New report highlights gaps in leadership and management skills
1st November 2011

A new Work Horizons report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is calling for the government to use its position and influence to encourage UK businesses to recognise and rectify gaps in management and leadership skills.

The report, 'Good Management – A New (Old) Driver for Growth', is launched today ahead of next month's Growth Review. It concludes that, despite the evidence that good management skills are a crucial driver of growth and a series of public commitments by the UK's governments to drive change in this area, improvements have been too slow. The CIPD says that as a result the UK's skills profile continues to lag behind other OECD countries.

Katerina Rüdiger, the CIPD's skills policy advisor and author of the report, said: "Headline grabbing proposals which call for making it easier to 'sack the slackers' are at risk of masking the real question we should be asking: why are so many UK workers still under performing? ”

"The reason is not stringent employment legislation – indeed the UK has one of the most de-regulated labour markets across OECD countries – but a crisis of management and leadership skills. Firing under performing workers does not address the root cause of this problem; the Government should instead focus on supporting employers to improve management capability. ”

"One third of the UK's workforce has managerial responsibilities so it's not difficult to see the potential for improved management and leadership capabilities to unlock productivity and address the problem of workplace performance in a way that works for everyone: employers, individuals and the UK economy.”

"I think we're at a crossroads,” continued Rüdiger. "Policy efforts to date have skirted around the real issue and any policy initiatives in this area have been uncoordinated, short-lived and ineffective. What we need is a new approach, but the magic bullet policy makers have been searching for does not exist.”

"What we should not do is to turn back the time and re-instate a workplace that is built on low trust and command and control. In fact we need to do the opposite and encourage employers to implement progressive workplace practices and help them to identify gaps in management and leadership skills. These are often deeply rooted in organisational culture and at the most senior levels of an organisation, which means many employers do not recognise their potential shortcomings. For policy measures to resonate, therefore, they must help employers define what ‘good management' looks like and encourage them to report on their investment in developing management capability."

The recommendations outlined in the report include:

  • Improved voluntary human capital reporting: the Government's consultation on the Future of Narrative Reporting should be seen as an opportunity to encourage more employers to report meaningfully on people management information that provides insight into the drivers of sustainable performance.
  • Government and intermediaries should promote the tools and support that is already available and identify best practice.
  • Cross-departmental collaboration and increased long-term political commitment, including a new focus on management and leadership skills development in business support provision. This should be designed in collaboration with employers so that it responds to workplace realities.
  • Sector Skills Councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships should be encouraged by Government to promote leadership and management as ‘skills for growth' essentials.
  • Clarity on the management and leadership skills required and the training and qualifications available.
  • Integration of more people management elements in existing provisions, such as MBAs.
  • Advice on quality interventions for employers and individuals.
  • A review of management and leadership capability and development within the public sector, so that the Government can lead by example.

Source – Training Reference


Entrepreneurship & Enterprise Conference - Birmingham Hippodrome
12th October 2011

Employment and the economy are unlikely to recover quickly unless there is substantial growth in existing and emerging small businesses.

In the main, the public sector will be reducing employment whilst large and multinational organisations will be cautious about recruitment whilst the current financial climate continues.

Despite the well meaning and well structured initiatives to enable the inactive labour force to return to employment, this will not be fully effective without the creation of new employment or self-employment prospects.

So – how will micro-businesses be created and developed; how will growing SMEs be stimulated and supported and how should we harness and re-develop the natural UK ideas and enterprise culture that will reinvigorate the economy?

This one-day conference will explore:

  • Emerging developments in entrepreneurship and innovation in new ventures
  • Policy objectives and strategic priorities for enterprise growth
  • How education stimulates the first steps into Entrepreneurship
  • The role of a Local Enterprise Partnership in driving economic growth
  • The creation, role and development of Social Enterprises
  • The finance and investment perspectives
  • Starting in Business including the challenges facing young people

The conference will be chaired by Dr David Rae, a leading innovator and researcher in business management, enterprise and learning who will lead the "Question Time" style panel and audience debate in the late morning session. The panel members will address questions sent in advance by delegates and live questions on the day.

Dr Rae will be supported in the debate and the plenary sessions by an exciting mix of speakers describing their different approaches, experiences and successes. Greg Chammings (BIS) will start off by describing the Government's strategic priorities and expectations for growing enterprise. The relationships with the new Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) and CCIs will be provided by Louise Bennett whilst other leading experts in their field will outline how entrepreneurs learn and can be developed to create new opportunities. This will include Sabirul Islam: author and motivational speaker narrating a case study of how young people can realise business start-ups.

Delegates will have the opportunity to submit questions and opinions in advance and to join in the live debate on the current challenges facing entrepreneurship and enterprise in the UK.

Attendance at this conference will provide an excellent opportunity to network and share good practice and experiences.


CIPD publishes Coaching Climate report
September 27th 2011

A new report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) investigates how coaching and mentoring are developing in organisations and aims to help HR professionals and coaches to deliver the best possible value from their initiatives.

The CIPD Coaching Climate report found that this year 77% of respondents report coaching activity, compared to 90% in 2009. However, the CIPD says the coaching landscape is far from bleak with more than four-fifths of those using coaching reporting that they're doing more of it than two years ago.

The report says coaching is utilised most as a tool for improving performance and is used nearly as much to improve poor performance (43%) as to build on good performance (48%). Although the bulk of coaching, in keeping with previous data, is delivered by line managers or in-house coaches, the proportion by external coaches has nearly doubled (up from 14% to 20%).

When looking at the extent to which organisations work on specific agendas most coaching assignments were found to focus on developing skills and competence (67% always and frequently), with supporting career transition (54% always and frequently) another key area. The focus on improving understanding of business, commercial and financial issues (26% always and frequently) was low. The CIPD says that in a tough economic environment understanding business and commercial issues should be top of the list for HR professionals, however the report highlights just how low down on the agenda it actually is, with only 5% of organisations always doing this and 10% never addressing the issue.

Dr John McGurk, adviser learning and talent at the CIPD, said: "The report demonstrates the value of coaching, and the need to use it to improve performance and build capability. It is good to see so many firms boosting their use of this important part of the learning and development toolkit.

"Although budgets remain tight it is encouraging to see that a relatively small number of organisations report decreases in their coaching budgets, compared to the number reporting decreases in overall funding in our Learning and Talent Development survey earlier this year.

"The report also identifies areas for improvement, particularly in the development of HR capability around business savvy, the ability to apply business knowledge and understanding to key people and performance issues and to fulfil strategic objectives. Our Next Generation HR research project challenged practitioners to develop and trade upon their insight within the organisation and link this to the business, driving real insight about how good people management can make the difference."

Source Training Reference


DDI/CIPD survey examines leadership development programmes
September 13th 2011

According to new research from talent management consultancy, DDI, and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), only a third (36%) of UK leaders and one in five (18%) UK HR professionals rate the quality of leadership as ‘high' in their organisations.

The survey - 'UK Highlights: Global Leadership Forecast' - found that only 38% of both UK leaders and HR professionals rate their organisations' leadership development programmes as highly effective. Twenty per cent of leaders and 24% of HR professionals rate the programmes as ineffective.

Based on responses from 56 HR professionals and 367 leaders in the UK, the survey identifies the key leadership skills needed to ensure success in the next three years – driving and managing change (identified by 69% of leaders), making difficult decisions (34%) and executing organisation strategy (32%).

Three drivers of leadership quality are also highlighted in the findings: leadership development, talent management and management culture.

Vanessa Robinson, head of HR practice development at the CIPD, said: "Leadership development budgets remain tight, particularly in the UK, yet effective leaders make a real difference to the success of organisations. If UK organisations are to continue to be successful on the world stage, then leaders need to be equipped with the key skills that our survey identified.

"UK organisations, like the rest of the world, should focus on opening up decision making in their organisation and creating a set of shared and meaningful values for their employees. Earlier research from the CIPD has looked at this issue of creating a sense of shared purpose and the value that can be achieved for both the employees and the organisation as a whole.

"Talent should be another important focus for UK organisations. Given the higher external failure rates of leaders and the significant costs associated with external hires, effective succession, or ‘grow-your-own' tactics, will be an increasingly important talent strategy. HR's role in ensuring these talents are developed will be pivotal, especially as the UK population ages, and hence the senior-level workforce expands."

Steve Newhall, managing director of DDI, said: "The lack of ability to fill vacant leadership positions coupled with the inconsistent approach to high potential development paints a worrying picture for UK business. With a significantly high failure rate of external hires in the UK, identifying and nurturing internal talent is vital. To ensure organisations do have the leadership coming through that they need, they simply have to focus the finite development budget on those with most potential.

"The findings of the survey must be read in the context of a severe recession. Organisations in the UK suffered greatly and their leaders were under intense pressure. So the poor picture of UK leadership is perhaps not surprising. But the report tells us that leadership really does matter and good leadership makes an immense difference to the success of the organisation. Leaders themselves are telling us the skills they need and what development and talent management processes are most effective. If we in the HR and development profession listen to who are in reality our customers, we can play a pivotal role in the success of our leaders and our organisation."

The opinions from UK respondents were compared to the total group of 1,897 HR professionals and 12,423 leaders from over 74 countries worldwide. The survey found:

* HR professionals from the UK and around the world report using formal workshops, manager coaching and special projects most frequently to develop their leaders and UK organisations, compared to the global comparison, report greater use of more formal training

* Leaders themselves in both the UK and global samples identified formal workshops as the single most effective development method

* Coaching from internal mentors is more widely accepted and utilised by UK leaders (48%) than those worldwide (45%)

* Computer-based learning such as web-based training (37%) and virtual classrooms (22%) are used less frequently by UK leaders than leaders across the globe (global- web-based training 43% and -virtual 27%)

* 81% of leaders in the UK reported that their individual performance expectations were tied to corporate goals and strategies

* 57% of the UK leaders reported that their performance management systems generally took into account not only what, but how their objectives were achieved

Source – Training Reference


Research finds three times greater business impact generated by senior leaders who coach and develop employees
August 24th 2011

According to new research from Bersin & Associates, senior leaders who coach, develop and hold others accountable for coaching and development are three times more effective at producing improved business and talent results than those who do not.

The research findings are included in the research and consulting firm's new study, 'High-Impact Performance Management: Part 1 – Designing a Strategy for Effectiveness'.

The research also found that while 70 percent of organisations claim they coach their employees, many managers lack coaching skills, and only 11 percent of senior leaders actively coach regularly. Despite such challenges, 10 percent more organisations say they use a coaching and development model of performance management today than did in 2008.

Stacia Sherman Garr, senior analyst for performance management at Bersin & Associates, said: "High-performing organisations are moving from competitive assessment toward a coaching and development model for performance management to address an unusual confluence of events: a slow recovery from a deep recession, the rise of a younger generation that expects more coaching and development and the globalisation of much of the workforce.

"A coaching and development approach to performance management empowers organisations to provide support when they cannot offer more compensation. It also facilitates the development of younger workers and helps retain employees in competitive emerging markets. "Our research also shows that organisations are moving to a coaching and development model of performance management because it drives innovation and growth, which is a top priority in organisations today."

The Bersin & Associates study is the first in a five-part series on High-Impact Performance Management. The series is based on a year-long analysis of performance management that involved more than 500 HR leaders from a range of industries, geographies and organisation sizes. The research found that four of the top five challenges to effective performance management are related to poor executive engagement. Specifically, the study found that:

* Senior leaders frequently fail to model effective coaching. Only 11 percent of senior leaders regularly coach their employees and only 15 percent of leaders discuss the importance of coaching and development employees "very frequently".

* Executive engagement is critical to performance management effectiveness, yet lacking at most organisations. Of those organisations with very frequent executive engagement with performance management, 81 percent had strong business results – and none had below-average business results. Only 35 percent of organisations with infrequent executive engagement had strong business results.

* Managers lack the skills to coach their employees, and this presents the most severe challenge to effective management of employee performance. The research shows that organisations effective at teaching managers to coach deliver higher levels of employee productivity, employee engagement and financial performance.

* At most organisations, there is a "disconnect" between the intended purpose of performance management and the reality. Companies want the process to deliver goal alignment (49 percent) but more often they focus entirely on performance appraisal (44 percent).

"It is HR's responsibility to help senior leaders understand the impact of effective coaching on their organisation's performance,” said Josh Bersin, chief executive officer, Bersin & Associates. "Our research finds that performance management when done well can deliver huge business impact. The key findings in this research are that the coaching element is much more important than organisations may previously have believed."

Based in Oakland, California, Bersin & Associates plans to publish four additional reports in the Performance Management series over the next nine months. Parts two through five will look at performance management practices, such as setting and revising goals, coaching and development planning, rewarding and recognising performance for impact, and using appraisal to drive improvement.

Source Training Reference


Management Training – How to Know if Your Staff are Telling You the Truth
August 11th 2011

This technique is used extensively in sales and leadership and management training and development. It assumes that most people associate happiness with the truth and sadness with not telling the truth, and operates by the premise that by learning to distinguish peoples physiology when they are happy and sad we can usually determine when they are and when they are not telling the truth.

By following these simple steps you will soon be able to learn to read your staff and find out when they are and when they are not telling you the truth.

Begin with one member of staff, asking them about something they like.

“What did you do on the weekend?”

Begin to notice their posture, start with their shoulders, are they relaxed, or tense, then look at their chest and notice the pattern of their breathing is it fast or slow. Then look at their face what colour is it, bright or dull, look at their mouth is it happy or sad, do their eyes look fresh or tired.

If this is about something that makes them happy this will usually be the same each time they are talking about something that makes them happy, if it is about something that makes them sad, then they will usually do the same every time they are talking about something that makes them unhappy.

Each time you speak with the person notice what they do with happy and unhappy aspects of their life in their physiology, make a note of it and remember what you notice.

Once you have repeated this six times you should be able to notice quite a few differences when they are doing this.

Then the next time you are faced with a situation with that person and you would like to ensure that they are telling the truth, keep asking them questions about the subject and notice what they do.

If it is the truth you will find they usually display the same characteristics as when they are happy and if they are not telling you the truth they will usually display the same characteristics as when they are unhappy.

Obviously this technique does not work with everybody, but as a general rule of thumb, most people are uncomfortable when not telling the truth, which does make them unhappy.

This is a great technique that our executive coaches work with many of our clients to develop, often senior executives know how to manage, but learning to read their staff enables them to find out if they are really unhappy in work and improve their motivation in the workplace leading to better results.


Developing Problem Solving Skills - Using Imagery to Coach Your Staff for Better Results
August 4th 2011

Imagery is used extensively in most executive coaching techniques that use NLP, it is a great communication technique to help people change, however it is important to break down this into smaller ‘bite sized chunks’ for use by mangers on a day-to-day basis.

All people process images differently from other kinds of language. Images are really powerful and can really move and motivate us when well presented.

Notice the difference between the taste of sticky toffee pudding and a recipe. There’s no comparison, the taste win’s every time.

Try to use sharp, compelling images in your communication with your staff, try to get them to imagine doing something or experiencing something. Help them imagine what it is like to learn something new or to accomplish some hard task, and then experience what the feeling is like when they have completed it.

Here are some examples of how you can use imagery successfully as a manager:

Coping or Mastery Imaging – this type of imagery is especially useful for dealing with difficult situations or tasks. Ask your staff to imagine themselves successfully dealing with a difficult situation or task, these images can be large, general images or small detailed ones. The detailed images really help when learning something new.

Modelling Images – again very useful for dealing with difficult situations or tasks. Ask your staff to imagine someone who is already excellent at a desired task or skill, and go through the steps this person would take. This is an excellent transitional learning experience, making it easier to do something when the need arises.

Idealised Future Images – great for stimulating positive thinking. Ask your staff to imagine how they would like life to be in five years. Where do they want to be, how do they want to be, what do they want to be doing, and how do they want to feel? Help them to use their imagination to experience what the future can be like. This can be more real and make them more accessible.

Levelling Images – for confronting or dealing with difficult people and situations, often used extensively for fear of public speaking and presentations. Ask your staff to simply imagine the audience in their underwear, or the client they are dealing with in their gardening clothes or out of work at a BBQ with all of the kids.

Corrective Images – great for confidence building after someone has made a mistake. Ask them to go back over the same situation and do it again. This time changing something significant and seeing what difference it makes.

Worst-Case Scenarios – great for dealing with very difficult or intimidating situations. Ask your staff to imagine the worst possible outcome of a situation, and help them decide if they could stand the outcome. Then ask them to take another view and determine what the realistic worst-case scenario would be, decide how bad that would be and whether some preparation needs to be made for it. Then they can go ahead and develop a plan, knowing that they can handle any imaginable result.

Empathy Images – very useful developing the skills of how to read people better. Ask your staff to imagine themselves in the shoes of the other person and go through the situation they are facing in their position, thinking what they are thinking and feeling what they are feeling. This is a fantastic way of becoming a better manager or sales person as well as learning how to read people much better.

Imagery is one of the techniques our executive coaches use at t2, often to teach to clients to help them manage or lead their staff better, but more often than not as one of the techniques we use to help bring about change, leading to personal and organisational growth for the individual undertaking executive coaching.


Leadership Development - How an Awareness of Behaviourism in the Modern Organisation can have a Powerful Effect Through Executive Coaching
July 28th 2011

Behaviourism is used in two ways by executive coaches in modern organisations, firstly to help people understand themselves and change (as people and leaders) and secondly, to help people to learn how to use behaviourism to improve the way they manage people and improve their own organisation.

Behaviourism explains much of what happens to people from moment to moment, yet most people do not think about it very often.

To examine behaviourism it is useful to look at reinforcement, a reinforcement is anything that, when it follows a behaviour, tends to strengthen that behaviour. Reinforcements are all around us, but some things that people think are reinforcements are purely rewards, the difference being rewards are desired by the person demonstrating a behaviour. The person likes the rewards, but the person does not reliably produce repeat behaviour.

There are a number of different types of reinforcement, the first being intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic comes from outside, people are rewarded with money and quickly associate this with working hard to get it. Another example is Air Miles offered by the airlines, they do not mean anything on their own, but people quickly associate gaining them by using certain airlines and repeat this behaviour. Intrinsic reinforcement comes from within; such as the good feeling people get when they have solved a problem other people were struggling with or the learning of a new skill.

It is difficult to say which is the most powerful of the two, many people think that intrinsic rewards are superior, because the person experiencing the reinforcement is more likely to take credit for the behaviour, while those reinforced extrinsically might just attribute the behaviour or learning to the external reward (eg. “I did it for the money”). Some also say that extrinsic rewards can “wear out,” while intrinsic ones never do. One never tires of doing something deeply satisfying.

Effective use of behaviourism is a very powerful tool for organisations, when we start working with an executive coaching client, we often ask them to begin to make a list of the overt and covert operational reinforcements that exist within their own organisation. This in itself can be a very interesting if they had not thought about it before and this also enables them to begin to understand the power of behaviourism in the modern organisation and the impact it has on themselves.

Care must be taken however, random reinforcement patterns can wreak havoc in modern organisations, and contingent reinforcement gets the results desired.


Developing Listening Skills for Managers - Practice this Simple Technique to Improve Morale in Your Team.
July 21st 2011

When conducting 360 feedback from staff at the start of an executive coaching assignment, the biggest challenge we find most managers face is that their staff feel that their managers do not listen to them effectively, yet this simple thing to master is often the biggest factor in improving morale in de-motivated teams.

Staff often amplify problems in their own mind, feeling that their managers are not interested in listening to them or do not want to listen to them. This then causes discontent within the workforce leading to low morale.

However the biggest issue comes with actually listening, most managers do not really know how to listen effectively to their staff.

We encounter this problem frequently when our executive coaches are coaching managers in the workplace; it is very easy to label people as moaners and troublemakers, which often result in managers not listening to these staff properly and allowing their minds to wander onto different things when they are speaking to them and cutting them off in mid flow.

When we are faced with this challenge our executive coaches often use the following simple exercise to overcome it. The exercise was developed in the world of stand up comedy, but works perfectly when it is implemented in the workplace.

To ensure a manager listens to everything an employee says to them, our executive coaches challenge them to begin their response to the employee with the last letter of the last word the employee says to them.


“I’m having a really tough time completing this piece of work, the data is just not available. Finance are not giving me the correct figures and there are just not enough hours in the day to complete it in time for the meeting.”


“Great for bringing that to my attention, is there any way I can help you meet the deadline?”

By doing this we are doing two things:

Firstly we are not cutting the person off in mid flow and listening to the end of their sentence.

Secondly we have to pause to think of what we can say to begin the response with the right letter, this in the other persons eyes is seen as us digesting the information they have given us, and makes them think that we respect what they have said.

At t2, our executive coaches have used this technique when we are executive coaching with hundreds of managers and the results are astounding, once the exercise is completed a number of times we find managers begin to always listen to what the other persons saying naturally without interfering or letting their minds wander.


Why coaching compliments training
July 14th 2011

As early as 1997, a study resulted in an often quoted statistic that: ‘After training alone, the average increase in productivity was 22.4%. When training was augmented by executive coaching, the average increase in productivity was 88%.’ This study examined the effects on productivity of one-to-one executive coaching in a public sector organisation.

A recent CIPD report states: ‘An overwhelming proportion of respondents (over 90%) believe that executive coaching is an effective mechanism for promoting learning organisations. A key reason for this appears to be that it is considered to embed external learning from training courses back in the workplace – 93% of respondents agree that this is the case…’

So why do most organisations not follow up training with executive coaching?

It appears time and cost come out as the two most common reasons, but are you not wasting time and money if the new skills are note effectively transferred to the workplace!

At t2 our executive coaches can help with embedding our external leadership training programmes or any other leadership and management training you undertake. Call us today for more information.


ILM calls for coaching to be made available to all staff
July 08th 2011

Despite being acutely aware of the benefits of coaching, only half of UK companies actively coach all of their staff, according to research by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM).

The report, 'Creating a coaching culture', says that 80% of companies use coaching as a staff development tool, with 95% reporting benefits to the organisation and 96% seeing benefits to the individual being coached. But coaching is predominantly targeted at senior level employees, with 85% of companies surveyed coaching senior managers and directors, compared to just 52% providing coaching for non-management staff.

Penny de Valk, chief executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management, said: "Coaching is the single most cost-effective development investment an organisation can make as this learning naturally spreads across the workplace. Yet our research suggests that a limited segment of the working population receives coaching. Companies direct it at the lucky few rather than embedding a coaching culture across an organisation."

The survey of learning and development managers found that 83% of companies use their own managers to provide coaching for staff and that 65% use external coaches.

According to the survey, a third (34%) of organisations offer no training or support to their internal coaches - they are selected on the grounds that they are line managers (53%), senior staff members (46%) or a member of the HR department (43%).

De Valk continued: "At present many coaches inside organisations are chosen informally. Managers expressing an interest in coaching are encouraged to "have a go", but coaching is a specialist management skill, you do not become a great coach just by reading a book, it calls for training, experience, ongoing development and support. A willing attitude or natural aptitude is not enough. "Encouraging staff to coach others without suitable support may well restrict the scope and effectiveness of the coaching provided. Without appropriate training for internal coaches and a support structure, organisations will struggle to apply a consistent approach to ensure they obtain the maximum benefit."

The survey questioned participants about the value of coaching to their staff. The majority of respondents (95%) said coaching was a direct benefit to their organisations, with 96% seeing benefits to the individual. A broad range of specific benefits were identified, ranging from improvements in communication and interpersonal skills, to improved business knowledge and skills in specific areas and increased motivation levels. However organisations still tend emphasise coaching's ability to address specific performance (26%) or behavioural issues (8%).

"Coaching should not be seen as a remedial tool, it is about delivering a high-performance culture, rather than a tool to address individual weaknesses," said de Valk. "All levels of employee, and certainly all managers and leaders, can and should benefit from a coaching approach to management." The survey also found that 85% of organisations make coaching available to their managers and directors. The larger the organisation, the more likely it is to use coaching. 90% of organisations with 2,000+ employees used coaching in the past five years, dropping to 68% amongst those with 230-500 employees.


The CIPD Annual Survey Report 2010 Learning and Talent Report
June 16th 2011

The CIPD Learning and Talent Report for 2010 has recently been released with some interesting statistics regarding coaching.

Coaching now takes place in eight in ten (82%) of all organisations, however only a third (36%) have a system to evaluate it. Systems mainly rely on the collection of post course evaluations (58%), individuals’ testimonies (56%), on assessing the impact on business key performance indicators (KPIs) of coaching (44%), and measuring the return on expectation (40%).

When considering coaching interventions, seven in ten organisations either only frequently or occasionally discuss with the line managers and coaches the organisation’s expectations of the intervention (71%), and assess the likelihood that the individuals team will benefit before embarking on it (69%).

While using interventions, a third frequently discuss the progress of individual coaching interventions at appraisal and performance reviews, and two in ten (18%) frequently collect and analyse data about the coaching at agreed


For more information the full report is on the CIPD website.


Government launches next phase of Growth Review
June 15th 2011

Skills, the rural economy and medium sized businesses will be at the centre of the next stage of the Growth Review, the Government announced this week.

Building on the programme set out in the first Plan for Growth, published at the Budget, the next stage of the review will focus on:

  • Education and skills – looking across the whole of the education system from schools, FE colleges, universities and other training providers to consider how to maximise economic growth
  • Infrastructure – considering how to eliminate barriers and encourage greater investment in UK infrastructure
  • Logistics – covering rail, road, shipping and air freight interests and cutting across the wholesale industry, looking at opportunities and barriers to growth as the logistics sector evolves in response to the increasing complexity and globalisation of supply chains
  • Mid-sized businesses – examining businesses that have expanded beyond the definition of SMEs, considering how to increase the number of firms that show significant growth at this level
  • Rural economy – scrutinizing the constraints, opportunities and risks impacting on economic growth in rural areas and considering specific issues including labour market characteristics
  • Open data – investigating the potential growth benefits and risks of opening up access to public sector data assets

Business Secretary Vince Cable formally launched the next phase of the Growth Review during his visit to Rolls Royce in Derby, where he welcomed the company's commitment to 200 new apprenticeships and broke the ground on a new Learning and Development Centre. He also hosted a round table event with a number of mid-sized businesses from the Rolls Royce supply chain.

Dr Cable said: "We are launching the second stage of the plan for growth with one central purpose - creating the right conditions for business to start up, invest, grow and create jobs. "We are seeing the evidence this week of successful rebalancing of the economy towards exports and manufacturing, with the announcement of major commitments from Nissan and BMW, and today the commitment from Rolls Royce to an expansion of their Apprenticeship programme."


Coaching your staff to take responsibility for their actions
June 10th 2011

Many mangers we coach often complain that their staff do not want to take responsibility, however they do not consider that this may be because they have never experienced being given responsibility before in their lives and as such it might be very scary for them a t first, like anything new.

Underneath, however, most of us crave responsibility because it gives us a measure of self worth and it is those people with very low self worth that really struggle overall with taking responsibility for their actions.

This is a cycle many staff get stuck in and coaching is the best way to help people out of it.

Below are some great questions you can use to encourage your staff to take responsibility for their actions:

  • What do you want from work apart from money?
  • What does responsibility mean to you?
  • Do you feel a burden of responsibility right now?
  • Is responsibility always a burden to you?
  • What do you think some people like about responsibility?
  • What else are you responsible for in your life?
  • What are you afraid of?
  • What could you do to overcome that?
  • What are you willing to take responsibility for?
  • Are you willing to try taking more responsibility for a week?

Just by answering these questions they are beginning to take on more responsibility, this is often used by our executive coaches in our executive coaching to great success.


How You Can Use Stories to Make Your Point as a Manager
June 6th 2011

If you notice what most great leaders and almost all highly effective managers do really well, is to use stories to make their points when they are talking to their staff.

Why is this?

It’s because we use a different part of the brain to process a story to the part we use to follow instructions.

People hate to be told what to do, but stories are great because they allow us to make indirect suggestions, the plot of a story is often a great suggestion of how life really works. You can make all kinds of suggestions through a good story.

Examples also work in the same way, as they tell people how things work along with what is expected of them.

From now on each time you hear a great story, try to remember it and see if you can relate it to something that could benefit you making a point to your team in work, or even better to write down all the powerful stories you hear and then begin to relate them to your work. If you are a good storyteller take advantage of this, if not learn how to tell stories, there are lots of great resources on the internet and some great books that can help you with this. Next, begin to create opportunities to practice by making up your own stories especially for a member of your team, use previous employees for relevant anecdotes if needed. Then integrate one or two important indirect suggestions (along with the desired outcome) into each story.

When you start telling your stories, be careful not to repeat them and never explain them. The power is in allowing your staff to work out what they mean to them, from their own personal point of view. In fact, ambiguity is often the most powerful way to react to the indirect suggestions you plant. Your staff will feel compelled to fill in the blanks in the most important ways to them, and often they will do this in wonderful ways that have not, and would never have occurred to you.

Often people will ‘hear’ a message in a story that they cannot hear in any other form. When you tell a story about how someone accomplished something, you can access the thought that if they did it so can I!

For more information about using stories, contact one of our executive coaches today. Throughout our executive coaching we use a range of powerful techniques to help you become a better leader or manager.


Are you an experienced Executive Coach?
May 31th 2011

Due to an increase in demand for our services we are interested in hearing from experienced Executive Coaches who would like to work with us.

Ideally from a corporate background, working at a senior level you will have a proven track record in Executive Coaching, with the ability to provide references from previous clients demonstrating successful interventions.

You will have a recognised Executive Coaching qualification and have the skills and experience required to deliver exceptional results.

For more information e-mail


Six situations where executive coaching fits
May 27th 2011

1. Stretch assignments: For an executive facing a sudden critical assignment with intense time and budget constraints, or promoted into a new position or back-filling a current opening, an executive coach can provide a valuable safety net and sounding board.

2. High-potential executives: A manager on the fast-track, who's being groomed for leadership positions might need extra guidance to help him or her advance quickly.

3. Uneven leadership skills: When an executive's weakness in interpersonal relationships, decision making or managerial proficiency is causing low morale and internal conflict, an executive coach may be the best way to help that person recognize his or her problems and figure out how to turn them around.

4. Specific performance problems: For the leaders of units and divisions that are behind plan or unlikely to meet business targets, an executive coach can provide strategic business insights and support.

5. Beat the competition: An executive coach can help executives enhance their leadership and business skills so that their organizations can stay ahead of the competition.

6. Building teams: Often used in mergers and acquisitions or turn-around situations, executive coaching helps an executive team quickly acquire new skills, particularly when time is of the essence.

What type of ROI can you expect from executive coaching?

MetrixGlobal conducted a case study on ROI of executive coaching. The conclusion was that: “Executive Coaching produced a 529% return on investment and significant intangible benefits to the business.

Including the financial benefits from employee retention boosted the overall ROI to 788%.”

This study focused on leadership development and concluded that executive coaching is a very effective developmental tool, especially for decision-making, team-performance and the motivation of others. It reports specific financial benefits as a result of executive coaching, especially related to productivity and to employee satisfaction.

Another more recent study looked at the impact of executive coaching in delivering results against key business goals in an organisation. Triad, completed this study for, but the client organisation remains confidential. The key findings concluded that ROI was 10:1, at a conservative level, with a long-term return in the millions. They found abundant evidence regarding improved staff retention, creation of a positive work environment and increased revenue.


Bright future for coaching in the UK
May 17th 2011

Following David Cameron’s recent comments, it appears the future is bright for Executive Coaches and Business Coaches in the UK.

Amongst the business support initiatives announced in Bigger Better Business is the 'Business Coaching for Growth Programme'.

The initiative is targeting established SMEs with the potential to increase employment or turnover by 20 per cent or more each year for three years and new start-ups with the potential to become “gazelles”

Providing high growth executive coaching to enable these businesses to address barriers to growth and to grow more rapidly.

Connecting these businesses to a network of external provision from specialist knowledge and investor networks, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and investment in leadership and management training.

Government investment in helping business to improve will be focused on accelerating the ability of firms with high growth potential to grow, creating wealth and jobs.

Business Coaching for Growth will target the highly select group of businesses with the potential to achieve rapid and significant growth and will equip them with the skills to develop and implement strategies for growth.

Businesses will benefit from a structured programme of specialist advice, executive coaching and mentoring, tailored to their specific needs and aimed at helping them to develop and implement strategic business plans, to identify and protect Intellectual Property and to exploit innovative ideas, unlock new markets, and access external investment.

Business Coaching for Growth will also act as a hub for opportunities for peer to peer networking helping to unlock new business opportunities by providing faster access to local networks, clusters and supply chains.

Business Coaching for Growth will improve businesses’ ‘investment readiness’ making firms with potential more aware of equity as a source of finance; developing their management teams and business models; and improving their skills to pitch to Angels and venture capital funds. By connecting a range of networks, Business Coaching for Growth will strengthen investor and other networks, such as Business Angel networks.

Business Coaching for Growth complements the work of Technology and Innovation Centres (TICs) and will work closely with them as well as business incubators, science parks and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). Together they have the potential to create a dynamic combination of cutting edge, innovative businesses with a clear vision, a unique selling point and the skills to succeed in international markets.


Sir Richard Branson tops ‘nation’s preferred coach’ poll
May 12th 2011

Sir Richard Branson has been voted the nation's preferred coach in a poll carried out by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) to mark the launch of their 'Perform at Your Peak' professional coaching campaign.

The Virgin boss received almost a quarter of votes (22%), with Karren Brady, businesswoman and adviser to Lord Sugar on The Apprentice, coming in second with 11% of the vote. Rugby World Cup winning coach, Sir Clive Woodward, was close behind with 10%.

The survey of over 1,350 managers found that the majority of managers (63%) are not performing at their optimum level, with 79% of those questioned believing their performance would improve if they had a coach at work.

Penny de Valk, chief executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management, said: "It is worrying such a high proportion of managers say they are not performing at their optimum level at a time when the UK economy is still so fragile. Managers need to be confident in their ability and direction if they are to lead their staff effectively and contribute to the country's economic recovery.

"Developing managers' coaching skills is the single most cost-effective development investment a business can make, and the wise CEO will ensure coaching is introduced across their organisation to help staff work at the optimum level."

59% of respondents said that they had previously received coaching at work, with 92% saying their performance had improved as a result.

De Valk continued: "The results show that coaching really works. Rather than simply advising or providing answers coaching is a facilitative process which allows people to formulate their own ideas and solutions.

"However, it is crucial that those organisations asking their managers to coach provide them with the skills and support to do so. Coaching carried out by poorly trained or inexperienced people will tend to be one-to-one instruction, which can drive dependency. True coaching - by trained coaches - ensures staff work out their own solutions and approach, rather than being given a moment in time solution."

On Wednesday 25 May 2011 the Institute of Leadership & Management will be hosting a speed coaching session at Canary Wharf, with Olympians Roger Black and Steve Backley.

Source – Training Reference


An introduction to solution focused coaching for Executive Coaches
May 11th 2011

Solution focused coaching is a way of looking at situations that many successful people have used for centuries.

The solution-focused approach to executive coaching has its roots in Milton H. Erickson’s work on hypnosis and communication in the late 1950’s

Erikson’s work influenced many people and gave rise to a psychotherapy known as brief solution-focused therapy.

This approach has been used extensively and with very good results in the fields of education, child behavioural problems, drug counselling and many other areas.

It is based on two very basic premises:

Even the most persistent problem is not persistent absolutely all the time. There are always some exceptions. For example, if you are depressed there must be some moments that are not as bad as others.

If you know where you are going it is easier to get there. So, imagining a future helps you to reach it.

Looking for causes

In the western world, we like to look for causes to our problems. It is ingrained in our mindset, it is almost like our lifeblood.

It is the way we see things.

We feel that if we go into all the possible details of what may have caused a problem, we will be able to solve it.

Science is now beginning to show us that understanding causes does not always allow us to predict effects.

Chaos theory and complexity theory highlight the fact that sometimes even very small changes can produce huge effects.

This is why the solution-focused approach is so important.

Focusing on solutions means that you use the solutions that are happening anyway and build on these.

Working from the individual’s perspective means that executive coaches can capitalise on patterns that are emerging and use them to move an organisation and their coachee forward.

By dwelling on the causes of problems we often perpetuate and exaggerate them.

Over-engaging in self-reflection and focusing on problems actually makes us feel worse.

By looking for solutions we immediately shift the emphasis from the past to the future.

From ‘why’ to ‘how to’.

Sometimes, the ‘how to’ question can be answered by noticing what’s already working and doing more of that. So if we look at the premise that executive coaching is a dialogue between the executive coach and client where they work together to define the issues and jointly construct a solution.

By shifting our perspective from what caused the problem to what the solution might look like, we often find we can move on from seemingly intractable situations.

The solution-focused approach acknowledges that by looking at what we perceive to be rational, logical and obvious causes we shut ourselves off from a range of intuition, knowledge and skills.

Perception, intuition, imagination are all, important resources that we have at our disposal. We tend not to trust anything other than rational, logical thought, despite the fact we are emotional, instinctive beings. But we are moving away from a very rational age to one where we are beginning to acknowledge that emotion, intuition and perception are important.

Our lived experience counts.

One of Einstein’s most famous quotes points to this

‘Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge and reality starts from experience and ends in it.’

So why do we mistrust our intuition to such an extent?

After all, stripped of the pseudo-mystical, intuition is simply automatic, unconscious access to information that we have acquired over time. Anyone who has developed a skill knows that there are times when intuition and experience take over.

In fact, to be good at many things you have to go beyond rational thought; you have to trust your intuition.

When we are learning to do something we focus a lot of attention on acquiring the skill and developing the confidence we need. Once we have become proficient we can concentrate on other, more subtle aspects.

A virtuoso musician has the technical ability and confidence to play almost any piece of music. Little thought goes into reading the music, fingering, technique or timing. The entire concentration can be focused on interpretation. We all have masses of implicit knowledge that we never have to think about accessing or using.

Another famous Einstein quote backs this up

‘The only really valuable thing is intuition’

Sportspeople, musicians, actors, public speakers, chess players, surgeons, in fact people from all walks of life and types of profession have to learn to trust their implicit knowledge. They have to trust them selves to know what they are doing because the moment they start to doubt it, and think too carefully about what they are doing, they are liable to choke or fail in their task.

The solution-focused approach of accepting that people are able to solve problems and find solutions is not just wishful thinking; it is backed up by research that shows that implicit knowledge plays an important part in being successful in all sorts of fields. Studies also show that focusing on an optimistic solution-focused approach can enhance performance.

Solution-focused thinking is not about ignoring problems – it is about reframing them. We do it all the time anyway, but coaching sets out to make this explicit and deliberate.

We are much more used to the problem-focused approach. And sometimes this can be a vey necessary way of working.

However, if you start looking for solutions, you start to find them. It is like the famous drawing of an old lady, the picture doesn’t change. The only change that takes place is a mental shift in the head of the observer.

Once you start to see solutions rather than problems it becomes easier. It’s as though you start to notice solutions around you. Like when you buy a dog or a new car. Suddenly the world is full of dogs or your model of car.

The solution-focused approach supplies us with tools and techniques that enable us to tap into and use the wealth of past experiences, skills, intuition and imagination that we all have, including the following:

Look for exceptions

However bad the problem or situation there must be times when it doesn’t occur

Doing more of what works Once you have started to work out when the exceptions to the difficult situations occur, then you try to do more of whatever you are doing that is making the difference

Do less of what doesn’t work The direct correlation of this is to do less of whatever it is that you seem to be doing when the problem occurs

The miracle question and constructing possibilities The solution-focused approach is about constructing possibilities. At one end of the scale we are looking for miracles, at the other end we are looking for mere possibilities.

The miracle question goes something like this:

‘Suppose you woke up tomorrow morning and a miracle had occurred while you were asleep and the problems had disappeared and the solution was present. How would you know that the solution had arrived? What would be different? How would you feel? What would you notice first? How would other people know?’

At the other end of the scale we can ask possibility questions. If things were different how would they look?

Reframing the problems

Another technique is to reframe the problem. You can look at the situation from a different perspective. For example, walking down a street you see an unshaven man lying against the wall, bleeding and incoherent. You might find it uncomfortable and threatening.

However, you might then find out that he lived in the building, that he had been up all night nursing his ailing aunt and so had not had time to shave.

Tired after spending a night at the hospital he has tripped over and cracked his head on the kerb. You just happen to be the first person to come along – you now see the situation from another point of view. Sometimes taking this different view is a choice that we have.

Reframing changes the meaning we give to a situation. For example, your mother phones you every day because she loves you and wants to talk to you. You might see this a s controlling and interfering or you can choose to reframe this as behaviour of an elderly concerned mother.

Reframing is about changing the meaning we give to events, not necessarily changing the events themselves.


Scaling is a means of subjectively measuring our experiences and can be used in many different ways. For example, the executive coach might ask the coachee to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, how close they are to their goal.

The key principle here is to move just one or two points of the scale at a time, rather than go straightaway for a 10.

This small steps approach is an intrinsic part of the solution-focused approach. A key problem in change is trying to do too much too soon.

This technique of scaling not only gives you a completely subjective and personalised tool for examining your own perceptions and views of any situation, it also provides you with a unit of measurement for something that may not be quantifiable in any other way.

Using resources

We often have more resources at our disposal than we realise. By drawing on these resources we can often achieve more than we realise.

Solution focused executive coaching uses techniques to make implicit knowledge, skills and talents explicit.

Solution focused principles and techniques help us tap into our inherent, perhaps unconscious thought processes and experiences of situations to help us find the answers we need. They formalise and provide a structure to a process that many people use naturally.

This does not mean that causes are not important. In many situations, it is vital to understand as much as possible the sequence of events that led up to a situation.

But very often, causes are only understood after the solution has been found. Investigating the causes, no matter how thoroughly, does not necessarily lead to the answers. In fact, it is often only when we have the answer that we can really understand the problem.

Overview of approach

Objective: What do you want to achieve?

Solutions now: What are you doing well already? How exactly? What positive exceptions do you experience?

Characteristics of solutions: What tells you that things are going better (‘miracle question’)?

Feedback for solutions: Positive evaluation and compliments.

Reinforcement of solutions: Reinforcing what is already going well with the aid of homework.


Step 1 Presentation of the problem Coachee briefly introduces his/her issue and what has already been tried. The coach asks in particular about what was useful and what helped.

Step 2 Miracle question Executive Coach asks about indicators of Improvements: how can the coachee check that an improvement has actually taken place? What exactly will be different at that moment?

Step 3 Exceptions Executive Coach asks about times when the problem does not arise: what are those times like? What happens then? What is the situation like exactly? Option: Executive Coach asks for a scaling/rating of progress at the present time, on a scale of 0 (no change) to 10 (issue has been completely resolved)

Step 4 Suggestions Executive Coach gives positive feedback, and suggestions for creating more of that sort of ‘exception’ Coachee says what (s)he wants to do next and how. The coach assigns ‘homework’ and explains the rationale behind it. Executive Coach and coachee make a new appointment to review the situation.

The solution-focused method distinguishes three types of coachee, and can actually only help the third group:

Visitors: don’t think they have a problem

Complainers: don’t see themselves as part of their problem

Customers: indicate that they want to do something about their problem

Solution focused executive coaching is one of the techniques used by our team of executive coaches at t2 executive coaching, call today to find out more.


Executive Coaching - Are Executive Coaches the key to turning around the fortunes of executives who have been made redundant?
May 9th 2011

A two-year study undertaken jointly by academics at the Universities of Surrey and Bath among senior managers aged between 49 and 62, who had lost their jobs found that they were all deeply traumatised by the experience.

They also discovered that former high flying managers and directors dealt with their circumstances in three main ways. Professor David Gray from the University of Surrey's School of Management, said: "Our research shows that a manager's psychological response to the trauma of unemployment, and particularly the ability to be flexible, is the key factor in whether they can turn their situation around or languish in the doldrums."

The group that found it most difficult to adapt were those who were unable to accept their loss in status and who mourned past glories. Such individuals were deeply wounded by the loss of their job and experienced profound feelings of despair, devastation and acute depression, perceiving it to be the end of the line for them and the end of their career.

Those who coped most successfully, on the other hand, were able to see the situation as a new chapter in their lives and took on part-time work, became self-employed and/or started studying and volunteering.

They were able to take a more philosophical approach to the loss of their job and accepted that life may or may not return to how it was. But the secret to such acceptance lay in redefining themselves outside of their former career status and the trauma of unemployment.

A final group, whose ability to cope came somewhere in the middle of the first two groups, viewed their situation as a temporary derailment to their career, but believed that they would be able to return to past glories.

Gray said: "If a manager can come to terms with the loss of their past career, which is often very difficult but possible, they can begin the process of reinventing themselves. Executive Coaching may be a vital support in achieving this aim."

Professor Gabriel from the University of Bath's Management School, agreed. "Professionals are more likely to come to terms with unemployment if they can create a story, which allows them to discover their voice as a person who is unemployed but whose identity is not defined by their unemployment."


Executives chase too many priorities
April 20th 2011

Booz and Company recently surveyed 1,800 executives across the globe and identified the following issues as their biggest challenges.

  • Most executives (64%) report they have too many conflicting priorities
  • The majority of executives (56%) say that allocating resources in a way that really supports strategy is a significant challenge, especially as companies chase a wide set of growth initiatives
  • 81% admit that their growth initiatives lead to waste, at least at some time
  • Nearly half (47%) say their company’s way of creating value is not well understood by employees or customers

The survey findings suggest that these symptoms stem from the companies’ incoherence – their strong tendency to chase growth initiative after growth initiative, often with very little success.

Making the right decisions is paramount to the future success and strategic direction of any business; at t2 we have developed our ILM Level 7 in Strategic Leadership Programme to address this specific issue. Clients are taken on a journey of discovery analysing their strategic opportunities, sales and marketing, finance and a plan for execution to align their staff by one of our Senior Executive Coaches.

Many clients often then ask us to provide further one to one Executive Coaching and/or training for their senior team to ensure the strategic plan is aligned throughout the organisation.

For more information, contact one of our Senior Account Managers today.


How is Executive Coaching different to other popular interventions?
April 14th 2011

Executive Coaching is different to other interventions because the Executive Coaches are not teaching or instructing you, you are solving your own problems and finding answers to your own challenges.

Think of Executive Coaching as a mirror for you to look into to gain new perspectives on the issues you are facing.

The Executive Coach will give you the space to explore your challenge in more detail through the use of questioning techniques to help you gain a greater understanding of the issue you are facing.

The Executive Coach will then ensure that you are not leaving anything out of your thinking which may contribute or give a new perspective to the challenge at hand.

At the end of an Executive Coaching Session, you will have further developed your thought process and have actions to implement to take you forward.


How to choose Executive Coaches
April 13th 2011

With increasing numbers of Executive Coaches entering the Executive Coaching market, many of whom may have come from non-corporate backgrounds, how can you be sure the Executive Coaches you choose to work with will ensure you achieve your coaching objectives?

T2 executive coaching recommends that, before you even consider which Executive Coaches you engage, you should be clear about what your goals for the coaching contract will be. This will give you the basis on which to decide what criteria you should use to determine the best Executive Coaching provider.


5 Reasons to work with Executive Coaches
March 15th 2011

  • Executive Coaches work with you confidentially
  • Executive Coaches work with you when you want
  • Executive Coaches work with you where you want
  • Executive Coaches work with you for how long you want
  • Executive Coaches work with you on exactly what you want

So what exactly is Executive Coaching?
February 14th 2011

Executive coaching is a bespoke one to one executive course or development programme specifically designed to accelerate the success of the individual (and the organisation) engaging in the process. As it is a bespoke intervention, each individuals’ experience will be different.

It can help you define a powerful vision for yourself and give you the motivation to drive for it, setting better goals, reaching them faster, making better informed decisions, and improving the effectiveness of you overall relationships within the workplace and further abroad.

It is about the future, discovering your potential and achieving it – faster. Your Executive Coaches will support you and encourage you to deliver high performance by getting you to focus on what is fundamental and most importantly, take action towards achieving performance goals.

Tools, knowledge and new skills are developed as part of your Executive Coaching so that you can implement these in the business (and in you life) for immediate and longer-term success.


PAIRS – Executive Coaching – is this the answer to better relationships across the Public Sector?
January 23rd 2011

As the Public Sector looks to continue to reduce its spending, we explore the new initiative of PAIRS Coaching, developed by two of our Associate Executive Coaches Val Sampson and Dave Thornton as a way of improving relationships within the Public Sector for improved efficiency.

Previously, little if any work had been carried out on Executive Coaching with two people at the same time, and working with two people rather than one requires a specific skill-set on the part of the Executive Coaches. Luckily both Val and Dave had extensive experience of working with two people previously.

The work looked into how it would be possible to transfer some of the skills of working with a couple to Executive Coaching with two people at work to create a better relationship and, most importantly improve performance.

The result was the PAIRS Model.

P – preparation
Led by the Executive Coaches and sets the context for the Executive Coaching. It might include questions like: ‘What do you know about the other person? In what ways are you alike? What are your differences?” This stage identifies the hot topics that affect both clients before identifying short and long-term Executive Coaching goals.

A – acceptance
Also a belief in the benefits of the process. It includes acceptance of shared accountability for the challenges faced and a definition and acceptance of individual accountability in terms of achieving shared goals.

I – Involvement
What is the joint involvement with these goals? What is the best outcome for you both? What role does each client play? What will you both be doing differently from this point on?

R – re-evaluation
The reflective/safety check process. How realistic are the goals you have set together and what are the real-life applications?

S – steps
A confirmation of actions and joint commitment to them before the session ends.

Our view - overall PAIRS Coaching is cost-effective – it’s half the price of Executive Coaching with two individuals – and, arguably, more than twice as efficient. If a working relationship between two individuals, who might be at the top of their organisation, is dramatically improved, the advantages cascade down through the rest of the organisation.

The model for PAIRS – Executive Coaching is by no means set in stone and research is currently being undertaken into the possibility of two Executive Coaches working with two clients in the same session. It’s a doubly creative approach – and all the signs are that it allows a much deeper look at the working relationship.


The history of Executive Coaching
January 19th 2011

The first use of the term coaching to mean an instructor or trainer arose around 1830 in Oxford University slang for a tutor who "carries" a student through an exam. The first use of the term in relation to sports came in 1831.

Since the mid-1990s, Executive Coaching has developed into a more independent discipline and professional associations such as the International Coach Federation have helped develop a set of training standards for Executive Coaches.

Executive Coaching refers to the activity of Executive Coaches in developing the abilities of a person undertaking Executive Coaching in a work context. Executive Coaching tends to focus on an existing problem (from which to move away) or a specific outcome that the individual wishes to achieve (move towards). In both cases, the Executive Coach aims to stimulate the person undertaking Executive Coaching to uncover innate knowledge so they can achieve a sustainable result. Executive Coaches will normally check that the specific learning can be successfully re-applied by the person undertaking Executive Coaching, to deal with other problems in the future. The structure and methodologies of Executive Coaching are very numerous with one unifying feature, Executive Coaching approaches are predominantly facilitating in style; that is to say that the Executive Coach is mainly asking questions and challenging the person undertaking Executive Coaching to learn from their own resources. The Executive Coaching process is underpinned by established trust in the person undertaking the Executive Coaching. Executive Coaching is differentiated from therapeutic and counselling disciplines in that the problems and outcomes have contexts which are important in the present and with aims for the future - these do not have emotional aetiology, or baggage, from the past - in other words, the person undertaking the Executive Coaching has the resources they need to make reasoned progress at the time that they seek Executive Coaching.

In the actual practice of Executive Coaching there are times when Executive Coaches may find that a person undertaking Executive Coaching is so unfamiliar, inexperienced or ignorant of an area (that needs sharp focus in order for them to achieve their stated aim), that Executive Coaches will need to impart knowledge and examples to the person undertaking Executive Coaching, before again returning to the facilitation style.

Because the practice and professional disciplines of coaching are so diverse, it is useful to consider the effect of Executive Coaching on the person undertaking Executive Coaching, as these are more consistent and more universally observed. The questioning style of Executive Coaching has different levels of challenge: at the lowest level, these questions create intellectual processes in the coachee and the coachee is observed to be alert and responding quickly. Where questions are more demanding (for example, imagining what it might be like to experience being the other party with whom they are experiencing relationship difficulties) then the coachee will be observed to be actively alert, thinking and leaving pauses between some of their responses. The next levels of challenge cause the coachee to access deeper structure in their experience than rapid, intellectual recall. This deeper information may include feelings (emotions), pictures, auditory experiences and metaphors. As the coachee starts these deeper processes their physiology changes. Their eyes may move to a new, non-central position and there is a complete absence of tics (physical movements). These so-called 'reflective silences' typically last a second or two, or several seconds. At the next and final level of accessing deeper level structure, the coachee's muscles relax further, they may slouch and the head nod slightly, breathing rate reduces very significantly and peripheral blood supply is reduced, causing a loss of pallor. This level of reflective process may last for a minute, sometimes much longer. When the coachee returns their attention to the coaching space/dyanamic, they are invariably unaware that the period of introspection has been lengthy. In some case catharsis has occurred, where the coachee has moved to a revolutionary new level of understanding from the Executive Coaching.

Executive Coaching can be wholly coachee-centred and reponsive to the coachee's objectives and needs. Other Executive Coaches set up a programme or 'learning journey' which the coachee must follow over a specified period of time. Some Executive Coaches or Coaching Schools prescribe a certain number of models or a 'toolkit' to guide the Executive Coaches in the process. There are also many generic coaching pathways to help Executive Coaches know where they are in a coaching process and these are often used by both independent Executive Coaches and the Training Schools (including academic, associations and commercial). The most well-known of these if the GROW Model, popularized by John Whitmore.

Executive Coaching is most often performed on a one-to-one basis and face-to-face but can involve some telephone or web-based sessions in between. Sometimes it may be facilitated totally by phone/web-based interaction.

The facilititive approach to coaching in sport was pioneered by Timothy Gallwey, hithertoo, sports coaching was (and often remains solely a skills-based learning experience from a master in the sport). Other contexts for coaching are numerous and include Executive Coaching, Life-Coaching, Emotional Intelligence Coaching and Wealth Coaching.

Today, coaching is widespread. For example, Newcastle College registered 15,000 students on its Performance Coaching Diploma Course from launch and within its first four years. The UK's Chartered Institute of Personnel Management reports that 51% of companies (sample of 500) 'consider coaching as a key part of learning development' and 'crucial to their strategy', with 90% reporting that they 'use coaching'. The basic skills of coaching are often being developed in managers within organizations specifically to up-skill their managing and leadership abilities, rather than to apply in formal one-to-one coaching sessions. These skills can also be applied within team meetings and are akin then to the more traditional skills of group facilitation.

According to coach credentialing expert, Dr. Rey Carr, in North America the term accreditation only applies to organizations, and certification applies to individuals; whereas in European countries "accreditation" can mean either organizations or individuals.


Are you struggling to retain your top talent – could working with Executive Coaches be the way forward?
December 2nd 2010

With the current economic uncertainty, organisations will need to work hard at keeping their top talent and senior leaders.

An independent management consultancy surveyed senior executives at the top 500 UK companies and found more than six in 10 managers (69%) are unhappy in their role, due to lack of support and generally feeling dissatisfied. A poll also found senior executives expect to lose three in 10 leaders next year (29%).

Replacing top talent is costly to an organisation. Organisations lose the knowledge and experience to run the business effectively and the relationships and trust that are built over time, high performance is defined by the quality of the relationships in the organisation; this is a substantial asset to lose. Searching for the right candidate takes time and money and it is therefore an economic imperative to retain the right talent. If we calculated how much it would cost an organisation to replace a senior leader we would be looking at between one and two years salary.

The survey found the reasons senior leaders are looking to leave organisations is because they are unhappy and are struggling to cope with split demands in their leadership. This has a knock on effect on business performance. We expect this to intensify next year when budgets and staff levels are cut, organisations demand more from fewer and if organisations carry on neglecting top talent.

Keeping key talent should be made a priority within the organisation; clarity and support are key elements to retaining senior leaders. Recently, we have experienced an influx of requests for Executive Coaching on a one to one basis for large multinational companies for their senior leaders. This is a good indication that more and more organisations are realising the importance of retaining their key talent. Executive Coaching on a one to one basis provides senior leaders with the opportunity to gain greater clarity regarding the obstacles and challenges faced, options they have and support they may need to achieve personal and company objectives.

Supporting key talent is beneficial to the organisation and the individual, meeting senior leaders’ needs is just as important as meeting the organisation’s needs. In addition organisations will be saving themselves time and money and will develop the individual to enable achievement of extraordinary results, thus enabling improved business performance.


Are Executive Coaches a powerful tool for organisations?
November 11th 2010

Executive Coaches are powerful when you have people going through a transition, whether that be a business merger, to help employees step into a new role, teams in transition or the organisation is going through a transformational change.

The Sunday Times writer Carly Chynoweth has written a great story on how Executive Coaches are evolving in organisations and the benefits of what Executive Coaches can bring to organisations especially when businesses are going through a transformational change.

In some business circles Executive Coaches have a reputation for being touchy-feely. Undoubtedly, this is one of the reasons why Executive Coaches are often misunderstood.

High performance is defined by the quality of the relationships in the organisation. High trust and high challenge relationships create the conditions for conversations that spark creativity, enable ingenuity and motivate people to give their very best. Executive Coaches play a powerful role in developing high quality performance relationships in organisations. Executive Coaches give employees the clarity and support they need to meet the company’s objectives. Extraordinary results flow from people aligned to a shared purpose and who can create conversations at work that inspire and engage others to perform outstandingly well.

Carly spoke to a number of organisations where Executive Coaches benefited them. One organisation used Executive Coaches to help teams formed after their merger to develop joint working practices as fast as possible. Another example cited was an investment bank which had collapsed and was using Executive Coaches in order to support the administration process. Senior leaders didn’t know whether they were capable of leading their team in administration as they hadn’t experienced it before. The organisation needed to keep these people because of their knowledge, experience and because they needed to run their business efficiently. Executive Coaches helped a lot of their staff who had to step into new roles, run new teams and deliver new objectives, all under tremendous pressure.

There are many misconceptions about Executive Coaches and one of the main reasons for this is as a result of poor measurement as organisations want to see return on investment. Executive Coaching is typically not easy to measure. Executive Coaching often offers softer benefits, such as improving team performance etc. Organisations sometimes presume that just because Executive Coaches are not experts in their company’s field/sector they will not be of any benefit.

Executive Coaches provide clarity on the real problems and then help the organisations to develop business strategies.

They work with the organisation to design and structure strategic executive coaching interventions that enable, build and sustain conversations for performance over time, and which have an intended legacy effect, that is, performance conversations become embedded in the organisational culture.

For an organisation, the result of using executive coaching should be sustainable high performance with a legacy capability – the capacity to use learning as an organisation to become more intelligent, more responsive and more effective.

Another problem organisations have with executive coaching is knowing whom to approach for it and making sure they have the required standards and training. There are fewer and fewer 'cowboys' in business coaching and executive coaching. This is due to the increasing influence of organisations such as the ICF, EMCC and APECS who are driving up professional standards. Organisations need to ensure that the coaches’ best practices are accredited by a coaching body.


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