coaching philosophy

This is the long version...

My approach to executive-level coaching engagements is grounded in expertise in human behavior. As a Ph.D trained psychologist, I believe that relational and emotional insight CAN enhance leadership and performance. I possess a “hybrid” set of skills which makes me uniquely positioned to provide services that facilitate this in leaders. I believe very strongly in the importance of translating insight into behaviors that are observable and experienced by others. 


My coaching philosophy is guided not only by my doctoral training and expertise in the connection between emotions and behavior, but my own management and leadership experience. I spent 13 years leading diverse teams on large projects that ranged from construction and facilities, higher education administration, community development and public health. I have hired and fired, restructured departments, written job descriptions, managed budgets and projects with hard deadlines. I have hired people for the wrong reasons, I have given too little or too much autonomy to staff. I have worked for diverse bosses and know exactly what happens when the meritocracy ends and the politics begin. I have screwed up too and learned lessons which I use in my coaching work! I have also met project timelines and budgets early and under, and guided people to high performance during tough conditions.


I came to coaching as a confluence of events. I was a boss, I was teaching, I was doing clinical work in my private practice. I was providing Employee Assistance Program services and had conducted seminars and workshops at companies that started sending me employees to “fix”. Well-I had the pleasure of working with some great people and found the engagements interesting. And turns out-my odd combo of professional experiences came in very handy. My coaching business has grown very organically. In fact these paragraphs are the first time I have stated any of this publicly.


I love teaching and have since 1999 when I taught my first graduate level course. I have taught undergraduate and graduate courses as an adjunct professor upon request, lead seminars and training experiences for a wide range of corporate clients and am frequently asked to keynote professional conferences. I believe that my responsibility in a coaching engagement is to assist clients in accurately labeling problems, identifying goals, assessing the barriers (both contextual and internal) to getting there, and collaboratively generating strategies and tactics to reach the desired outcomes. I have a warm, conversational style and am clearly focused on getting tangible results.


Executive Coaching can be thought of in distinct “clusters”:


Crimes of Commission or Omission

This coaching type refers to behaviors that have been identified as needing to STOP or START. These are often coaching engagements driven by corporate boards or senior leaders. It is not necessarily “problem” coaching (although it can be). This type of coaching can also happen after culture surveys in organizations reveal leader blindspots. 


Technical/Sector Specific

This coaching type refers to coaching or mentoring with a more nuanced, specific knowledge of the sector. Many times retired executives return as consultants to share their wealth of experience and knowledge in a coaching capacity. Two examples of my sector specific coaching would be higher education and health care.


Next Level/Stretch

This final category is often self directed, self sought, self paid. An executive identifies that they are experiencing barriers, or just wants some guidance in questing for what is their “next” and wants an outside voice. Sometimes, talent management and human resource departments decide that an investment in a highly functioning employee that just needs a “nudge” can offer a big return. 


How it works with Next Generation Coaching


I believe that the coaching process should be transparent and genuine from start to finish. Research on executive coaching impact is actually sparse! There are reasons for this I am happy to explain if curious. What is known, is the impact of TRUST and PERSONALIZATION on the experience.

 

I am clear about fee structure, goals, expected frequency of interaction, duration of the engagement, and opinions pertaining to the progress. Despite this structure, I deliberately avoid templating the coaching experience. As with all human interactions, there is always a need for customization and flexibility. Face-to-face interactions are valued. Video conferencing and phone sessions are an option.


I do not conduct assessments, but frequently uses existing results. There are great practices out there who do this very well. What I have routinely experienced are executives that show up in my office with folders of test results, struggling to make actionable use of the reports. This is where I like to be-taking these words and phrases, breaking them down into component parts that are actionable for maximal return. I will not use jargons, clichés and acronyms from a method touted as the secret sauce. I see all executives that sit with me as full humans, with “diverse identify portfolios”. They are not just employees, they are partners and parents, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. All the roles that people occupy are part of any solution.


Examples of previous coaching engagements outcomes:


I. The CEO of a large organization was mandated to receive coaching per the Board of the company to address behavioral deficiencies in the area of cultural sensitivity. Five sessions 

of focused work led to positive changes, observable by others resulting in the Board’s satisfaction with outcome. The CEO stayed in the position.


II. A junior partner at an international financial firm was identified as “high potential” for a top position and was assessed and coached to cultivate and expand leadership competencies. This partner was tapped to lead a new division.


III. A mid-level manager was identified as mission critical to an organization but engaged in displays of emotion that were distracting to the team. The engagement addressed behavioral modification, resulting in a promotion for the staff member by the conclusion of the coaching contract.


IV. A senior leader in an organization sought intensive coaching around family history that was having an impact on their ability to navigate conflict with a co-worker. This person was able to have a breakthrough with this coworker that lead to more efficient and productive communication and significantly reduced stress for the coachee.


You can call Jessica at 800 570 1509 to set up a consultation. She can also answer questions you may have about fee structure or logistics.


If you are a personal referal, you are welcome to email me directly at:


drmelissa@behaveforward.com