P&M 33: Exploring quality Executive Coaching with Scott Arbuthnot

In this episode of People & Management, I take the shiny wrapper off Executive Coaching and have a conversation with Scott Arbuthnot who is a renowned Coach and Leadership Thought Leader.

[Apologies: the recording at ~40:00min to ~43:00min is a bit buzzy but you can still hear the conversation.]

We talk about what coaching really is; what clients really need to be looking for when engaging leadership development and coaching projects; e.g. transparency, communication, performance, collaboration, etc.

The value of coaching, accountability, peer-coaching, knowing versus doing, feedback, and making the coach redundant over time are all discussed.

But why stop there we also explore why leadership programs fall short of actually developing leaders.

The return on investment (ROI) so many companies and organisations are looking for when deciding development programs is often talked up pre-program yet falls short post-program. Yet leadership impact is measurable, partly, instantly and will, partly, take time to emerge. And when you do look down into what has happened through the development program and related interventions there is evidence; e.g. reduced absenteeism, increased / improved robust conversations since the program commencement. There is narrative and there are the numbers that go hand in hand for quality, valid and reliable ROI.

Scott says, “Why would you invest money when you know it won’t pay you back?” #PonderThat

An appetite for learning is a key for success … listen out for the line ‘cognitive octopus’!

NOTES: References Scott mentions in the interview:

1 The Learning Edge by Calhoun W Wick & Lu Stanton Leon, McGraw Hill 1993
4 Bruce Joyce and Beverley Showers who published Improving inservice training: The messages of research, 1980

Barry Zimmerman and adult learning

More locally, a 2005 AHRI sponsored research program into experiences and perceptions of HR professionals using executive coaching found:

a) 17 HR practitioners who purchased AUD$15.4 Million of executive coaching over a 2-year period.

b) only 1 of the 17 attempted any formal evaluation of the return on investment from executive coaching.

Some definitions and differences between executive coaching and other roles:

  • executive coaching is about performance in the present and future. Executive coaching can be provided by people with coaching skills to draw out your new insights and choices – they do not have to be experts in what you do ( like sports coaches need to be experts )
  • training is about building skills and abilities – some training includes on-the-job applications and other training is just in classrooms
  • therapy is about emotional health and mostly deals with integrating personal history and passed experiences
  • mentors are senior friends and/or people who have empathy and generosity for a broader range of work and life matters – these are whole-person relationships, not just about work
  • consulting is provided by experts who give advice or tell/recommend what to do. Sports coaches are also experts and focused on lifting performance through advice, instruction and motivation.
  • facilitation is the provision of process and learning experiences for groups – learning emerges from the experience and the group, not from an external party
  • basic teaching is about delivering content, telling-teaching answers and testing memory and understanding. More advanced teaching is a blend of presenting content/answers and facilitating understanding or self-generated learning

The HBR summary from 140 “leading coaches” surveyed in 2009 reported:

Executives who get the most from coaching have a fierce desire to learn and grow.

Do not engage a coach to fix behavioural problems. Blamers, victims and individuals with iron-clad belief systems don’t change.”

Scott’s Background:

troublex3 2Scott Arbuthnot has been coaching executive coaches for 20 years. Scott is a perpetual student. A collector and inventor/creator of methodologies.

10 years ago, Scott started building a panel of senior executive coaches. Today, the Arbuthnot & Associates executive coaching panel are a busy bunch with a clear brand of seniority, maturity, decades of experience and simple generosity.

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