Center for Executive Coaching

The foolproof brilliance of nowhere-to-hide coaching….and how to do it

One foolproof way to get results with clients is by mastering the art of "nowhere-to-hide" coaching.

Nowhere-to-hide coaching forces the client to recognize that they have an opportunity to improve their performance, and to accept responsibility for doing so. Once this happens, the coach and client can move forward in remarkable ways.

Let me give you two examples of how this process works, so that you see the importance of using nowhere-to-hide coaching in your own work. Note that this approach is one of the foundations of what we teach at the Center for Executive Coaching, because it helps assure consistent, practical results and client satisfaction.

The first example will discuss an individual leader while the second will focus on a team.

Example One: Disruptive physician

Let's say you are coaching a physician who has been labeled "disruptive" by administration in a health system. He might be a surgeon who is transitioning into a leadership position in the healthcare system. The way he works during a surgery is not appropriate when leading a team of employees in an administrative role.

A typical coach might simply talk to the surgeon and try to convince him that his approach is not effective. Good luck with that! The surgeon is likely to say, "What do you know? You are not a surgeon, or even a clinician. Have you even worked in a hospital?"

The coach might then mention that the surgeon has also received negative feedback from his manager and other leaders in the system. The surgeon could still resist, by replying, "What do they know? I know the patient and they don't, because I see patients every day and know what they go through. Administrators need to be more like me."

By now, the coach is getting a sense of the physician's style, and might share the impact the physician is having on the coach. Again, good luck with that. The physician doesn't care.

Nowhere-to-hide coaching starts to kick in as the coach adds new layers of data and triangulation until the client starts to see the light and agree to be coachable. For instance:

– Providing a validated assessment tool like the ProfileXT that shows the surgeon on a bell curve compared to other executives. Now the surgeon has objective data showing, perhaps, that his verbal style is two standard deviations to the right of most administrators and he has to take that into consideration when speaking and listening.

– Doing a formal verbal 360 to get specific comments from people with whom he works. This provides more data.

– Discussing the consequences if the client doesn't agree to make a change, and working with his managers to influence him to recognize the importance of taking the coaching seriously.

– Helping him recognize the opportunities and reasons behind getting into his new role and how he might be sacrificing his aspirations with his current behaviors.

– Providing a pathway that makes it seem relatively easy, painless, and safe for the client to make change. Our behavioral coaching process is one example that, over time, leads to proven changes in behavior.

With all of the above in place, we have a practical, results-driven approach that can make a huge difference to a client, even if they start off by being resistant or skeptical about coaching. They end up with nowhere to hide because it is clear from a number of different angles that their behavior has opportunity to improve, and the risk/reward of making change is a no-brainer.

Example Two: A team

Recently I led a two-day retreat with the executive team of a billion dollar health system. The team members included the CEO and his top 12 leaders.

The CEO shared that the team was not executing fast enough or holding each other accountable for some significant changes he wanted the organization to make.

However, the team was extremely polite. In public — for any number of reasons (e.g., fear of reprisal, low assertiveness, need to be popular) — they refused to talk about what wasn't working.

During the retreat, I presented a series of information to encourage the team to open up. The information included:

– A team profile showing the team's overall personality and culture.

– Individual profiles and differences among team members, and how these differences might be contributing to issues.

– A 20-question team and change assessment survey.

– A report about alignment among managers and team members, showing lack of alignment.

– Results of interviews with each team member about the change.

– A set of provocative questions about how it could be possible that a gap in performance could exist if the team was doing as well as everyone claimed.

– Having participants write down feedback for each individual on index cards and pass them out; each participant then summarized the feedback they received and asked questions about it while telling the group what they agreed to do about it.

Ultimately, after sharing the last three bullets, the team finally agreed that it had room to improve. This took about six hours into the first day. After that — when nowhere-to-hide coaching had been achieved — the group achieved some amazing results and commitments in moving forward in new ways.

Both of these examples show what it takes to move clients forward as a coach. Most coaches don't have the chops to be on equal footing with clients, ask the tough questions, and keep pressing forward beyond "lovely lies" and into the "nasty truths." If you can do this well, you will be an extremely successful coach.

The Center for Executive Coaching teaches you how — without the fluff that other programs insist on teaching.

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