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New report on coaching released by the American Management Association

July 14, 2008

A new study on coaching prepared by the American Management Association has some valuable information for law firms planning to launch coaching programs and for individual lawyers who are thinking of hiring a coach.

The study is very well researched and provides an up to date report on what’s working for coaching in organizations.  You can download the report from the Canadian Management Centre website here:  http://www.cmctraining.org/whitepapers/?wp_id=22

One highlight from the study looked into the most important factors in determining the success of a coaching engagement:

“The strongest correlations were found between coaching expertise and coaching success and between personality and coaching success. In general, this suggests that companies that match based on the coach’s expertise or based on complementary personalities are more likely to report successful coaching programs.”

In other words, retain coaches with experience that matches your needs and interview the candidates to ensure you find a coach who fits your personality. This just seems like common sense.  If you are a lawyer looking for practice development coaching then you are best retaining a coach with experience in the legal field and practice development and interviewing them to find out if they are a good “fit” for your personality.

Don’t feel like downloading the report?  Here is an excerpt of the some of the other key findings from the study:

Finding One: Coaching is used by only about half of today’s companies. In the
North American sample, 52% report having such programs in place, and, in the
international sample, the proportion is 55%.

Finding Two: Coaching continues to gain in popularity. Among respondents
who say their organizations don’t yet have coaching programs, a sizable proportion
(37% in the North American sample and 56% in the international sample) say such
programs will be implemented in the future.

Finding Three: Coaching is associated with higher performance. Correlations do
not necessarily imply causation, but respondents from organizations that use coaching
more than in the past are also more likely to report two kinds of advantages:
1. They’re more likely to report that their organizations have higher levels of
success in the area of coaching.
2. They’re more likely to say that their organizations are performing well in the
market, as determined by self-reports in the combined areas of revenue
growth, market share, profitability, and customer satisfaction.

Finding Four: Coaching is primarily aimed at boosting individual performance.
The desire to improve individual performance/productivity is the most widely cited
purpose of coaching.

Finding Five: Clarity of purpose counts. The more a company has a clear reason
for using a coach, the more likely that its coaching process will be viewed as successful.

Finding Six: Evaluating coaching’s performance may help boost success rates. The
more frequently respondents reported using a measurement method, the more likely
they were to report success in their coaching programs.

Finding Seven: It pays to interview. Having an interview with the prospective
coach has the strongest relationship with reporting a successful coaching program.

Finding Eight: It pays to match the right coach with the right client.Matching
people according to expertise and personality seems to be the best strategies.

Finding Nine: External training seems to work best. Externally based methods of
providing training on coaching are most strongly correlated with overall coaching
success, though they are less often used.

Finding Ten: Coaching’s international future looks bright. Compared with the
North American sample, organizations in the international group have not had
coaching programs in place for as long, but more in this group plan to implement
coaching programs in the future.

Finding Eleven: Peer coaching needs to become more effective. Although a little
over half of responding organizations use peer coaching, only about a third of
respondents who use it consider it to be very effective or extremely effective.

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Must have coaching books

March 25, 2007

I just returned from the LMA (Legal Marketing Association) Annual Conference in Atlanta where I had the good fortune to present “Coaching the Alpha Lawyer” with Heather Gray-Grant the Marketing and Business Development Director from the firm Alexander Holburn LLP. I’d like to thank the members of the audience who attended the presentation for their warm welcome, active participation, and great questions. As promised, here is a list of my favorite coaching books:

1. Hargrove, Robert. Masterful Coaching, Revised Edition. John Wiley & Sons; 2002. I can’t recommend this book enough. His materials on the seven hat coaching system, winning strategies, and river/rut stories, are valuable tools for coaching in the law firm. If I could only own two coaching books this would be one of them.

2. Flaherty, James. Coaching, Evoking the Excellence in Others, Second Edition. Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005.

This is the second book I think is absolutely vital reading for anyone interested in coaching. The word for Flaherty is RIGOROUS. His bibliography reads like it belongs in a PHD dissertation. Where some coaches like to work exclusively with leaders who are motivated high-performers up for a challenge, Flaherty’s approach to coaching works with a much broader group of individuals.

In the introduction to the second edition Flaherty writes:

How do I contribute to someone’s competence in a respectful, dignified, and effective way? If you find yourself asking these or similar questions, then this book definitely has something to say to you. (p. xxiii)

In late April I will be taking part in an advanced coaching program with Flaherty in San Francisco, and I’ll be sure to report on the experience in this blog when I return!

Other great coaching books if you are interested in further reading:

3. O’Neil, Mary Beth. Executive Coaching with Backbone and Heart, A Systems Approach to Engaging Leaders with Their Challenges. John Wiley & Sons, 2000.

4. Crane, Thomas G. The Heart of Coaching, Using Transformational Coaching To Create a High-Performance Culture. Second Edition. FTA Press, 2002.

5. Coaching for Leadership, How the World’s Greatest Coaches Help Leaders Learn. Edited by Marshall Goldsmith, Laurence Lyons, Alyssa Freas. Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2000.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When does it make sense to work with a coach?

January 29, 2007

Coaching is a broad area of practice.  There are life coaches – who help people with personal challenges and goals, career coaches – who help people with career change, and executive coaches – who help people facing issues and challenges in their professional lives.  There are also numerous consultants who use coaching approaches towards their work but who have never received any professional training in the practice.

With this in mind, when is it best to work with a trained executive coach? 

The answer can be found in the three levels of learning that coaching touches upon: single loop, double loop, and triple loop learning. 

Single loop learning is used to describe the learning that facilitates people getting things done and improving upon current skills.  Coaching in this way is an “accountability partnership”, with the coach helping the client to set goals, take action, and then “staying on” the client to ensure follow-through.  Coaching for single loop learning can be implemented by lawyers mentoring their associates, by legal marketers working with lawyers and staff, and by most any other professional.  Consultants without any professional training in executive coaching generally work with their clients on single loop learning. 

A couple of examples of this kind of coaching are: 

  • A single coaching conversation with an lawyer helping her to establish some goals and actions to take in the following six months.
  • A sales trainer providing coaching to lawyers who are keen on improving their rainmaking skills.

When learning needs move up one level to double loop it is time start thinking of working with a trained executive coach. 

Double loop learning involves teaching people to do entirely new things, reframing a person’s perspective so that they are able to see new possibilities and are empowered to re-think and re-design their actions. 

Pamela Weiss, a Master Certified Coach (MCC) has a great article on the web about the levels of coaching.  In the article she describes working with double loop learning:

At this level, we help our clients learn something new. We work with the person so that they can not only accomplish a goal or task one time, but also learn to continuously do it on their own.  We help open new possibilities, so the client is able to take new action. Our aim here is to teach them how to do something, rather then just telling them what to do. This requires more skill on our part, and it takes more time, more patience, and a deeper relationship with the client (p.6).

An example of double loop learning would be working with a lawyer who is averse to the idea of selling legal services but who is facing the challenge of expanding his client base. 

Triple loop is in my view entirely the realm of qualified executive coaches.  Triple loop learning is most valuable when a person is blocked.  When the approaches and strategies they adopted successfully in the past are now holding them back. 

Triple loop learning is based on the principle that the human personality is fluid.  Learning at this level fundamentally transforms a person by altering their personal definition of self.  Coaching at this level supports a person in adopting new characteristics and personal qualities and supports the individual in implementing entirely new strategies. 

If you want to think outside of your box, triple loop learning will get you there.

An example of a situation requiring triple loop learning is a leader who has learned to use the winning strategy of micro-managing to succeed.  Now, as Managing Partner, this strategy is breaking down.  The leader is bogged down in details, caught up in the day to day issues, and loosing sight of the firm’s overall strategy, and goals.  Triple loop learning will be required to help the leader see and acknowledge the limitations of the current strategy and empower the leader to adopt a new approach. 

There has been a lot of writing on these levels of learning and coaching.  If you are interested in reading more on the subject I particularly recommend Robert Hargrove’s book Masterful Coaching and Pamela Weiss’ article mentioned above.  In my description of single loop learning I borrowed the term “accountability partnership” from Weiss’ work.

Posted in: Coaching | Permalink | 1 Comment →

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