How not to select an executive coach, why being organised matters, and CEO insights

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Welcome to the latest Madston Black eNews on executive coaching and leadership development. In this edition we talk about recent research on coach selection, we review a book on how to cope better with information overload, and we link to some leadership principles from Gary Smith of Ciena.


The myths of coach selection

While there are many studies supporting the efficacy of coaching for personal and organisational development, to date there have not been any published studies on whether the criteria used for coach selection influence the achievement of the coaching goals. The fallback criteria for selection are usually whether the coach has experience in the same profession or same industry as the person or team being coached. However a recent study concluded that having similar professional or industry experience makes no difference to the coaching results. The study did not go as far as identifying which criteria did make a difference but it has dispelled one the most common myths around coach selection. Read more about the research at our blogpost Read more ».


What we’re reading: The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

Daniel Levitin is a professor of psychology and behavioural neuroscience and in this book he provides a valuable guide on how to cope better with information overload. The book is more than a ten-things-you-should-know list as it draws on his research on how the brain works. One point he does emphasise is that multi-tasking is inconsistent with the way our brains work. The research shows that it is fatiguing, less productive, and more error-prone than focusing on one task at a time. The book is wide-ranging and delves into topics such as probability and risk in medical procedures, decision-making in organisations and critical thinking. As an example of the latter, he describes how Google has used Fermi problems to assess new recruits such as, how many piano tuners are there in Chicago? No one is expected to answer correctly but it tests their methodology in problem-solving and approximation. For our detailed review of the book, click here » to download.


On valuing relationships

For CEO insights we turn again to Adam Bryant’s column for his interview with Gary Smith of Ciena, the US broadband and telecommunications company. In the interview, Smith talks about his initial breakthrough when he realised that his main role as a leader was to create the environment that people could be successful in. Other interesting points from the interview include:

The leadership team needs to be synchronised and while differences of opinion are healthy, once a strategy is agreed then it’s critical that the team moves in the same direction.

A high-performing culture is a fragile thing that takes time to build and foster, but can be quickly destroyed through a lapse in trust.

His observation of graduates is that predictably, they tend to focus on the technical aspects of their role when theyshould be devoting as much attention to relationships.

The full interview can be read at the New York Times site Read more »


Where we’re speaking: European coaching psychology conference

Our managing director, Louise Kovacs will be presenting at the European Coaching Psychology Conference organised by the British Psychological Society on 10th and 11th December. The talks are drawn from the her recently completed professional doctorate in executive coaching.

The first presentation is under the learning in action stream and is titled, Realistic evaluation: a methodology for understanding what makes coaching interventions effective and in which contexts?
On day two, her presentation is, Navigating complex coaching assignments: applying a case formulation approach to increase coach effectiveness.

Full details on the conference are available Read more ».