D'Onofrio Consulting Partners

executives in a briefing meeting

Coaching insights from those who have been coached

July 1, 2017
Carter, A., Blackman, A., Hicks, B., Williams, M. and Hay, R. (2017), Perspectives on effective coaching by those who have been coached. International Journal of Training and Development, 21: 73-91.

 

Introduction

A new study reported in the International Journal of Training and Development takes a different approach to assessing coaching outcomes. Proposing that there is a gap in the academic literature, the researchers explored unsuccessful coaching or barriers to coaching success. The study focused on industry professionals in 34 countries who had been or were currently being coached. The study found that facing barriers during the period of coaching engagements was common and they identified “six barrier categories.”


Methodology

Six questions, on support and barriers, were included in the International Coaching Effectiveness Survey designed to explore the perspective of coachees about their coaching experience. The entire international coaching effectiveness survey comprised 63 questions divided into six sections. A pre-defined list of potential barriers was created, based on semi-structured interviews conducted in 2013. The survey was publicized via national and international networks, employers and coaching associations and was available to respondents between March 2013 and May 2014. 296 completed surveys were received. Of the total, 83% who worked with an external coach while 14% had internal coaches.


Findings

89% of respondents reported that their coaching was effective, while 11% believed it to be of limited effectiveness. The study included four avenues of inquiry:

  1. Coaching Support Received: Bosses, peers, direct reports and family members were all seen as generally supportive. Support included paying for coaching (51%); allocating time for coaching during work periods (62%); manager/supervisor encouragement (40%); and making changes based on learnings (49%).
  2. Is Coaching a Predictor of Coaching Effectiveness?: While manager, peer and team support were not significant influences on the perceived effectiveness of coaching, personal effort, and family support were, suggesting that social support may be more important than organizational support.
  3. Barriers Faced: Unclear development goals and lack of agreement with his/her coach on goals’ was the single biggest issue reported by 22% of coachees. The researchers identified six categories of “higher order’ barriers from the responses and found the most cited higher order barriers were coachees’ own readiness and engagement (50.2%) coaching experience barriers (38.9%) and organizational culture barriers (16.7%). The least cited higher order barriers were difficulties with the coach (11.8%), external events (8.4%) and coaching relationship (7.4%).
  4. Are Barriers a Predictor of Coaching Ineffectiveness?: Coachees who highlighted the coaching relationship as a barrier were more likely to find the coaching ineffective. Also, those who identified “difficulties with coach” as a barrier were also more likely to state the coaching had limited effect. The small sample size made the significance difficult to assess for both findings.

Practical Implications

The researchers conclude with two recommendations, one for organizations and one for coaches:

“Organizations should review any requirement for all coachees to set goals at the outset while line managers should provide clarity and honesty about the reasons for nomination and what they hope the coaching outcomes will be. Offering employees a choice of coach and assessing the readiness of employees for coaching is also indicated.”

“Coaches should encourage engagement by coachees’ bosses and re-think any rigid reliance on setting specific, measurable, actionable, results-orientated and timely goals.”

 

Full Article Link


Recommended Reading and References

organizational learning concept

How to Create a Learning Organization

June 1, 2017

Introduction

A 2008 HBR article asked readers, “Is your organization a “learning organization?” The authors of the article posed this question almost two decades after MIT professor Peter Senge first coined the term. In Senge’s landmark book, “The Fifth Discipline”, he proposed five characteristics of a learning organization. In this post, we explore a new article along with its authors’ new construct of a learning organization, as well as some helpful resources to benchmark your organization.


The Learning Organization Revisited

A new article published in Organizational Dynamics, entitled “Revisiting the learning organization: How to create it” by Ho Wook Shin et al makes the case that that smarter leaders are a necessary, but not sufficient condition to face today’s business challenges.

“Competing in an environment of increasing uncertainty and rapidly changing technologies requires that firms rely on the knowledge, skills, and experience of all of their people by creating a learning organization.”

In this very practical paper, the authors outline five critical elements of the learning organization and argue that each one is necessary to build a learning organization:

  1. Establish and communicate a clear sense of direction and purpose
  2. Empower employees at all levels
  3. Accumulate and share internal knowledge
  4. Gathering and integrate external information
  5. Challenge the status quo and enable creativity

Each of the five elements is discussed in detail leveraging case studies, research and other references to make the case for each element. They share five tools and techniques that can help an organization better understand their competitive environments.


Barriers to Becoming a Learning Organization

Strategic Inventory Learning OrganizationThe authors offer six barriers that researchers have identified, including fear of failure, commitment to the status quo, overconfidence, structural and political barriers and time constraints. They propose four actions to overcome these barriers:

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Encourage constructive dissent
  3. Encourage experimentation and risk-taking
  4. Get everyone involved

One of the great takeaways from their paper is the “Strategic Inventory” checklist, designed to relate their key concepts and benchmark practices within an organization. (As shown in the graphic on the right.)

Full Article Link


References and Reading

CEO success factors

What high-performing CEOs do better

May 1, 2017

Introduction

Two recently published articles explore the attributes of successful CEOs and this post compares and contrasts the findings from both studies.

 

Methodology

The first study by McKinsey examined the top 5% of CEOs whose companies’ returns to shareholders had increased by more than 500% during their tenure. The sample of 120 exceptional CEOs were the highest performers in McKinsey’s data set of approximately 600 chief executives at S&P 500 companies between 2004 and 2014.

In the second study, published in the May/June 2017 Harvard Business Review, ghSMART partnered with economists at the University of Chicago and Copenhagen Business School along with analysts at SAS and NYU (a team of 14 researchers in total) to mine ghSMART’s CEO Genome Project database, consisting of 17,000 C-suite executive assessments. Each executive assessment included detailed career and educational histories; performance appraisals; and information on patterns of behavior, decisions, and business results. The researchers examined the profiles of 930 CEOs and gathered information (financial results and board member & investor opinions) on the performance of 212 executives. Interviews were conducted with 70 CEOs and board members.


Findings

The following chart summarizes the findings of the two studies, which reveals some important similarities in the behaviors of top performing CEOs, such as focusing on strategy (conducting strategic reviews/making strategic moves); acting boldly and with conviction; and surrounding themselves with strong teams.

One important distinction in the results of both studies is McKinsey’s finding that exceptional CEOs are twice as likely to have been hired from outside the company. Hiring outsiders, however, is a less common practice today. According to the Conference Board’s CEO Succession Practices, 2017 edition, 85.7% of incoming CEOs in 2016 were “insiders” who were promoted to the CEO position after serving at least one year with the company while 14.3% were “outsiders” with less than one year with the company. Their findings show a steady decrease in the appointment of outsiders, down from 20.4% in 2014 and 23.8% in 2013.

While McKinsey found that the outsider edge is necessary to achieve breakthrough results, they acknowledge,

“Clearly, insiders can move aggressively and achieve outstanding results. Doing so often means cultivating an outsider’s point of view to challenge the company’s culture with greater objectivity and overcome the organizational inertia that sometimes limits an insider’s span of action.”

Characteristics of successful CEOs

The ghSMART researchers argue,

“…. there’s no perfect mix of the four behaviors that works for every CEO position. The industry and the company context determine which behaviors and skills are most important in any particular situation. While there is certainly no “one size fits all” approach, focusing on these essential behaviors will improve both a board’s likelihood of choosing the right CEO—and an individual leader’s chances of succeeding in the role.”

Links to both studies are shown below, along with ghSMART’s CEO Genome Project™ website where you can learn more about one of these studies.


Reading and References

  • 2016 CEO Success Study. Strategy&’s CEO Success study annually highlights the incoming class of CEOs at the world’s largest 2,500 public companies.
  • CEO Genome. The CEO Genome Project™ is a center of excellence on how to become and succeed as a CEO. Take the short assessment to see how you measure up against the 4 essential behaviors that are associated with becoming a high performing CEO.
  • CEO Succession Practices: 2017 Edition. Conference Board. CEO Succession Practices: 2017 This study analyzes all CEO succession events at S&P 500 companies over the last 16 years, with additional analysis based on our 2017 survey. Among the findings: CEO departures from underperforming companies reach a high not seen in 15 years.
  • What Makes a CEO Exceptional? by Michael Birshan, Thomas Meakin, and Kurt Strovink. McKinsey Quarterly. April 2017
  • What Sets Successful CEOs Apart? by Elena Lytkina Botelho, Kim Rosenkoetter Powell, Stephen Kincaid and Dina Wang. Harvard Business Review. May/June 2017.

 

 

 

The New Science of Teams

February 1, 2017

Introduction

In a newly published article in the March/April 2017 Harvard Business Review, Johnson Vickberg & Christfort discuss Deloitte’s “Business Chemistry”, a relatively new assessment that is designed to help leaders improve team performance, enhance efficiency and increase productivity. It does this through a greater understanding of how team members generate ideas, solve problems and make decisions.

Citing the need for better tools to improve team working, the authors describe how the “Business Chemistry” system was developed using brain science. The authors discuss the four profiles that make up this assessment and how teams can be enhanced using the information drawn from this assessment.

“When teams fall short of their potential, it’s often because leaders don’t know how to manage the differences in how people approach work.”


Methodology

This assessment was developed specifically for business use, undergoing a rigorous process that consisted of the following steps:

  • Consultation with biological anthropologist Helen Fisher at Rutgers University to understand what brain chemistry tells us about people’s styles and interactions in romantic relationships
  • Compilation of business related traits and preferences
  • Survey design, development and testing with the aid of a survey development company
  • Collaboration with molecular biologist Lee Silver of Princeton to mathematically arrive at the four work styles using business population data

To date, more than 190,000 people have completed the assessment, allowing follow up studies to examine how each style responds to stress as well as conditions that allow each style to be successful.


The Four Styles

The authors explain that while each of us is a composite of all four styles, most use just two to generate ideas, solve problems and make decisions. Understanding the team’s styles provides a common language (much like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator – MBTI) as well as insights on how to accommodate different styles while leveraging strengths. An overview of the four styles is shown below. Download the Business Chemistry Types for a more detailed overview.

 

Business Chemistry Profiles At A Glance

Business Chemistry Profiles At A Glance

You can take the 20 question assessment to assess your own styles and test a hunch about a colleague.

This HBR article also explores:

  • The typical Leadership Profile (most are Pioneers or Drivers)
  • The Stressed-Out Profile (Guardians and Integrators experience most stress)
  • Case studies – how understanding personality has helped five executives to become better leaders by Alison Beard
  • A conversation with Helen Fisher  who shares her perspective on why Business Chemistry is better than the MBTI and Big Five personality instruments by Alison Beard
  • A brief history of personality tests by Eben Harrell, Senior editor at HBR

Full article


References and Reading

  • Business Chemistry Self-Assessment – take the assessment as yourself or someone on your team (Hunch) to begin understanding your own and other styles and how best to communicate with them.
  • Business Chemistry Blog – posts cover the four team styles, providing insight and understanding on how relationships fuel our work.
  • HelenFisher.com – to learn more about Helen Fisher’s work including videos/TED talk.

Leadership Perspectives of C-Suite Executives Versus Millennial Leaders

January 1, 2017

Introduction

Millennials (born 1981-1997) now make up the largest generation in the U.S. workforce according to Pew Research Center in 2015 (see graphic below) and according to PwC’s Millennials at work: Reshaping the workplace study, they are expected to make up half the global workforce by 2020. A growing number are already holding senior level roles, making a new research-based study released this month worth reviewing. The study, “Divergent Views/Common Ground – The Leadership Perspectives of C-Suite Executives and Millennial Leaders Executive Summary” was jointly led by The Conference Board (TCB), Development Dimensions International (DDI), and RW2 Enterprises (RW2E). The goal was to help current CEOs and C-Suite leaders better understand Millennial leaders, including their leadership views, values, development preferences and how they will likely lead.

Fourteen organizations participated in the study which consisted of surveys, interviews and focus groups with 5 cohorts:

  1. CEOs (n=14)
  2. Non Millennial Leaders – Higher Level (n=637 )
  3. Millennial Leaders – Higher Level (n=118 )
  4. Non Millennial leaders –  1st to Mid-Level (n=1414 )
  5. Millennial Leaders – 1st to Mid-Level (n=665 )

The researchers hypothesized that differences among generations can be attributed to life stage or leadership level rather than inherent generational differences and to test this, they grouped participants into the four paired leadership levels above, in addition to the CEO group.

U.S. Labor Force by Generation, 1995-2015

Findings

The study revealed that Millennial Leaders have much in common with other generations and CEOs, challenging the stereotypes regarding dependency, values, work ethic and ambitions. Page 7 of the complimentary Executive Summary provides an overview of the similarities and important differences found.

  • Leadership Skills: There was significant agreement among all five leader cohorts when it comes to leadership skills that matter most (as shown in the graphic above.) Engaging and Inspiring Employees was rated the most important skill by all five cohorts; while Coaching and Developing Others, Managing & Successfully Introducing Change and Knowing the Business were also common themes. When it comes to skills demanded of future senior leaders, there was less consensus. CEOs value Critical Thinking and Stakeholder Management/Business Management skills while Millennial Leaders believe that Leadership Impact and Interpersonal Skills are most important.
  • Leadership Derailers: Arrogance and Avoidance  (or passive aggressive behavior) were seen as the most common causes of leadership derailment across all five cohorts. Senior leaders and CEOs identified Risk Aversion as a more prevalent derailer than did first to mid level leaders. Millennial leaders are more risk averse, valuing certainty while CEOs consider taking career risks as beneficial to their development.
  • Leadership Development: Millennial Leaders want to advance and are committed to remaining with their organizations as long as they are growing (44% intending to stay with their current organizations for 15+ years.) In terms of development, all three leadership cohorts cited Leading through a Strategic or Cultural Transformation as the most important development experience (in a list of fourteen.) Feedback from Manager and Guidance from a Mentor ranked second and third for both Millennial and non Millennial leaders, while CEOs rated Managing Through a Crisis and Growing a Business in their top five development experiences. Developmental Assignments and Coaching were highly rated development activities, both in terms of their frequency and their effectiveness.

“Millennial leaders’ strong desire for more feedback from leadership, less formal interaction styles and higher levels of involvement in decision-making leaves CEOs and other leaders with an impression that an egalitarian style is more favorable to this generation.”

The report covers a variety of topics (not all covered here) and provides ideas for organizations/CHROs to consider as they prepare the next generation of leaders.


Recommended Reading


 

Success of executive coaching

The Impact of Executive Coaching

December 1, 2016
Reyes Liske, J. M., & Holladay, C. L. (2016). Evaluating coaching’s effect: competencies, career mobility and retention. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 37(7), 936–948.

 

Introduction

A recently published study explored the impact of an executive coaching program (consisting of executive coaching and group coaching) in a U.S. healthcare organization. Results indicated that leaders who participated in the program demonstrated significantly improved leadership competencies and significantly higher retention rates one-year post-program, compared to the control group.


Methodology

Employing a group of 84 leaders (25 men & 59 women) and a control group of 67 participants, the researchers used a 360-degree assessment pre and post coaching that measured six leadership competencies (thinking, interpersonal, communication, people leadership, self-management and technical knowledge).


Findings

  • A significant change in leaders’ competencies was found in pre and post 360 assessment ratings. The 360 reassessment was conducted nine months after the conclusion of the coaching program which lasted 9 months. An improvement was also found in all six competencies when compared to the control group.
  • Higher promotion and retention rates were found one-year post-program when the two groups were compared.
  • Significantly higher gains were observed in thinking, people leadership and communication competencies compared to the interpersonal, self-management and technical knowledge competencies.

Practical Implications

Measuring the return on coaching investment has remained an elusive goal for many organizations. This study contributes to the relatively sparse tangible impact of coaching within organizations.

“The initial findings from this study provide evidence of the positive impact the coaching program can have for individuals who are in a supervisor to executive level capacity to further strengthen their own self-awareness along with their leadership abilities. The findings further suggest the appropriateness of such interventions and support organizations making coaching programs available to these leaders.”

The study researchers noted a limitation of their study – the inability to distinguish between one-on-one coaching, group coaching or the combination of both – on the study’s results. They conclude with a recommendation for future research on the two coaching modalities.

Full Article Link


Recommended Reading and References

  • ROI Institute. Founded in 1992 by Jack J. Phillips, Ph.D. and Patti P. Phillips, Ph.D. the ROI Institute focuses on measuring and evaluating training, human resources, technology and quality programs and initiatives.

© Copyright 2022 D'Onofrio Consulting Partners. All rights reserved.