Monday, February 21, 2011


The paper is an assessment of effect of executive coaching (as described in Sherpa Survey) on leadership development from my perspective as a skilled and experienced professional in the field of organization design with special focus on leadership development and business evolution.

My approach to leadership development has evolved over 50 years of conscious experience including:

• Academic background in sciences; pre-medical course, degrees in chemistry and zoology.

• Training and qualification by Procter & Gamble as a superior practitioner of Industrial Engineering.

• Manager of several highly successful P & G manufacturing operations.

• Widely recognized leader of design, construction, startup, operation and expansion of the P & G manufacturing center at Lima, OH; international prototype of high performing business organizations.

• Vice-President Personnel and Organization Development for SaraLee, hired for a specially created role designed to lead the meats division in developing a change oriented culture. Role objectives were achieved or exceeded within 3 years, at which time I set up a consulting business.

• Consultant to more than 60 organizations with leadership development as the primary subject.

• Designer/presenter of copyrighted “The Leadership Development Forum” (LDF.) LDF has been delivered in 7 countries to more than 2000 executives, professionals and promising leaders in key roles. My practice is to always deliver LDF with an internal partner(s).

• Elected officer/leader in more than 15 clubs and civic organizations.

I have reached this conclusion: “Executive coaching will not in any circumstance produce development of any kind, least of all leadership development. It may in fact have a counterproductive effect.” This conclusion is based on following reasoning:

Feedback from Senior Executives

Senior executives from eight corporations have approached me with concerns about executive coaching.

• In all cases they were assigned a coach by a superior (often CEO/COO) who had been sold on the process by a coaching firm. If given the option they would have declined.

• They felt obligated to find something of value in the process and approached me for suggestions on how to do this.

• In some cases they believed the coach was involved in their performance appraisals; a highly unethical practice.

Leadership Development

• Development only takes place in the presence of real work, in the same context where the work is performed and contribution is expected. This is particularly true of leadership development where context must include those who are to respond to leaders influence.

• Executive coaching is a one to one process that takes place away from real work/real time arena.

• Therefore, executive coaching when applied to leadership is an artificial, off-line process that may produce an illusion of increased capability which fails the test of application. (LDF requires participants to attend as part of a natural work group.)


• Coaching is commonly defined; “a process that supports, explains, demonstrates, instructs and directs others via encouragement, questioning and use of feedback for guidance as trainee grows in skill and self-empowerment through practice.” Coaches are expected to understand/master skill they aim to impart based on personal experience, and expect trainee to exceed their performance.

• Executive coaches “as a general rule; do not share experience, do not give advice, do not impart specific knowledge.” (Sherpa Survey) (LDF introduces new concepts in leadership, directs practice through designed exercises and calls on participants to share experience in open forum.)

• Therefore, executive coaching is something other than coaching in terms of common definition and understanding of what coaching is and does.


Sherpa Survey asserts that executive coaches are trained facilitators, presumably using a process of facilitation.

• Facilitation is commonly understood and practiced by OD professionals as a process of making a task easier, smoothing the path to a result.

• Leaders especially at executive level, require steadfast will to step up to difficult challenges and stay engaged through good times and bad until resolution is achieved.

• Therefore; facilitation fails to present would be leaders a real world picture of their leadership accountability and offers them the illusion of an easy way out. (LDF sessions are focused on current, real issues that the group is accountable for, and participants test/apply newly acquired leadership skills during and between sessions.)


• Sherpa Survey points to trend of certifying coaches via classroom training and that certified coaches make more money; get more work.

• No reference is made to actual, successful experience of leading as a valued asset. (For some time MBA graduates performance has been downgraded by their employers because academic training in leadership does not apply to real world. As a result many MBA schools have revised their approach.)

• Sherpa Survey; “Having an executive coach could be a status symbol…a mark of an up and coming leader being groomed for greater possibilities.”

• Therefore, we have a hollow process in support of shallow intentions.

Self-Reflection on Leadership Development

For anyone seeking to develop leadership capability, use of the following questions as means for objective self-reflection can clarify what they aim to become and how to best go about doing it.

1. What new, higher purpose will my leadership be dedicated to achieve?

2. What change in self (mind-sets, attitude, skill level) is necessary to fulfill purpose? State in terms of from _____to_______.

3. What issues of capability are likely to restrain implementing these changes?

4. What learning objectives, principles, goals, standards and design/actions will I pursue in order to resolve capability issues?

5. What sources are able to partner with me in successfully working though steps 4-3-2-1?

Principles that guide this approach:

• In order to develop, a person must be in charge of and accountable for the process. It is disempowering for organization or external authority to call the shots, resulting in death of leadership development potential.

• Developmental resources are most effective when they establish a partnership relationship.

• An effective resource is tuned to individuals thinking through steps 1-5 and works with him/her to clarify and refine as needed, in real world, real time, real context dimensions.

• Individuals have specific accountability to the organization for improved performance and contribution, as return on organizations investment in their development.

• Serving a greater purpose is necessary to stick with demands of leadership development…self-serving motives will cause the process to fail.

Friday, December 17, 2010


The aim of this paper is to introduce perspectives on what it means for an individual or organization to aspire to “professional” status or in more modern terms, to achieve excellence in what they do or world class in how they are judged.


“A professional is someone who has openly declared their commitment to pursue a particular line of work, in which they are regularly employed.” This includes commitment to any line of work in dedicated service to a greater good as if it were a clearly defined and commonly recognized profession. (Janitor may merit same claim to professional status as Doctor, Lawyer, or Teacher.)


Having declared their commitment to a line of work, a professional therefore;

• Is faithful to the principles, ideals, teachings and ethics of the larger professional body in which he/she seeks membership

• Embraces the technologies and practices endemic to their field of choice

• Works to safeguard accepted practices while striving to improve them

• Is actively involved in constant pursuit of knowledge, training and development that leads to increasing capability and contribution

• Is an independent thinker who also depends on others as source of help and development

• Seeks feedback to assure themselves that their work serves a greater good, conforms to principles they aim to uphold, and pursues continuous improvement

• Is known to be a dedicated practitioner of value adding skills and a dependable contributor to the needs of others

It is commonly understood that true professionals, even though they operate in different fields, recognize one another intuitively and respect one another implicitly.


1. Each organization member has access to roles that challenge them to develop toward professional status and to be supported by the organization as they progress.

2. Organization members are expected to become increasingly professional in practice, limited only by individual capacity and business needs.

3. In transitioning toward a culture of professionalism, an organization must adopt supportive philosophy, missions, structures, systems and processes, and;

-retain and build on existing, useful experience and relevant skills

-avoid blaming and fault finding in challenging people to grow and develop

-focus on real, current needs for increased contribution as yardstick for growth

-include all classes and levels in the process

4. Each person has a declared career path, which they and the organization maintain in up to date fashion as to qualification and progression guidelines.

5. Qualification includes capability to discipline own behavior in line with principles and standards and call others to account for perceived unprofessional behavior.

6. A person while acting as an employee of the business is expected to invest 100% of their time, talent, energy and growth potential in working to meet business needs.

7. Each individual is expected to join in a practice of teamwork grounded in values of cooperation, sharing, mutual support, and challenge.



The aim of this paper is to stimulate and add to the thinking of people who seek value to be achieved through understanding and establishing partnerships.

We begin by proposing an operational definition of partnership;

“Partnership is a relationship between two parties that is important and consequential to both and is characterized by sharing, close cooperation, mutual influence, and respect and where each invests something of real value with expectation of a positive return.” For purposes of this paper any reference to partnership, partner, or partnering will be with this definition in mind. Other forms of association including legal partnerships are excluded.

The effect of partnership is seen at two levels, synergy and symbiosis;

• Synergy is produced through the interaction of two entities such that their total effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

• Symbiosis is a state created by two entities living together in a mutually beneficial relationship, characterized by cooperation at the truest level of their individual natures, committed to support the others need for continuing satisfactory existence.

Partnership can be understood by considering what it is not, as well as what it is. Following are a number of “misconceptions” about relationships that lead to misunderstanding and undermining of partnership.


Valuing difference when examined closely and critically carries with it an ego-centric spin, in that it presumes that I evaluate you in the context of how I see myself and make judgments as to where we are different, and presumably where we are alike. Furthermore it presumes that we are able to make an accurate assessment of the qualities that define ourselves as a person and to use that as a reference point for comparison when using the assessment we have made of another person to calculate the difference between us. This process is subject to enormous errors of subjectivity, objectivity and lack of valid data. It biases the labeling of difference toward what can be perceived by the senses, i.e. how someone looks, talks, acts. It sets us up to focus on one another as different, remaining separate at the expense of seeing ourselves as naturally unique, prepared to come together as parts of a whole that is larger than either of us.

Partnering requires that we see and accept one another as distinctively separate and unique beings, and treat diversity as a natural fact of our existence. What we do with that fact is determined by the shared values and the aims of our partnership and is a primary source of synergy and symbiosis.


Partnerships exist only when each party has a clearly defined identity that they are able to maintain as they interact with the other party. Sameness and conformity neutralize the ingredients that give rise to synergy and symbiosis by reducing the range of possibilities available to the partnership as a whole.

Parties to a partnership grow to be able to depend on or count on one another to deliver as promised and expected. When this level of accountability, trust, and confidence, exists as a mutual quality, each party increases the scope of independent action (freedom) available to them, knowing what they can depend on the other for.


This idea is appealing and has been widely accepted as accurate. In fact, when looked at closely, powerful bonds between two parties include the expectation of role related behavior, either as explicitly agreed to or implicitly anticipated. When you state “I’m here for you” it seems to say that your self is available. The other party is therefore entitled to expect that when a specific need arises, you have the will to take on an appropriate role with the capability to perform it. What really counts is that whatever role I play in our partnership, my “self” is fully invested in it.


When this idea is practiced at a literal level it causes parties to focus on one another as the only, or at least primary, element of the partnership, and promotes the idea that the foremost objective of each party is to serve the interests of the other, usually by pleasing them. This view causes the parties to become involved in a process of calling attention to their individual likes and dislikes with obvious intention to shift the balance in favor of likes. As they become more inwardly focused they begin to lose whatever larger purpose their partnership existed to serve, and to lose support from the environment they operate in.

The capability of each party to overcome the grip of ordinary likes and dislikes enables them to better serve the larger purpose for which the partnership exists, and is a reliable measure of the strength and maturity of the partnership. For example, marriage partnerships are more likely to flourish when both parties work in support of shared purpose; raising a family, serving the community, running a business, or providing for the future, vs. “making the other party happy.”


In essence the special power and energy created through teamwork is a product of effective 1:1 partnerships that exist within the domain of the team and the team environment that is characterized by the practice of teamwork. The ultimate in potential for teams is the extent to which all possible 1:1 combinations of team members are able to function as a partnership. Our experience of team development is that it is catalyzed by one or more of these partnerships “coming to life” which supply energy and an initiating spark that support the emergence of still more partnerships.

In summary, we can say that partnerships;

• Operate from common ground of personal values toward shared goals that involve serving a higher purpose,

• Have an objective view of the unique qualities in each party and are able to employ them in support of shared goals.

• Work to build confidence in self and one another and use this to reinforce responsible exercise of increased personal freedom.

• Look for and serve larger arenas (teams, businesses, families, communities) as a way to deliver value from the partnership and to develop it at the same time.

• Increase clarity and strength of self-identity, while simultaneously building good will and positive energy toward interacting with others.

• Are clear in their understanding and description of the individual roles to be played.

• Are grounded in competence of each party to manage their own affairs.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


A journey is not a trip or a commute. Properly understood, a journey is a worthwhile, remarkable, and exciting undertaking that proceeds into the unknown, finds value in discovery, and faces up to the risks involved.

Development is a special form of change that is initiated from what is (present state) and aims to create new and higher order states through;

• Pursuit of higher purposes
• Advancing the character and integrity of culture
• Step change in essential skill and capability to do value adding work

These characteristics apply to personal and organization development.

Each developmental journey is unique and at the same time follows known and predictable patterns. Unknown and unexpected opportunities and hazards present themselves along the way, although a wise leader with the help of an experienced guide, will find advantage in opportunity as well as in hazard.

Making a journey involves four stages, initiating, organizing, launching and evolving. Stages proceed in a natural sequence although they are iterative and overlap.

• Development occurs in a climate of healthy dissatisfaction with the current state.
• Activating a shift from current organization state is grounded in core values from a nucleus of those who will lead the journey.
• Journey is focused by leader’s vision of a better, future state for themselves and others in which core values are expressed.
• Potential for movement is energized by missions that stimulate values of those who would join the journey and attract them to work for its success.
• Planning Teams of capable leaders are formed to initiate the journey.

Five fully integrated roles are essential for success in the journey. Each of these roles is focused on journey’s purpose (consistent with leader’s vision) and invested in its mission.

• Role of leading challenges the organization to draw on unique capabilities and focus them on objectives that simultaneously achieve business advantage and a more highly developed organization. No person or organization ought to embark on a journey or expect to develop, in the absence of effective leading. Planning Teams of capable leaders have played this role in initiating many successful journeys..

• Role of managing uses principles as guides to a high road of thinking, action, and behavior in the organizations journey. Managing is ideally applied to things but must also be appropriately applied to people (in the role of supervising) when they lack capability to self-manage to principles. This role is normally filled by Leadership Teams who challenge individual members to proactively lead or supervise their own organization as appropriate. As objectives become more demanding, managing excellence becomes more critical.

• Role of working obligates all organization members to step up to roles and perform functions that make measurable contributions to success of their unit, site, and business. Each person has accountability to produce explicitly stated results that achieve current standards, work for success of business/site/unit objectives, continuously improve self, and uphold principles of the organization. Engaging every member of the organization at this level continues to be a significant challenge, and proactively choosing to lead or supervise at all levels is the key to engaging the entire organization as full time workers for the journey.

• Role of coaching builds into the organization and its members functional and behavioral skills required to do their work successfully and perform their roles at increasingly higher levels of capability. Coaching is done in the context of “real work” by individuals who are credible in terms of their personal experience, commitment to the journey, and desire for success of their pupils. Coaching and related role of mentoring aim to develop the individual as a part of increasing their functional capability. Examples of coaching successful journeys include; role redesign, networking, safety, developing functional teams, leading edge technology programs, etc.. Essential nature of effective coaching becomes clear when people commit to roles that are beyond present capability and call for training and development to close the gap.

• Role of guiding includes the presence and active involvement of someone who has experience in similar journeys. This experience makes it possible to see the journey as a whole, including the relationship of day to day events to its intended destination and to see opportunities and hazards that are invisible to the less experienced. Guiding brings an external perspective and source of support for all other roles with primary support for leaders.

Launching involves activating essential roles, infusing them with initiating force and energy and connecting them such that they are able to pull together in pursuit of shared goals. Part of the journey at this stage is to develop and agree on a number of critical factors that individually determine success or failure in the journey. These include;
• The business must increase its competitive position and strength.
• Sites must make distinctive and measurable strides toward operational excellence.
• Primary external customer connections must follow the material flow vs. chain of command or functional silos.
• Each person and unit needs to measure their contribution in terms that support site and business goals. Status must be routinely audited, with feedback and course correction as needed.
• A core methodology for organization design and development needs to be selected, invested in and practiced throughout.
• Work on objectives and projects follows a clearly laid out, comprehensive plan of attack. Everyday work follows agreed to written procedures with intent to achieve specifically stated performance and behavioral standards.
• Every organization member has made a conscious choice to step into a role that makes an essential contribution. Taking a position on the sidelines or in the bleachers is unacceptable.
• Boundary interface with headquarters needs to be managed such that positive energy flows both ways and attention is diverted from guarding boundaries to cooperation across the interface.

The conduct of a successful journey evolves along the way as a consequence of activities and events that are initiated, experience gained from impact of unforeseen influences, increased access to useful resources and developed thinking of leaders. For many organizations these include;
• Self-designed and self-led leadership team meetings..
• Extension of goals, objectives, key measures, and useful techniques from leadership teams into the organization through networks, task teams and chain of command.
• Involvement of leadership team members and others in strategic planning process focused on business results supported by operational excellence.
• Increased direct involvement of headquarters personnel in leadership team events and activities.
• Islands of potential development are scattered throughout, although a broad scale wave of change is yet to come that realizes their potential.
• Changing membership of the management team such that current members are inclined toward teamwork, are credible in their own organizations and aim to develop as effective leaders.
• Resolution of issues that lead to an unsatisfactory level of execution. These include unclear roles, lack of confidence in being proactive as leader or supervisor, grip of “old culture environment”, absence of well-designed and practiced audit, feedback and course correcting process.
• Recognition that a complex and challenging journey is subject to the law of entropy and must from time to time re-new and rededicate itself.

Degree to which these factors are in place, understood, and are influential has been spotty in many organizations and should be a high priority subject for attention and upgrade.

Of all the factors that define what a journey is and whether it is likely to succeed, none is more critical than personal core values of its leaders. Without a leader there is no journey, nor is there development and without conscious dedication to uphold own core values, there is insufficient will to persevere as a leader. It is necessary to differentiate core values from other forms and depths of value. For example a common functional value is to support safety and environmental programs. At greater depth is value that no one or the planet gets hurt. And at the core of personal values is commitment to work for the physical and psychological well being of others. Regeneration of the journey must include discovery and sharing of core values among its leaders.

Monday, August 2, 2010


The aim of this segment is to present leaders with concepts essential to their process of leading. Concepts are a mental image of what a person intends to create or desires to achieve. They attract attention and stimulate flow of energy and resources toward desired outcomes. Therefore, capability to formulate and accurately communicate concepts becomes critical to leadership effectiveness.
Leaders communicate concepts through a live, open process that engages them and others in dialogue intended to develop shared understanding of words used to reference important concepts. Symbols and written material may be useful supplements to the process but are inadequate substitutes for direct engagement.

Following concepts portray levels of aspiration in striving for significant gains, point to behavioral guidance for the journey, and are fundamental to leadership. The brief description and example offered for each concept are intended as guides only; each leader and organization must engage in development of statements that reflect their thinking.


Aspiration involves the exercise of affirming will (aspect of will where we take a stand on and project opinions, beliefs, values) as dedication and commitment to work for achievement of desired results. Affirming will is not absolute; for example, sustained dedication to vision demands greater force of will than sustaining effort toward goals, therefore aspiration is presented as four levels. Additionally, affirming aspiration releases the energies of personal freedom.

• Vision: Mental construct of a desired state that faithfully expresses personal core values, evokes strong positive feelings, and stimulates a bias toward action.
“A culture where waste in any form, (including natural resources, energy, talent, human potential, money, asset capacity, good will) is the ultimate taboo.”

• Mission: Mobilizing and organizing the energy and resources of the organization and focusing them on fulfillment of the leader’s vision.
“Enlist all members of the organization as warriors in the war on waste.”

• Objective: A statement of what does not now exist, but must be created as a condition of mission success.
“Identify top ten sources of waste and establish systems for measurement, feedback and initiating improvements for each.”

• Goals: Milestones of progress en route to achieving an objective.
“Establish criteria for determining where waste has significant impact, complete a survey of sources and identify top ten by _____.”


Behavioral guidance involves expression of receptive will, (aspect of will that causes us to seek out and be open to ideas, values, opinions of others) characterized by exercise of self-discipline. Receptivity to behavioral guidance releases energies that lead to creation of higher order.

• Principle: Broad guidance to maintain thinking and behavior at levels consistent with beliefs and values.
“Virtually all people have a fundamental distaste for waste and are therefore to be challenged to identify and eliminate waste in any arena of personal influence and responsibility.”

• Standards: Specified values and qualities to be demonstrated in performing work or expressing behavior and specifies the level of thinking to be applied to a task.
“Task performance is expected to demonstrate relevant knowledge of waste dynamics applied toward eliminating sources.”

• Policy: An organization’s stated plan or direction intended to influence decisions, procedures and actions, toward those considered to be advantageous, applied thinking to a given situation.
“Elimination of waste is to be considered as level I justification for funding projects.”

• Rule: An authoritative directive that prescribes what is considered to be acceptable/non acceptable conduct, action, and behavior involved in everyday doing.
“Individual contribution to waste elimination will be a factor in all performance evaluations”

Principles and standards tend to be effective only to the extent they are internalized by individuals and positively reinforced by organization leaders. External pressure (as is often applied by supervisors) to comply and punishment for non compliance are likely to be counterproductive.

Policy and rules (often imposed by chain of command authority) tend to represent external expectation of directions people take and limits/boundaries they observe. Effective leaders provide positive reinforcement in the form of engaging people in coming to understand logic base for what is expected, openness to suggestions for upgrade, and training in acquiring capability to comply. Individuals tend to embrace rules and policy that are consistent with upholding their principles, achieving standards, and enabling aspirations.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


As you prepare to embark on a journey of change, it would be well to reflect on the implication of several vital concepts:

• Change is closely related to development with both concepts having to do with raising the purpose, state, and capability of a person, organization, or thing to a higher and more useful level.

• Development implies that possibility for change exists within the reality of a given situation and within the capacity of a person, organization, or thing to become something better than they presently are.

• Non-living things (products and technology) are developed only in response to external forces.

• Living things, other than human, develop through a process of evolution which is quite accidental and has a very low probability of a successful outcome on an individual scale.

• Human systems, (individuals and organizations) require development in order to achieve their potential and as a condition for survival in a changing environment.

• Development must proceed in response to intentional design or its products will be the result of accident vs. purpose and not sustainable.

• In order to produce desirable and sustainable outcomes, developmental efforts must be led from within the person or organization being developed, in order to tap the primary source of will and energy for the process. When external sources attempt to impose development on human systems the result is invariably unsatisfactory and often leads to an end-state worse than initial state. This does not surprise people who understand the true nature of development.

• Many things in a process of change and development require capable managing. The overall effort however must be led. Attempts to manage change in individuals and organizations reduce them to the status of things, and will cause them to misunderstand, resist, and/or be indifferent to the process.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Our business depends on investments individuals and other companies make in us and who therefore expect and deserve a return on their investment. They like us, are always looking for an improved return and if they find that a competitor can provide a higher return (because of changes for the better in products, technology and organization) they are likely to transfer their investment (stake) to that competitor leaving us high and dry without sufficient investment base to run a successful business.

A primary challenge to business is to encourage leaders in their natural desire for new and innovative approaches and support their initiative to set the stage for constructive change to take place.

A fundamental framework that describes essential elements of change:

Current State                                  Desired State


KNOWN?               UNKNOWN

What is not change:

• If the “desired state” is one we have visited before, it is NOT change.

• If methods we use to fill the gap are tried, true and familiar; they are NOT change.

• When we successfully solve difficult problems, it is NOT change.

• When we improve something incrementally, that is NOT change.

• When we feel like resting on our laurels, fear the unknown, and are never dissatisfied with current state we will NOT change.

Premises about change:

• Managing involves making effective and efficient use of what we know. Change is not a process that can be managed because it involves the unknown and is in the domain of leadership.

• We must accurately and completely describe the current state in order to have a stable foundation from which to initiate change.

• Leadership and change are inseparable. When leaders are assigned to a 100% diet of mundane tasks and fire-fighting they will turn off to leading, resign, or use their leadership skills in ways that are often upsetting to the organization.

• Leadership of change must come from within the system being changed.

• Change involves creating what we do not have and requires inventing new methods to achieve change objectives, therefore we gain benefit of these new results, including improved skills and capability.

• Change cannot be achieved by attempting to create something new into what already exists, therefore a void must exist to enable change to take place.

• Sustainable change requires first to aim for a higher purpose, next to develop advanced skills able to achieve purpose and then culture will naturally evolve in a more constructive and positive direction.