Executive Coaching

How to effectively coach executives for results.

“Redwood Trust looked to LSA Global as a executive coaching partner to help us explore innovative and scholarly approaches to promote employee engagement and sustain the unique culture we’ve built over the last decade. LSA helped us perpetuate coaching as a discipline across the organization by integrating our core values, goal setting and performance measurement metrics under an interactive coaching program. We appreciate LSA’s commitment to cutting-edge practices and keeping us in step with the progressive front of our rapidly changing workplace environment.”  

Rosalyn Chan | VP HR | Redwood Trust, Inc.

“We engaged LSA for executive coaching to design and deliver a 6-month custom executive coaching program for a group of our key leaders. The focus of the coaching program was to help a core group of senior leaders to leverage previous investments in management training, to ensure the engagement and retention of key employees, and to push critical strategic initiatives forward. Even with the high expectations of our senior people, LSA has completely exceeded our expectations. I would recommend them to anyone looking to create and implement a custom coaching methodology using proven tools to drive true change.”

Ivan Fukumoto | Senior HR Manager – Staffing, Training, & Development | Xoma Ltd.

“LSA’s executive coach based his approach on understanding our business circumstances and strategy, as well as our leadership aspirations. The customized coaching covered all aspects of leadership, it was not simply a touchy-feely endeavor. In fact, the focus on clear business outcomes and real life circumstances challenged me to develop my thinking and actions related to leading the business. The sessions were a great way to focus my thinking, gain insight and reinvigorate my leadership and impact.”
Janet Pagano | Managing Director | Ovid Winery

Unlike most abstract business processes, effective executive coaching engages with leaders in personal, practical and customized ways to get measurable results.  LSA Global takes on coaching assignments selectively, where we believe the fit is right.

What Effective Executive Coaching Looks Like
Three basic tenets underpin our approach to executive coaching.

  1. First, people lead organizations and drive business results.
  2. Second, people can change. Every leader can improve their performance and the performance of others. While no one can excel at everything, we do believe that anyone can improve in almost any field.
  3. Finally, people have more success changing when they have a good coach. In business as in sports, people can accelerate their development when they receive encouragement, guidance, new ideas and concrete best practices from an experienced advisor.

These three long-held beliefs lead to our definition of executive coaching: a skilled professional using a disciplined process to provide observations, recommendations and tools to a business leader in order to improve that leader’s skills, capabilities and performance. While our coaching engagements often deal with personal development, they are always structured to have a direct impact on business performance.

We believe that executive coaching, when done well, is like holding up a mirror to the client. The coach reflects back to the client how they are carrying out their responsibilities. The coach helps the client to see how they act—and how those actions impact their performance and their relationships with others. The coach highlights observable behaviors, habits and patterns.

Framing is important, too: the coach needs to be skilled at putting issues into terms that make them understandable and addressable for the client. And coaching should be done in the right place at the right time and with the right style. Coaches must look for teachable moments, and must provide the feedback with the right balance of directness and empathy.

An effective coach also gives the client an opportunity to receive feedback from others in the organization. This is the primary aim of any 360-degree feedback tool—enabling the client to see how they are perceived by peers, subordinates and supervisors. Those additional perspectives enable coach and client to identify specific strengths and gaps.

Finally, for executive coaching to be effective, it’s not enough to hold up a mirror: above all, the client must be willing to look in the mirror and accept what they see at face value, with eyes wide open. The person being coached must want to be coached—and must commit to making changes based on the coaching. This openness to receive coaching is the litmus test for any engagement an executive coach undertakes.

Successful executive coaching engagements create leaders who:

  • Increase short- and long term performance
  • Build and lead high performing teams
  • Have the ability to self-diagnose and self-improve

We typically think about three primary types of executive coaching engagements unique to each client situation.

#1 Coaching for Performance
All executives, even the most successful and seasoned, either run into rough patches or want to raise the performance bar. Regardless of who seeks out the coaching support, the coach’s job is clear—help the individual identify the performance barriers, set measurable goals and develop strategies to address them. The work then is centered on trying new leadership behaviors while developing better processes and tools to drive results.

  • Typical Client Profile: An executive who is delivering sub-optimal results or who must create performance lift for themselves and their team
  • Coaching Objective: Improve performance
  • Critical First Step: Agree with the client and client’s supervisor on the area(s) for improvement and specific desired outcomes

#2 Coaching for Promotion
A promotion is typically a reward for a job well done.  Excellence in the current position attests to a leader’s readiness to take on a new role with expanded responsibilities and bigger challenges. What may get overlooked in these career transitions, however, is the fact that new jobs often require leaders to develop new skills and behaviors—and to abandon old skills and behaviors that are counter-productive. The star sales executive promoted to business operator must learn to develop and work through others. The Regional VP promoted to COO must learn to be more politically savvy when moving from the regional office, where they are the highest-ranking executive, to corporate headquarters, where they are part of an executive team that they do not control. Sometimes leaders are able to anticipate these needs among their up-and-comers and provide targeted coaching in advance of a promotion.

  • Typical Client Profile: An executive who will soon take on, or has recently accepted, a new role in the organization
  • Coaching Objective: Prepare the client for the new role, with a focus on skills/behaviors to emphasize, skills/behaviors to leave behind and new skills/behaviors to acquire
  • Critical First Step: Inventory the client’s current skills and leadership behaviors and compare with those that will drive performance in the new role

#3 Coaching for Perspective
Executive leadership can be isolating.  It is, in fact, “lonely at the top.” As executives reach the upper echelons of organizations, they tend to find it more and more difficult to obtain direct, unfiltered feedback from inside their organizations. Power truly does refract—and the mirrors held up by insiders usually present distorted images, like the mirrors in a circus funhouse. Faced with this situation, great leaders actively seek out additional advisors to provide unvarnished perspectives and a clearer sense of reality.

  • Typical Client Profile: A senior-level executive (often a CEO or other C-suite leader) who wants an additional perspective on the internal and external realities they are facing
  • Coaching Objective: Provide a sounding board for the client when they want to check new ideas and/or share an alternative set of viewpoints on what’s occurring inside and outside the organization
  • Critical First Step: Determine how insulated the client is from market and organizational realities

While the goals, roles and process associated with the three types of executive coaching are fairly distinct, they do not preclude “hybrid” approaches. Each client has unique needs and aspirations, so each executive coaching engagement must be adapted to the situation. Many Coaching for Performance engagements include elements of Coaching for Promotion; a Coaching for Promotion relationship may transition to Coaching for Perspective after the leader has “settled into” a new job.

Further, the coaching relationship may evolve as the leader progresses: a Coaching for Performance client may thrive in response to that engagement, undertake Coaching for Promotion the following year, and eventually seek help with Coaching for Perspective.  No matter the particulars of the approach, we have found that all successful executive coaching engagements have a few common characteristics:

  • a clear set of objectives
  • a disciplined process that pushes the client to do the hard work that leads to meaningful changes
  • a coach who understands the client’s situation, observes carefully, asks tough questions and gives direct recommendations
  • a client who is open to being coached and committed to making change.

When these elements are present, it has been our experience that leaders can change and develop—and the progress can be seen in both their personal effectiveness and the bottom-line.

If you would like to learn how our executive coaching and consulting expertise has helped leaders and individuals across multiple industries succeed, please contact us.

Related Information

I contacted LSA to help us with leadership development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would match our needs as well as our personality. The solution was such a huge success. It received rave reviews. I would highly recommend LSA to other companies.

Karen King, SPHR
Manager, Human Resources

Alliance Data

The action-learning leadership project has been very beneficial to me, our leadership team, and the entire organization. The balance of development and results has been excellent. We have made huge progress, and I was also able to identify 2-3 high potentials while having the extra benefit of people stepping up to carry strategic projects forward. The Staff is very appreciative and has become very comfortable with both the program and the process. It is still going better than anticipated, and I have been very pleased.

Heather Feltman
President & CEO

LSS

LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

Margaret M. Mader
Vice President, Human Resources

Hyperion

The customized leadership program was very practical and achieved our goals. LSA adapted very well to our group and the situation and helped us build trust and awareness of successful leadership styles. We look forward to the next steps.

Erik Okholm
Director of Software Development

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We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people. LSA designed a modular and customized management curriculum that allows us to deliver top quality solutions to our managers and leaders. We consider LSA to be our learning and development partner and our LSA consultants to be an extension of our team.

Lisa Bruun
SVP Human Resources

Ellie Mae

We have had a very beneficial partnership with LSA for over 2 years. The recent Leadership Development Program that they designed and customized with us to help us identify, develop, and retain top leaders in the organization was a huge success. It was instrumental in helping take our company and our key people to the next level. I would recommend their training and consulting services to anyone looking to develop and retain top talent.

Steve Janowsky
Vice President of Operations

Proxicom

LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

Beth A. Taylor
Vice President of Human Resources

Thoratec

We consistently receive positive feedback about the quality of the LSA Leadership Training Programs and LSA facilitators. We recognize and appreciate the hard work LSA always goes through to align to our unique culture and meet our specific requirements. Thank you for regularly going above and beyond to design solutions to meet our needs. Your support and dedication, both on the strategic and tactical side, have been outstanding!

Anna Meyer
Leadership Development

Intuit

LSA demonstrated the criticality for executives to look beyond current ethics topics and focus on applying fundamental values in everything they do to demonstrate true leadership. They successfully delivered in two hours what most leadership development presenters would spend an entire day trying to communicate.

Nick Voyvodich, SPHR
HR Manager

Fujitsu

LSA Global has been a great partner in helping ServiceSource move toward its Vision of being “the leading developer of talent in the service performance management industry.” I have engaged LSA’s services to help develop best-in-class programs in the areas of: Executive On-boarding, Manager Training, Sales Training, Employee Engagement and Instructional Design. They have consistently met or exceeded my (very) high expectations and are always responsive to my needs.

Mike Normant
Senior Director, Training & Development

Service Source

Having tripled in size and recently merged, LSA helped our executive team to increase our level of strategic alignment, solidify our new direction and push our agency forward. As we look to rapidly scale, the clear and actionable critical few strategic moves combined with how we differentiate ourselves to our top accounts and target clients has really set us on a great path to success. This is exactly what we needed to get to the next level.

Matt Britton
CEO

mry-logo-white

LSA is an excellent training outsource partner! They listen to our needs, are responsive and work at a pace that keeps up with ours. We have found LSA to bring strategic and innovative solutions to meet our business problems by partnering effectively with our staff. I consider them to be an external extension of our team.

Wendy Chinn
Sr. Director, Global Sales Enablement

Mercury-large-gray

Hyperion has a commitment to lifelong learning. LSA helps us provide the right business sales training, management training programs, and leadership development programs at the right time to meet the needs of both individuals and departments. I especially appreciate their ability to listen to my needs and recommend the appropriate facilitators, solutions and content.

Sarah Parks
Senior Project Manager

Hyperion

“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”

Sally Buchannan
VP Human Resources

sonycomputer-large

I continue to be impressed by the level of leadership development and management expertise and quality of advice and facilitation that LSA has to offer. What a smart and client-centric group of great people who really know how to help leaders attract, engage, develop and retain top talent.

Tracy Esposito
Director, HR Business Partner

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