Posts categorized “coaching”

How three clients mastered ambiguity

Randy White and Sandy Shullman feature the stories of three clients of the Executive Development Group in their article, “Build Leadership’s Tolerance for Ambiguity.” Read it all in this month’s CLO Magazine

quoteWe have a serious problem at the Food and Drug Administration and the President would like to know if you’d take over,” came the request in an after-hours phone call to cancer surgeon Andrew von Eschenbach in 2005.

Cathy Nash, had an enviable resume in banking when she was promoted by Citizens Republic Bank to CEO. A nice gig, but the only problem was the year: 2008. Citizens was under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and had acquired a less-than-stable real estate oriented thrift. Nash said yes to the promotion and TARP dropped in her lap.

Accepting ambiguity is tantamount to failure when your job is calculating the strength of vulcanized rubber at high speed on a freeway. But engineer Hervé Coyco had to accept the complexity, irrationality and emotionality of human organizations and, more so, consumers, when he advanced from leading a team of about 60 engineers to heading 60,000 for Michelin. Coyco took on—among other things—changing Michelin’s Car Tires business strategy worldwide.quote

What did they do? Read the full story, here.

For more information, contact the Executive Development Group..

Sandra L. Shullman receives American Psychological Association award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Independent Practice

Sandra L. Shullman, PhD.

The Executive Development Group is delighted to announce that our partner, Sandra L. Shullman, PhD, has been recognized by the American Psychological Association for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Independent Practice.

Sandy received the award and presented her invited address, “An Independent View of Independent Practice,” during the Association’s Annual Convention, August 2-5, 2012 in Orlando.

The APA award citation reads, in part, “For her outstanding contributions and leadership as an independent practitioner n the fields of counseling and consulting psychology. Through her national scholarship on sexual harassment in the workplace, her development of the practice of organizational counseling psychology, her management of a leading behavioral health care practice and her pioneering leadership development initiatives for national and international clients, Sandra L. Shullman has greatly enhanced the public’s recognition of psychology.”

Earlier this year, Sandy and the Executive Development Group partner Lily Kelly-Radford led the first executive MBA program in Qatar.

Sandy is currently a senior lecturer for HEC School of Business in Paris and a member of the Duke University Corporate Education academic and global learning network. She is an adjunct faculty member for the Cleveland State University Diversity Institute and lectures in executive education at the John Glenn School of Public Policy and the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University. She received her master’s degree from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Ohio State University. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and chairs the APA Workgroup on Executive Coaching.

360 assessments to help resolve sexual harassment can work, if…

The Executive Development Group partner Sandra L. Shullman weighs in on an engaging article appearing in Talent Management concerning the use of executive coaching with 360 assessments to resolve harassment cases in the workplace.

Sandy has been an expert witness in sexual harassment cases and while she sees how the process can be helpful, she offers some cautions.

“I can imagine how this might be helpful,” said Sandra L. Shullman, a psychologist, executive coach and partner with the Executive Development Group. “However, HR and managers in charge need to think about how willing the affected members of the organization are to participate effectively.”

A coach to harassment victims and an expert in harassment cases, Shullman also has consulted with client firms seeking to reform harassers. She said 360s and coaching should be applied judiciously because using 360s as remediation could cast a negative light on assessments, decreasing their acceptance for positive development interventions. She also said these processes should never be a substitute for sanctions or the mandate to maintain appropriate behavior.

You can read the entire article by assessment expert Dr. Paul Connolly here.

Learning from failure helpful in mastering uncertainty

Frank Kalman writes in this month’s edition of Chief Learning Officer about learning from failure:

…Aside from the psychological distaste associated with human failure, one of the larger barriers keeping more corporations from embracing it as an engine for learning is rooted in organizational culture. Creating a culture where failure isn’t the goal but is treated as a learning driver remains an uphill battle for many, said Amy C. Edmondson, professor of leadership and management at the Harvard Business School. The most frequent gaffe organizations make is equating perfection with good performance.

“The biggest mistake we make is thinking we’re not supposed to make mistakes,” said Edmondson, who wrote an April 2011 research article on the topic for the Harvard Business Review. Read the article here.

In our work on ambiguity, the ability to learn from failure is a requisite for overcoming the fear of uncertainty.

Kalman’s source, Amy C. Edmondson offers a 12-minute video presentation on the subject here.

The case for coaching in an engaging article by surgeon/writer Atul Gawande

I’ve been a surgeon for eight years. For the past couple of them, my performance in the operating room has reached a plateau. I’d like to think it’s a good thing—I’ve arrived at my professional peak. But mainly it seems as if I’ve just stopped getting better. —Read more

Gawande writes compellingly and authoritatively about his own decision to innovate and consider a surgical coach, but he also describes the process as one of potentially mutual fulfillment for he and his coach.
Improving our performance can be as emotionally refreshing as it is career-advancing.

Ambiguity in Australia

Randy White’s keynote address at the Australian Psychological Society got the attention of the Australian Financial Review and netted a feature article by Fiona Smith. Read “When being unsure is a strength” here.

Soon after, Australian blogger, Dwight Towers picked up on the theme with some of his own commentary, calling it “Kinda good.” Hey, that’s high praise in this age of managed expectations. Read it here.

The Hobart-based employee assistance firm of Newport and Wildman felt the message is meaningful to their mission to include it on their home page.

A review of “Inside the Leader’s Mind” by Liz Mellon

Liz Mellon walks with us among dozens of leaders, whether sharing their most public moments or abiding their most unguarded confidence to report her observations and present a behavioral prescription, not for success in itself, but for a sublime personal fulfillment that generates success.

Mellon, the respected academic-and one of the best professors of leadership I know-manages to write in the voice of a thoughtfully investigative journalist, as we are introduced to some of the most interesting organizational leaders in the world. Her keenly empathetic ear helps makes their examples accessible and helpful to leaders at all stages of development. Mellon reveals the sets of common behaviors that we can all study, understand and emulate.

Inside the Leader’s Mind: Five Ways to Think Like a Leader has an engaging cadence that carries us from planting mangroves in Malaysia with a CEO during his corporate training program to the cloistered boardroom blunders of the Deepwater Horizon debacle. Throughout the journey, we meet leaders who fail with bravado, relearn with aplomb and rise back with selfless humility.

Inside the Leader’s Mind articulates a vital catalyst for excellence in a chaotic business environment: ambiguity. As Mellon describes her “Five Ways of Thinking Like a Leader,” the reader is counseled to face realities of solitude and bruising public accountability and, at the same time, the reader is enticed by the narratives of those who navigate the perils to find immense joy as the leaders they set out to be.

Mellon informs the learning community, the psychological academy and all business executives who seek advancement in the highest echelons of global organizations with casually insightful scenarios from topical interviews both recent and revisited from her decades of leadership study.

We see that among globally diverse leaders, the commonality is the unknown. The deck has been reshuffled as powerful nations are digging out from collapse and emerging nations have never seen such golden opportunities.

Challenging the notions of leadership that were responsible for the world’s greatest financial crisis of a century, Inside the Leader’s Mind offers a new path that is as rewarding as it is courageous.

The good news is: nobody has enough information, so here’s your chance for greatness.

Mutually assured success: global executive education

There is a great deal of leadership development work to be done in emerging markets, especially China. The work is demanding, reasonably lucrative, and fun. I find our time and counsel to be in demand with classrooms full of committed, motivated, and affable learners.

As a child of the Cold War, the concept of mutually assured destruction has lately become an almost quaint linguistic relic along the lines of duck and cover, made popular in civil defense films. The 1960s policy of allowing opposing sides to have enough weapons to annihilate each other to create a stalemate was intended to give us a nervously ambiguous peace between East and West.

Today’s chessboard pitting the former Soviet-bloc superpowers against the US and its allies is, for now, commerce. And the term I’ve coined to describe the engagement is Mutually Assured Success. It has an intriguing ring of counter-intuitive logic. If both sides are successful, where’s the competition? I’m not sure. But the stakes are different, and the work at hand is compelling.

China is so heavily invested in the U.S. economy that it’s in their interest for the U.S. to succeed and give them a pay-off. And, they’re determined to bring their economy to the next plateau, from low-end manufacturing and commodities to high-end durable goods, technology, and services. We want China to excel, even if it’s at our economic peril for the short term. And the end game is market domination. Despite what is sure to become ferocious competition, we need China as much as China needs us. In fact, right now, they own us.

This year, we’ve done business in the Middle East, South Africa, India, and China. What strikes me most about this up-tick in work is, as American leadership educators, we are in such demand. The leadership methods we’ve developed and exported are now considered a standard in business schools abroad.

How can Western leadership teachers and coaches engage in emerging markets, and what do they need to make the cut? When we take our executive education curricula to China, we find a few unexpected dynamics.

International executives are commonly advised to adapt to local customs, and in the case of U.S. business people, this usually means showing more respect, restraint and humility. But if you’re teaching leadership, you can check your acquiescence at the door.

My Chinese hosts and the European program staff expressed—in so many words—that they want undiluted Western leadership. They don’t want cultural sensitivity. It’s as if they’re saying, “We’re buying you, and that’s what we want. We expect you to be your best and to teach us the way you would teach Westerners.” Of course, I’m enough of a realist to think they’re looking for where we go wrong!

Bring plenty of stamina because the days are long. Any introverts in your ranks should be prepared to get out of their comfort zone because there are equal parts of relationship building outside the classroom.

Essentially, you get to be Western all day in class—with simultaneous translation at every step of the way—but in the evening, as you get scheduled for dinners that you didn’t know you were having, socializing is expected and you end up being “teacher” over meals and drinks. There’s a lot of pressure be “on” even when you’re off. We might assume that there’s some degree of pressure from higher ups for young executives to learn all they can in any and every way they can.

History shows that Asian nations are experienced at “adapt, adopt and improve” as they emulate successful business systems and improve them to define new levels of excellence and best practices. As China adopts Western leadership methodologies, they already benefit from jumping aboard after a great deal of evolution and advancement has occurred, from command-and-control to today’s participatory styles.

This, however, raises a challenge for the average Chinese executive who has grown up under the ultimate command-and-control, that of a once closed communist state.

Still, my students, the most promising in their organizations—admittedly, mostly upper middle class—are well educated and well traveled. So their Westernization makes a more democratic workplace a little more accessible than it might be to a less advantaged Chinese citizen or even older generations within the organization.

If you’re looking to expand your leadership practice to China, consider four points:
• They want Western. Don’t give them Western lite. European education is common among most people you will teach, and they’re eager to emulate how “we” do it.
• Feedback is the one area that might be challenging, because of language and cultural differences. Have a translator for every conversation. Some instruments, like FIRO-B, have been recently translated to Mandarin.
• Prepare for long days, but expect a lot of polite curiosity about your work outside of class. They do “want Western” but Eastern social customs still compel you to socialize as an extension of business.
• Remember “lead time” doesn’t translate well in China. The population of China is so much more vast than the US or European nations. This creates a sense of there’s always someone else who can do it now. So respond fast!

As a social scientist, I’m intrigued by what the Chinese version of Western leadership will become. Will they do to our human systems of organizations what Japan did to Henry Ford’s assembly line, making a new, more nimble and facile organization? Then, maybe we can learn from them.

Mutually Assured Success should appeal to any leadership professional as a means of improving global management and securing work for all of us. But can a focus on the principles of participatory leadership and learning organizations play a role in political and social dynamics? Is leadership development a democratizing process?
Whether your interest is international business or international leadership development, watch closely, because I expect the questions will be answered soon.

40 years of innovation in leadership development

There’s a homecoming this week that’s bringing coaches, teachers, authors, psychologists, statisticians and curriculum specialists to Greensboro, North Carolina, USA…including some of our staff.

The Center for Creative Leadership is celebrating its 40th year of existence and current and former associates will be reacquainting at the place that not only gave many of us our start in the business of developing leaders, but also helped define an internationally recognized focus on psychologically based executive education.

Lately, we’ve been writing about trends in emerging markets outside the US. Much of this is being carried out by the Center itself and its affiliates. But also, the concepts and principles that originated at CCL are the basis for uncountable independent consultancies and some of the most respected business schools in the world.

We recognize CCL for being the knowledge center that gave a platform to hundreds of people in the development of 360 feedback, personality assessments and executive coaching, who might otherwise have had to find other endeavors. The faculty and staff of the Center benefited as much as the participants. Over half of Executive Development Group came from The Center for Creative Leadership and it’s hard to read a book or a scholarly article on executive education that doesn’t have a CCL footnote.

After the formal ceremony and some more personal gatherings, we’ll be taking it back on the road to Houston with HEC and Abu Dhabi with Duke CE.

Thank you, Center for Creative Leadership.

Board evaluations and Sarbanes-Oxley and improved performance through coaching

It’s estimated that only 30% of the Fortune 100 conduct board evaluations. A board evaluation is exactly the kind of due diligence that Senator Sarbanes and Congressman Oxley had in mind when they affixed their names to one of the most important American legislation acts of this century. The downside comes when a seriously negative evaluation obligates the board to remove a member, since the evaluation process is essentially an audit.

We’re one of a few leadership consultancies that offer this specialized service and we’ve seen it have positive results by creating more effective board organizations. The process we use is similar to our executive coaching methodology.

Since Sarbanes-Oxley doesn’t require board evaluations, but does hold firms accountable for action if they do conduct evaluations, it’s a tough sell.

But what if boards took a developmental approach to evaluations like most Executive Development Group clients? Why shouldn’t directors have the opportunity to improve their effectiveness with data through work with an executive coach to be better in their interpersonal and collaborative skills?

Marjorie Chan, writing in the Journal of Leadership, Accountability & Ethics (Nov. 2009)  surveyed 16 Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 firms…

“Neither the Sarbanes-Oxley Act nor the exchanges require the performance evaluation and removal of weak directors. It was reported that only 30% of the boards evaluate individual members (Hymowitz & Lublin, 2003). Participants were asked to express their views on this issue. All 17 interviewees agreed that board evaluations, either formal or informal, should be done. All participating organizations, except for two, conduct board evaluations on a regular basis. Three emphasized that the issue revolves around the decision with respect to what evaluation process to use rather than whether or not the boards are evaluated.”

In our experience, helping low-performing directors should be seen as a development opportunity and by developing the director toward improvement, the board demonstrates a high degree of commitment to the shareholders.