JS Richardson & Associates Ltd.
Principal: Scott Richardson
MCC (Master Certified Coach), MA (Leadership and Training)
What is Executive Coaching?
The following description of Executive Coaching is taken from a piece co-written with Anita Wolfe and Bob Hancox and edited by the Members of the Community of Practice of Executive Coaches Serving the BC Public Service, 2015.
Executive coaching is partnering with leaders in a creative, thought-provoking and action-oriented manner. It is about optimizing the Executive’s contribution and time. Executive Coaching focuses on the leader’s and organization’s goals, and accelerates movement toward these goals in a way that reinforces learning, change and growth while increasing capacity and results.
What Is An Executive Coach
A credentialed executive coach supports senior leaders in organizations in dealing with and working through the toughest challenges they face. The Coach can take on a variety of different roles from leadership consultant, catalyst for growth and accountability partner at one end, to objective thinking partner, and provocateur at the other. Executives often use their coach as a sounding board with respect to strategy, their most difficult challenges or resolving conflict; some use their coach to help map out their career, make career choices and transition to new roles; others seek to enhance their executive presence, emotional intelligence and influencing skills; and still others deepen their self understanding through assessment(s), 360 degree feedback and reflection with a coach. Coaches tailor their work and style to the needs of the executive, while working under strict guidelines of confidentiality, with mutually agreed upon objectives and outcomes using a rigorous and highly interactive process.
Origins Of Executive Coaching
Queens University reminds us that coaching has evolved from the world of athletics, where coaches help elite athletes enhance their performance and achieve their goals. Elite athletes aren’t looking to the coach for basic skills so much as seeking a trusted, informed source of objective observation, input, challenge and support. From the world of sports, the concept of coaching moved to the executive suite as a means to help senior executives manage a constantly changing business environment, refine their leadership skills and achieve greater potential. Unlike the elite athlete, the executive is always ‘on’ and there is little time to review, digest, prepare and practice. Executive coaching is an opportunity to do these things with a focus on enhancing performance and inspiring results, while re-energizing and re-charging the Executives’ sense of self confidence in the process.
What Is The Focus In Executive Coaching
Coaching provides clarity and alignment respecting the:
- Results the organization aims to achieve,
- Behaviours the executive needs to embrace and exhibit, and,
- Team behaviours and interactions, necessary to attain the desired results.
From Mary Beth O’Neill, “Executive Coaching with backbone and heart” 2000, Jossey-Bass Inc.
The Executive chooses the area to work on. For example how do you:
- Make a positive shift in the most critical leadership challenge you face?
- Conduct a ‘difficult conversation’ with grace and ease?
- Fulfill your leadership potential in a challenging situation?
- Enable your team to function at its highest?
- Confront personal or organizational inefficiencies you are tolerating?
Coaching is a highly interactive process that is built on trust and synergy. Interview more than one executive coach to find a match for your style and chemistry.
Degrees and Designations
- Diploma, Coaching Supervision Academy, 2015
- Master Certified Coach, International Coach Federation, 2007
- MA (Leadership and Training) Royal Roads University (RRU), 2003
- B.A.Sc. University of Ottawa, 1979
- Principal J S Richardson & Associates Ltd. 1999 – Present
(Offering Coaching; Mentor Coaching; Coaching Supervision; and Facilitation)
- Director of Training, Executive Coaching Program, RRU 2015 – Present
Associate Faculty, Executive Coaching (and other) Programs, RRU 2001 – Present
- National Energy Board, various roles, including Secretary of the Board and Business Leader, 1980 – 1999
- President, Alberta TrailNet Society (building the Trans Canada Trail) 1998 – 2002
- Chair, Highlands District Community Association, 2006 – Present
- The Race to the South Pole: What can we take from the unique leadership styles of Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton a century ago, that we can apply to our leadership challenges of today?” Royal Roads University Leadership Conference 2013
- “A Practical and Comprehensive Organizational Accountability Model”, Master’s Thesis 2003.
- Headliner for the BC Public Service Agency Coaching Summit 2014
- Kelly Award Winner: Co-recipient RRU Team Teaching Award 2015
- Gibson Award Winner: Co-recipient Centre for Coaching and Workplace Innovation, RRU, 2014
Particularly for senior executives who value brief confidential conversations to share, test and refine their thinking on particular issues.
You have all the expertise and knowledge but value a provocateur to help clarify what’s next, generate new insight, and help define the path to get there.
Coach – consult:
In circumstances where more leadership knowledge and experience would be helpful, I can offer approaches to: Accountability; Culture; Influence; Communications; Strategy Development; Systems Thinking; Change Management; and Coach Approach Leadership.
High Performance Individuals:
Working with high performance individuals, being readied for a greater leadership role.
First 90 – 180 days:
How a leader transitions into a new role will largely determine whether they will be successful, or not.
I have considerable experience in both numeric and narrative interview style 360 surveys. What I most love about this work is getting to the “So what? Now what?” portion of the dialogue where the real value of the exercise is captured.
Leadership versus Management
a. If you or your organization are going somewhere you need good leadership.
b. If a portion of the enterprise is relatively static and unchanging, it can be governed by good management.
Your natural (or default) leadership style or approach is rarely sufficient for the varied circumstances and context of the modern workplace. Just like riding a multi-geared bike, knowing how and when to shift is crucial to consistent success.
Key Leadership Accountabilities
Leaders are accountable for being able to communicate a vision, having a bias to action and for achieving the results they commit to.
The Role of Culture
Like the water fish swim in, organizational culture can seem invisible and at the same time shape or limit, all that is possible. A key role for a leader is understanding the culture and her or his role in shaping it.
Everyone from the mail room to the CEO works best by maximizing their own ‘winning conditions’. What are yours? What are your direct reports’?
Influencing ability, persuasiveness, and presence are the currency of executive leadership.
Balance and Diversity
Leaders achieve a sense of balance in perspective and life. They maintain a healthy diversity in the opinions and perspectives of their team members. Leaders listen extremely well and retain a healthy curiosity in considering options, so that they can commit decisively to outcomes.
Contribution to Work Environment
Given the amount of time we all spend at work, leaders humanize the work environment with compassion, spontaneity, and fun.
The leaders’ greatest obligation of all is to themselves. It consists of the research, reflection, and experimentation necessary for learning and growth.
Leaders are Human Too!
And, like all of us, leaders at all levels are flawed, imperfect beings whose greatest contribution is sometimes being utterly and transparently human!
So, what are your biases about leadership?
A 360 survey is an exercise in getting input on one’s leadership from the population most directly impacted, including boss, self, direct reports, peers, and occasionally clients and customers. It can be a very effective means in connecting the leader to his or her own strengths and help identify their growing edges, as experienced by others in the organization.
There are dozens of numeric style 360 surveys, available on line, each based on a particular leadership model and supported by the comparative results of the cumulative population exposed to the survey. The strengths of this style of 360 lie in the precision of numeric results, and generally a lower cost.
The narrative style of survey is assembled from a series of interviews based on a common set of open ended questions. The advantage of this type of survey is that it ‘tells more of a story’ and explores the nuances or contradictions that numeric surveys gloss over. This can be particularly relevant when the subject collaborates in the design of the questions asked, and the coach has the time to effectively interview the respondents selected.
Regardless of which style of 360 survey is used, the question remains, how will the exercise help grow the leader and offer a return on investment to the organization? In short, follow through is essential, e.g. personal action plan, goals, measures… and the ongoing coaching and accountability partnership best suited to the individual, to achieve the growth desired.
Prospective clients should know that due to the demands of my hobby farm and the time I invest in training and developing coaches, I normally only have space for a handful of Executive clients. If, when you contact me, we find I am fully booked, we can either slot you in sometime in the future, or I will gladly recommend another Coach.
There are many successful approaches to starting an executive coaching relationship. Here is a simple approach I often adopt.
It can begin with a 1/2 hour coffee meeting to:
- Share what brings you to consider coaching;
- Share the context, challenges, and operational reality you face;
- Describe what will be different after our work together, how will you measure it, and what is the operational imperative?
- Experiment with the coaching and test the ‘chemistry’.
I will respond with a short (draft) proposal, sharing what I understand of the context, operational imperative, how we will jointly measure success, and check-in intervals. The proposal will also include a suggested meeting frequency and duration; the terms of confidentiality; investment; terms, and any requirements of the client or sponsoring organization.