• Sue Drinnan:   10 elements to earning the right to lead

    So, do you walk the talk?

    Ask yourself how those you lead would answer the following questions about you, from rarely (1) to almost always (10).  Better yet, ask them.  Then discuss it.  Nobody’s perfect, and the questions have nested, unspoken, moving parts to them.  They are designed to start deep conversations.  Not a quick fix it like patching a tire.



    My boss:

    Inspired by Jack and Suzy Wlech and Brent beshore.

  • Sue Drinnan: Embedding coaching skills in the workplace

    Essential Elements of a Successful Organisational Coaching Skills Program

    Summary of an article by Grant and Hartley1 on practical strategies organisations can use to more effectively embed and sustain leadership coaching skills in the workplace following participation by executives and managers in a coaching skills development program.  This scorecard can assist in a go/no go decision on organisational readiness to implement a coaching skill program into the organisational culture and to prioritise factors that contribute to successful leadership development.


    In Brief

    Global HR leaders are increasingly delivering coaching skills programs in their professional development to facilitate the adoption of coaching competencies.  Research shows that coaching can increase goal attainment, solution-focused thinking, develop greater change readiness and leadership resilience (Grant 2009).  The authors worked with the fifth largest bank in the world (over 52,000 employees), where 3000 leaders completed the ‘Leader as Coach’ program.  The authors found eight key factors which increase the likelihood of successfully embedding coaching skills in the workplace.

    The Need

    Research has shown that while coaching skills are one of the more powerful leadership competencies, this vital skill comes naturally only to a few (Goleman, 2000).  Worker resilience must be strengthened to protect from burnout and to better handle relentless change and economic pressure to do ever more with less.  Gen Y and Z are demanding a new style of leadership and if their present organisation/manager won’t coach them, they will find somebody else who will.

    With increasing demands being placed on workers, organisational leaders must become more competent at engaging, inspiring and listening to their talent than ever before.  A tool is needed to assist the HR decision maker to assess both if a coaching skills program has the required elements to realize a substantive shift in coaching competencies and to asses gaps in present organisational receptivity that can be redressed to assure the investment delivers on the expected changes in organisational culture.

    All too often, organisations invest effort and money into developing the coaching skills of their leaders and managers only to find that, despite initial high levels of enthusiasm, they fail to adapt the taught coaching skills to their workplace.

    How do we transfer skills mastered in the classroom into the workplace?

    Such transfers are difficult enough with technical skills.  It’s even more challenging with highly personal thinking habits such as knowing when to challenge the coachee instead of telling the answer, how to re-create trust, or how to expose unspoken concerns or hopes for example.  Coaching skills are not superficial techniques which can be wedged into any conversation.  Students require time to integrate the skills seamlessly into their own style with repeated, live practice and patience from the organisational perspective.

    The tips below are insights gained following completion of the Leader as Coach Program by over 3000 professionals in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).  The authors propose that organisational coaching skills programs will more effectively embed the competencies when as many as possible of the following eight factors are implemented.


    So how does one choose and implement a coaching skills program?

    Like training for a marathon, strengthening coaching skills can’t be done in one workshop no matter how brilliantly it is designed.  While powerful when done right, accept that coaching skill acquisition will be a slow process (months, not a day or two) and that the outcomes must be followed up and measured.  Otherwise, to be blunt, it is a just another binder on the shelf and a waste of money.

    Not all coaching programs can deliver (measured) results, and not all organisations are ready to embrace a leadership culture with a coach approach.  The processes listed in this scorecard normalise and deepen effective leadership competencies (coaching specifically), and strengthen connection, engagement and loyalty to the workplace.



    If your organisation is considering a coaching skills program, here are some key factors that will each contribute to increasing the strength, penetration and durability of your program impact.  Each will assist to more effectively transfer the coaching skills from the classroom into workplace leadership activities and habits which drive a healthier, more cohesive and productive organisational culture.


     Weak, or not executed = 1           As strong as it can be  = 10




    Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that gets results. Harvard Business Review, March-April, 70 90.


    Grant, A. M., Curtayne, L., & Burton, G. (2009). Executive coaching enhances goal attainment, resilience and workplace well-being: A randomised controlled study. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 396407. doi:10.1080/17439760902992456


    Grant, A. M. (2012). Australian coaches’ views on coaching supervision: A study with implications for Australian coach education, training and practice. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 10(2), 1733. Retrieved from


    Grant, A. M. (2013). Can research really inform coaching practice? Paper presented at the International Coach Federation conference, March 2013, Sydney, Australia.


    Long, C. S., Ismail, W. K. W., & Amin, S. M. (2012). The role of change agent as mediator in the relationship between HR competencies and organizational performance. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24, 2019_2033. doi:10.1080/09585192.2012.725080


  • Sue Drinnan: Nearly two-thirds of CEOs do not receive outside leadership advice – but nearly all want it.

    A Stanford University/Miles Group survey1 released in August 2013, asked 200 CEOs, board directors, and senior executives how they receive and view leadership advice.  Two-thirds of CEOs don’t receive any outside advice on their leadership skills, but nearly all believe it would be beneficial. Both CEO and non-CEO participants appreciate the importance of neutral third party assessment, perspectives and feedback, yet almost half of the non-CEO senior executives in the survey are not receiving any.


    Key Findings

    How is coaching presently applied?

    The paper states that being in an executive leadership role, especially that of the CEO, does not mean the person is at the peak of their capability curve.  Yet somehow there is still an expectation (for all, including the CEO) that once a CEO, the person should suddenly have all the answers.

    Tips for strengthening top leaders

    Effective coaching is now being perceived less as ‘remedial’ and more for improving top performance the way elite athletes use a coach.  Similarly, finding the right coach2 is pivotal.  Strategically-minded HR executives who have earned the respect and trust of the CEO will provide great value by assisting the CEO to find the right match for his/her specific development needs.  Setting up the right type of 360 feedback report is vital to quantitatively assess the right strategic leadership presence and competencies needed to successfully drive organisational strategy.  We suggest metrics include:


     Summary of Research Results




    David F. Larcker, James Irvin Miller Professor at the Stanford Law School and Morgan Stanley Director of the Center for Leadership Development and Research at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, who led the research team.

    Stephen Miles CEO, The Miles Group, renowned authority in global leadership development.


    Action Items


    Further Reading


  • Brent Beshore:    “Not being an idiot is a sustainable competitive advantage"

  • Jack Welch:    10 resolutions to make it a very good year

  • Simon Sinek:    Learn about the WHY HOW AND WHAT that made Apple so successful

    Define your own cause, your belief that shapes  the naturally occurring pattern that explains how great leaders inspire others.

  • Dan Gilbert:    Learn why and how happiness is something we invent

  • Barry Schwartz:   Schwartz on the paradox of choice

  • Brené Brown: Brene Brown on vulnerability