Give Me a Fulcrum

By Kim Sawyer

People are the key to the success of any enterprise. They are the lever by which every other asset is utilized and made valuable toward the success of the enterprise. Thus we speak of "leveraging the value of our human capital." And as no lever is complete without its fulcrum, coaching is the fulcrum of this capacity of people to optimally achieve their endeavors.

Archimedes is said to have declared, "Give me a fulcrum, and I'll move the world." For a person, team, or leader of people who strives to manifest greatness in every undertaking, the strategic application of coaching services and coaching skills is the fulcrum that evokes the best of people's talents and capabilities and aligns them with the objectives of their organizations.

A business or executive coach is much like an athletic coach for a top competing athlete or team. The coach supports, observes, gives feedback, energizes, and challenges. He or she holds the individual or team accountable to apply their talent, strengths, and knowledge to win bold victories in their careers and businesses. Coaching is a business and people development tool that has spread widely throughout the business world over the last few years. The coaching phenomenon has been featured in such business media as Forbes, Fortune, and the Wall Street Journal. More and more, U.S. companies are investing in coaching for their key teams, leaders, managers, and technical and sales people.

So what is coaching all about? What does it do that makes it so effective? Coaches meet with their clients on an ongoing, periodic basis to work together, in practical and results/change-focused kinds of ways. They motivate their clients look at and do things (and in ways) that they normally would not on their own. As a result, these people raise the level of effectiveness and success that they are currently capable of achieving. This creates a continual, accelerating growth process that builds forward and upward, as the coach and client team up to achieve positive business outcomes and behavior changes.

The fact is that business people and teams often limit and sabotage their success in ways they don't even realize – until it is too late. A coach will challenge and equip them to break through these blocks and achieve sustainable, authentic, and extraordinary business success.

To accomplish this, the coach provides clients with some key inputs:

  1. Resources and knowledge to move beyond their limitations
  2. Awareness and focus to navigate past their blind spots
  3. Accountability and celebration to do what they would normally resist, overlook, or avoid – and then to continue doing it on their own motive power.

Coaching focuses on issues like:

  • Managing parallel progress toward short, middle, and long term goals and objectives
  • Strengthening of leadership, performance, and productivity
  • Stretching and growing into new areas of business and life
  • Pushing the growth envelope by means of specific stretch-actions taken
  • Developing effective relationships with work, risk, self, and co-workers
  • Maintaining rigorous awareness of self and the business environment, as well as constant personal, professional, and business development
  • Keeping an eye on energy management and balance/completeness in wellness and lifestyle
  • Discovering, leveraging, and enjoying key new talents and strengths at work
  • Building and progressing in an exciting and custom-tailored career development plan

At the team level, the Success-groupTM (a facilitated peer-coaching program) is a powerful productivity tool to implement in any, management, sales, project, or work team. It serves to provide performance-enhancement and professional development coaching to the individuals and the team as a whole in a time and money-efficient manner. In addition, it imparts to them fundamental coaching and communication skills – by means of the mutual-coaching process. A Success-group thus provides valuable leadership development, and greatly strengthens team cohesiveness and effectiveness as a value-added natural by-product.

This has been a very brief overview of executive and business coaching as a business success tool. We offer the following three coaching success stories to help illustrate this. The potential benefits and details of more specific applications are beyond the scope of this discussion. Feel free to contact us for more information or for a complimentary coaching session to experience this powerful performance-building service first-hand.

Description of Three Coaching Success Stories

1. Sr. VP in top-10 leader circle of a major airline
With over a decade employed by the company, the client was losing passion and motivation for his job and career. He was coached – using the Birkman Method´┐Ż personality assessment, a personal and professional mission statement process, and other discovery tools – to engage to explore unexpressed interest and talents, a sense of calling and primary purpose, and core authentic values and ambitions. We coached the client to begin avocational and educational experimentation of possible new endeavors and activities. Meanwhile, coached, leveraged or web of business relationships to help him find and access a one year opportunity with the State Department as Director of Transportation Infrastructure Reconstruction for recently war torn nation. Our coach initiated conversation between client and the airline's President and CEO to negotiate a win-win solution. To that end, the airline offered client a one year sabbatical to take the overseas position as a PR coup for the company and a leadership development opportunity for the client. A new top level position and all benefits were guaranteed secure by the company upon our client's return. We are currently coaching the client through his final months in the Foreign Service role in order to capitalize on all leadership and personal development opportunities, as well as to co-create a new career Master Plan. A recent meeting with the airline CEO (who has now become client's mentor as a result of the coaching process) has established a new internal career track for client with airline presidency as the target in company's succession plan for next change in leadership.

2. Sr. VP of a major global bank
After 14 years with the bank, our client is now in top-tier of HR leadership and the highest paid in the company at his level. The client got wind of a potential merger with another global bank with very different culture and strategic directions, and proactively requested us to coach him. We coached our client for a year prior to target date of the prospective merger to explore and forecast nature and extent of these strategic and cultural impacts with respect to their potential fit or mismatch with client's values, approach, and career objectives. We determined a high probability of serious mismatch, as well as potential restructuring changes that might undermine security of the client's current role and primary career directions within the bank. We encouraged our client to begin conversation with his supervisor and the #1 HR leader regarding the client's prospective career track and options internally. The client was coached to create a detailed job-profile for his corporate career end-goal of a COO-like position with P&L responsibility over a business unit for large global concern or the entirety of mid-sized company – not necessarily a bank. We coached the client to inform his company of this goal and coached him and his employer to co-develop an internal job search for a role that would move client in the desired career direction, as well as to give the client the bank's blessing and the latitude to openly conduct a simultaneous external search. We facilitated negotiation of the details of a possible severance package if needed. Ultimately, the merger went even more severely in the direction of our forecasted changes; and we coached the client through a strategic search, internally and externally, that generated powerful results. Coaching was further directed at maintaining the client's high standard of performance in his current role with the bank and, moreover achieving notable results in a global integration of internal customer service call centers, using participative leadership tools. We coached our client to garner 3 simultaneous offers and successfully managed his multiple negotiations to ultimately accept an extraordinary external position at 50% higher than his current compensation for a role that matched a surprisingly large percentage of his end-goal job profile criterion. Moreover, our client took generous severance package, vested all options and benefits, and parted ways amicably with his now-previous employer. We are currently coaching the client through his successful acclimation, assimilation, and ramp-up to full productivity in the new job.

3. Former entrepreneur, now Sr. VP with a national industry leader that acquired his company
The client founded and grew a very successful company in the regional market to provide technology solutions and aids to litigation attorneys and law firms. Its growth attracted a national leader in the jury consulting industry to acquire the company, generating a life-changing liquidity event for the client, as well as transforming his role immediately and radically from that of entrepreneur/CEO of small privately-held regional business to Sr. VP of large national publicly traded corporation. We coached our client through the necessary transition in leadership style and skills; development of previously inapplicable stakeholder/colleague relationship management and managing-upward skills; and adoption of new organizational and complex social-dynamics frames of reference. The client was further coached to build new hard business knowledge and tools, create a web of peer support and mentorship, and streamline a new higher-level set of time, energy, and performance management competencies. These enabled him to successfully take on P & L responsibility for his previous, now-enhanced and expanded operation; to triple its previous size and scope within the first year; and to integrate his business unit with the other related consulting services of the parent company. We coached the client to create a career master plan that accounted for his new financial and professional situation, meanwhile managing his stress and personal wellness through an unexpected divorce and some other major mid life changes. We are currently coaching our client, who was just promoted to Sr. VP and member of the national strategic steering team, to create the business plan for a new for-profit venture in the educational television/media industry, for launch upon fulfillment of his 5-year contract with his new employers.

About the Author
Kim Sawyer, M.S OD, is a member of the Leadership Strategies core coaching team. He has over twenty years of diverse experience as an Executive and Business Coach and Facilitator, with expertise in the area of leadership, professional, and business effectiveness, as well as entrepreneurship. To contact Kim, or for more information about our coaching services, please contact a Leadership Strategies Client Relationship Manager by calling 800-824-2850.

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