Fred is a CEO who sees himself as direct, honest, motivated, and committed to excellence. He is over-worked and believes that to get anything done he needs to be hands-on. What he doesn’t see is that when he enters a room, his people take a step back, are guarded, careful with what they say, and rarely dare to disagree with him. In his last 360 review, his Board Chair reported that he was seen as a control freak by a couple of his VPs, that his style was de-motivating, and that there was a question about fit with the organization.
He hires a coach. But, I have news… Traditional coaching won’t work. Why? Because it relies on Fred reporting on Fred.
Traditional coaching involves confidential private sessions between you and your coach. Its focus relies on you coming to sessions and telling your coach what’s happening, your impact, and what you’ve tried over the past few weeks to develop. But your blind spot is right in the middle of what you are trying to change. You won’t be able to accurately report. A good coach will work real time with patterns that arise between you in-session. But, what your coach experiences is you relating as you do with a confidante, not you relating when the heat is turned up.
Some coaches try to overcome client blind spots by offering “shadowing”. They observe you in action and debrief with you about what they are seeing. This helps, but it doesn’t overcome the “best behavior” effect that comes from knowing you are being observed.
Alternative: Wraparound Coaching.
Together, you and I engage 3 or 4 colleagues you interact with regularly (your peers, direct reports, your superior) and we ask them to be allies in your development. You and I develop a coaching program with a goal and clear developmental objectives, and we meet regularly for confidential sessions. After each session, I customize your next practice for you to step-wise strengthen in the areas you need. So far, just like traditional coaching. The difference? Once we have a program in place, we meet with each Wraparound ally and introduce them to your program and what you are working towards. We ask them to observe you in your interactions with them and others, and debrief with you when they have specific behavioral feedback to offer. We equip them to give this feedback by regularly letting them know specifically what you are working on and what we would like them to observe. They know that you aren’t going to magically transform all in one giant leap, and that your development will be staged. They are equipped to support you in each stage. I contact them regularly to update them and to hear from them about what they are observing. Sometimes they tell me more than they tell you. I give you their feedback and it shapes our priorities for the next round.
I have worked with many leaders who have high stakes riding on them turning around some key behaviours. Every leader who has engaged in Wraparound Coaching testifies to its high impact results.
- They develop with a focus on what matters most, and they stay on track.
- They get immediate, relevant feedback.
- They deepen their trusting relationships with colleagues and this has benefit down the road in turning around their “brand” in alignment with the advances they’ve made.
- Allies gets support from a coach in giving feedback, and the leader gets support in openly receiving feedback.
To find out more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne Wright, MCC, is an executive coach, accredited at the highest level by the international Coach Federation.