Archive for the ‘Executive Coaching’ Category


Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 by Bob and Bev Benwick

We had the opportunity to view Gary Hamel’s video in which he speaks to ‘Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment’ that we found profound and resonated with our experience of coaching executives and managers throughout North American and other global organizations. Gary is a leading management thinker and author and co-founder of the Management Innovation eXchange (MIX). He makes a very cogent argument for management that can be expected in the 21st century. Turn up your sound and enjoy.

This video is a portion taken from the University of Phoenix Distinguished Guest Video Lecture Series. We would enjoy hearing your response. Take care.

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Posted in 360 Coaching, Business Coaching, Career Transitions, Emotional Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, Leadership Transition, Organization Development, Personal Coaching, Team & Group Coaching | Add a Comment »


Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 by Bob and Bev Benwick

When coaching executives who are either updating their résumés or are already into career transition mode, the following executive résumé preparation tips are some that are gifted in our conversations.

  • Military versus Civilian Background: try using a functional résumé format with an emphasis on professional development received related to your targeted role
  • Education or Foreign Experience: Provide foreign degrees and certifications with their U.S./Canadian equivalent, using position titles understood by the potential employer
  • Age: again, use a functional résumé, forget stating your birth date, highlight your past 15 to 20 years of experience, and eliminate graduation dates
  • Don’t Have a Formal Degree: describe your “on-the-job” training and development, listing special workshops, seminars and training
  • Addressing that “Job Hopper” Impression: here goes with the use of the functional résumé once more, perhaps exclude those early or very short-term jobs, and/or include a number of short-term roles in one of your descriptions
  • Work Experience with Primarily One Employer: describe positions of increasing responsibilities, try combining the chronological and functional résumé formats with an emphasis on different challenges and roles, focusing on advancement and promotions
  • Don’t Have Experience in the Field Being Targeted: use the functional résumé format here where you highlight your accomplishments that illustrate your related functional expertise and skills that translate easily into your targeted field or industry
  • Work History Gaps: be prepared to address any questions related to information you leave out in your résumé, that can be effective if you use the functional résumé format and have very few gaps―don’t apologize, simply provide a simple positive statement of explanation

If you have additional comments or tips around supporting the creation of powerful executive résumés, we would love to hear from you. Take care.

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Posted in Career Transitions, Executive Coaching, Leadership Transition | Add a Comment »


Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 by Bob and Bev Benwick

“If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts” Is the advice that William Derisiewicz delivered in his lecture to a plebe class of the United States Military Academy at West Point a few years ago. A colleague had passed a copy of a lecture Derisiewicz gave to these young leaders that I found most profound and absolutely thought provoking.

Although the two concepts – solitude and leadership – on the surface do not appear to be strongly connected, Derisiewicz does a masterful job of illustrating what they truly are and how they are intimately connected. He states that leadership are the “qualities and mind that will make you fit to command a platoon, and beyond that, perhaps, a company, a battalion, or, if you leave the military, a corporation, a foundation, a department of government”. Solitude “is what you have the least of . . . . the ability to be alone with your thoughts. . . . solitude is one of the most important necessities of true leadership.” Derisiewicz makes powerful references to the Francis Ford Coppola’s movie Apocalypse Now and the book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad to ingeniously drive home his point.

Derisiewicz feels he needs to forwarn leaders that they will find themselves wrestling with bureaucracies “where what is rewarded above all else is conformity”. He encourages a different kind of leader and feels there is a crisis of leadership in America. What is missing are thinkers . . . “people who can think for themselves . . . who can formulate new direction for the country, corporations, colleges, for the Army . . . a new way of looking at things . . . people in other words, with vision.”

He goes on to invite leaders to learn to concentrate, to focus, which is all about solitude. He encourages leaders to think for themselves
by finding themselves, “finding their your own reality . . . . don’t marinate yourself as leader in conventional wisdom, others’ realities, but rather listen to your own voice and find a new direction, not simply putting yourself at the front of the herd that’s heading toward a cliff.” To achieve, this the leader is encouraged to take the personal time to read books that are based on the writer’s own solitude in thinking for his/herself. Further, he claims “books stand against conventional wisdom of today simply because they’re not from today”.

The intent of solitude is to get to know yourself better. A powerful form of solitude is that of friendship, deep friendship, that may appear on the surface to be counterproductive to the point being made. This involves intimate discussion―uninterrupted talk. This promotes ntrospection―talking to yourself―that can done by talking with someone that you have vulnerably trust with. . . . a very close friend or a highly qualified executive coach and confidante. Here you can truly think out loud with full confidentiality being kept within a
crucible of non-judgment. We all intuitively know that being in solitude is difficult and challenging, some more than others. However, leadership demands this.

Derisiewicz claims that “taking counsel with yourself in solitude’ is the essence of leadership . . . the position of leader is ultimately an intensely solitary, even intensely lonely one . . . . however many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions . . . . and at such moments, all you really have is yourself.”

What is in the challenge of solitude and leadership for you? What are related hidden opportunities and threats? We would love to hear your thoughts and feelings on this important subject.

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Posted in Business Coaching, Career Transitions, Emotional Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, Leadership Transition, Personal Coaching | Add a Comment »


Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by Bob and Bev Benwick

The executive’s job search continues to be getting even more challenging. It is particularly difficult in these extremely challenging economic times. That is exactly the experience of my client Rick who had departed from his executive role with his previous employer about 6 month ago. A former Senior Vice President, Rick was struggling with job search networking, something he had never faced before. Here is how he expressed this in a recent coaching meeting, “How in the heck do I approach potential corporate contacts and what do I say to them when do give them a call?”

After a series of related coaching questions in support of Rick, he concluded some the following from our discussion.

First, his initial contact with key contacts would no doubt be by phone. The objective of which was to set up an appointment to meet. It became clear to him that it was critical for him to make his contacts very comfortable at the outset. When asked how this would be done, he quickly ascertained that it would be important for him to make it clear to each contact that he in fact was not asking them for a job! He felt doing so would put these key contacts at ease . . . important for him to be able to connect. Rather, he concluded, it would be important that they understand that he is approaching them for expert advice only. His ultimate objective was to set up a short informal twenty minute meeting over the next two to three weeks at their convenience and he would communicate that he would fully respect their valuable time in doing so.

Rick was also quite prepared to pick up the expense of potential meetings that might take place over lunch or coffee. He also concluded the need to dress business conservative, no matter how the potential contacts were dressed.

When asked what he might say in these initial telephone discussions, Rick concluded after some excellent dialogue that the following needed to be fully taken into consideration and tailored accordingly on each call he made.

  • Mention who referred him and that they felt such contact would be mutually beneficial.
  • Quickly summarize who he is professionally, years of experience in his specialty, with which organizations and where he has been most effective in adding value.
  • Reiterate that he does not expect that the key contact has or knows of opportunities available, but rather to gain some of the key contact’s insights and advice around industry trends over the foreseeable future.
  • Ask to get together sometime over the next two to three weeks at a mutually agreeable date and time for about twenty minutes.
  • When the meeting takes place, to again reiterate the foregoing.
  • Most importantly, at the end of each meeting, ask the key contact for other potential key contacts, and if any contacts don’t come to the key contact’s mind at that time, that he will offer to follow up within the next or so . . . to keep the momentum up.

Rick felt quite relieved to have developed this plan of action and could not wait to get back to his temporary office at home and start making it happen.

We would enjoy hearing what other suggestions that you might have for Rick and others like him to consider when undertaking their job search campaigns. Thank you in advance.

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Posted in Career Transitions, Executive Coaching, Leadership Transition, Personal Coaching | Add a Comment »


Monday, October 3rd, 2011 by Bev and Bob Benwick

In a recent blog titled ‘Negative Feedback Is Disengaging and Demotivating to Talent’ by Ken Nowack, he quoted Bill Walsh’s observation that “Nothing is more effective than sincere, accurate praise, and nothing is more lame than a cookie-cutter compliment”. Ken’s blog was so profound that he was kind enough to give us permission to share it with you. Enjoy!

“What would you say to someone if you knew that your honest feedback to a person could influence and motivate this individual to make or not to make a $3 million gift or donation to a charity or non-profit organization?

Would you be brutally honest and share your opinion that the person has a long pattern of being a “competent jerk” and really needs to change their interpersonal approach with others or would you be politically correct and just assume your feedback really won’t make a difference in changing their leadership style? It is also possible that if the person feels overly criticized that they might be unwilling to “give back” to the organization in the form of a monetary gift.

Ahh…the dilemma of feedback!

Just how honest and candid should one be in giving feedback to others?

One question that comes up from raters in 360-degree feedback processes is whether they can be “totally honest” in completing the online questionnaires1. I’m sure in the back of their minds they are also questioning just how much this feedback will really make a difference.

As a vendor of 360-degree feedback assessments it’s not atypical on any multi-rater project to get at least one participant or rater contacting us and asking just how “anonymous” and confidential their feedback will be. We try to explain that leaders don’t typically wake up each morning and spontaneously try out new behaviors and change for the sake of change.

We try to assure raters their comments and ratings will be bundled with others who have been invited by their leader for feedback and that without taking a risk to share their observations, suggestions and feedback what they will see is basically more of the same. We can actually confirm by watching our assessment administration system that some of the less paranoid hang up and complete the online questionnaires and the others choose not to.

Why do Some Raters Decide Not to Provide Feedback?

  1. Some raters don’t believe that leaders will change anyway (it doesn’t matter if the cause is motivation or ability-the outcome is the same)
  2. Some raters are justified in not participating knowing that their boss will actually try hard to identify them and if successful will punish them for their candor
  3. Some raters lack confidence about anonymity and confidentiality and don’t trust the 360-feedback process
  4. Some raters don’t ever get any follow up after they share feedback from so they see it as a waste of their time

Not long ago, the past chancellor of the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), said he and his family would no longer be considering donating a $3 million gift to the school when he planned on retiring after a regent’s negative comments in his job performance evaluation (this probably is another story my old UCLA dissertation chair, Samuel Culbert who is critical particularly of performance reviews would love!).

In a written evaluation by one of the regents who had a role to provide appraisal comments to the Chancellor, this regent wrote that the Chancellor’s claims of being “totally honest and known for his integrity” were false. The regent went on to write about the Chancellor that “he is known primarily as a self-absorbed, self-indulgent bully and tyrant, given to rashly going off at little or no provocation.”

Feedback, whether oral or written, can be either motivating or disengaging. In almost all 360-degree feedback assessments, there is a section for “open ended” questions that are typically reported back to participants verbatim. One dilemma in coaching when using 360-degree feedback is how to handle a situation in which the majority of written comments by raters are particularly skewed towards being critical, negative and judgmental. Ethically, what should you do knowing that the reaction on the part of your client might be received negatively?

Smither and Walker (2004) analyzed the impact of upward feedback ratings as well as narrative comments over a one-year period for 176 managers2. They found that those who received a small number of unfavorable behaviorally based comments improved more than other managers but those who received a large number (relative to positive comments) significantly declined in performance more than other managers. These individuals were more disengaged and emotionally upset as a result of the 360-degree feedback process.

Newer neuroscience research sheds some interesting light on “why” perceived negative feedback is potentially emotionally harmful. Recent studies confirm that emotional hurt and rejection, whether part of social interactions (or poorly designed and delivered feedback interventions) can actually trigger the same neurophysiologic pathways associated with physical pain and suffering3.

As George Carlin once said, “Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second best policy”…..Be well….”

To view Ken’s original blog and supporting references, go to Envisia Learning. Thank you for allowing us to publish this Ken. What are your thoughts and feelings on the foregoing? Your experience? We would love to hear from you!

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Posted in 360 Coaching, Business Coaching, Emotional Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, Organization Development, Personal Coaching, Team & Group Coaching | Add a Comment »

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