Herb Stevenson
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Executive Development

by Herb Stevenson

The State of Executive Success

In today’s fast paced world, executives are being driven for more performance. “Nothing new,” you might say. Yet, everything about how you are being driven towards performance is new. As an executive, whether it is as a future or existing CEO, everyone with an ounce of awareness is cognizant of the need to push the absolute cutting-edge of competence while tempering the degree of razor-edge confidence to avoid the CEO Disease of falling victim to your own success. Ironically, the CEO Disease and its seriousness was reported by Business Week in April of 1991; yet, in the second millennium, we still faced Enron, World Com, Adelphia, AIG, Tyco, etc.

Complicating the situation, most organizations have squeezed every last gram of fat from the organization, and, in some cases, squeezed so hard that the organizations have begun to bleed; not in losses of money, but in losses of talent and skill base. Critical success skills such as individual and professional maturity, self awareness, relationship management, social skills, and job awareness are no longer in abundance. Moreover, executive development has not kept pace. This has resulted in many executives being asked to perform beyond their capacity to perform in this chaotic and evolving business environment. The unspoken fatality list is the number of executives that were quickly removed during or directly following burnout and/or left thereby subverting an impending failure and delaying a potential burn-out.


Why Executive Development Supports
Executive Success

Executive Development increases the effectiveness of individuals and therefore the organization. The rapidity of change within business has a Slinky effect for many executives. The Slinky effect occurs when accelerated change exceeds integrated learning. Stretched to the limit in terms of using what is known and has worked in the past, the executive finds him or her self unable to meet the growing demands of more responsibility and/or strategic initiatives.

Our coaching approach creates an up close and personal learning container that supports the individual to expand the possibilities to meet the daily challenges.

Benefits of Executive Development

Some benefits of Executive Development are:

Bottom-line of a Coaching Approach to Executive Development

Through personal comparisons of experiences before and after coaching, most people establish a value for coaching that coaching works. Here are a few examples as reported from various business sources:

Clearly, coachingt is evolving at a brisk pace. Awareness of the value of providing coaching as a learning tool for executive and leadership development is becoming common. Recent studies reported in Simply Business, February/March, 2005 have show that 94% of the individuals that earn more than $1 million per year have a personal or executive coach support their development and their thinking processes. To say the least coaching is being perceived as a competitive edge.

Principles Underlying Executive Development

Each client is supported by the coach applying and modeling the following executive leadership traits.

Executive Development—the Details

Executive Development supports the executive to create their personal learning edge by examining both the cutting edge and the flat-side of their performance.

Creating Baselines—What Exists

Executive Development creates a base-line for coaching with a 360- degree feedback process such as the Emotional Competency Instrument (ECI) developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis through the Hay Group or the Leadership Practices Inventory ((LPI) developed by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, as well as several other base line tools, such as the Spectrum 260 CPI (for Leadership), Myers-Briggs Types nstrument (MBTI), and an indepth core value assessment. The results of these assessments are reviewed and a developmental plan is created.

Digestion—Internal Inquiry

Our executive program requires an initial set-up time to complete the assessments, and then to meet and digest the results. Digestion of the reports is critical. In this process, the results are gleaned for client resonance, that is, applicability to present performance and future dreams. Often, present positions do not require specific competencies, whereas future performance may indicate a much different orientation and/or skill-set. Hence, client resonance is critical to the developmental plan.

Core Values—Bottom-line Beliefs

Executive Development uses an indepth core value assessment to determine congruence between the core values of the client and the developmental plan. Frankly, if the core values do not harmonize with the present and/or future performance requirements or the developmental edges suggested by the assessment process, the incongruence will create massive frustration within the client and with the organization. Rather than create a future implosion in the client as suggested by the effects of the Peter Principle (promoted into incompetence) and/or an opportunity cost for the organization, the core values assessment helps to ensure alignment within the client and congruence between the values and the developmental plan.

Bridging Gaps/Creating Extended Competence—What’s Missing

Executive Development supports the client by bridging the gap and/or creating extended competence. Bridging the gap focuses on what is missing in the present level of performance. It builds on existing competencies by using them as pillars to build new competencies; often, competencies required by recent position changes and/or job responsibilities. Creating extended competence is forward thinking. It is known that present performance is more than adequate, but future positions or dreams require a larger skill base or an expanded mind-set or simply a greater self awareness in order to be effective for future challenges. Both approaches focus on expanding the capacity of the client.

Commitment—What will Be.

Our Executive Development methods tend to be highly focused and require a major personal and professional commitment from the client. It is not for the feint-hearted as self awareness may reveal the tarnish under the glimmer of many past successes. It is the ability to examine the tarnish and discover new ways of being that leads to the profound changes. The process ranges from six to twenty-four months depending on the desire and depth the client seeks. The frequency of meeting is front-end loaded with weekly meetings for the first couple of months, then moving to biweekly and finally monthly meetings.

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