Executive and leadership coaching

Have you or your leaders thought…?

“I need to make some changes so that I’ll be ready for the opportunities ahead. I want to do that as efficiently as I can.”


“I could use help seeing what others see in my attempts to lead, manage, and change. I’m not getting the whole story.”


“The things that made me a success aren’t working as well as they used to.”


“The business has changed and I’m sure I could do a better job coping with its demands on me.”


“I used to get a thrill out of my work. I want to feel that again.”

Who is coaching for?

Executive coaching is for people who are striving for a better future for themselves and for the world. The great challenge of work in the 21st century is not technical competence. It is having a significant and positive impact on people. I work with leaders who want to create a better future and know that they can’t do it alone.

Take a look at the Checklist – Is executive coaching for me now? (pdf) to see if coaching could be right for you or others.  Still have questions?  Let’s talk.

What is distinctive about the role of the coach?

Leaders rarely hear what everyone else knows. It can be difficult to tell people that what they do is counterproductive.  As a coach, I gather feedback anonymously and report it in ways that increase the likelihood that it will be heard and acted on.

People know that they’re not perfect.  Like most people, leaders can usually name their weaknesses. But they have reasons for living with them. Or they believe that they cannot change. As a coach, I help clients recognize the thinking that gets in the way of operating differently. I provide focus on meaningful, attainable development goals and accountability that lays a foundation for long-term change.

People seek meaning from the challenge they’re engaged in. As I coach, I help clients identify the sources of motivation that invigorate daily work, provide energy for change, and mark the compass points for important choices.

My approach

Coaching is a process of intensive and goal-focused learning to produce insight, action, and results.

I believe that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have every minute of every day. My role is to help leaders broaden and deepen “what they have” in ways that enable them do more of what they want, need, and strive for.

I offer leaders breathing room to focus on the most important change priorities in their work, perspectives, and relationships. I focus on using real work as a lab for learning and change. I aim to raise leaders’ awareness of their core values and help them tap renewed energy through intrinsic motivation.

I rely on adult development psychology to help leaders identify their learning edge. I challenge them to develop capabilities for complex and volatile environments. I draw from practical mindfulness research to help leaders manage stress and access liberating new perspectives.

Download an outline of the typical process of leadership coaching and some of the principles worth considering when undertaking executive coaching. BIG IDEA Executive Coaching phases (pdf)

Team Leadership Coaching

Teams are where most leaders do critical, high stakes work in the 21st century. The team is a source of leverage, innovation, agility, and superior judgment. But even strong teams can develop stubborn patterns that limit the results they deliver.

The BIG IDEA approach focuses on the leader as he or she leads and manages the team, doing real work in real time.

Team Leadership Coaching

Team coaching:

  • Identifies what stands in the way of current and long-term effectiveness
  • Focuses on the leader as she works with her team
  • Supports the leader with individual coaching in parallel with team coaching
  • Raises awareness about team patterns that limit or block results

  • Develops new skills and knowledge in the entire team, just in time
  • Engages team members in coaching to support learning and change on high priority team issues

Like individual coaching, team coaching focuses on meaningful, measurable goals and provides support, direction, and accountability for learning, action, and results.

Team coaching is for leaders and organizations who recognize that they can perform better to deliver outstanding results. Achieving their highest and best will call on them to take a fresh view of challenges, obstacles, effort, and persistence. While leaders are responsible for this change, the coach supports the leader and her team with insight, expertise, and feedback that is virtually impossible to gain by other sources.

Hear more about leadership states of mind and how changing them can make leaders more effective, teams more motivated, and both less enervated by the effort.


Transition Coaching

It’s a common story: outstanding people get promoted to lead others. But the new role and its challenges require change: new skills, behaviors, and a different self-conception. The reality is almost never what we imagine.

Crossing the threshold
Coaching during transitions quickly raises the leader’s awareness about how she or he is showing up in this new context. And it provides efficient on-the-job learning and support to move toward effectiveness in the role.

Crossing the Threshold

Threshold Coaching is an intensive period of coaching focused on laying foundations for building or extending your role as a manager and leader.

For at least three and no more than six crucial months, we’ll work together to develop a clear picture of yourself and the leader you want to become. We’ll investigate the new context, the challenges ahead, and how your strengths can help you during this transition. We’ll also identify where strengths and weaknesses may sow the seeds of avoidable obstacles in this role.

We focus on:

Culture and organizational awareness: Where am I? What’s important here, what’s the real appetite for change, and where can I make the most meaningful contribution?

Job, role, and network: What are the expectations, what are the obstacles, who are my stakeholders, what can I learn about politics without playing politics, how will I build relatonships?

Self-management: What strengths can I use here, where are my watchout areas, what mindsets, thinking, and potential biases might I bring to this new role or organization, how can I communicate authenticity and presence from day one.

I work closely with organizations to reflect the competencies, leadership models, and the best features of the culture to help new leaders establish themselves quickly and orient themselves to new territory with greater responsibility.

Ask the Coach

Ask the Coach is question and answer service that you can embed into your company’s online support for managers and leaders.

Ask the Coach can support managers and learners…

  • During and after management or leadership development training
  • Throughout an action-learning project or other long-term development experience
  • Throughout a significant change initiative
  • When a new layer of management is introduced in a growing company

Employees pose questions. I answer them from more than 20 years of experience as a manager, coach, learning professional, and – ahem – human being. I’m as interested in the psychology of the workplace as I am in getting stuff done. My advice balances people’s need to develop skills, adopt techniques, and get to know themselves better.

Frank, actionable content

If your people can read and comment in a portal, wiki, blog, or social network such as Yammer secured for company use only, Ask the Coach can become a forum where the challenging, common questions are aired. My answers can be aligned with your management and leadership competencies. At the outset, I can seed the forum with questions and answers that many managers and leaders face.

An example

A manager writes: “What can I do about performance reviews? So much time, so little gain.

“They don’t reflect how my people are really doing, and they aren’t helping them develop skills they will need next year.”

Coach says, “You’re in good company.

“Lots (and lots) of people don’t like the performance management process (PMP). When you start your own company, you can change it from top to bottom. Until then, remember that you can make meaningful change over time. But first, focus on the essentials.

“First, do what’s required and effective. A lot of oral traditions and beliefs develop around PMP. Managers at one company I know believed that a page or more of comments made for a meaningful review. Managers spent weeks of time to meet that unspoken standard. That well-intentioned effort dealt a weeks-long blow to their performance. They believed they were being good managers, and they still disliked PMP. Strictly speaking, the reviews weren’t better because they were longer.

“Second, focus on the discussion, not the forms. They are there to capture what happened and to set new goals or objectives. Capture enough specific information about performance to justify your review of the person’s contribution and any appropriate change in compensation (assuming comp. is tied to the review).

“A good discussion at PMP time is a continuation of the one you’ve had week-in and week-out. That’s a two-way discussion about progress against goals, how to build skills, identifying appropriate challenges, and hearing frank feedback about performance. Tally results and do the review. Doesn’t sound like your one-on-ones? Schedule them, keep them, and adopt the that agenda.

Finally, turn talk into change. Have a cleansing complaint session with others who have to do performance reviews. Breathe. Okay, now get down to work. Identify the current root causes of your complaints, propose at least two ways to improve each of those situations, and then prioritize: what will have the biggest positive impact for the greatest number of stakeholders at the lowest cost? That may be the place to start.

“Be prepared to compromise and change people’s minds, especially your own. This is going to be a long-term campaign. Keep up a constant and realistic effort to reshape a PMP that meets your need for efficiency, and develops people abilities, and meets talent managers’ strategic objectives.”

How it works

Principles and decisions  We’ll identify the impact you want to have on the target audience. We’ll also discuss forces affecting them such as competition, change initiatives, new products, and the cycle of business and budget planning. I’ll describe key aspects of my principles for leading, managing, and learning. Together, we’ll agree on a short list of objectives and priorities. If possible, we’ll also identify measures of the effectiveness of Ask the Coach in your company.

We’ll also agree at the outset about the degree questioners’ anonymity. The minimum required disclosure is best. Because it is a well-known fact that company systems can identify users, most questioners will observe the social conventions of your culture. I am familiar with and alert to unethical, illegal, and unacceptable behavior that would require HR or manager action. We’ll agree on a process to address these issues should they come up.

The role of the manager  Because Ask the Coach is designed to support managers and leaders, the Q&A will always point questioners back to their manager for support and development. Ask the Coach is an additional resource, not intended as an end-run or trump card to play on managers.

Frequency and turnaround  How frequently and how quickly I answer questions depends on your objectives. A quick response is a useful response. Ask the Coach  can be on call when managers may be out of town. We’ll discuss and agree on a reasonable response time.

Technology  Together we’ll work out the permissions, access, and any confidentiality agreements needed for me to be able to answer questions in a timely way.

Duration  I’d be glad to work with you for a period of at least three months and as long as twelve months. It may be beneficial to continue for longer periods, but review and evaluation are essential to ensure that you’re receiving recognizable value from Ask the Coach.