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How to Develop Executives [On-Air Coaching with Don Knagge & Rachelle Stone]

organizational consulting Apr 22, 2021

We have all seen aspirational signs in the breakroom, "Honesty, Kindness, Integrity." While these are excellent personal values, they don't translate into measurable behaviors or tools used at the executive level in daily decision-making.

On today's Ask Betsy, I open up my library of resources to two coaches, so they can figure out how to align executives with company values! Coaches Don Knagge and Rachelle Stone get to dive into the actual frameworks I used to lead organizations and executives through the executive development process. We also learn how to take a coaching gig and make it into a more extensive consulting engagement!

Soak it all in because today's Ask Betsy is a fire hose of information! 

"Betsy is one of those brilliant organizational people that continues to blow my mind." Don Knagge

Don Knagge is currently in the executive development process with a client. He is wondering how to bring an organization full circle to understand goals and values and how they align with job positions, particularly from the top down.

Before we dive in, let's establish legitimate corporate values and WISHED for corporate values that drive employees insane. 

Typically, original corporate values are based on the founder. For instance, Walt Disney's corporate values were based on Walt's unique values, but as the company began to grow, the values changed as different leaders entered. Walt's original values were a shackle from going into the future. Values need to honor what employees genuinely believe while also being explicit, so it serves as a filter for decision-making and attracting like-minded employees. 

The idea of evolving values had my guest Rachelle asking if that change creates instability.

Here is the rub; yes, there needs to be alignment between individual and corporate level values. Sure, employees need to understand corporate values, so they are not interpreted or made up. However, values can differ by department within a single organization. And that is okay! Accounting might have different values than human resources, and that is a good thing. As a consultant or coach, your job is to figure out how these differences come together for the entire organization.

When different departments have to work together but have different values, I like to conduct an inter-team partnering session. When I was an organizational development consultant for Disney, I worked with the Imagineers and Operators. They hold very different job positions and values. The Operators viewed Imagineers as people who had their heads in the sky, and Imagineers viewed Operators as so focused on day to day that they couldn't see the big picture.

In today’s video you’ll see that I share my actual Inter-Team Partnering Agenda that brought those groups together to launch Animal Kingdom.

Interteam Partnering Agenda:

Step 1: Agendas & Biases (Values)

First, we addressed Agendas and Biases. You can use lots of different language here, but it essentially addresses the elephant in the room, the differences in values between departments. The goal is to bring these preconceived notions to the surface. For instance, this particular department is so aspirational; they have no concept for reality. That group is so focused they don't care about the overall vision. At this moment, your job is to coach the group past these ideas to work together.

Step 2: Norms and Commitments

Norms and Commitments address how each group agrees to work and partner together. You have to ditch the aspirational values (openness, honesty, trust) and create concrete behaviors that lead to accountability. Consider this, when we make decisions, we act in a particular way. How can those actions turn into something measurable and "value" based? For instance, the team can agree that they should all "Ask questions before making assumptions" about another person's work. 

At this stage, you must address what trust means to the group and what it looks like in the workplace. For example, another behavior you could hold someone accountable for is to talk to a team member before making decisions that will directly affect them.

To operationalize a value, it has to get turned into behavioral descriptions that people hold themselves accountable for, everyone agrees on, and everyone sees. 

Your goal as a coach or consultant is to take strategy and turn it into an operational reality. Culture happens, and values happen when people make decisions. To do this, you must discipline the organization to use decision-making filters, so values come to life!

I took the brand promise for Disney's Imagineers and Operators and made it into a decision-making filter. When we were working on the Animal Kingdom, we used the "Three-Legged Stool." It wasn't lofty goals like be open, honest, and have integrity. Our "Three-Legged Stool" for decision-making asked, "Does this help the guest, the cast, and our business rebuilds?" If so, that idea or project got a green light. Likewise, those that did not meet those values or goals did not move through the pipeline. Leaders have to be rigid about decision-making filters to implement values across the board. 

"Taking it from BS to behavior." Brene Brown

Values have to be observable and measurable. Coaches and consultants want to be aspirational, but what's measurable adds value to the client whether you’re doing organizational development or executive coaching. It also offers you an opportunity to be a guide through the process to establish lasting change.

Speaking of what's measurable, you have to look at things from the top down to evaluate organizational values and executive development. A client looking for a two-day seminar to implement a massive executive change will not get what they need. The client's request is an opportunity for you to develop a consulting proposal that will offer more value and affect the change they need. Pivot and talk to them about their goals and what they are trying to accomplish. Ask, "What behavior needs to change for your leaders to be fundamentally different than where they are today? Where are they today, and where would you like them to be? If that behavior changed, what would that mean to the business? And if we made these business changes, what would that mean to your bottom line?" 

Lead your client from the solution request to behavior changes, business impact, and eventually ROI. To do this, you have to be on top of the pyramid to see every operational and interpersonal element that comes into play. Remember, the client's request is your starting point! Your consulting proposal is a roadmap for a broader solution.

Rachelle Stone, Burn Out Prevention Coach, "Betsy's knowledge is never-ending. It's an ocean!"  

To create change that sticks, you have to get everyone involved. To start, talk with senior leaders about what the leadership framework is before going into leadership training. 

Companies at the growth stage of their life cycle often contact consultants for executive development. At the small to growing phase, top talent had to learn management skills. These same people move into executive leadership in the growth phase. However, this group tends to still act as managers during growth. They don't realize that their new executive position is a drastically different role.

At the growth phase in the life cycle, what got an organization here, won't get them there. Top-talent needs to stop acting as managers and start working as executives. You will help them build executive competencies to go into the next stage.

Your job is to offer big picture strategy, mission, vision, and decision-making filters to to move the organization and its leaders to the next phase. Deliver this proposal and ask what executive leadership is needed to implement this new plan.  

Be clear about who you are trying to develop. Are you developing executives or managers? Both positions are critical, but their roles are mutually exclusive. You have to start with a foundational understanding of precisely who you are coaching to offer the right solutions.

Keep in mind, executives need a starting point when it comes to competencies. 

There are four phases of executive development. I take the competencies and then turn them into the following framework.

Personalized Executive Development Program Overview

Phase One | Assessment

Using a 360-degree web-based tool, predicated on the ABC Leadership Framework, leaders will have the opportunity to receive feedback on skills, behaviors, and impacts from three primary relationships.

Phase Two | Goal Setting & Action Planning

High potential leaders will have the opportunity to discuss assessment results and create a development plan with your executive coach's support. This plan will be reviewed and validated by this leader and his/her leader.

Phase Three | Collective Strength Development

Group learning experience and purposeful mentoring by current executives will be offered to:

  • Maximize our development dollars by providing a learning experience that addresses common opportunities.
  • Provide an opportunity to develop relationships across organizational boundaries

Phase Four | Individual Strength Development

High potential leaders achievement of goals captured in action plans will be supported by providing the following approach: 

  • Additional assessments
  • Personalized leadership coaching
  • Individual learning opportunities 

Based on the four phases above, my Customized Competency Model relates to the company's culture and serves as a starting point. It is important to frame this document in the client’s language while remaining behavioral. You can create reports from the data produced from those four phases that allow you to pinpoint issues that need to be addressed. Your reporting will give a collective and individual overview that allows you to generate an action plan. 

Leverage the power of other top-talent to facilitate the needed change through modeling, support, and accountability. Go beyond the classroom to offer mentoring through expert exposure, coaching, community, and strength assignments.  

Create Intentional & Customized Development Programs for Top Talent

Expert Exposure

Provide a steady diet of the latest thinking to your high potentials.

Community Accountability/Partner

Provide an opportunity for your high potential leaders to learn from one another. These relationships will help create a future effective future team dynamic.

Individual Executive Leadership Coaching

Provide a neutral trained expert to help your high potential candidates more honestly address personal performance barriers AND set goals and accountability structures to support their personalized development.

Mentoring Program

Expose junior talent to more senior organizational members, and arm them with the perspective of real-world challenges they may face in the future. Mentor programs benefit all involved.

I love stretch assignments and rotations for action learning. Your job is to bring balance between coaching and action. Don't say, "try this with your team." They aren't managers! Get your executives to think differently. Have them go out and get buy-in for an idea they want to champion. Encourage them to pitch something they want to lead and recruit the team. Know who you are talking to! Don't ask executives to develop manager-level skills.

One of the most potent ways to spur improvement in the executive team is to place an executive in a new department. You'll see that these individuals are more likely to produce progress because they don't feel tied to the past or guilty about making a change to something they initially implemented. 

Are you looking for more? 

I got the idea for the OD Consultant’s Toolbox almost 10 years ago when I was a part of a global community of consultants and kept seeing posts on our online forum like, “I just landed an organization design project – anyone has any tips?” and “I’m creating an assessment – anyone knows what questions to ask?”

And my response was YES!! I have a TON of best practices, tools, frameworks, templates, meeting agendas, assessment questions, and more from my now almost 30 years of experience advising executives in organizations like Disney, and Wyndham.

So, I got to work putting all these resources together into a step-by-step training program and toolkit that even the newest OD consultant could follow to instantly establish themselves as a credible advisor to senior leaders and influence them to lead positive change.

The OD Consultant’s Toolbox is all about landing and delivering strategic consulting engagements that will make a difference for both your career and the organizations you want to help.


About Me: I'm Betsy Jordyn and my business development firm builds strong and powerful brands for remarkable consultants and coaches and their unique strengths. Simply put we design consulting and coaching practices that position you as a thought leader and sought-after expert by helping you find the words to describe the value of what you do and use them on your website and in your marketing. Check out our roadmap to mentoring and website design programs at https://www.betsyjordyn.com/services.  

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