Establishing Great Mentoring Partnerships

By Tenny Mickey, PhD

It has been proven that people in organizations who are receptive to positive mentoring enhance their performance faster, enjoy more positive exposure, and appear to enjoy their work better than those who are not. Effective mentors also derive great pleasure from supporting others as they advance their careers. A relationship built on trust and respect creates a secure and safe environment for mentoring to take place. It is often confounding when thinking about why more people are not involved actively in mentoring relationships. I will discuss some of the challenges related to developing and sustaining a positive mentoring relationship in this article. Also, I believe that mentoring between two people must be a partnership. In this article, I will make references to the terms “mentor”, ” person being mentored”, and “mentoring partnership.”

First, I believe a mentor is someone who has a deeper level of experience in organizations. By this definition, the critical factor is the experience the mentor enjoys in a specific area. Many people make the mistake of believing a mentor must necessarily be older with many years of experience. I have found many people who have developed specific levels of expertise early in their careers are equally experienced. Some early career mentors have displayed a knack for a specific skill, an interest, and has taken the opportunity to deepen their skills in a specific professional area. So, let’s be more open as to whom will be the best mentor for specific needs and interests. As seen with the ubiquitous opportunities to upskill through technology usage, one’s skill-set is not necessarily a function of one’s age or interest in mentoring others.

An important behavior for a mentor is the willingness to share knowledge and experiences in a manner that supports the growth aspirations of the person being mentored. A mentor is super interested in the success of the person they are mentoring. The mentor must be experienced enough to help the person being mentored clarify their interests, set goals, and develop a process to achieve those goals. A mentor should also have a greater sense of how their experience and your goals will impact future organizational decisions. Throughout the mentoring partnership, the mentor should have broad enough experiences to support the person being mentored as they work through challenges that will no-doubt emerge as their knowledge increases and roles advance.

The mentor’s responsibility is to create a relationship that gives room and space for the person being mentored to learn. A common mistake occurs when people believe mentoring is about teaching how things should be done. Successful mentors rely upon their effective listening skills as indicative of their respect, caring for, and a genuine interest in the other person… the building blocks of trust.

The above foundational pointers suggest that the mentor and person they are mentoring should establish the ground rules for the mentoring partnership at the very beginning. Together, they must decide if the relationship will have a formal arrangement, an informal one, or a combination of these two. The mentoring partners should also discuss what each believes will describe an effective and comfortable mentoring partnership. They should be clear on the amount of time each person will be able to commit to the relationship. By having this conversation first, each partner in the relationship will gain a sense of the other’s needs and expectations. With this understanding, each partner will be able to have meaningful conversations when the relationship is not going as expected.


Successful mentors must realize that mentorship is all about meeting the person they are mentoring where they are…currently. It is a key factor that the mentor should listen fully …question deeply… solve at the root! This means mentors should focus on the critical areas of the problem expressed by the person being mentored. One can only do this by listening fully. When questioning, it is important to realize that the mentor’s interest is not always the optimal solution to the problem. It is often sufficient to make sure the person being mentored is focused on the right problem to solve. Also, is this the right priority on which to focus at this time? Often asking questions will yield new processes to use when examining new problems. Effective questioning also allows the mentor to tell stories of how situations of this type have occurred and been solved in their career.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of “SOLUTIONEERING.” Mentors have many points of experience to rely upon when helping their mentoring partners find solutions. It is often tempting to provide a ready solution that is based upon the mentor’s experiences. Great mentoring however suggests that the person being mentored will “learn how to fish” when working with their mentor. Mentors are best when they share anecdotes that mirror the person being mentored experiences. In this manner, the information is more likely to be remembered and applied more appropriately in the situation being discussed. This will also encourage the formation of broad principles that might govern future situations. It is very important in the partnership that sharing information is equal. This is helpful for the mentor to listen more than telling. For the person being mentored, this can create psychological safety in that they feel equally able to express challenges and propose solutions.

Mentors also validate and allow their partners to gain confidence in their ability to make decisions. This is sometimes achieved by feeding back, and sometimes expanding on, what the mentor has heard the person being mentored say. Sometimes people have a great hunch about the right solution, but when hearing it being rephrased by their mentor, clarity and confidence increase. This method also allows the mentor to provide a framework that helps to organize thinking, develop future processes, and build increasing confidence in how they approach solutions.


Effective feedback is a vital aspect of the mentoring partnership. How feedback is provided and received is extremely important. There are several factors to keep in mind when giving or receiving feedback. The following checklist helps members of the mentoring partnership keep this in mind:

• Always have the best interest of the mentoring partnership outcomes in mind
• Always balance improvement needs and positive feedback
• Observe each other’s thoughts and reactions with positive interest and curiosity
• Focus on facts and behaviors rather than emotions and personal attributes
• Acknowledge and summarize each other’s contributions when responding
• Provide feedback in a supportive way
• Strike a balance between being too friendly and too formal
• Ask probing questions to learn deeply and to stimulate alternative thinking processes


Empathy is a key element in the mentoring partnership. As mentors question deeply and listen intently, they should focus on a deeper understanding of the obstacles. More importantly, when “drilling down” is the ability to display empathy. The questions should be balanced to (1) provide insights about the situation but with the realization of (2) how the other person in the partnership is experiencing the situation. This is a good practice to adopt when dealing not only in the mentoring partnership but also in other situations at work. It is important for the mentor and the person being mentored to experience and share the value of empathy.


A mentor should ask questions that are stimulating, meaningful, and impactful. Marshall Goldsmith, the coaches coach, always suggests that mentors start with the end in mind. The mentor is then able to focus on the “ask” and thereby guide the coaching relationship with the end-point in mind.

Another great question is to ask “what is it that you need right now?“ This helps you understand how you might be most supportive. It’s so easy to jump into giving advice based on your experiences. Is that what the person being mentored needs? Do they want your advice? Do they need an advocate? Or do they need just a “…you got this!!”

Discourage people in your mentoring partnership from asking solicitous questions. Often, the person being mentored becomes vulnerable and chooses to show others their capabilities. Don’t bite…rather, encourage them to come up with tougher questions. They are not in this relationship to charm their mentor, but rather to become vulnerable, share, learn, and grow.

Many people in mentoring partnerships will focus on their career advancement. It is important to understand what is driving this interest. Is it a passing fantasy…something that feels exciting at the moment? Is it something they are thinking about as a career end-point? Is it a way of seeking personal prominence among their workmates? Is it a career choice that feels prestigious or profitable? This is a very important place in which a mentor can help them “dial it back” by plotting the path carefully that will yield longer-term satisfaction.

Asking about taking personal time for reflection and rest is another important element of mentoring. It is important to know that personal balance is very important for success in all aspects of life and work. Many people being mentored believe it is more important to deliver an energetic appearance as a reflection of their strong work capabilities. It is key to practice and to emphasize that rest and reflection are also key factors. Your first job should be as much about you proving yourself as about you understanding yourself, getting a better idea of your strengths and how you can prove yourself in an arena that you love later on.”

It is essential that the mentee and the mentor mutually agree that the content of their discussions will be kept confidential. This will enable the person to be mentored to explore preliminary ideas before sharing them with a wider audience. It is also helpful when expressing doubts and reservations without having to be afraid of any consequences in other situations.

Lastly, it is critical to evaluate the progress of the mentoring partnership as the most important aspect of each meeting. This information gained will be useful in honing the effectiveness of the partnership.


Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

Tenny Mickey, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC. As a Leadership & Organizational Psychologist, & Executive Coach, Tenny helps LEADERS improve their effectiveness. She relies upon her successful work as an officer in 3 Fortune 50 organizations (News Corporation, Disney, and Compaq) & 16 years of effective Organizational & Leadership Consulting. Additionally, each of her academic achievements, ranging from ( a Historical Black College & University) Huston-Tillotson University (BA), (Ivy League) Harvard University (EdM), and (Professional Psychology) Fielding Graduate University (M.A. & PhD) has contributed to the knowledge, respect & understanding she relies upon to support individual success. She is further stimulated and inspired to gain “new knowledge” each day. Feel free to contact Tenny through

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management. To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit,  We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

Millennials: How to Attract, Retain and Manage

By Bhavna Chadalavada

Much has been said and written about millennials (generally referred to by researchers as having birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s), but little of it has come from within our generation itself. The reality about us is that we want what the business community at large wants and needs, but we are pushing for it harder and faster than some are comfortable with. It’s causing us to leave jobs, shuffle positions frequently, befuddle our superiors, generally cause angst, and in some cases accelerate desired culture shifts.

Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global, put it aptly when he said “The message is clear: when looking at their career goals, Millennials are just as interested in how a business develops its people and how it contributes to society as they are in its products and profits. These findings should be viewed as a wake-up call to the business community.” And, the wake-up call is coming quickly: by the end of 2015, millennials are expected to overtake baby boomers in the workforce as more and more boomers reach retirement age.

We are a generation that has embraced and fueled rapid technological advancement and creative innovation that has changed the scope of multiple facets of the world today: from medicine and healthcare, to poverty, water and hunger, to social connection, dating, food and music. So, what are the tricks to attract, retain, and manage the best among us? Read ahead to find out.


We love free lunch, but we know that culture goes beyond that. The following 3 elements are critical to attracting us.

(1) Purpose, mission, meaning

77% of millennials state that their “ability to excel in their job is contingent upon deriving meaning from their work”. We want our employers to have a purpose and mission for their business (for 6 in 10 Millennials, a “sense of purpose,” is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers), and we want to connect to it in order to feel enlivened and energized by the work we are doing.
In all honesty though, who wants a grinding, robotic 9-5 culture? Employers and the former generation seem to have grown used to it, and have tolerated it either because they see no other way, or because they see another way and don’t know how to get there.

Millennials are built to get there: we are here to change things and make sure those changes stick. “Big Four” Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is planning for a workforce of nearly 80% millennials in 2016. It might take other organizations a few more years, but millennials are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by the year 2025.

(2) Quality of leadership

According to a Deloitte study, today’s Millennials place less value on visible (19%), well-networked (17%), and technically-skilled (17%) leaders. Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers (39%), inspirational (37%), personable (34%) and visionary (31%).
Who we are working under is a big reason we would want to be associated with a given company. The opportunity to observe a strategic-thinking, inspirational, personable, and visionary leader from close quarters is in many cases enough to hook us in.

(3) Opportunity for learning and development

business team meeting-large by Eric Bailey, Pexel

By Eric Bailey

Maneuverability (ability to shift area of work within a given company, along with potential for growth of responsibility in a role) & development initiatives for employees (beyond your standard Training program) are critical. To illustrate this point, if we are given a choice of:

A) Less pay at a company that:

• Has opportunities for learning and development within a given role.
• Offers us the ability to shadow and learn about other roles and potentially eventually make an internal transition.

B) A higher-paying position at a company with:

• Perks (free lunch) & Incentives (cash-bonuses).
• A boxed-in position with little opportunity for development.

We are choosing option A (unless, for unfortunate economic reasons – like student loans – we have to take B).


Inherently, we are built to make businesses successful and last – but getting caught up in short term ROI and losing sight of us as people is a sure way to isolate and push us away. We care about the success of the business, but we also see how that goes hand in hand with unleashing the best in an organization’s people.

If we are treated like a number, we will go ahead and treat our employers like a number right back. We’ll stop coming in early and leaving late, and we’ll do the job just well enough to stay hired – until we find something better and jump ship. Most of us are already cultivating our side hobbies and projects, so if you give us reason enough, we will dedicate more and more of our time and energy into that. We’ll clock in and clock out until one day we drop the job and leave, just like our employers fear.

It may sound self-serving, but it is a protective mechanism that ultimately allows not only us but also our employers to thrive: by hiring and retaining the right people while creating and maintaining a culture of purpose. A culture of purpose is proven by multiple sources by now to outperform financially – this is no longer a debate.

If companies have a mission and purpose that is adhered to, provide resources and programs for training and development, and their people and leaders are indicative of the culture and mission they seek to promote – they’ve got us locked in. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got.

But if not, we’re going to eventually leave and have our employers scratching their heads wondering what went wrong. What went wrong is that expectations out of workplaces have changed, and we need more than your typical scene from The Office – which unfortunately (and comically) is still tolerated by many organizations.

The facts and figures support this:

• According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, millennials rated training and development as the most highly valued employee benefit. In fact, training and development outranked cash bonuses by a whopping 300%.
• 78% of millennials surveyed by MTV said “even if I have a job it’s important to have a side project that could become a different career.”
• Unlike previous generations that sought out career destinations, millennials are job hoppers, expecting to stay in a job for less than three years. Job hopping can lead to greater fulfillment, which is vitally important to this generation.
• 88% percent of millennials considered “positive culture important or essential to their job” and said that if they don’t have it at their current employer, they will look elsewhere.


If our employers create the right culture and hire the right people, managing us becomes less work – which is what both sides want anyway.
In more granular terms, what we want day to day is:

1) Clear goals and projects.
2) Independence to work and create (high trust).
3) A collaborative environment (a whopping 88% of millennials prefer a collaborative work environment over a competitive one).
4) Check-ins fairly often where we are kept appraised of our performance by a forward-thinking and accessible manager (according to a survey by Millennial Branding and American Express, 53% of millennials said a mentorship relationship would help them become better and more productive workers).

When discussing career plans and progress, 96% of millennials want to talk face-to-face. We don’t want to be surprised with immediate repercussions or talked behind – we want to be told how we can improve. Being given less responsibility as a result of what we do not yet know does not motivate us, it deflates us.

success-479568_640 (Pixabay)

By Gerd Altmann

We were raised in an increasingly transparent world – to us, being a “straight shooter” is not a rarity. Being open and communicative is our way of life, and we consider it a sign of trust and investment that you’ll provide us with feedback rather than treat us like a dispensable cog in a machine. According to a University of North Carolina study, 88% of millennials said they would rather receive feedback in real time, not to mention frequent in-person check-ins on progress.

And, we’ll take it a step further too: we want to be able to have a dialogue about our company’s (or even just our team’s) growth and performance. Just because we are less experienced and less grey-haired, we don’t think that should stop us from being able to contribute to decisions being made. Our employers have our buy-in (millennials have no shame in allowing their professional and social worlds to collide, with 70% having “friended” their managers and coworkers on Facebook), so shouldn’t the trust extend both ways?

As a millennial who has worked on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley for an old-guard global Tech corporation, in start-ups, and for consulting firms – these insights remain true across the board. Some companies have caught on, and some have not, but the future lies here. And, the most innovative and successful companies out there are now utilizing this knowledge full-scale – it is no longer a question of if it is worth the initial investment to do so. It ends up costing more in turnover and poor performance not to!

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018

Bhavna Chadalavada writes and speaks on Millennials in Corporate America, and serves as a consultant and thought partner for established Leadership coaches. She is connected to the Conscious Capitalism movement, and has partnered with the Conscious Business Firm Axialent as well as Values-Based Leadership Consulting firm LRN. Earlier in her career she worked in Finance on Wall Street for UBS and in Tech Consulting in Silicon Valley for Oracle. She is a graduate of Columbia University, where she also played D1 Basketball. For more information, you can contact Bhavna at

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit,

Understanding Executive Coaching

By Steve Zuback

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]P[/dropcaps]icture yourself in your office getting ready for your monthly management team and you are thinking about the team and its members…

– Well… my VP of Sales needs to become a VP. He’s great at sales but can’t seem to manage or lead as the VP. I need to get him to where he needs to be to be effective.
– My CFO is terrific at the technical aspects of the position, but she is damaging the executive team with her attitude.
– What else? I have to decide what to do about the head of facilities. He’s abusive and is creating a lot of turnover. He’s acting like a jerk but we need him and we need him to change his behaviors.
– Overall, I think I have a good team. They’re all very talented, but with all that’s going on in the business, they need to become more aligned and refocused as a team, and more creative on driving the business forward.

Each of the executive team members is an asset to your organization, and yet each needs development to become even more successful in their individual and team roles. What is the best way to support their growth and development, so individually and as a team, they become more effective so the aspirations, goals and objectives of the executive team and organization can be achieved or surpassed?

Best Method to Support Growth

Some organizations attempt to develop executives through attendance in costly and time consuming classes and seminars. This approach often fails because classes and seminars do not allow for discussion of individual issues and concerns. Nor do classes create in-depth individualized learning; nor do they provide the accountability needed to bizkeysensure the full and continuing use of the newly acquired information and skills. This is important because in the “whitewater” of today’s business world, executives, without the reinforcement of a coach, quickly revert to their traditional ways of operating.

Others use internal mentoring programs. These types of programs can be effective if they are well thought out with set criteria for selecting and training of the Mentors, standards are set to define the relationship between Mentor and Mentee, time is allocated for the meetings, the purpose of the mentorship is clearly defined for the Mentor as well as the Mentee and the program is well managed. The company’s culture needs to be one that will support a mentoring program so the Mentor and Mentee can operate effectively as a unit within the context of the organization.

Often some companies hire a management consultant believing the consultant can show and give the executive what she or he needs to do. The consultant assumes the role of expert, providing answers, but usually does not develop or teach the individual executive and/or team.

Finally, more companies are utilizing executive coaching. Executive coaching can be, and I believe is, the most effective modality for ensuring the growth and development, and transformation of an individual executive, team, or business from a financial, learning, and growth perspectives.

What is Executive Coaching?

There’s been a lot of ‘buzz’ about executive coaching. Business Week, Harvard Business Review, Consulting Psychology Journal, the New Yorker and other publications have all published articles about it. CNN has interviewed leading coaches. Notwithstanding all of the printed and other media coverage, there still remains a lack of clarity and understanding about executive coaching. First, lets look at what coaching is; then how is it applied in business to executives and managers.

I believe and define coaching as…a confidential, collaborative, non-linear process of inquiry and exploration that creates self-efficacy with long-term excellent performance, and supports the continued growth and development of an individual or group/team. The Coach and Client, based on trust, respect, and the freedom of non-judgmental communication, mutually design the coaching relationship and shape the process of their meetings.

Given this definition of coaching, then executive coaching can be defined as…engaging coaching with an executive or key contributor in a position of power and responsibility within the organization who is accountable for developing and implementing complex strategic and operational decisions, which have great impact on the organization and the industry within which it operates.

Coaching executives, key contributors and teams involves a significant element of personal exploration. Executive coaching, by its nature, asks the executive to explore and become aware of how she or he thinks, learns, works, connects with others, manages frustration and expectations, and interprets the world. Given this, one may think that executive coaching is the ‘touchy-feely’ side of business; but, in reality, it is a strategic initiative for creating and developing an executive’s or team’s effectiveness and excellence. It induces the executive to look for and consider new perspectives of operation internal and external to the organization. An organization, team or individual cannot expect a different result if new ideas, perspectives, and the methods of operating are neither sought nor tested.

An element of executive coaching which sets it apart from other forms of coaching is the use of a confidential multi-rater (360º) assessment. This tool allows an executive, or team, to get much-needed unadulterated feedback from their superiors, their peers, and subordinates on how she or he operates in the organization as leader and/or manager so effective and rapid transformational change can occur.

How is Executive Coaching Different from Management Consulting?

Executive coaching is unique from business and management consulting. In much of the business and management consulting we see today, the consultant is contracted by the organization to conduct research, or produce a product or piece of work for the organization. The deliverable is developed and handed-over to the client outside, and independent of, the type of relationship between the parties. In most forms of business and management consulting, the relationship is needed between the consultant and the Client to obtain, manage, and keep the business, but not to produce the outcome. However, in executive coaching the relationship, mutually designed by the Coach and the Client, which is based on mutual trust and respect with the non-judgmental freedom of expression between the two, must exist for coaching to take place.

What is the Role of an Executive Coach?

The role of an Executive Coach is to assist the Client to grow, develop, and engage new perspectives without judging her/him or offering external dicta, ideas, systems and solutions on his/her career, or life. He/she assists the Client in moving forward without imposing the Coach’s personal pre-determined specified outcomes. The Coach consciously and actively listens, challenges the Client’s assumptions and current ways of operating in the organization and in the world, asks probing questions, provides new perspectives, ideas and tools for growth, guidance, and gives the Client clear and unambiguous feedback. The purpose of the relationship between Coach and Client interaction is to hold the Client’s attention and focus on the desired outcomes and to assist the Client to plan and to stay clear and in action.

Is Executive Coaching like Therapy or Counseling?

Executive coaching is different from therapy or counseling, though some of the techniques used in cognitive-behavioral therapy are used in executive coaching. In many forms of therapy or counseling, the relationship between therapist and Client is not one of mutual design. Rather, the therapist defines the relationship, which is to heal a diagnosable psychological state. Executive coaching, on the other hand, requires a mutually designed relationship that exists to assist the Client creates and implement actionable plans for self-development and learning as well as professional and personal fulfillment. Coaching can and is be used concurrently with therapy. They are not mutually exclusive modalities.

What is the Executive Coaching Process?

The executive coaching process ordinarily consists of four phases.

Phase 1: Pre-assessment and Contracting
In Phase 1, meetings are held with the appropriate leadership of the organization sponsoring the coaching, the executive-client, and with the executive-client’s manager. The objectives are to clarify the purpose of the coaching, discuss time frames, initial goals and outcomes, define success, review reporting relationships and schedules, establish rapport and build confidence in the process with the sponsor and executive-client, clarify reporting procedures and obtain commitments for participation in the taking of assessments, including a confidential multi-rater (360°) instrument. At this phase of the process, the executive coach and /or the sponsoring organization may decline to work together.

Phase 2: Assessment
In this phase, on an as needed basis, interviews are scheduled between the Coach and the manager, peers and others of the sponsoring organization to understand the culture of the business, as well as its norms, and success factors, in order to construct a complete portrait of the Client or group/team. The Client or group/team participates in the appropriate assessment(s) including the confidential multi-rater (360º) assessment.

Phase 3: Action Planning and Implementation
Here, goals and accountabilities are discussed and milestones are set. Action plans are developed with observable and measurable outcomes. A pre-set meeting schedule is established between the Coach and the Client.

Phase 4: Closure and Follow-up
In Phase 4, the Coach, and the Client, provide a summary of the accomplishments and an evaluation of the process. Also, the Coach identifies the remaining developmental needs, and, if appropriate and desired, identify an internal advisor for the Client or team.

Why and When is Executive Coaching Used?

Usually organizations use executive coaches when: an executive (or team) needs or wants to change methods of operation, when an executive takes on a new role, when the application of newly learned critical skills is vital, when the executive has to become more effective in her/his job and role, develop or enhance leadership, and/or modify existing man watering2problematic behaviors. Moreover, it is used because it is very cost-effective since it provides a highly focused, ‘rifled’, method for the development of an executive, or team who has the most value to add to the organization. Research shows the return to be as high as five times the investment. Coaching creates accountability, is flexible and works with the strengths of the individual so greater results occur faster.

Coaches are used: to assist executives develop new paradigms and perspectives of leadership and management to support the organization in all stages of its life-cycle; when healthy and successful inter-personal relationships are not being built or maintained; when change needs to be better managed and understood; when creativity and innovation is lacking or missing; and when key employees need to be retained and successors need to be prepared for their new role and position.

In addition, CEOs and other senior executives use it to get unadulterated feedback, so they stay at their most optimal level of performance. Executives also use coaching to eliminate what has been called the ‘paradox of leadership.’ The ‘paradox of leadership’ basically states the higher one rises in the organization the less accurate and less honest is the information they are given about their style of leadership or management and their behaviors and capabilities. Executive Coaching, with its multi-rater assessments, gives executives what they and the organization need; more clear, honest, accurate information so they can be more effective and better decisions can be made.

In closing, executive coaching is being used by more and more CEOs, executives, and teams. They see it for what it is: a clear and focused strategic initiative and investment in an executive’s, team’s, and organization’s strategic growth and development. It is a way to excellence.

Checklist for Selecting an Executive Coach

Like any other professions, not all coaches are equal. Since executive coaching is a meaningful investment in the time and money of the organization and the executive-client, I suggest the sponsoring organization and executive-client look for the following in selecting an Executive Coach. Each is as important as the other so the list is not in a priority order.

♦ Training and development as a Coach: Executive coaching are is very demanding mentally and physically and requires the acquisition of a body of knowledge, sets of skills and techniques, and experience in applying them. It is important to look for someone who has at least completed work with a reputable school of Coaching that has a star gazinghistory of excellence and hand-on practicum.
♦ Coaching principles: The Coach can articulate his/her coaching process and the underlying principles and philosophies that govern the coaching. Ascertain if the prospective coach works exclusively as an executive and business coach or as a consultant; and determine how and when these different modalities will be used.
♦ Knowledge: The Coach needs to have excellent knowledge in the use and interpretation of various personal, multi-rater, and behavioral assessments. In addition, she or he should be learned in personal growth, change and transition, adult development and learning, group/team behavior and dynamics, leadership, and organizational processes and systems. A Coach works with a Client in the context of her/his work, the organization, and other life systems within which she or he operates.
♦ Referrals: Most experienced Coaches have and work through referrals. Ask for former clients and call them.
 Wisdom: This doesn’t mean that the Coach need be a content expert. Rather, a Coach has to be learned and have wisdom. S/he needs to have excellent hands-on knowledge and experience in business and understand how it operates; leadership; management; applicable theories and models; assessments; as well as the life and experience needed to help the Client create and navigate her/his own path of learning and development in the work/life context.
♦ A Coach is a life-long learner. The coach needs to be on his own path of learning and development.

I have not mentioned certification as a coach as a critical and relevant factor in selecting an Executive Coach. This is so because, I believe, with the multiplicity of existing coach certifying bodies (at least 6 that I can think of) and schools of differing training methods and philosophy (at least 7+) one can find it difficult to readily discern which certification is most relevant and credible, and which coach training school is significant and meaningful. Therefore, I tend discount certification as a key determiner for coach selection.

In addition, many companies that sponsor executive coaching, and the company executive/client who will be working with a coach, usually and misguidedly, believe it is most important to have the client like the coach. I suggest this be rethought. Most executive coaches agree that a Client doesn’t have to first like the Coach. Rather the Client needs to first trust, respect, and feel safe enough with the Coach to freely express him/herself without being judged. When that happens, then ‘liking’ the Coach usually follows.

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Steve is President of zubackcrc an international executive and business coaching practice that provides executive and business coaching to CEOs, Presidents, entrepreneurs, business owners, senior executives and executive leadership teams on leadership, executive development, executive effectiveness and succession/career management. Steve effectively coaches CEOs and COOs, CFOs, senior executives, including sales and marketing executives, engineers, legal counsel, and teams on, growth and executive development challenges, role effectiveness, executive development, business/strategic plan development, leadership, succession, M&A, and organizational alignment. Steve’s progressive and diverse experience includes work with companies on cultural integration, corporate re-structuring, leadership and executive development, intra-preneurship, entrepreneurship, organizational development, employee and management development, executive coaching, executive selection and placement, as well as labor-management relations. For more information, you can contact Steve at 661•253•0286 or by email,

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