Executive Coaching: A Combined Success Story

We can talk about the benefits of MRG’s executive coaching program until we are blue in the face but it takes someone with a participant’s perspective to deliver the best message. 

We have had many past participants provide their perspectives on MRG’s coaching process and results. We thought the best way to get our point across was to share a fictional story based on truths different participants have shared with us. Anonymity is important so we have named our coaching participant Jesse. We hope this helps you learn more about what a coaching experience is like:

Jesse was the founder and president of a young, newly created non-profit organization. Reluctantly Jesse took the role of executive manager only because two former managers didn’t work out. The Board felt it was important to have someone in the executive manager’s role that had some “skin in the game” and with this being a start-up, they felt the founder was the best choice to lead at this critical time.

Often when a leader is pressed to move into a different role, the leader is keenly aware of his/her own weaknesses. Jesse recognized problems with communication and supervising people. And why not? Jesse was passionate about the organization and the mission they wanted to accomplish. As you might imagine, it can be difficult to share passion for a mission while one is waiting for others in the organization to “catch up” with the vision that Jesse had formed several years ago. Jesse’s eagerness created some repercussions among the staff, so the Board recommended management coaching.

After seeking suggestions from other non-profits and community foundations and searching the internet, Jesse came across MRG’s website. Although the description of a boutique talent management firm was appealing, Jesse’s main concern was cost and how coaching could fit into the organization’s budget. Jesse reached out to Lauri Flanagan, MRG’s president and eventual coach. After talking to Lauri, Jesse was certain MRG was the right company for an executive coaching assignment. Following a brief discussion on pricing, MRG tailored a coaching program to fit their organization’s budget.

Once coaching started, Lauri immediately recognized some of Jesse’s key obstacles. First of all, Jesse was from the East Coast; working in Iowa was quite different. Jesse said, “What I considered telling a story was misconstrued as a rant. Different people in the organization thought I was hogging the conversation!” How Jesse was perceived by others was a very important issue.

In every coaching program, the individual and the coach must have an understanding of complete honesty and confidentiality. With some nudging and encouragement from Lauri, Jesse soon realized this was going to be a process of self-discovery and hard work.

Jesse’s first step was to take a battery of tests and assessments that were chosen for Jesse’s role in the organization. These tests and assessments measured personality, critical thinking, numerical reasoning and management capabilities. Assessment and test results can be confusing to decipher on one’s own, so Jesse met with MRG’s Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, Dr. Susan Stewart to put the results into context.

After consulting with other members of the non-profit’s leadership team, Lauri and Jesse worked together on a development plan. Keeping their timeline and budget in consideration, they chose three important things for Jesse to work on. They set up a schedule to meet in person and Lauri provided reading material to help Jesse apply lessons learned to everyday situations.

As part of the coaching process, Lauri regularly checked in with the organization’s leadership team. They were happy to report a noticeable change in Jesse’s communication skills. One of the most important changes implemented was to hold meetings face-to-face rather than conference calls. This change alone gave Jesse the chance to read visual cues from people while they were speaking plus the in-person meetings led to creating a more cohesive dynamic among the group. This was just one of the many practical solutions suggested.

One of Jesse’s biggest goals, and one most important to the organization, was to learn how to interview the right candidates and assess the right skills for the job so they could hire effectively. Lauri reviewed interview questions with Jesse and they developed a plan to put top candidates into real world work situations to see how they would perform. Jesse is looking forward to the first hiring process after learning these new skills and although Lauri is no longer on the clock, she offered to be available for any questions or concerns that may arise.

Jesse believes this kind of support is important for everyone, especially someone moving into a new leadership role. Jesse is certain that the experience with MRG will make a significant difference in the rate of growth at their young organization.

Executive coaching isn’t a magic bullet, but it certainly does bring to light areas that require attention so an individual can work on minimizing weaknesses and maximizing areas of strength.