The State of Executive Success

In today’s fast paced world, executives are being driven for more performance. “Nothing new,” you might say. Yet, everything about how you are being driven towards performance is new. As an executive, whether it is as a future or existing CEO, everyone with an ounce of awareness is cognizant of the need to push the absolute cutting-edge of competence while tempering the degree of razor-edge confidence to avoid the CEO Disease of falling victim to your own success. Ironically, the CEO Disease and its seriousness was reported by Business Week in April of 1991; yet, in the second millennium, we still faced Enron, World Com, Adelphia, AIG, Tyco, etc.

Complicating the situation, most organizations have squeezed every last gram of fat from the organization, and, in some cases, squeezed so hard that the organizations have begun to bleed; not in losses of money, but in losses of talent and skill base. Critical success skills such as individual and professional maturity, self awareness, relationship management, social skills, and job awareness are no longer in abundance. Moreover, executive development has not kept pace. This has resulted in many executives being asked to perform beyond their capacity to perform in this chaotic and evolving business environment. The unspoken fatality list is the number of executives that were quickly removed during or directly following burnout and/or left thereby subverting an impending failure and delaying a potential burn-out.

Why Executive Development Supports Executive Success

Executive Development increases the effectiveness of individuals and therefore the organization. The rapidity of change within business has a Slinky effect for many executives. The Slinky effect occurs when accelerated change exceeds integrated learning. Stretched to the limit in terms of using what is known and has worked in the past, the executive finds him or her self unable to meet the growing demands of more responsibility and/or strategic initiatives.

Our coaching approach creates an up close and personal learning container that supports the individual to expand the possibilities to meet the daily challenges.

Benefits of Executive Development

Some benefits of Executive Development are:

Achieve business and personal goals
Aware of behaviors that served the past but are not serving in the present
Awareness of the impact of choices personally and professionally
Conscious presence with your self and therefore with others in ways that increase effectiveness as a leader, communicator, human being
Confidence in all of life
Enhanced understanding of business decision-making process
Demonstrating greater composure in difficult situations
Bottom-line of a Coaching Approach to Executive Development

Through personal comparisons of experiences before and after coaching, most people establish a value for coaching that coaching works. Here are a few examples as reported from various business sources:

As reported in Fortune Magazine, “Asked for a conservative estimate of the monetary payoff from the coaching they got, these managers described an average return of …about six times what the coaching had cost their companies.”
A study by MetrixGlobal LLC for a Fortune 500 firm and Pyramid Resource group found that 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%.
An article in Public Personnel Management (Winter 97, Vol. 26 Issue 4, p. 461, International Personnel Management Association) eported a study comparing training alone to coaching combined with training. Training alone increased productivity by 22.4% while training plus coaching increased productivity by 88%.
Research on Executive Development effectiveness, reported in the Manchester Review (2001, Vol. 6, No. 1) and in Business Wire showed that companies that invested in coaching received an average 500%+ return on investment.
In 2003, the Austin Business Journal reported that 40% of Fortune 500 companies now use professional coaching services.
In February, 2004, it was reported in the Washington Post that a company utilizing coaching gained $3.3 million in 2003 which resulted in a 689% return on the company’s investment.

Clearly, coachingt is evolving at a brisk pace. Awareness of the value of providing coaching as a learning tool for executive and leadership development is becoming common. Recent studies reported in Simply Business, February/March, 2005 have show that 94% of the individuals that earn more than $1 million per year have a personal or executive coach support their development and their thinking processes. To say the least coaching is being perceived as a competitive edge.

Principles Underlying Executive Development

Each client is supported by the coach applying and modeling the following executive leadership traits.

Show up and be present without preconceived notions, while having the ability to take action and enforce boundaries.
Assess, Analyze and Contain, while saying what is so when it is so, without blame or judgment

Connect and Feel, while paying attention to what has heart and meaning.
Initiate, Support and Create Order while being open to outcome
Executive Development—the Details

Executive Development supports the executive to create their personal learning edge by examining both the cutting edge and the flat-side of their performance.

Creating Baselines—What Exists

Executive Development creates a base-line for coaching with a 360- degree feedback process such as the Emotional Competency Instrument (ECI) developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis through the Hay Group or the Leadership Practices Inventory ((LPI) developed by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, as well as several other base line tools, such as the Spectrum 260 CPI (for Leadership), Myers-Briggs Types nstrument (MBTI), and an indepth core value assessment. The results of these assessments are reviewed and a developmental plan is created.

Digestion—Internal Inquiry

Our executive program requires an initial set-up time to complete the assessments, and then to meet and digest the results. Digestion of the reports is critical. In this process, the results are gleaned for client resonance, that is, applicability to present performance and future dreams. Often, present positions do not require specific competencies, whereas future performance may indicate a much different orientation and/or skill-set. Hence, client resonance is critical to the developmental plan.

Core Values—Bottom-line Beliefs

Executive Development uses an indepth core value assessment to determine congruence between the core values of the client and the developmental plan. Frankly, if the core values do not harmonize with the present and/or future performance requirements or the developmental edges suggested by the assessment process, the incongruence will create massive frustration within the client and with the organization. Rather than create a future implosion in the client as suggested by the effects of the Peter Principle (promoted into incompetence) and/or an opportunity cost for the organization, the core values assessment helps to ensure alignment within the client and congruence between the values and the developmental plan.

Bridging Gaps/Creating Extended Competence—What’s Missing

Executive Development supports the client by bridging the gap and/or creating extended competence. Bridging the gap focuses on what is missing in the present level of performance. It builds on existing competencies by using them as pillars to build new competencies; often, competencies required by recent position changes and/or job responsibilities. Creating extended competence is forward thinking. It is known that present performance is more than adequate, but future positions or dreams require a larger skill base or an expanded mind-set or simply a greater self awareness in order to be effective for future challenges. Both approaches focus on expanding the capacity of the client.

Commitment—What Will Be

Our Executive Development methods tend to be highly focused and require a major personal and professional commitment from the client. It is not for the feint-hearted as self awareness may reveal the tarnish under the glimmer of many past successes. It is the ability to examine the tarnish and discover new ways of being that leads to the profound changes. The process ranges from six to twenty-four months depending on the desire and depth the client seeks. The frequency of meeting is front-end loaded with weekly meetings for the first couple of months, then moving to biweekly and finally monthly meetings.


For more articles by Herb Stevenson, please visit

Herb Stevenson has designed and successfully led large system changes including the turnaround of nine failing financial institutions as well as supported executives in massive reorganization planning and implementation processes. He has supported executives seeking to enhance/change their focus or image, as well as how to return to industry from external coaching/consulting. Finally, he has supported individuals during their business start-up processes.
Article Source