
8.1: selecting, developing, managing, and transitioning. Organiza-
tions may slice and dice these four components in different ways,
but all four will be present in any leader supply process.

Selecting leaders. Leaders may be selected internally from within
the company or recruited externally from other companies.
Generally, internal promotions are favored over recruiting. The
track record of hiring leaders, especially senior ones, is not
encouraging. These leaders come with a high price tag and
often struggle to adapt to the company™s culture. Assessment
strategies have proven effective in making a better match
126 Coaching That Counts

between a candidate and the culture. Most selection decisions
are based on a formal assessment process. The “good old boy”
network approach has been largely (but not completely)
displaced. Ideally, the assessment tools, such as competency
models, are based on the same criteria used for development
and performance management. For external candidates, assess-
ment centers are being increasingly used to make successful
selection decisions. For internal candidates, rating and ranking
systems may be used to identify high-potential leaders, point-
ing out who is ready immediately and who will be ready soon
for promotion. Assessment information based on competen-
cies or behaviors can be extremely valuable to the coach
working with the leader. The leader™s areas of strength and
improvement opportunities can be suggested by assessment
data and provide a rich foundation for coaching.
Developing leaders. There are many different approaches to
leadership development. Many of the more traditional,
classroom-based approaches are being replaced with more
experiential activities such as action learning and job rotations.
Action learning sessions involve leaders who are drawn from
across the business enterprise to work collaboratively for a week
or so on a real business issue. Their work is facilitated by
someone who works with the client (the person who owns the
issue) to set the objectives and then guides the team activities
to reach these objectives. Job rotations involve having leaders
take on a new position for a limited amount of time, usually
less than one year. The intention is for leaders to learn how to
quickly assess new situations, set goals, and energize a team to
achieve the goals.
Whatever approaches to development are used, coaching is
emerging as an effective way for leaders to re¬‚ect on their expe-
riences and to better integrate their learnings from a wide
variety of sources. Leaders do not learn only by doing; they also
learn by re¬‚ecting on what they have done. Coaches can accel-
erate the re¬‚ection process and help leaders focus on the most
Creating Context and Purpose for Coaching 127

salient aspects of their experiences, drawing valuable lessons
that can shape near-term behavior and long-term leadership
style. For example, many organizations are grappling with how
to ensure that their leaders see the big picture and work col-
laboratively across organizational boundaries (“silos”). The big
picture here refers to being able to think strategically, decipher
major market trends, and see what needs to be done to opti-
mize business opportunities. Leaders must also be silo busters,
letting go of their parochial perspectives and doing what is
right to optimize the entire business enterprise, not just their
own area. Coaches provide an external, more objective per-
spective that can take the blinders off leaders so they see more
of the world around them. Coaches open up possibilities for
the client to improve collaboration with other leaders and build
effective cross-silo networks.
Managing leaders. Organizations typically have an annual
schedule of performance appraisal reviews. This is often the
only time people receive feedback on their performance, and
even in these cases, the primary purpose of the review is often
to make compensation decisions, rather than to open up devel-
opment opportunities. It is challenging to have an open and
frank discussion of performance when this discussion forms
the basis for decisions about money and possibly promotion
eligibility. It is important to separate feedback for the purpose
of development from performance evaluation feedback.
Mixing the two in one conversation waters down the impact of
the feedback. This leads to performance appraisals becoming
safe, relatively comfortable pro forma conversations in which it
is easier for managers to sugarcoat performance issues rather
than deliver honest feedback. It is little wonder that develop-
ment planning that is based on these reviews often fails to hit
its mark. Managers feel relieved that the annual review has been
completed with no ruf¬‚ed feathers, and the subordinate is left
scratching his or her head about what just happened. These
data hold little value for a coach to gain insights into a client™s
128 Coaching That Counts

development needs. As a result, most coaches will have to
conduct their own performance assessments at the beginning
of a coaching relationship. Tools such as multirater feedback
discussions, leadership style surveys, and others will be used to
help the coach and client pinpoint the most critical issues on
which to work.
Transitioning leaders. Transition decisions about leaders are
based on individual performance and capability, and organiza-
tional need. A formal succession planning process is intended
to look into the near future and line up leaders who can poten-
tially be promoted into certain positions. Leaders are often
characterized as “ready now” or “ready in one or two years.”
Positions are ranked according to their criticality to the busi-
ness. The outcome of succession planning is to ensure that
leadership bench strength is queued up to those positions that
are most critical to the company. Coaching has proven effec-
tive in two ways: (1) accelerating the readiness of leaders to
assume new roles and (2) helping leaders hit the ground
running when they assume these roles. For example, when
Clare became a VP (in Chapter 6), she was faced with many
challenges, not the least of which was gaining support from her
peers for the business development opportunities she pro-
posed. Her coach provided her with a more structured way to
assess people™s actions, understand their intentions, and tap
into intuition to effectively in¬‚uence others.
Of course, another transitional path for a leader is to be sepa-
rated from the company for performance reasons. In some
cases, leaders who have performance issues are assigned a
coach, even though the decision has pretty much been made to
separate the leader from the company. This is when coaching
becomes “coach-out,” and coaches need to be aware”and
beware”of these situations. If the situation is perceived as
unsalvageable, the coach must ask the sponsor of the coaching
about the true intentions for initiating coaching. If it turns out
to be a coach-out situation, then all parties must honestly come
Creating Context and Purpose for Coaching 129

to grips with the situation. If this does not happen, then it is
best for the coach to disengage from the coaching relationship.
This really comes down to a matter of integrity; disengaging
from this relationship will avoid a lot of frustration and hurt
feelings on the part of all involved.

Case Study: Launching Coaching at PharmaQuest

PharmaQuest (a ¬ctitious name), a large pharmaceutical company,
grew rapidly through acquisitions until there was no other company
left to buy that would propel its growth. Organic growth was the
next challenge. The investment community was interested in how
this new global powerhouse would create new drugs. What was in
the tank ready to go to market and what was under development?
Internally, the company was in near chaos, and the leaders seemed
shell-shocked as to what to do next. Some leaders abandoned ship:
about 10 percent of the leaders had been recruited out of the
company in the last six months to go to other ¬rms. The COO and
HR senior VP agreed that they needed to take immediate action:
open leadership positions had to be ¬lled, leaders had to be retained,
and promising new compounds had to be developed.
Unfortunately, over the past several years, little in the way of
leadership development had been undertaken. For the most part,
leadership development was viewed as costly, and the business
would be better served if the money was deposited in the acquisi-
tion war chest. PharmaQuest now seemed to be paying for its
past sins of not developing leaders. Now it was time to play
catch-up. Executive coaching was viewed as a way to accelerate the
development of leaders to take on new challenges and refocus them-
selves on bringing new products to market. Moreover, this program
would be expanded to all support areas, including HR, IT, and
The HR senior VP viewed this as an opportunity to demonstrate
the tangible value that his HR team could provide to the business.
They identi¬ed more than 80 leaders in the organization who were
130 Coaching That Counts

to be assigned coaches. They contracted with an international
coaching company to provide the coaching. Their mandate was to
get the leaders to build more effective teams and more effectively
collaborate across the silos of the business units and functions. Ulti-
mately, it was assumed that these improvements in leadership
behaviors would accelerate the pipeline of new pharmaceutical
products. The HR team launched other developmental initiatives for
the leaders under the umbrella of Leadership Quest. Quarterly lead-
ership workshops featured speeches by thought leaders and time for
participants to discuss what they had learned. Cross-functional
action learning teams were formed to work on speci¬c problems
identi¬ed by the COO and other senior leaders.
Twelve coaches began working with the 80 or so clients and agreed
to conduct three 1-hour sessions per month for half a year. Given
the lack of recent assessment data, each coach conducted a multi-
rater feedback assessment for each client. Although gathering and
analyzing the data was time consuming, the data suggested devel-
opment areas that the clients needed to address ¬rst. About halfway
through the six-month coaching process, the COO asked the HR
senior VP for a status update. The HR senior VP was able to report
that the coaching was on schedule and on budget and that the feed-
back from the clients was positive. The coaching initiative was being
well managed. The COO, however, was asking a different set of ques-
tions. He wanted to know about the impact of the coaching, not how
well it was being managed: How many more leaders will be ready
for promotion? How many more compounds will be ready for ¬rst-
stage testing? The HR senior VP replied that he did not have data to
back up his assertions, but he did feel that the coaching and other
leadership activities were contributing to the business. Intuitively,
the COO agreed, but given the level of investment in leadership
development, he wanted more concrete evidence that business ben-
e¬ts were being realized.
What drove the COO to ask the question about value was that,
while the comments of the coaching clients were positive, there were
questions about whether the coaching was hitting the mark. Stress
Creating Context and Purpose for Coaching 131

seemed to be increasing, and some of the major sources of con-
¬‚ict seemed to be increasing, not decreasing. The coaching, and for
that matter Leadership Quest, seemed to be hitting symptoms and
not bedrock problems. Feeling better about the problems was not
the same as ¬xing the problems, and ¬xing the problems was the
order of the day if business bene¬ts were to be gained from the
investment in coaching.
Business bene¬ts from coaching can be realized if the appropri-
ate context for coaching has been set. The seeds of success for coach-
ing are planted at the planning stage. It is incumbent on both the
sponsors of coaching (in this case the COO and HR senior VP), the
manager of the coaching initiative, and the deliverers of coaching
(in this case the international coaching company) to establish the
context for coaching. What could have gone differently at Pharma-
Quest to set the context for coaching? This question is answered in
terms of the three critical success factors for setting the context for

Critical Success Factors for Setting the Context
for Coaching

There are three critical success factors for setting the context for

1. A needs assessment that shows how coaching is part of the
2. Coaching objectives that are speci¬cally linked to business
3. A business case for coaching that includes investment require-
ments and business bene¬ts of coaching

Each of these critical success factors will be discussed in the
context of the case study. We will now turn back the clock in our
case study.
132 Coaching That Counts

A Needs Assessment That Shows How Coaching Is Part of
the Solution

The COO and the HR senior VP tacitly assumed that coaching
would contribute to achieving their goals. They felt that because
there had been so little recent leadership development, just about
any development at that point would be appreciated. However,
people can appreciate a learning experience without that experience
impacting the business or achieving business goals. The real ques-
tion is: What contributions can the coaching initiative make to
achieving business goals?
Answering this question requires an assessment that goes beyond
the individual assessments that are typically a part of the coaching
process. Table 8.1 summarizes some of the most common assess-
ments for both individuals and organizations. Coaches will rou-
tinely conduct intake interviews, conduct or review multisource
feedback, and examine standardized test results. Some may have
their client™s write autobiographies. Coaches begin the coaching
relationship on a ¬rm footing of understanding the client™s issues.
A similar approach to assessment must be done at the organization
level in order for coaching”as a strategic initiative”to positively
impact the organization and contribute to achieving strategic goals.
Several organization-focused assessments are summarized in Table
8.1. Realistically, coaches don™t have the time or expertise to conduct
an organizational assessment, however, coaches can advocate that
such an assessment be conducted if it hasn™t already, and certainly
coaches can review the data from organization assessments that have
been done.
Let™s return to PharmaQuest and see how expanding the needs
assessment to explore organizational issues helped to hone the
objectives for coaching. Table 8.2 presents two of PharmaQuest™s
business goals, summarizes the needs assessments, and describes the
coaching goals. The ¬rst business goal, increasing the number of
leaders ready for promotion, was further explored with a series of
focus groups and day-in-the-life studies. These assessments revealed
Creating Context and Purpose for Coaching 133

Table 8.1 Needs Assessment Activities

Assessment Activity Description
Intake Interview The initial interview conducted by the coach with the
client. This interview, which can last several hours,
delves into the client™s life history, professional
background, perceived strengths and development
opportunities, and charts an initial course of action.
Actions typically include additional data collection.
Multisource, multirater Data about a client™s behaviors and performance are
collected from his or her manager, peers, and
subordinates to provide a variety of perspectives. Data
are summarized to focus on themes, observed
strengths, and development opportunities.
Standardized Tests Standardized tests enable comparisons between the
client and others who have taken the same test. Tests
can be differentiated from surveys in that tests have
been statistically calibrated (e.g., validity and reliability)
so that norms can be established. The Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator, for example, can provide insights into a
client™s personal styles and preferences.
Autobiography The client writes his or her life history, beginning with
early childhood and continuing to the present day.
Data are reviewed to discover patterns in the client™s
life that continue to play out in his or her current
professional situation. These patterns, if dysfunctional,
may offer insights into more root cause issues of
Focus Groups Several people, typically 10 to 12, are organized into a
group to review and discuss a speci¬c topic or issue. A
facilitator follows a protocol of questions to guide the
group™s inquiry into the organizational topic or issue.
Focus group members are drawn from a diversity of
backgrounds to provide a wide variety of perspectives
and create “out-of-the-box” thinking.
Day-in-the-Life Studies The consultant will spend the entire day as the
employee™s “shadow,” observing everything the person
does that day. The consultant will be as unobtrusive as
possible and collect data on how the client interacts
134 Coaching That Counts

Table 8.1 Continued

Assessment Activity Description
with others, conducts meetings, makes decisions, and
so forth. Observing call centers or customer care centers
can be especially revealing about operational problems.
Process Mapping The consultant will construct a “box-and-wire” diagram
that describes the leader™s process for doing business.
This enables the coach to better understand the
business context for the leader™s issues and the leader™s
role in the business.
Organization Structure The consultant reviews organization charts and
Analysis documents the major responsibilities for the key people
who interact with the client. These data can be reviewed
for span-of-control, diagramming power structures,
planning for data collection, and many other uses.
Customized Surveys Customized surveys and interviews are used to explore
and Interviews key themes and issues that are speci¬c to the
organization. Interviewing selected leaders, for
example, may be useful to follow-up on issues
uncovered during process mapping.
Six Sigma or Quality Most organizations have an institutionalized quality or
Improvement Projects continuous improvement program. Six Sigma
methodology is the latest in a long line of such
programs. Quality projects are an excellent source of
information about a company™s operational issues and
how these issues have been addressed. This
information can be reviewed as part of an overall effort
to learn more about the company and its key
performance issues.

that the leaders were struggling to manage change in their respec-
tive organizations. Their employee™s weren™t sure what was going to
happen next and the overall level of communications was quite low.
The leaders were perceived as bottlenecks that kept employees
distant from the more senior leaders of the organization and from
fully understanding the business strategy. As a result of the assess-
ment, it was decided that leaders would participate in change
Creating Context and Purpose for Coaching 135

Table 8.2 Setting Coaching Objectives at PharmaQuest

Business Goals Needs Assessment Coaching Objectives
1. Increase the Leaders lack the requisite Each client successfully
number of leaders ready change management skills adapts the change
for promotion to open to embrace challenging management principles
leadership positions new opportunities, and practices to his or
diagnose organization her speci¬c situation.
needs, and engage others
to meet these needs.
• Focus groups
• Day-in-the-life studies
2. Increase the number Leaders lack role clarity, Each client enacts his or
of products ready for which limits their ability her new responsibilities
the ¬rst stage of testing to work collaboratively quickly and
with other leaders and collaboratively with
compromises their ability other leaders.
to provide direction for
their direct reports.
• Organization structure

management workshops to gain the requisite skills. As part of the
follow-up to these workshops, the leaders would work with their
respective coaches to adapt the change management principles and
practices to their work environment.
The second business goal was to increase the number of products
ready for ¬rst-stage testing. A series of “turf battles” had broken out
amongst the leaders as they jockeyed for position in the leadership
hierarchy. No one was being well served while these battles con-
tinued. An organization structure analysis revealed ¬‚aws in the
design of the organization that muddied the waters about who was
supposed to be responsible for what. As a result of the assessment,
roles and responsibilities were remapped and more closely aligned
with the product-to-market business process. Leaders then looked
to their coaches to help them hit the ground running with their
new responsibilities, and in some cases, to rebuild some bridges to
other leaders.
136 Coaching That Counts

Coaching Objectives That Are Speci¬cally Linked to
Business Goals

We just learned how expanding the assessment process to include
more organizational issues can open the door to developing coach-
ing objectives that are speci¬cally linked to business goals. Coach-
ing clients in change management will accelerate their readiness for
promotion opportunities (Goal #1) and coaching clients in enact-
ing their new roles will enable them to work more effectively
together to develop new compounds more quickly (Goal #2). This
is not to say that the only objectives for coaching are those that can
be linked to business goals. Indeed, clients will have personal and
professional objectives for coaching that do not have an immediate
bearing on a business goal. The point here is that business goals and
individual objectives are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, are two
sides of the same development coin. The ¬rst section of this book
provides some wonderful examples:

In Chapter 3 Jane utilized coaching to get more focused on top
priorities and work more effectively with her colleagues. As a
result she was more effective dealing with the challenges of the
merger and made the merger more successful (business goal).
In Chapter 4 Jack struggled with his new promotion and utilized
coaching to improve his partnering and collaboration skills.
As a result he was better able to meet customer needs, improve
customer satisfaction and increase revenue (business goal).
In Chapter 5 Mark developed a new set of more effective lead-
ership behaviors that were adapted to speci¬c situations. As a
result his team™s on-time performance metric improved (busi-
ness goal) and employee retention increased (another business
In Chapter 6 Clare utilized coaching to improve communica-
tion and in¬‚uencing skills. As a result she more readily gained
approval for her business proposals, which in turn improved
the ¬nancial results of the business (business goal).
Creating Context and Purpose for Coaching 137

These stories illustrate the two-way street nature of a successful
coaching initiative. Value propositions for both the individuals and
the organization must be met. Ultimately, it is the business that is
making the investment and this investment must have an acceptable
return. All of which brings us to the business case.

A Business Case for Coaching That Includes Investment
Requirements and Business Bene¬ts of Coaching

A business case is a document that captures all of the relevant infor-
mation for deciding whether to invest in a coaching initiative. This
information includes how coaching will contribute to achieving
business goals, the scope, the expected bene¬ts, and required invest-
ments. The business case provides a foundation and direction for
the design of the initiative and consists of ¬ve major sections:
executive summary, contribution to business goals, scope of
the coaching initiative, business impact and investment, and

Executive summary. Senior leaders in organizations who make
investment decisions rarely have time to read voluminous
reports and documents. Executive summaries express in one or
two pages only the information necessary for leaders to make
a decision about whether to proceed with the coaching initia-
tive. Preparing the executive summary is also a useful exercise
for the learning and development practitioner in that it forces
the practitioner to distill all of the material in the business case
down to its essence. This mental exercise will produce the few
key messages that have to be delivered to the business leader to
make the right decision.
Contribution to business goals. The leader™s decision to invest in
the coaching initiative will be strongly swayed by how the
initiative will contribute to achieving business goals. In this
section, these goals are presented, and the speci¬c ways in
which the coaching initiative will help achieve these goals are
138 Coaching That Counts

detailed. Achieving business goals at PharmaQuest, for
example, was constrained by leadership. The HR senior VP pre-
sented coaching as a way to accelerate putting capable leaders
in key product development positions. As a result, new
products would be developed more quickly, which the COO
identi¬ed as a top business goal.
Scope of the coaching initiative. The scope represents the bound-
ary conditions of the initiative and answers the who, what,
when questions: How many executives will be coached from
which business units or geographies, to address which kinds of
issues, and over what time frame. Given how new coaching is
a leadership development tool, it is often a good idea to
describe what coaching is to the reader. This will dispel any
misconceptions readers may have about coaching. Describing
scope conditions in the business case may help inoculate the
organization from “scope creep,” which sets in as more people
who were not originally intended to be coached end up being
coached. Or the coaching reveals additional needs for team
building, and the coaching company is authorized to launch a
series of team-building workshops. These extensions of the
original initiative design may all be good ideas, but having pro-
scribed boundaries in the business case makes it clear when
these boundaries are being crossed and supports making the
right kinds of decisions during the authorization process.
Business impact and investment. This section clari¬es the why
of conducting the coaching initiative: the bene¬ts to the busi-
ness. These bene¬ts may be intangible or monetary. Intangible
bene¬ts are important, and their value to the business cannot
be underestimated. Increasingly, however, business leaders
want to know about the potential monetary bene¬ts of devel-
opment and HR initiatives. The evaluation methodology con-
tained in this book clearly shows how the monetary bene¬ts of
coaching can be isolated from other potential in¬‚uencing
factors. Presenting monetary bene¬ts, however, inevitably
raises the question about how much it cost to produce the
Creating Context and Purpose for Coaching 139

bene¬ts. The projected cost of the coaching initiative must also
be presented. The projected cost is fully loaded and includes
items such as facilities cost, opportunity cost (the time of
people to participate in coaching), vendor costs, telecommuni-
cations cost, and all other cost factors. ROI can be forecast
based on projected bene¬ts and cost, noting key assumptions.
Recommendations. This section gets to the crux of the matter:
making the decision to proceed with the coaching initiative.
These recommendations outline the decision areas. In the case
of PharmaQuest, for example, recommendations could have
been made about the scope (80 clients) and key activities
(multirater assessments). Given that coaching, or even
leadership development for that matter, was new to the
company, a pilot coaching project could have been recom-
mended. The coaching pilot would have involved fewer people
(say ¬ve to ten) and limited the initial risk to the company.
The pilot project could have been evaluated, lessons learned,
and then a larger initiative could have been deployed more

Of course, all of these good ideas were bypassed by the HR senior
VP at PharmaQuest. The COO and HR senior VP had already
agreed on proceeding with the coaching, so why bother with pro-
jecting the business impact, offering different options, or for that
matter, why do the business case at all? For the simple reason that
completing the business case helps create the organizational context
for coaching to be successful. When the COO asked the question
about the value coaching was creating, the HR senior VP was not
prepared to answer the question. Moreover, if the HR senior VP had
completed the business case, it would have been clear for everyone
how this value was to be created. Preparations could have been
made, evaluations planned, and impact on the business goals
described. The business case is also the cornerstone for the design
of the initiative. Preparing the business case precipitates critical
deliberations about the scope and impact of the coaching initiative,
140 Coaching That Counts

which must be taken into account in order to successfully design the
coaching initiative.

Designing a Coaching Initiative for Impact

Designing a coaching initiative is more than just stringing together
a series of coaching relationships. The whole is different from the
sum of its parts. The successful initiative design will secure strong
sponsorship for the initiative, set clear boundaries in determining
the scope of the initiative, integrate coaching with other develop-
mental and/or HR processes, and de¬ne criteria to evaluate the
success of the initiative.


Sponsorship boils down to sustained commitment. A coaching ini-
tiative, or any development initiative for that matter, must have a
sponsor who is willing and able to see the initiative through to com-
pletion. Together, the sponsor, who is often a senior business leader,
and the learning leader commit to successfully designing and
deploying coaching. This commitment is a two-way street. The
sponsor is committing to invest in coaching, and the learning leader
is committing to maximize the value of this investment. The busi-
ness case (previously discussed) formalizes these commitments and
provides a foundation for designing a coaching initiative with
Sponsorship from a business leader must be earned. The key for
a learning leader to earn sponsorship is for the learning leader to
demonstrate that he or she cares about the success of the business.
Learning leaders must be students of the business, learning what
they can about business strategy, competitive position, markets,
products, services, and solutions. Increasingly, learning leaders are
business savvy and are able to articulate how the learning solution
will bene¬t the business. The days of simply taking the order for “20
Creating Context and Purpose for Coaching 141

pounds of training” are over. Learning leaders must position coach-
ing as a strategic solution required for achieving business goals.
Whether it™s creating a need for change, identifying the “burning
platform,” or highlighting the performance gap, the needs assess-
ment data can be leveraged to increase the level of sponsorship for
the coaching initiative. The quality of sponsorship is only as good
as the knowledge of the sponsor about the underlying needs for the
initiative. As we saw from the PharmaQuest situation, the COO™s
continued sponsorship of the initiative was on thin ice, partly
because the needs analysis did not dig deeply enough or in the right


Scope was de¬ned in the previous section as outlining the bound-
aries of the coaching initiative: the who, what, and when factors of
the initiative. The scope of a coaching initiative must address people,
places, and processes.


Coaching is not done in a vacuum. In the case of PharmaQuest,
coaching was one developmental initiative as part of an overall lead-
ership development effort. The more all of the developmental activ-
ities can be integrated into one cohesive effort, the greater the value
is likely to be from these activities. Integration optimizes the value
for the whole effort. What does this mean for coaching? For starters,
the coaching conversations can serve as a way for clients to re¬‚ect
on and deepen their learning from other developmental activities.
The coach, for example, can help a client re¬‚ect on how well he or
she led the action learning team to solve a product development
problem. Together, the coach and client can explore how effectively
leadership and communication skills were applied and what could
have been done differently.
142 Coaching That Counts

Coaching conversations can also bring into sharper focus the spe-
ci¬c developmental needs of each client. The client is then better
able to seek those developmental activities that best address these
needs. Coaching conversations are a journey that may end up in
some unexpected places. The starting place for a client may be, for
example, setting clearer goals for a team. As the coaching conversa-
tions dig deeper into the root causes for the lack of focus, what
emerges is not goal setting but rather the need for the client to facili-
tate stronger partnerships between team members, fostered deeper
appreciation for how the various disciplines represented on the team
can work more effectively together. The real solution and develop-
ment need for the client becomes deepening his insight into the
underlying dynamics of the team and learning how to in¬‚uence
them more effectively. The client may seek additional develop-
mental opportunities outside of the coaching sessions to address
this need.
Integrating coaching with other developmental activities is
accomplished through two major avenues: competencies and cur-
ricula. Many organizations have developed and validated a set of
competencies that de¬ne success behaviors for people in the orga-
nization. Leaders are assessed according to these competencies, and
then developmental activities, such as coaching, are offered to
address the competency gaps. For example, cross-business unit col-
laboration and business acumen are two commonly revealed com-
petency gaps. Organizations, especially larger ones, are under a great
deal of pressure to have business units that are aligned, integrated,
and focused on doing the greatest good for the entire business enter-
prise. Business units that act as a lone wolf”even if successful”are
no longer tolerated by the rest of the pack. Business unit leaders
must do more than run their own show; they must reach out to their
peers to collectively run the business enterprise, even if it means
suboptimizing the performance of their particular business unit.
Understanding the big picture of the business taxes the business
acumen of leaders. Someone who has spent his entire career in
manufacturing now has to also understand inventory and distribu-
Creating Context and Purpose for Coaching 143

tion and appreciate the special challenges facing inventory manage-
ment and the logistics of product distribution.
The learning curve for many leaders is steep, which brings us to
the curriculum. Developmental activities are meant to accelerate the
learning curve and speed a leader™s time to develop required com-
petencies. Coaching is an important piece of the curriculum, but not
the only piece. Action learning, job rotations, job shadowing, lead-
ership workshops, university courses, and other activities all make
up the curriculum for leadership development. Coaching may be
used to help leaders integrate all of their experiences, draw essential
learnings, and apply these learnings to their leadership responsibil-
ities. For example, a leader may be coached to build more effective
collaboration skills while she participates in an action learning team.
Coaching is most effective when it is integrated with other develop-
mental activities and grounded in a validated competency model.

Success Criteria

A central question for the design of a coaching initiative is: What
will success look like? Success can be broadly measured in two ways:
intangible and monetary bene¬ts. Intangible bene¬ts are those that
are not, or cannot, be translated into monetary terms. Just because
bene¬ts are intangible does not mean that they are not important.
In fact, the opposite is true. Intangible bene¬ts are often the most
important bene¬ts to the business. Bene¬ts such as employee
engagement, customer satisfaction, and improved teamwork
deliver real value to the organization. Coaching initiatives must
compete with other business initiatives for investment, and these
other business initiatives offer intangibles along with a monetary
return on investment. In order to be considered successful, coach-
ing initiatives must deliver well de¬ned bene¬ts.
This page intentionally left blank
Best Practices for Managing
a Successful Coaching Initiative

For two years, Wendy had advocated executive coaching for the top
100 leaders of this global large equipment manufacturer. When
Wendy ¬nally got the green light from the new CEO, she found new
meaning in the old adage: “Be careful what you wish for because you
may get it.” Wendy was challenged to provide coaching to 100 leaders
in eight countries around the world and was soon confronted with
the reality that very few companies were capable of providing glob-
ally distributed coaching services.
Wendy turned to a global coaching services provider. This
coaching company had quali¬ed more than 150 coaches according
to criteria including business experience, coaching experience, edu-
cation, and other credentials. These coaches, although mostly U.S.-
based, were drawn from other regions around the world as well and
covered most of the countries (and all of the languages) that Wendy
required. One big advantage that the broker provided to Wendy was
giving her a single point of contact to manage the delivery of all the
coaching. This was especially important, given that more than 20
coaches would be utilized over an eight-month period. Another
advantage of using this company was tapping the company™s exper-
tise in designing and managing a coaching initiative. In fact, a big
selling point for Wendy came when she reviewed the coaching
company Web site and saw how they had drawn from their practi-
cal experiences to describe four best practices for managing a suc-
cessful coaching initiative. In the months that followed the launch

146 Coaching That Counts

of the coaching initiative, Wendy worked with the coaching com-
pany to implement these ideas, which have application to all coach-
ing initiatives. These four best practices are as follows:

1. Leverage a governance body to sustain sponsorship
2. Conduct an orientation session to improve deployment
3. Set up signposts to gauge how coaching is progressing
4. Build performance evaluation into the coaching process

Leverage a Governance Body to Sustain Sponsorship

As we learned in the previous chapter, sponsorship for a coaching
initiative, like any strategic initiative, must be earned every day.
Senior leaders who sponsor coaching have so many competing inter-
ests that it is often dif¬cult for them to sustain interest and focus on
coaching. Sponsors of coaching are footing the bill, and they typi-
cally expect a return on this investment, whether monetary or intan-
gible. Sponsorship begins to wane when leaders become skeptical
that the coaching initiative will deliver the value it is supposed to
deliver. The loss of sponsorship will likely stop any plans to expand
coaching in the organization. When leaders begin asking “What
value is coaching providing the business?” it is a sign that sponsor-
ship may be at risk. If leaders see the value, they will not feel the
need to ask this question. If this question is not answered quickly,
the leaders will ¬ll in the blanks and assume that coaching is pro-
viding no discernible value. Sponsorship should never be taken for
Some strategies for sustaining sponsorship are as follows:

Decentralize sponsorship to a governance body. Given the global
nature and scope of the coaching initiative, Wendy reasoned
that a cross-business unit governance body was required to
spread the wealth of knowledge about the value of coaching at
a high and broad level in the organization. As the coaching
initiative progressed, leaders on this board, and other leaders
that they interacted with, more readily developed a sense of
Best Practices for Managing a Successful Coaching Initiative 147

ownership for coaching. This governance board also proved to
be a valuable resource to capture leaders™ expectations for the
coaching initiative. As the deployment of coaching progressed,
the board was helpful in resolving problems and overcoming
Develop and share a business case for coaching with the sponsor
or governance body. The business case states the objectives for
the coaching initiative, how coaching will address critical busi-
ness issues, the expected intangible and monetary bene¬ts, and
the required investment. The business case can be used as the
guiding light for the coaching initiative. Wendy and the project
manager from the coaching company collaborated early in
their relationship to develop a sound business case for the
coaching. For Wendy, this meant casting coaching as a business
initiative, not just an HR initiative. For the coaching company,
the coaching initiative would begin on solid footing that was
rooted in the business and, as such, was at less risk to be scaled
back or limited in scope by business leaders.
Wendy kept this business case front and center in the dis-
cussion the governance board had about the coaching initia-
tive. In part, this was done to refresh their memory about why
coaching was launched in the ¬rst place. Wendy and the gov-
ernance board shared the business case with other leaders in
the organization, which created good buzz for coaching and
added to the momentum for positive change. Coaches and
those being coached were viewed in a more positive light as the
expected business outcomes for coaching became clearer to
people. Key messages from the business case were used as the
basis for articles in the company™s newsletter about coaching.
Wendy developed talking points for leaders so they could
include information about coaching in their presentations and
conversations with employees.
Communicate success stories. The business case is just one
source of information to more broadly share in the organiza-
tion. Another powerful source of information is the collection
of individual coaching success stories (with permission of the
148 Coaching That Counts

individuals, of course). Communicating these success stories
increases the understanding of how coaching is adding value
and casts coaching in a positive light. For Wendy, this was an
especially important issue because coaching previously had a
negative connotation in her organization. For years employees
were “coached out” of organizations. Being coached became
viewed as a polite way of ¬ring people. Although the actions of
being coached out had no bearing whatsoever on the executive
coaching initiative, the fact that the word coaching is used in
both contexts was confusing to some people. Communicating
the success stories helped clear the air and cast coaching in a
positive light. Consequently, the support for coaching was
expanded, and a broader base of support for coaching was
created, which also facilitated greater ownership and sponsor-
ship for coaching.

Conduct an Orientation Session to
Improve Deployment

Wendy fully understood how challenging it would be to get the
coaching initiative off the ground. For the most part, leaders did not
understand what executive coaching was all about, and for many
people, coaching still had a negative connotation. Leaders were con-
cerned about the privacy of their coaching conversations and the
kind of relationship they would enter into with someone who was
a stranger and not an employee of the company. After all, how much
did these coaches really know about the company, its strategies, and
its competitive challenges?
One of the ¬rst decisions of the governance board was to proceed
with a one-day orientation session for the coaches and for the
leaders who were selected to be coached. This decision was not taken
lightly, given that most leaders would have to travel to the meeting,
and some of whom would be traveling from other countries.
Expenses would also have to be incurred for the coaches™ travel and
compensation for their time. The purpose of this session was
Best Practices for Managing a Successful Coaching Initiative 149

twofold: (1) to set the strategic context for coaching and (2) to suc-
cessfully launch the coaching initiative. Prereading materials were
e-mailed to the participants, which included company background
information for the coaches and biographies of the coaches and
published articles explaining executive coaching for the leaders.
Each leader was also asked in advance to select three coaches to talk
with during the orientation regarding a potential coaching relation-
ship. Wendy received this information in advance from most of
the leaders, which enabled her to better organize and facilitate the
matchmaking portion of the session. A presession conference call
was conducted with the coaches to better prepare them for the
meeting and to explain their facilitation role.
Table 9.1 summarizes the agenda for the orientation session. This
session accomplished four key objectives:

1. Coaches were grounded in the company™s strategy and culture.
Wendy distributed prereading to each coach about the
company. This information included the company™s history, its
organization, descriptions of products and services, major
markets, and industry analysts™ assessments. During the
session, coaches learned directly from the CEO and two top
business unit leaders about the strategic direction for the
company and how coaching ¬ts into the picture. They also had
the opportunity to ask questions and at least get an idea of what
the company culture was about. Having the coaches facilitate
break-out discussions contributed to their learning about the
organization and how the leaders behaved with peers.
2. Clients were prepared to begin coaching. This session was
designed as a two-way street: the leaders also had some learn-
ing to do about coaching. The prereading assignment helped
frame what executive coaching looks like and how it is being
utilized by many companies in many industries (including
theirs). The presentations by the CEO and leaders helped
clarify how coaching ¬ts into the business and the leaders™
personal development. There was ample question-and-answer


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