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Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change: Survey Results of a Commissioned Coaching Program.

  • Leadership Development Forum, Philadelphia, PA


This survey focused on the effectiveness of a coaching program commissioned by a global company for high potential employees who wanted to develop their emotional competence. Survey results indicated sustained learning and behavior change among program participants over an extended period. Successful outcomes appeared to be related to the careful scrutiny of program participants, a collaborative model, an insight-oriented coaching approach, and persistent efforts to brand the program as a developmental resource. This work also indicated areas of continued opportunity for consulting psychology to include: the developmental branding of coaching initiatives, the need for early career coaching, ways to connect coaching results to existing HR practices, how to deliver high impact coaching in cross-cultural settings, and the critical need for empirical research in the areas of coaching and organization-based consultation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change: Survey Results of a Commissioned Coaching Program
Karol M. Wasylyshyn, Psy.D.
Leadership Development Forum
Barbara Gronsky, Ph.D.
Independent Consultant
J. William Haas, Psy.D.
Leadership Perspectives
Send correspondence to:
Karol M. Wasylyshyn, Psy.D.
Leadership Development Forum
431 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: 215-627-0855
Copyright 2006 by the American Psychological Association and the Society of Consulting Psychology
DOI: 10.1037/1065-9293.58.2.65
Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, Vol. 58, No. 2, 65–81
This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
This survey focused on the effectiveness of a coaching program commissioned by a global
company for high potential employees who wanted to develop their emotional competence. Survey
results indicated sustained learning and behavior change among program participants over an
extended period. Successful outcomes appeared to be related to the careful scrutiny of program
participants, a collaborative model, an insight-oriented coaching approach, and persistent efforts to
brand the program as a developmental resource. This work also indicated areas of continued
opportunity for consulting psychology to include: the developmental branding of coaching
initiatives; the need for early career coaching; ways to connect coaching results to existing HR
practices; how to deliver high impact coaching in cross-cultural settings; and the critical need for
empirical research in the areas of coaching and organization-based consultation.
Karol M. Wasylyshyn, Psy.D., is President of Leadership Development Forum, a
consulting firm specializing in applications of psychology in business. She is a past member of the
coaching faculty in The Wharton School’s Advanced Management Program, an adjunct professor
of clinical psychology at Widener University where she was appointed to the Board of Trustees in
1995. In 2000, she founded the Center for Applied Emotional Competence in the Widener
University School of Business. Since 1982, Wasylyshyn has coached hundreds of senior
executives from every global sector.
Barbara Gronsky, Ph.D. has been in practice as an independent consulting psychologist in
the Philadelphia area since 1992. Her areas of expertise are: executive coaching, leadership
development, and career development/workplace issues. Over the past decade, Gronsky has
coached almost 300 managers and executives, primarily in the pharmaceutical and chemical
Bill Haas, Psy.D. is a psychologist who has consulted to an array of corporations and
industries since 1993. His focus is assisting clients in the integration of effective leadership
behaviors that foster business success. Haas holds an adjunct faculty position at Widener
University, teaching graduate courses in executive development. He is also President of
Leadership Perspectives.
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change: Survey Results of a Commissioned Coaching Program
Despite the widespread use of coaching for employee behavior change, coaches can be challenged
by the cynicism of business leaders who fundamentally believe that people, like tigers, do not ever
really change their stripes. The story of a coaching program commissioned by Rohm and Haas
Company (Philadelphia, PA) to focus specifically on emotional competence* may be an
encouraging example of how people can change behavior, and sustain those changes over time.
Goleman (1998) defines emotional competence as follows, “…the capacity for recognizing our
own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in
ourselves and in our relationships.” Based on his synthesis of brain research, including insights
regarding the neuroanatomy underlying emotion and rationality, Goleman concluded that the
common view of human intelligence is too narrow and that a range of emotional abilities are as
crucial – if not more crucial – than other competencies for high level functioning at work and in
life in general. Other researchers who highlight the importance of emotional competence at work
include Cherniss (2001), Jacobs and Chen (1997), and Rosier (1994).
Business authors including Collins (2001), Bossidy and Charan (2002) and Welch (2001)
have also focused on the role of emotions in effective leadership. Punctuating the over-arching
importance of emotional competence, Welch (2004), former Chairman and CEO of General
Electric wrote, “… a leader’s intelligence has to have a strong emotional component. He has
*NOTE: While this dimension of leadership is commonly referred to as emotional intelligence, we prefer the term
emotional competence as it conveys the potential for development and minimizes the notion that it is set at birth.
to have high levels of self-awareness, maturity and self-control. She must be able to withstand the
heat, handle setbacks and, when those lucky moments arise, enjoy success with equal parts of joy
and humility. No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but my experience
says it is actually more important in the making of a leader.”
It would appear that the emotional competence of individual business leaders has reached
prominence on a par with cognitive, experiential, communication and technical criteria as essential
for effective leadership. But for some executives, if not most, this dimension of leadership is the
least evolved of all their leadership competencies. What is it? How does one get it? Can it be
developed? This article describes a coaching model focused specifically on developing emotional
competence and the results of a preliminary survey.
In 1995 Rohm and Haas Company, a global producer of specialty materials used in a
broad array of consumer, pharmaceutical and industrial products, revised its leadership
competency model to include a specific focus on personal leadership traits -- referred to as the
“You” dimension (see Exhibit 1). The Rohm and Haas “You” dimension consisting of (1) self
awareness, (2) interaction with others, and (3) a broad view of the world was very much in
alignment with Goleman’s 1995 articulation of emotional competence.
This revised leadership competency model, intended to enrich development action
planning, was well received by human resource and line managers throughout the world. They
found it user friendly, and value-added in that competency information was readily surfaced and
converted into actionable development plans. However, within months of the model’s rollout, a
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
persistent question emerged with no easy answer: “What do we do when the development need is
in the YOU dimension?”
J. Michael (“Mike”) Fitzpatrick, current Rohm and Haas President and COO, suggested
that the company commission through its human resources function a coaching process explicitly
focused on the development of emotional competence. Soon thereafter, within a year of the
publication of Goleman’s groundbreaking 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence a customized
program was created and piloted with a human resources manager as its first participant. In an
attempt to brand the program as a developmental coaching resource and to differentiate it from
other available development and/or mentoring resources in the company, (some remedial and
others focused exclusively on career management), it was named VISTA. Through an informal
poll of company human resources professionals this name was chosen for its connotation of
“something out there on the horizon,” i.e. a positive and proactive development stretch into the
After the pilot VISTA engagement, the company established it as a development resource
for executive and high potential employees. An executive potential employee was viewed as
capable, within five years, of functioning as a leader of a business unit, subsidiary, technology unit,
corporate governance unit, or geographic region. A high potential employee was viewed as
showing promise of progressing to an executive potential rating, but needing one-two more
developmental positions before that could occur.
While the company revised its leadership profile again (in 2002), emotional competence
remains a central component in its development of top talent. This is evident in a cluster of three
competencies grouped under the major criterion of Interpersonal Effectiveness. These
competencies are: (1) effectiveness with others (including building/maintaining relationships with
key internal and external stakeholders, social ease, poise in the face of adversity and/or pressure,
handling ambiguity, empathy, trustworthiness, and conflict management skill); (2) self-awareness
and self-management (including self confidence, emotional self-control, realistic appraisal of
personal strengths and weaknesses, optimism, resilience, and using emotions to drive results and
change); and (3) broad view of the world (including natural curiosity and appetite for learning,
managing complexity, understanding other cultures, and commitment to use cultural learning and
sensitivity to foster mutual goals/relationships). Given this continued, close alignment with the
construct of emotional competence, it made sense for Rohm and Haas to continue its investment in
coaching focused explicitly on this dimension of leadership.
The VISTA Model
VISTA is a four-phase, collaborative coaching program that ideally involves an employee’s
boss and human resources partner, as well as the participant and his/her coach. VISTA coaches are
external, licensed consulting psychologists (Gronsky and Haas). While appropriate boundaries of
confidentiality are maintained, frequent interactions among the four partners ensure focus on the
right issues, provide helpful collateral information to the coach, give the coach opportunities to
provide guidance to the boss and/or HR partner, and serve as ongoing reality checks regarding a
participant’s progress or lack of same. Regarding “appropriate boundaries of confidentiality,”
VISTA participants are considered the “clients” and the implications of this are discussed clearly
in an initial agenda-setting meeting. Specifically, a VISTA coach does not share with company
sources (boss and HR partner) the results of the data-gathering phase – other than how that
material helps identify the coaching foci. Further, the coach does not share specifics of coaching
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
meetings other than to report generally on coaching momentum and progress. Typically, given the
collaborative nature of VISTA, there is sufficient dialogue to satisfy company sources, as well as
to enrich the coaching process.
The four phases of VISTA typically involve 40-50 hours of direct service provided over a
9-12 month period. These phases are; (1) data-gathering, (2) feedback, (3) coaching, and (4)
follow-up. While this is similar to other coaching models, there are inherent differences designed
to deliver psychological insight and influence sustained behavioral change. These differences
include; the strong internal-external collaboration, multi-faceted and “live” data gathering, an
insight-oriented coaching approach, sufficient time for participants to practice and receive
reinforcement for new behavior, the handling of confidentiality, and efforts to provide secondary
gain for boss and human resources partners in a VISTA engagement. In addition, VISTA coaches
attend a monthly case conference to ensure their work is informed by Rohm and Haas culture
factors and business developments. This meeting is facilitated by a consulting psychologist
(Wasylyshyn) who has consulted with top management of the corporation for nearly two decades.
At the outset of the data-gathering phase, VISTA coaches facilitate an agenda-setting
meeting in which roles, timeframe, expectations, and the issue of confidentiality are discussed
fully. The identification of a representative sample of people for 360 data-gathering is also
accomplished. A variety of tools is used in the data-gathering phase to include; (1) a life/career
history, (2) a battery of psychometrics; and (3) a customized 360-interview protocol. The
psychometric battery typically consists of the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal,
Personality Research Form, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Revised NEO Personality Inventory
(NEO PI-R), the Lifestyles Inventory (LSI) and the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQi).
The 360 interview protocol has been customized and consists of questions based on the Rohm and
Haas interpersonal effectiveness dimension of its Leadership Profile as influenced by the construct
of emotional competence. Representative questions from this protocol are seen in Appendix A.
The format of these questions capitalizes on the seminal work of McClelland and Boyatzis (1982)
on using behavioral event interviewing (BEI) to assess the extent to which individuals possess
role-relevant competencies. Unlike most 360 data-gathering processes that are administered
electronically or by paper and pencil, VISTA 360 data are drawn “live” by the coach meeting 1-
on-1 for approximately one hour with each member of a 360 sample, as well as with the participant
for his/her self input. Typically there are 8 –10 people in a 360 sample. When sample participants
reside in a global sector other than North America, consultants try to capitalize on opportunities
when these individuals are in the United States, or interview them by phone. Coach flexibility is
key in that interviews may have to be held as early as 6 am and late into the evening when
respondents live in the Asia Pacific region, for example.
The primary goal of the data-gathering phase is to surface relevant, multi-faceted
information that provides a sturdy foundation for the comprehensive feedback phase. While labor
intensive, this data gathering increases the likelihood of unearthing the real “live” effects of a
person’s current behavior and implications of this behavior for the coaching agenda. In the case of
John, for example (see VISTA Sidebar), the consultant’s face-to-face conversation with one of
John’s peers, who had known him for many years, yielded an important truth. This peer
emphasized the increasingly adverse effect John’s arrogant and distant behavior was having on his
ability to lead well. John had no awareness of this, and his reaction to the feedback was
encouraging, “If this is the impact I’m having on people, I need to change.”
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
Because VISTA feedback is an intense and unusual experience for most participants, i.e.
probing for the psychogenic basis of behaviors that have implications for leadership effectiveness,
great care is taken to prepare and set the stage for this pivotal meeting. The consulting
psychologist/coach spends considerable time analyzing history, psychometric and 360 data, as well
as the content from the agenda-setting meeting and other conversations he/she may have had with
the boss and/or HR colleague. All of this material is woven into a coherent story intended to
capture the participant’s attention by acknowledging his/her distinctive “gifts,” and to illuminate an
encouraging path forward, as well as to specify the coaching work to be done. This continuous
weaving and integration of the past with current realities as related to work effectiveness now is an
important hallmark of VISTA.
The primary objectives of the feedback phase are; (1) the identification of specific
behaviors for focus in the coaching phase, (2) increased insight about the underlying basis of these
behaviors, and (3) strengthening of the working alliance between the participant and his/her coach.
This feedback is provided in a three-hour meeting between the VISTA participant and his/her
coach that may or may not be audiotaped based on the participant’s preference. Findings from
each data source are discussed and the synthesis of major findings is achieved. The structure of the
feedback meeting is as follows: (1) setting the stage for client to receive the data, i.e. emphasizing
VISTA’s branding as a special development opportunity for executive or high potential employees;
client inoculation – discussing how the information may be difficult to hear but it is also a gift that
can help him/her see ways to leverage their strengths using amplified emotional capability as a
tool; discussion of psychometric data first, i.e. creating a foundation upon which to layer the 360
feedback; exploration of major 360 themes (provided in written format); and concluding with the
pinpointing of specific information for the behavior change coaching agenda. In some cases,
participants choose to reflect on feedback after the meeting before pinpointing behavioral foci and
writing their preliminary action plans. Others are able to pinpoint these areas quickly and the
feedback meeting concludes with assignment of the preliminary action plan.
The coaching phase typically consists of eight to ten face-to-face coaching meetings, each
approximately two hours in length. Coaching progress is enhanced further through frequent phone
and email communication (after rapport is well-established in face-to-face meetings) on an “as
needed” basis. Coaching meetings take place in either the coach’s or the participant’s office or in
some neutral space in one of the Rohm and Haas facilities.
So what actually happens in the coaching meetings? Trying to describe the typical
structure of a VISTA coaching meeting is a little like trying to describe how an artist paints. Most
senior coaches would concur that good coaching is more of an art than a science. As the painter
mixes deep and subtle hues of color on his/her palette so the coach makes choices about semantics,
techniques, tools, and timing but always with the commitment of honoring each client’s
uniqueness and meeting him/her wherever he/she needs to be met. This being said, generally
coaching meetings are structured around the following; an update on relevant work issues, a focus
on what’s most challenging/pressing for the client, re-plays of work issues with specific behavioral
interpretation and/or guidance for the future, a review of any “homework” assignments and
learning/applicability for behavior change, specification of new assignment(s), and a recap/wrap-
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
In the first VISTA coaching meeting, the work begins with a review of the preliminary
action plan, a plan that is based on the behaviors targeted for coaching in the feedback session. By
the first coaching meeting, the VISTA participant and his/her coach have at least started to work on
this document which serves as a concrete guide for the ensuing coaching work. Typically, this plan
is shared with the boss and HR partner who are asked to provide further input. See Appendix B for
representative steps in John’s preliminary action plan.
Subsequent coaching meetings focus on identifying additional insights and/or adaptive
behaviors (generally outside of the participant’s comfort zone) for each coaching issue. The
primary objective is to expand the participant’s versatility for handling a broad range of business
and/or management situations in a more emotionally, interpersonally smart manner. Further,
coaching meetings are often supplemented with role plays, case studies, films/DVDs, journaling,
and targeted readings. This supplemental work is always chosen based on how participants learn
best (e.g. visual, aural, kinetic), and can help maintain coaching momentum and focus on specific
VISTA goals. For example, when John’s coach learned that John enjoyed films, some were
assigned for viewing. Specifically, John’s viewing of Remains of the Day, a film that deals with
emotional disconnectedness and the price one can pay for personal emotional isolation, proved to
be a helpful coaching adjunct.
The time in between coaching meetings, typically four to five weeks, serves as valuable
“lab time” for participants to apply learning, experiment with new behavior, and to discover what
“works” for them given the contextual realities of their roles. Strategies to address potential
“relapses” are also identified further increasing the likelihood of sustained behavior changes. One
such strategy has been coined the “BLT” for behavior lapse tactic. Key steps in the BLT are the
VISTA participant’s (1) immediate admission of the behavior lapse, (2) verbal commitment to his/
her behavior change effort, and (3) invitation to others who witness a lapse to point it out, and also
to acknowledge progress when/if they see it. With John, for example, he enlisted two colleagues
to signal him when he had regressed, and he committed to immediate admission of the regression
as well as to the re-statement of his behavior change effort.
The coaching phase is concluded by the participant fleshing out his/her preliminary action
plan in collaboration with his/her coach. This “living document” reflects what was learned during
VISTA and the actions that will support continued behavior change efforts. Now referred to as the
“master action plan” (MAP), the participant presents it at a 1-hour wrap-up meeting with his/her
boss and the HR partner in attendance as well as the coach. See Appendix C for a partial look at
John’s MAP. The wrap-up meeting also provides the participant with an opportunity to describe
the impact VISTA has had on his/her growth as a leader, and to receive feedback regarding others’
awareness of behavior change/increased effectiveness or lack of same. Other development needs
may be discussed, as well as how the boss and/or HR partner can help the individual sustain gains
– absent the structure of coaching meetings. In John’s case, he requested and received an external
communications skills workshop, continued feedback from his internal (Rohm and Haas)
“mirrors,” and an additional year of support from his coach.
In the follow-up phase, the coach remains available for consultation as the participant seeks
to solidify and build on VISTA coaching gains. Approximately four months after the wrap-up
meeting, the coach contacts the participant, boss and HR partner to gauge progress and determine
if any additional support is required. In some instances as with John participants have, with the
approval of their bosses, contracted with their coaches for additional coaching support.
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
The Referral Process-Ensuring VISTA is the Appropriate Development Resource
Given the behavioral focus of VISTA, it can easily be misperceived as a remedial
intervention. For this reason, extensive efforts have been made to “brand” VISTA as the
developmental resource it was designed to be. Regarding process, there are four referral criteria
used to scrutinize the appropriateness of each VISTA engagement, and a number of carefully
orchestrated referral actions. The typical VISTA referral sequence is as follows:
Boss and HR partner identify emotional competence as an individual’s leadership
development opportunity.
HR partner discusses potential VISTA referral with a consulting psychologist
(Wasylyshyn) who serves in a quality oversight role for all VISTA referrals and who
assigns coaches. Four criteria must be met:
1. The individual is an executive or high potential employee with NO
performance problems, i.e. is not de-railing.
2. The development need involves emotional competence.
3. The individual has had direct feedback from his/her boss and HR partner and
he/she values the importance of this dimension for effective leadership.
4. The individual understands VISTA is an investment in his/her development
and he/she is truly motivated to participate in coaching.
Assuming VISTA is the appropriate development resource, the boss and/or human
resources partner conveys this news to the prospective participant.
Assigned coach contacts VISTA participant to introduce self, review VISTA process,
and answer any questions.
Coach sets up an agenda-setting meeting with VISTA participant, boss, and HR
partner. The four objectives of the agenda-setting meeting are to; (1) ensure mutual
understanding of the program and each person’s role in it, (2) set the boundaries of
confidentiality, i.e. what information remains private between the participant and coach
and what information is shared with the company, (3) hear the company’s perspective
on the participant’s strengths and development need in the area of emotional
competence, as well as to specify what VISTA success would look like, and (4)
identify a representative sample of people for 360 data-gathering.
Prior to the agenda-setting meeting, the coach has separate phone conversations with
the boss and HR partner to address any questions, and to ensure clarity regarding
objectives for the meeting. (NOTE: A three-way conference call is also an option).
Four-phase VISTA model ensues.
Survey Method
Surveys were mailed to 33 of the 41 VISTA alumni who had completed the coaching
between 1996 and 2002. Because the whereabouts of eight participants who had left the company
were not known, they were not included in the study. In an attempt to go beyond self-report data
and to get outside perspective regarding the sustainability of behavior change over time, surveys
were sent to 44 Others (former and current bosses). Completion of the survey for all was strictly
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
The survey instrument was composed of several rating scales, as well as open-ended items.
In the initial section, VISTA participants and their company partners rated progress made in the
agreed upon coaching areas. To accomplish this, each survey was customized to reflect a
participant’s specific development goals. Participants and Others rated progress on each goal,
using a 1-10 rating scale, where 1 equaled very little progress and 10 equaled a great deal of
All surveys asked for a rating (from 1-10) of the sustainability of the participants’ overall
learning and/or behavior change derived from VISTA. Respondents were offered the opportunity
to write in comments or give examples for each of the rating scales.
Five open-ended questions examined the impact of VISTA on one's effectiveness as a
leader, the ability to achieve desired results, specific benefits the company derived from the
individual’s participation in VISTA, the most helpful aspects of the VISTA process, and ways in
which VISTA might be improved.
To avoid the role conflict of operating in the dual roles of interventionists and evaluators,
surveys were returned to Wasylyshyn, who managed the data and completed the initial analysis.
She had coached only the pilot VISTA participant. VISTA coaches Gronsky and Haas, who were
not privy to the identities of respondents, assisted in the thematic analysis for the sections focused
on Benefit to the Company, and Program Critique both what was helpful and what could be
Survey Findings
Of the 33 VISTA participants surveyed, there was an 84.8% response rate. Of these
respondents 83% were male and 17% female. The response rate from the 44 Others surveyed was
considerably less (38.6%). The lower response rate of Others was primarily a function of their no
longer having contact with VISTA participants who, by the time of this survey, had moved into
different roles since the coaching ended. Of note, over 70% of VISTA participants who are still
with the company have advanced their careers there. Of the eight participants who secured
employment elsewhere, the majority (75%) of these individuals initiated their departures from the
Nearly 50% of the VISTA participants were in the Research organization. Close to a third
were in business roles. And the remaining 22% included employees in Information Technology
and Operations/Engineering. This array of functional backgrounds is not atypical for a strong
technology-based company.
Development Themes
Analysis of participants’ development goals, as set in the feedback phase, clustered under
three major themes; (1) to increase overall emotional competence (52%), (2) to better understand
their impact on others (29%), and (3) more effective career management (19%).
VISTA participants who wanted to increase emotional competence (52%) made progress
by learning about this construct – as it relates to effectiveness at work. Wasylyshyn’s (2003) SO
SMART acronym, representing the four dimensions of emotional competence, (SO = self
observation, SM = self management, A = attunement to others, and RT = relationship traction),
helped coaches focus specific behavioral change agendas. The first of these two emotional
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competence dimensions (SO and SM) involve self management skills, and the second two
dimensions (A and RT) are focused primarily on forming relationships with others.
Through the VISTA coaching, participants were helped to increase their capacity for self-
observation by labeling their emotions/feeling states, and then to manage these feelings – both
positive and negative emotions -- in ways that facilitated their achieving work-related objectives.
They also learned how to be more attuned to others’ emotional needs and concerns, practice
empathy, and to use this heightened sensitivity to form and nurture more satisfying and productive
relationships, i.e. have greater relationship traction, with both internal and external stakeholders. A
number of VISTA participants reported improved relationships in their personal lives, as well as at
VISTA participants who focused on gaining greater awareness of their impact on others
(29%) benefited most from gaining clarity about their respective communication styles. The
coaching helped them focus on both verbal and non-verbal behaviors, i.e. eliminating
counterproductive or distracting behaviors, and reinforcing those behaviors that increased effective
Effective career management had not emerged in the referral stage for any of the VISTA
participants but it clearly surfaced in the feedback and coaching phases as an issue of concern for
some (19%). While this is not an interpersonal effectiveness issue per se, coaching gains were
made through assistance with career navigation tactics. While consideration of this finding was
beyond the scope of this survey, it suggests the need for more frequent and substantive career
planning discussions between managers and high potential subordinates.
Progress on Vista Goals
VISTA participants were asked to rate their progress compared to pre-VISTA levels on
each of their coaching goals on a 1-10 scale (10 = highest rating). The median rating (across 96
ratings overall) for both VISTA participants and others (boss HR partner) was 7. Participants and
“other” ratings were congruent (plus or minus 1 on the 10-point scale) 78% of the time.
These positive findings are attributed to; (1) multi-faceted data-gathering, (2) breakthrough
insights and the identification of specific coaching goals, (3) the collaborative coaching model, (4)
the preliminary action plan, i.e. a tool for grounding the coaching work at the outset and an explicit
action plan crafted at the end of coaching to support continued progress, and (5) coaches
themselves modeling emotional competence. Of note is the fact that the majority of VISTA
participants had maintained their progress over a period of one to six years (depending on when
they had completed VISTA).
In addition, ongoing company-based activities helped reinforce positive VISTA outcomes.
These activities included enriched job experiences, informal mentoring, and more focused
performance management.
Over half (52%) of the participants reported high sustainability of the learning and/or
behavior change achieved as a result of their participation in VISTA. A medium level of
sustainability was indicated by the remaining 48%.
Managers rated sustainability as high in 60% of the VISTA engagements, and 35% as
medium. The remaining 5% was based on the response of one manager who noted no change.
With 100% of participants and 95% of their managers and/or HR partners reporting
medium to high sustainability, it appears that VISTA is an effective coaching model. While this
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
strong sustainability finding warrants further study, two factors appear especially relevant. First,
the view of the participant as client (versus the company) produces a strong, trusting working
alliance with one’s coach. Wasylyshyn (2003) wrote, “…coaches who work from the perspective
of the executive as the client are likely to form faster and more substantive coaching relationships.
Seasoned coaches learn how to work from this perspective – satisfying both the coached executive
and the sponsoring organization” (p.98). Second, the scrutiny of potential participants, i.e.
ensuring that VISTA was the right development resource yielded a well-motivated group of
Benefit to the Company
There were no major themes reported here. The array of benefits to the company cited by
VISTA participants included; (1) becoming more effective leaders (providing vision and
inspiration to others), (2) improved interpersonal skills (enhanced listening, achieving more buy-in
and alignment, ability to relate to a more diverse group of people), (3) increased commitment to
the company, (4) increased performance management skill (providing more timely feedback,
earlier identification of potential “derailment factors”), (5) increased productivity, and (6) positive
impact on the company’s bottom line (better negotiating ability in high stress situations).
Neither were there major themes cited by managers and HR partners. The array of benefits
to the company cited by these survey participants included; (1) more effective leadership, (2)
increased focus resulting in speed to market, (3) better interpersonal skills, and (4) the retention of
valued employees.
Program Critique–What Was Most Helpful?
In order of frequency, VISTA participants cited the following as most helpful; (1)
achieving greater self-awareness and deeper insight of how one’s behavior effects others (38.1%),
(2) working with an experienced coach (21.4%), (3) 360 feedback (16.7%), (4) specific tools for
dealing with aspects of behavior they wanted to change (14.2%), (5) psychometrics (4.7%), and (6)
knowing that the company would want to invest in their development (4.7%).
Others (bosses and HR partners) cited several aspects as helpful. These included; (1)
participants achieving better results (25%), (2) participants becoming more effective leaders
(15%), (3) enhanced influence skills (15%), (4) participants’ personal growth and development
(15%), and (5) career progress (15%). As noted earlier, a significant number of VISTA
participants (over 70%) advanced their careers in the company. Response from the remaining 15%
did not fit any of the aforementioned themes.
Program Critique-Ways to Improve
Nearly 20% of VISTA participants either provided no “improvement” information or
restated their positive experience. From others we gleaned clues that will be taken into account as
this coaching intervention is fine-tuned. These clues include; (1) a formal check-in or review a
year or two post-VISTA participation, (2) some type of ongoing support, (3) continued screening
of participants, i.e. VISTA must be branded as a development tool, (4) ensuring the
representativeness of 360 sample participants, (5) greater involvement of participants’ managers,
i.e. ensuring they are open to seeing and acknowledging behavior change on the part of VISTA
participants, (6) greater involvement of HR partners, and (7) remaining sensitive to cultural
subtleties and nuances--avoid VISTA being perceived as Ameri-centric.
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
That Rohm and Haas Company would seize upon the relevance of emotional competence
for leadership effectiveness and commission a coaching resource for talented employees was an
innovative step in 1996 when there were few, if any, coaching programs of this type. But it was
not a surprising step in that the company had been focused on the emotional dimension of
leadership since 1985 when it implemented a process called Leadership 2000 (now Leadership
3000). This competency-based, holistic (focused on the whole person), and insight-oriented
leadership development initiative continues to play a key role in grooming people for the top 30 –
40 leadership roles in the company. As a function of this experience, Rohm and Haas senior
executives have come to value the role of psychology – and specifically, the role of emotions in the
behavior of successful leaders. So VISTA landed in receptive territory, and based on the
encouraging results of this survey, the company plans to expand its use of the program. The
expanded use of VISTA is expected to include the identification and training of indigenous
coaches (consulting psychologists) in each geographic sector. This will be especially helpful in the
Asia Pacific region, a significant focus in the company’s current growth strategy.
Further, certain process adjustments are being made to strengthen its utility as a
developmental resource. These adjustments include ensuring the involvement of a human
resources partner in every VISTA engagement, and linking VISTA work with existing company
talent review and performance management discussions. Based on ongoing feedback from current
VISTA participants, their line or functional managers, other leaders in the company, as well as
people who participated in this survey, we believe the initial success of VISTA is due to four
factors. These factors are; (1) scrutiny of participants – ensuring that VISTA was the most
appropriate development resource, (2) collaboration -- the collaborative relationship among
participant, boss, HR partner and coach, (3) branding -- ongoing efforts to brand VISTA as a
developmental resource, and (4) coaching approach -- an insight-oriented model.
While the first two of these four factors (scrutiny and collaboration) are sufficiently
discussed in the referral process and coaching sections above, the two remaining factors – branding
and an insight-oriented approach -- warrant comment. Regarding branding, from the outset it was
recognized that a coaching program focused on behavior change easily runs the risk of being
perceived as a remedial intervention. Therefore several steps were taken to at least minimize this
perception. These steps included: (1) VISTA coaches handled only VISTA work, i.e. they were
not involved in other Rohm and Haas engagements that were clearly remedial; (2) the rigorous
scrutiny of VISTA referrals to these people were high potential employees; (3) presentations to the
corporate human resources leadership team and the broader HR community to describe VISTA, its
referral criteria, referral process, and to share the mounting business case research about the key
role of emotions in effective leadership; (4) in the 360 interviews, probing every interviewee’s
understanding of the purpose of VISTA, who got to participate, and correcting misperceptions if
need be; (5) providing every potential HR partner with a small “referral pad” – each sheet printed
with the four VISTA referral criteria; (6) capitalizing on informal opportunities to speak with HR
professionals and line or functional managers educating them about VISTA’s developmental
intent; and finally (7) the use of VISTA “graduates” as ambassadors to speak to other employees
about the nature and process of this coaching.
Theoretically, the insight-oriented nature of VISTA is informed by the clinical tradition of
time-limited dynamic psychotherapy (Strupp & Binder, 1984). This powerful, empirically tested
model of brief psychotherapy integrating psychoanalytic, interpersonal, object-relations, self
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
psychology, as well as cognitive-behavioral and systems approaches, provided a sound theoretical
base for the design and delivery of this coaching model. Specifically, using the concept of the
cyclical maladaptive pattern (CMP), as articulated by Levenson (1995), coaches are able to
facilitate VISTA participants’ understanding of the psychogenic basis of interpersonal behaviors
they want to change. Levenson defined the CMP as, “…the idiosyncratic ‘vicious cycle’ a
particular person gets into in relating to others. These cycles or patterns involve inflexible, self-
perpetuating behaviors, self-defeating expectations, and negative self-appraisals, which lead to a
dysfunctional and maladaptive interactions with others” (p.49). In the work with John (see
sidebar), the identification of his long held belief that in order to secure love and respect he always
needed to be right proved to be an invaluable insight as related to his current behaviors that put off
or otherwise alienated people from him.
The value of VISTA can be conceptualized as a rapid sequence of delivering and applying
insight, supporting participants’ courage to change, (through a pragmatic coaching agenda), and
providing positive reinforcement of progress/sustained efforts. As in time-limited dynamic
psychotherapy (TLDP), the coaching is active, experiential, and integrative. In large measure,
VISTA coaches can be successful because they themselves are emotionally competent and they
are, “…experientially and contextually integrating a set of skills, any one of which by itself is
relatively meaningless, and (they are) making decisions about when and how to use these skills, (in
order to) get to a destination” (Levenson, 1995, p.2-3).
Despite the encouraging results of this survey, it also raises numerous questions that
warrant much further exploration. These questions include: What can companies do to ensure the
developmental branding of coaching programs focused on the subjective area of leadership
behavior? What existing company practices can be leveraged to help sustain progress people make
through coaching of this type? How might companies provide cost-effective, high impact
development activity focused on behavior to employees earlier in their careers? And, from a
perspective of cultural diversity, how can behavioral development needs be best met in differing
global sectors?
Further, these early results while positive lack the rigor of empirical research. This
continues to be an important challenge for psychologists providing coaching and other
organization-based consultation. As Kilburg (2000) states, “There is a true absence of good,
controlled-variable research that demonstrates the successful application of clinically based
methods and theories to changing the behavior of individuals and groups in organizational
applications” (p. 18). We echo his concern and urge that such research be done in the broader field
of executive coaching. In the absence of empirical study it will be difficult for this application of
psychology in business to maintain a place of respect and credibility among leadership
development resources. Further, we will need to justify the expense of coaching, i.e. demonstrate
the value of coaching financially. Psychologist Braddick (2004) writes, “Our ability to speak the
language of business by conducting research that documents… ROI’s (financial return) can
influence the perceived value the market assigns to our services. Delivering programs that
document impact and ROI will create new opportunities to highlight the specific value proposition
…and perhaps most importantly, such efforts will help us differentiate our discipline from
competing disciplines” (p. 2).
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
Rohm and Haas Company’s request for a development resource focused specifically on emotional
competence presented a special opportunity to design and implement a customized coaching
program. While the preliminary results of this survey point to the value of an insight-oriented
approach and collaborative methodology, there are likely other coaching tools that would also
prove helpful to people who want to develop in this way. Rather than claim the distinctive benefits
of one coaching model over another, we emphasize instead the continued importance of emotional
competence as a developmental focus and urge companies to explore ways to evoke this behavior
particularly among senior executives.
The magnitude of current and foreseeable business challenges will require heightened
levels of emotional capability if leaders are to meet them in ways that ensure business stability and
growth. These challenges include globalization, intensified off-shore competition, outsourcing,
talent and knowledge gaps, the technology juggernaut, financial turbulence, political unrest
globally, and the increasing erosion of physical and psychological safety throughout the world. To
respond to these challenges executives will tap into a familiar repertoire of leadership
competencies (strategy, business acumen, integrity, innovation management, etc.). To respond to
these challenges consistently and well executives will need to bring something more: their
distinctive abilities to accelerate deeper, productive connections to people – the most influential
people both within and outside their companies. These acts of leadership are significantly
relational and require a behavioral repertoire of self awareness, resilience, empathy, authenticity,
optimism and courage. These acts of relational leadership are necessarily emotional. The stripes
of these tigers move in the wind, shimmer on the surface, and speed through the jungle with ease.
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
VISTA Outcome Research – Sidebar
“I’m not sure what to do for John,” his boss told the coach, a consulting psychologist. “I
see him as having executive potential. He’s always been one of my strongest performers as far as
getting things done. He’s also one of the smartest people I know. He sees both the forest and the
trees, and he’s a great problem-solver.
Here’s the issue: when I described him this way at a recent Research Talent Review
meeting, I got a lot of push back from other Directors. They said a number of people see John as
arrogant, aloof, and hard to get to know. They also said people aren’t always comfortable working
on teams with him because he’s not collaborative and acts like he knows it all. I don’t believe he’s
arrogant but I know he can come across this way.”
When the boss explored the possibility of providing John with 1-on-1 coaching as a
development resource, it was clear that John met the VISTA criteria. This was confirmed further
in John’s first conversation with his prospective coach. Having decided coaching could be helpful
with this behavioral development issue, John and his coach prepared for the agenda-setting
meeting. In this meeting, with his boss and human resources partner present as well as his coach,
three coaching goals were identified as related to emotional competence; (1) active listening and
greater attunement to others, (2) spending more time teaching and developing others in his
organization, and (3) eliminating behaviors that fed the perception of him as dismissive, arrogant,
and aloof.
John appeared unemotional, even impassive while receiving his psychometric and 360
feedback – feedback that reinforced what had been discussed in the agenda-setting meeting. He
spoke about the areas he needed to work on as if he were talking about an experiment rather than
about himself. However, after he had had some time to digest the information, he began to take
ownership of it especially in terms of his negative effect on others. In his first coaching meeting
he commented, “I never realized how uncomfortable I can make people feel. This really isn’t my
intention. I can see what I have to change and I really want to do that.” John was becoming
increasingly self-aware. This was a first in a number of realizations that indicated the value of
insight oriented coaching for John. Another important discovery that accelerated his progress was
the identification of his cyclical maladaptive pattern (CMP). He realized that he had long held the
belief that winning love and respect was dependent on his being right. This insight emerged as
John and his coach reviewed his developmental history and portions of the 360° feedback. In
psychodynamic terms his CMP was based on parental interjects that were consistently reinforced
by environmental cues. Historically John’s parents and teachers lavishly praised his intellectual
accomplishments, which came easily to him. He was consistently rewarded for coming out on top
throughout his academic career. This pattern was further solidified as his successes accrued in the
business world.
Through the feedback John also realized that up to this point, he had distinguished himself
in the company exclusively through the power of his intellect, technical knowledge, and individual
contributions. Further, he also saw that if he wanted to be successful beyond his current job, he
would have to drive results through others by motivating them, influencing their buy-in to his
vision, and achieving alignment on key objectives. All of these behaviors were clearly unfamiliar
and outside his comfort zone but he could not see any other path forward. On the strength of these
insights, he built on the major points raised in the agenda-setting meeting and set his VISTA
coaching goals in two broad areas; (1) learning to connect to people on an emotional level and (2)
being more respectful of others’ contributions.
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
Because John’s awareness of his own emotions was minimal, the keeping of an emotions
diary throughout the coaching phase proved to be an important tool. This not only helped him
identify his own feelings, it also gave him specific language to introduce emotions into his
conversations with others. He became better at empathizing with others’ experiences versus his
tendency to miss issues and/or concerns that often had implications for how efficiently results were
achieved. Further, by reviewing job-related situations with his coach and brainstorming other,
more emotionally competent approaches, John began revealing more about what made him tick.
This proved to be an important tool in the coaching process. By deconstructing real time situations
and role playing with his coach, John increased his array of behavioral choices. The different (and
wiser) choices he made about how to relate to whom contributed to people feeling more relaxed
around him.
During the coaching phase transferential dynamics became more evident in John’s
relationship with his coach. He became warmer and less guarded. He also began to call the coach
when he had people issues he needed to discuss. In short, he made increasing use of the coaching
relationship to practice and internalize new behavior. As his ability to accept others’ ideas and
approaches increased, he began to envision a larger opportunity. The breakthrough insight that he
could achieve more in life by engaging others and becoming more relational had enormous appeal
for him.
In order to improve his relationships, John invested time and energy in people beyond
discussions about the work to be done. This shift from a transactional to relational way of being
with work colleagues paid off quickly. John became interested in people’s interests and interests
outside of work. Instead of forging ahead in meetings, he’d stop and inquire what was going on if
someone looked frustrated or upset. John’s newfound attunement to others and attempts to build
more meaningful relationships were continually reinforced. He quickly saw how effective these
new behaviors were, since co-workers began to seek him out and were more inclined to share their
ideas with him. This reinforcement intensified his commitment to and focus on his VISTA goals.
At the VISTA wrap-up meeting with his boss, HR partner, and coach in attendance, John
presented his master action plan (MAP) along with a letter that detailed his VISTA experience. In
the letter he revealed that he, “…entered the process with a fair degree of skepticism believing I
was in store for a good dose of psychoanalysis and recommendations that I was not sure I was
willing to adopt. I was also skeptical that I would benefit from the VISTA program.” John
concluded by writing, “I feel that I have benefited greatly form my VISTA experience.” In his
MAP, he highlighted progress made on development objectives, and action steps that would ensure
continued progress. Specifically, he reviewed what he needed to do to sustain the gains he
achieved through the previous year such as seeking periodic feedback from key respondents in his
360 feedback sample. He also committed to completing coursework in communication styles.
John also asked for another year with his coach in order to insure ongoing objective feedback and
support. His boss approved his requests for further development support – encouraged greatly by
John’s progress. Further, his boss agreed to have regular conversations about John’s overall
leadership effectiveness that would include positive reinforcement of continued progress, and early
feedback when he saw something that was not in sync with John’s goals particularly in the area of
emotional competence.
Six months after John completed VISTA, he was promoted to a key commercial role in the
company’s Asia Pacific region. In retrospect, he credits the skills developed in VISTA as critical
to his success in navigating the subtleties and nuances of the interpersonal dynamics he
encountered in that region. In his own words, “Given the interpersonal demands of working
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
effectively in Asia, I’m glad I’ve been thinking about this and have learned about emotional
Since completing VISTA several years ago, John has continued to be promoted enjoying an
ever-growing sphere of influence at Rohm and Haas. The behavioral concerns that prompted his
boss to provide the VISTA coaching have been eliminated. Further, John is now actively sought
out as a coach and mentor for others in the company – a role for which he feels better equipped,
and a role he finds satisfying at this juncture in his career.
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
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Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
Exhibit 1
Rohm and Haas Company
Leadership Competency Model (1995)
Tigers, Stripes, and Behavior Change
Sample Questions from VISTA 360 Interview Protocol
Self Confidence :
What are some recent examples of (name) persisting in the strength of his/her convictions in
the face of resistance and/or criticism from others in the company?
Give a recent example of (name) doing well even in circumstances that were unclear or
Self Awareness and Self Management:
Describe a recent example of (name) staying “cool” under pressure or otherwise stressful
work circumstances.
To what extent are (name)’s emotions a source of strength, or are they a liability? Please
Broad View of the World:
Describe (name)’s ability to create and maintain key networks of contacts both internal and
external to the company.
Give a recent example of (name) putting him/herself into the shoes of another sufficiently well
to understand the other’s perspective.
Please give an example that illustrates (name)’s ability to value, stay open to others’views and
differences be they cultural, behavioral, ideological, etc.
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Preliminary Action Plan – Representative Action Steps
Ask two colleagues to act as “mirrors” as I go through VISTA.
Use an emotions diary as tool to help me recognize my own emotions and to build attunement
to those of others.
Practice sharing information with colleagues and direct reports that goes beyond just
exchanging data.
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Master Action Plan (the MAP) – A Glimpse at Actions Intended to Reinforce Learning
Developmental Area: Connecting to Others on an Emotional Level
Using my emotions as a resource to learn about others.
Be more emotionally expressive.
Continue to gauge the emotions of others, i.e. making sure that I recognize and respond to their
emotional reactions as related to the work to be done.
Let people express and work through issues rather than jumping into problem-solving mode
with the aim of supplying answers.
Development Area: Increasing Interpersonal Effectiveness
Be more inclusive of others.
Seek advice from those who are interpersonally adept.
Let others know they’ve been heard; paraphrase questions, restate their answers, and
summarize conversations.
... In addition to the five moderating factors which would all seem to play a vital part, coaching effectiveness has been considered in terms of how best to measure objective outcomes beyond coach reporting and coachee feedback (Athanasopoulou & Dopson, 2018;De Haan et al, 2013;Jones et al, 2016;Grant et al, 2010;Peterson, 2011). Enhanced coachee capabilities, career advancement, organisational performance, and financial measures (Grant, 2003;Kampa-Kokesch & Anderson, 2001;Wasylyshyn et al, 2006) have each been proposed without arriving at a firm conclusion on the most appropriate measure. The most immediate outcome-based measure of coaching effectiveness that is also surveyed by many organisations (Athanasopoulou & Dopson, 2018) and rises beyond singular capabilities, is the increased leadership effectiveness of the coachee. ...
... (Dagley, 2010). In contrast, developmental coaching that is targeted at high performers or those with high potential for further developing their capabilities, or facilitating an upward organizational transition, implies positive performance feedback, recognition, and acknowledgment (Wasylyshyn et al., 2006). Thus, developmental coaching may be perceived as a "badge of honor" or as a reward for the demonstrated performance of "rising star" employees (Jackson & Cox, 2018). ...
Full-text available
This study responds to the call for a closer analysis of the role that contextual and individual factors play in workplace coaching as a context‐sensitive intervention. We build on theories of regulatory focus and training motivation, to propose and examine a model that explains employees' pre‐coaching motivation when assigned to workplace coaching. Specifically, we propose that the employees' perception of the organizational coaching context, as either developmental or remedial, contributes to their pre‐coaching motivation through employees' situational regulatory focus. Results of a scenario‐based experimental study (N = 175) demonstrated that organizational coaching context affects employees' situational regulatory foci beyond their chronic dispositions. Further, the indirect relationship between developmental organizational coaching context and pre‐coaching motivation was mediated by employee situational promotion focus. However, we did not find the hypothesized indirect relationship between remedial organizational coaching context and employee pre‐coaching motivation via employee situational prevention focus. The study highlights the important role that organizations' management and human resource development personnel play in the “kick‐off” of a workplace coaching intervention by shaping the context of coaching assignments prior to coaching. Furthermore, this study emphasizes the importance of including the organization's informal feedback to the employee prior to coaching as a key contractual element that contributes to coachees' pre‐coaching motivation. We conclude with implications for future workplace coaching research and practice.
... (Dagley, 2010). In contrast, developmental coaching that is targeted at high performers or those with high potential for further developing their capabilities, or facilitating an upward organizational transition, implies positive performance feedback, recognition, and acknowledgment (Wasylyshyn et al., 2006). Thus, developmental coaching may be perceived as a "badge of honor" or as a reward for the demonstrated performance of "rising star" employees (Jackson & Cox, 2018). ...
This study responds to the call for a closer look at the role that contextual and individual factors play in workplace coaching as a context-sensitive intervention. Drawing on and integrating theories of regulatory focus and training we proposed and examined a model that explains the impact of organizational coaching context on coachee pre-coaching motivation using coachee situational regulatory focus as an underlying mechanism. Results of a scenario-based experimental study (N=175) demonstrated that organizational coaching context affects coachees’ situational regulatory foci beyond chronic dispositions. Further, the indirect relationship between developmental organizational coaching context and pre-coaching motivation was mediated by coachee situational promotion focus. However, we did not find the hypothesized indirect relationship between remedial organizational coaching context and coachee pre-coaching motivation via coachee situational prevention focus. The study highlights the important role that organizations’ management and human resource personnel play in the ‘kick-off’ of a workplace coaching intervention by shaping the context of coaching assignments prior to coaching. Furthermore, this study emphasizes the importance of including the organization’s informal feedback for the employee prior to coaching as a key contractual element that contributes to coachees’ pre-coaching motivation. We conclude with implications for future workplace coaching research and practice.
... This results in better feedback (Smither, London, Flautt, Vargus & Kucine, 2003), enhanced leadership skills, increased speed to market A. Reid, et al. The International Journal of Management Education 18 (2020) 100334 and employee retention (Finn, Mason, & Griffin, 2006;Stober, 2008;Wasylyshyn, Gronsky, & Haas, 2006), which maximises the effectiveness and investment in leadership development, particularly in the longer term (IEC, 2012;Olivero et al., 1997). Where conventional training methods are more theory-based, coaching focuses more on skills-based learning, experience and the practice of capabilities outlined in theory, such as interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills (Butler, Forbes, & Johnson, 2008;De Haan & Duckworth, 2013). ...
As a contribution to the evolving debate about the future of business schools, we explore the complementary value of teaching and coaching in executive education to offer a more holistic individualised learning experience. Beginning in each case with teaching, some enriching differences are: focus on knowing at a macro-level versus doing at a micro-level; pre-determined context-free knowledge versus self-determined context-specific knowledge; impersonal access to many subject experts versus personal access to one process professional; directively taking people out of themselves versus nondirectively taking people into themselves; critical feedback centred on normative reference points versus supportive feedback centred on personalised, formative reference points. The differences reveal limitations in each approach that the other can address. We propose that the greatest benefit for adult learning and management performance can be found at the nexus of the two approaches, when teachers and coaches integrate the qualities of both approaches. This entails not just appreciating some value in the other, but actually incorporating insights and methods from the other approach into their practice.
A version of this paper was presented at the 3rd National Coaching Psychology Conference in December, 2007. This paper is a more elaborate version of a speech given at the 3rd National Conference of the Special Group for Coaching Psychology in 2007. It looks at a diversity of definitions of coaching and executive coaching as well as reviews available research from a business perspective. The executive context has several unique features and the article concludes that executive coaching needs to be different from other types of coaching.
Using findings from both traditional and positive psychology research, this chapter focuses on how coaching is conceptualised and the motivations for coaching as it is delivered to individuals in community and organisational settings. The differences among coaching and other interventions such as mentoring, counselling, supervision, and training are detailed. The theoretical evidence for coaching from the disciplines of psychology and education, as well as from management research, are summarised. Coaching in contemporary practice is goal-oriented and solution-focused. Developmental, humanistic, and positive psychology techniques are used to address the client’s needs and promote their mental and emotional wellbeing. Coaches utilise cognitive behavioural psychology to assist clients reframe their mental model and dispel limiting beliefs. Within educational research, coaching is positioned as a developmental, learning opportunity for clients to develop self-efficacy so they become motivated to achieve behavioural change. Clients who believe in their ability to learn, perform, or change as a result of effort, persistence and, at times, assistance, are malleable. Within management, coaching approaches focus on the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies to enhance leadership and executive development, job satisfaction, motivation and work performance, and interpersonal and team relationships. This research evidence supports the emergence of coaching as a profession and contributes to a growing body of knowledge and theory into the development of coaching as a discipline.
Previous studies on the effectiveness of coaching have focused on positive outcomes that clients, coaches, and organizational colleagues attribute to engaging in coaching overall. In this study descriptions of critical moments of coaching as experienced by executive‐coaching clients, their coaches, and their sponsors are analyzed and compared, to find out more about how coaching conversations are experienced. In this sense, the objective of this research was to understand more about “sub‐outcomes” of coaching: mini‐outcomes as they arise within the process and as a result of the coaching process. We extend previous studies in two ways. First, we take a process‐oriented, qualitative approach by investigating which events are regarded as critical by clients and coaches within their coaching contracts to date. Second, we consider the perspective of sponsors of coaching who refer to the same coaching assignments as clients and coaches have done. For this study, 177 critical‐moment descriptions were collected (49 from clients, 49 from coaches and 79 from sponsors of coaching), of which 147 could be matched between coach, client, and sponsor working on the same assignment. They are coded with an existing and a new coding scheme and analyzed with reference to a larger dataset comprising 555 critical‐moment descriptions from executive‐coaching assignments. Our results suggest that clients and coaches are considerably more aligned in what they regard as critical in their coaching assignments when compared to their alignment with sponsors' views. While clients and coaches mainly refer to moments of new insight and attitudinal change as critical, sponsors underline changes in the clients' behavior, such as their communication or interpersonal skills. Alongside earlier studies, we have found further indications that clients and coaches conducting normal coaching conversations seem to identify critical moments to a large extent with new learning, perspectives, and insight, and they pick the same moments well above chance rates. At the same time, organizational sponsors of coaching seem to prioritize more new actions and changes initiated by coaching clients.
We examine the rise of coaching within management education to support student learning. We question the assumption that faculty-student coaching (FSC) is beneficial and propose that there may be some limitations in the use of FSC that have yet to be adequately acknowledged and discussed in the literature. In particular, we propose that there is currently insufficient evidence to conclude that coaching can produce knowledge acquisition and therefore ask why we persist in the use of FSC when we have limited evidence of its efficacy in delivering a core education outcome. We suggest that the theory of academic capitalism provides a useful, critical lens through which to view the growing trend in FSC, identifying that FSC may be utilized as a method of increasing student satisfaction, perceptions of value for money and as a useful marketing tool for business schools competing for students. However, academic capitalism may also explain the use of coaching via its ability to enhance the skills and attitudes of students, providing outcomes that are valued by students, employers and governments. We conclude our essay by providing recommendations to mitigate these proposed dangers and consequently maximise the effectiveness of coaching as a development tool in management education
Full-text available
TAT protocols for 237 managers obtained at the managers' entry into the American Telephone and Telegraph Company were retrieved, scored for the personality variables in question, and correlated with the levels of promotion attained after 8 and 16 yrs. As predicted, the leadership motive pattern (moderate–high need (n) for Power, low n-Affiliation, and high Activity Inhibition) was significantly associated with managerial success after 8 and 16 yrs for the nontechnical managers. Among these Ss, n-Achievement was also associated with success, but only at lower levels when individual contributions were more important than the ability to influence people. Measures of maturity were associated with success, but only within subgroups of managers. None of these measures was associated with success for technical managers with engineering responsibilities. (11 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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While executive coaching continues to mushroom as a practice area, there has been little outcome research. This article presents the results of a study that explored factors influencing the choice of a coach, executives' reactions to working with a coach, the pros and cons of both internal and external coaches, the focus of executive coaching engagements, indications of successful coaching engagements, coaching tools executives favored, and the sustainability of coached executives' learning and behavior change. The author also raises a question about which executives are most likely to benefit from this development resource and presents a typology for gauging this issue. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
The unrelenting pace of business in modern organizations places constant pressure on employees, challenging the physical and emotional resources of both staff and supervisors. Consultants have become familiar with the survivalist mentality among workers, each struggling to improve production, solve intractable conflict, and chart realistic growth. This book was written to help organizational consultants understand the chaotic processes and psychodynamic problems that influence executive behavior and performance. In engaging prose highlighted by substantial case illustrations, the author examines organizational conflict and shows how methods and techniques developed in clinical settings can be applied to coach executives and management teams. The book is an important read for consultants who wish to help executives develop human wisdom and to gain insight into the chaotic, "shadow" side of individual and organizational life. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
A leader's singular job is to get results. But even with all the leadership training programs and "expert" advice available, effective leadership still eludes many people and organizations. One reason, says Daniel Goleman, is that such experts offer advice based on inference, experience, and instinct, not on quantitative data. Now, drawing on research of more than 3,000 executives, Goleman explores which precise leadership behaviors yield positive results. He outlines six distinct leadership styles, each one springing from different components of emotional intelligence. Each style has a distinct effect on the working atmosphere of a company, division, or team, and, in turn, on its financial performance. The styles, by name and brief description alone, will resonate with anyone who leads, is led, or, as is the case with most of us, does both. Coercive leaders demand immediate compliance. Authoritative leaders mobilize people toward a vision. Affiliative leaders create emotional bonds and harmony. Democratic leaders build consensus through participation. Pacesetting leaders expect excellence and self-direction. And coaching leaders develop people for the future. The research indicates that leaders who get the best results don't rely on just one leadership style; they use most of the styles in any given week. Goleman details the types of business situations each style is best suited for, and he explains how leaders who lack one or more of these styles can expand their repertories. He maintains that with practice leaders can switch among leadership styles to produce powerful results, thus turning the art of leadership into a science.