Author Archives: David Grossman

Christopher W. Coultas Promoted to Vice President, Product Innovation, of Leadership Worth Following, LLC

Dallas – January 4, 2021Christopher W. Coultas, PhD, has been named vice president, product innovation, of Leadership Worth Following, LLC (LWF), a Dallas-based leadership consulting firm. LWF’s team of consulting psychologists helps businesses identify and develop leadership worth following through innovative leadership assessment, coaching, development, and talent planning services.

Dr. Coultas joined LWF in 2014 as a prestigious Rodney L. Lowman Fellow in Consulting Psychology Research. After completing the fellowship, he was promoted to manager, then most recently director, of science and research. In those roles, his inquisitiveness led him to explore how values and motives influence executive performance, and to the creation of the DRiV™, a cutting-edge assessment tool that measures “what drives” and “what drains” leaders. Dr. Coultas’ success with the DRiV earned praise:

“As a member of the LWF Science Advisory Board, I watched the development of the DRiV from a ringside seat. Starting from an innovative idea about motivation, Chris and his team wrote and trialed assessment items, conducted a large-scale validation, designed and implemented an attractive and informative report, wrote a supporting book, and developed training and implementation programs in record time. In my 30+ years in the assessment product development business, I have rarely seen so much high-quality work accomplished in so little time. Truly an impressive effort.”

Bruce Sevy, PhD, Member of LWF Science Advisory Board, and formerly Sr. Director, KF Assessment at Korn Ferry (KF) International (previously PDI), responsible for a broad array of talent analytics products and related services, and Midwest Region Practice Leader at Hay Group in Chicago, and VP Product Consulting and VP Sales and Marketing at SHL.

As a professional in the field of consulting psychology, Dr. Coultas has also distinguished himself; he has made many contributions that have been noticed and appreciated by well-respected thought leaders:

“The field of consulting psychology has greatly needed new exemplars of the science-practitioner model. Chris Coultas is the genuine article in a field in major need of more such high achievers. Although still early in his career, Chris’ contributions have already been prolific, demonstrating impact on our field in both research and practice.”

Rodney L. Lowman, PhD, Lead Director, LWF Science Advisory Board, and President, Lowman & Richardson/Consulting Psychologists, PC and Distinguished Professor Emeritus, CSPP/Alliant International U., San Diego

Asked about his hopes for this new role, Dr. Coultas remarks, “I believe that LWF has shown an amazing capacity for innovation, an amazing commitment to innovation, and the character to innovate to change the world.” He notes, “With innovation such a core part of me, I am grateful to take on a role where I can continue to assist LWF’s pioneering work in the field of leadership assessment and development.”

Dale Thompson, LWF’s founder and CEO, and Myranda Grahek, LWF’s president, jointly state, “LWF is grateful to have Chris’ strong vision, intelligence, creativity, and innovative spirit on our team.” They conclude, “We are counting on him to help lead LWF to ever more innovation and impact on the practice of leadership.”

Chris Coultas’ new book, Driven Not Drained, offers powerful tools for enhancing your self-awareness and capacity to work with and lead others. For ambitious people who want not only to stay engaged but to thrive, Driven Not Drained is an invaluable development tool. Click here to purchase on Amazon.

About Christopher W. Coultas, PhD
Dr. Coultas graduated from the University of Central Florida (UCF) in 2014 with master and PhD degrees in industrial and organizational psychology. During his tenure at UCF, he worked at the Institute for Simulation and Training under Dr. Eduardo Salas, where he conducted research on teams, training, culture, leadership, leadership development, and coaching. He authored several peer-reviewed publications on coaching, leadership, and teams, and successfully authored a major research grant on coaching effectiveness that was funded by the Society for Human Resource Management. He also has two bachelor of science degrees from Liberty University in religion and counseling psychology. He is currently the incoming Head of Research for the Society of Consulting Psychology, and also affiliated with the Society of Industrial Organizational Psychology, and Quantitative and Qualitative Methods, all divisions of the American Psychological Association.

About Leadership Worth Following, LLC
Leadership Worth Following, LLC, is a Dallas-based leadership consulting firm committed to “Changing Leadership and Changing the World” through a combination of Great Science and Great Consulting.
For over a decade, clients have trusted LWF to help them identify and develop leadership worth following. The firm serves a wide range of large and small, private and public, award-winning companies and organizations in the technology, healthcare, retail, transportation, and service sectors.

Leadership Worth Following, LLC
5605 N. MacArthur Blvd – Ste 760
Irving, TX 75038

Dale Thompson, PhD, Leadership Worth Following
(214) 260-8007 or

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Going Virtual (Pt. 1): 4 Common Team Roles

Going Virtual Part 1 | Leadership Worth Following

By now, your team has likely moved to a completely remote environment. Gone are the days when teams and projects overlapped and bled into each other. You can no longer assume you’ll have the opportunity to discuss the project’s next steps when bumping into someone at the water cooler or lunch room. Being successful will require you to define projects, roles, responsibilities, timelines, and so on even more clearly.

Adopting 4 Roles. To better leverage each employee’s strengths in this dynamic environment, organizational research on global virtual work teams can provide some useful tips. Team members tend to adopt roles according to their task-social orientation, and each role offers an important, unique contribution


Challengers are low-social, high-task, and they tend to excel at raising the bar and holding others accountable, especially as deadlines approach. Resist the temptation to shut them down. It may not appear that they’re working hard throughout, but their ability to raise the bar and push others will be vitally important as deadlines near.


Encouragers are the high-social, low-task type who focus on engaging teammates and creating a caring, collaborative environment. This can be incredibly valuable as teams navigate through the stress of rapid change. But they shouldn’t over-use this strength. Merely “being supportive” may come off as disengaged or uninterested. Purely social “soft skills” are less tangible and noticeable in remote working relationships, and may be seen as less valuable. Instead, Encouragers can show they care by picking up slack for others and taking more noticeable ownership for ensuring team cohesion.


Pacesetters, who are high on both task and social, are driven to rally the team, solve problems, and personally ensure tasks are completed. On your team, defer to Pacesetters early. Allow them to establish processes and get the necessary balls rolling on specific task assignments.


Pragmatists tend not to over-emphasize either the task or social focus, but embody a blend of both. If you’re working with a Pragmatist, it’s worth the effort to seek out their involvement. Don’t get frustrated if they might not be as proactive as you’d like. You’ll find them surprisingly flexible and ready to jump in tasks to help the team.

When considering these common team roles, also remember that each person is a unique – yes, even messy – blend of characteristics – not able to be neatly categorized. Recognizing the unique talents and drivers of each team member is the first step toward leveraging them successfully. Need fresh insights to keep your remote team engaged and moving forward? Contact LWF today for ideas to help create a clear plan to incite growth and excite hope. In our next blog, we’ll discuss how to better recognize and adapt to a typical team’s dynamics.

Doing What You Love? Loving What You Do?

Does your job inspire your passion – or merely occupy your attention? Our culture is wired to view work negatively (TGIF!) while paradoxically defining an individual’s success through his or her job. Here’s the mixed message: You are what you do – but don’t expect to like it!

In this Valentine’s Day month, how can you write your true work “love story” without lapsing into science fiction? Here are four L.O.V.E. lessons to consider: Learn. Optimize. Vary. Ease.

L. Learn Yourself.

You’re the main character in this romance, so start with knowing yourself: a unique combination of habits, attitudes, and values as individualized as your fingerprints. You’re more than just your job title.

Look for things you consider essential to your satisfaction (at work, home, and with yourself). Delve into the root causes, and use that knowledge to guide your priorities. Carve out time for such introspection – a calendar priority like any important meeting – and do something that brings you satisfaction: read a book, go to a movie, exercise, etc.

Our new personality assessment can help uncover what drives and drains you. You might even learn it’s time to consider a new job or different career.

O. Optimize Time.

Thinking about your current work, consider the parts of your job that sap your energy. Try delegating some draining activities to better optimize your time and mood. Realize that your teammates likely have different strengths and preferences than you; they might see such assignments as energizing, stretch opportunities or chances to earn recognition with added responsibilities.

The key to successful delegation is to communicate, set timeframes and goals, and then get out of the way. Be very clear on the what and the when, but be open regarding the how. To better foster teamwork, provide further context by also including the why.

V. Vary Expectations.

If you are feeling overcommitted and burdened by others’ great expectations of you, take charge in changing that narrative. Communicate your needs to your supervisors and team; do not assume they understand your situation.

An important step could be asking for help. Remember, this is not a sign of weakness. In fact, research on high performers shows two interesting things: One, high performers actually ask for help more than low performers. Two, people respond positively to requests for help about three times more often than most people expect.

E. Ease Up.

Superheroes are found in comic books and movie theaters – not real life. With practice you can learn to be “okay” with not doing everything or being everything to everyone. Learn to focus your energy and attention on the most important areas, while allowing yourself to be average in less important matters.

This prioritization exercise is also a good chance to cultivate humility. Demonstrate you understand that individual, team, and organizational success are interdependent, that no one person can do it alone. Resist wearing a “mask” of invincibility, but embrace opportunities to learn as readily, as enthusiastically, and as genuinely as you do your strengths.

By living out these four L.O.V.E. lessons – Learn. Optimize. Vary. Ease. – you’ll find your work life can become more engaging, satisfying, and fun.

Gaining 2020 Vision: 4 Keys to Leveraging Self-Awareness

Gaining 2020 Vision | Leadership Worth Following

This time of the year, attention shifts to making resolutions, taking personal inventories, or charting paths to greater self-awareness. While such contemplation can be healthy and motivating, it can also lead to paralysis, evidenced by inaction and non-productive navel-gazing. How can you move beyond self-awareness to the hard – yet satisfying and necessary – work of making changes? Here are four keys:

1) Being Intentional

Once you’re aware that something needs to change, try to clearly understand what is driving that behavior. If it’s a bad habit, is there a certain trigger? Maybe even another bad habit behind the one you’re trying to change? An example could be overeating one day when you don’t get enough sleep the night before. Or maybe a certain person, thought pattern, or value triggers you. For instance, you might tend to emotionally overreact when someone criticizes one of your ideas.

The first step to self-improvement is gaining next-level self-awareness – the kind you cannot gain just by introspection. This will require some tough, direct feedback, supported by clear data and outside perspectives, etc. Once you have that deep self-awareness, it’s time to create a behavioral action plan.

2) Thinking Differently

If the behavior you’re trying to change is rooted in a pattern of unhelpful thinking, you’ll need to attack that thought pattern. Maybe you become really rigid and prevent others from being creative, because you believe the only path to success is to never make mistakes. Even if there’s some truth to that thought process, we need to give ourselves more flexibility and freedom to think differently. Like it or not, it’s impossible to always do what drives and inspires us. Sometimes we have to do what drains us, and we need to find a healthy way to cope. One way to counter a mindset you’re trying to change is to proactively look for disconfirming evidence – try to prove yourself wrong!

3) Building Skills

This one may be the most obvious. If there’s something that is emotionally draining, but you want or need to improve, it may be draining to you simply because it’s difficult for you. After all, few people love doing things they’re terrible at. If this is the case for you, then it’s time to build skills in those areas: learn, find a mentor, practice, etc.

To elevate your skill-building, target one thing aligned with your drivers. For example, if you’re really driven by having a big impact and you know the ability to persuade is important, but you’re low on charisma, maybe take a course on storytelling or join a Toastmasters club.

4) Changing your Context

If all else fails, realize that – in many ways – you are responsible for your own situation. Change could mean finding a new job or just modifying your current job to better align with your strengths.

Productive change might include allocating more non-work time to pursuits you find energizing. If you are driven by collaboration, for example, but you work in an isolated, individual role, consider joining a book club, sports league, or service organization.

These four keys – being intentional, thinking differently, building skills, and changing your context – can make a vital difference in moving from passive self-awareness to dynamic action. The impact can help springboard you to a more enjoyable and productive 2020.

​To learn more about what drives and drains you at work, consider taking our DRiV™ personality assessment.

5 Tips for Mellowing Hyper-Perseverance

You enjoy powering through projects, obstacles and challenges – persevering is one of your core strengths – and one of the four core Adaptability Quotient (AQ) drivers identified in our November 4 blog. A never-give-up mindset can be an asset in the workplace. If you’re a highly persistent person, the idea of “persevering despite conflicts, etc.” probably resonates strongly with you.

Risks of Hyper-Perseverance

But what are the downsides? If you’re not careful, such resolve can harden inflexibly into hyper-perseverance, until you’re telling yourself: “I can never give up, I cannot let anything distract me or get in my way.” This attitude can cause problems by sabotaging your own mental health and job performance – increasing your risk of burnout. Burnout was officially recognized as an “occupational phenomenon” by the World Health Organization earlier this year.

5 Tips to Mellow Out: Here are 5 tips to soften your hyper-perseverance:

1 – Consider your time, attention, and energy as finite, non-renewable resources to be managed carefully. Everyone hits a wall at some point, so don’t over-commit;

2 – Conserve your brain power by leveraging “brain dumps” frequently: using to-do lists, timelines, reminders, including utilizing technology tools.

3 – Beware the false productivity trap by evaluating your busyness against your accomplishments. What is the ROI on your time?

4 – Watch for tendency to “dig in your heels” and try even harder when you’re stuck. Instead, pause, take a step back, and consider other alternatives.

5 – Incorporate meditation and mindfulness practices to help de-clutter and focus your mind.


Are You At Risk?

What are your own attitudes and behaviors around hyper-perseverance? How are your AQ and leadership ability impacted? To learn more about your risk factors, strengths and vulnerabilities, consider taking our DRiV personality assessment. You’ll gain valuable insights into your own motivations for work and life.

Click here to learn more.

Adaptability Improves Leadership: 4 Tips for Growth

Boost Your AQ | Leadership Worth Following

Do you want to demonstrate leadership worth following? Would you like to develop your “ability to guide, direct, or influence people in a way that has great merit, character, and value”? If so, learn to be more adaptable.

​Our research findings show that people rated as “highly adaptable” score 4 times higher on the ability to demonstrate worthy leadership. These people could be described as possessing a high “Adaptability Quotient” (AQ) – the ability to thrive in an environment of change, like today’s dynamic workplaces.

​To understand how leaders can increase their AQ, we analyzed our 360 survey data from over 10,000 respondents, looking for behaviors that most differentiate high-AQ people. From that research, here are four tips for leadership growth:

1) Persevere Confidently

Do you persevere on tasks despite conflicts, roadblocks, and setbacks? Do you project credibility and confidence, with a relaxed sense of self?

​Build your own AQ on a strong, consistent foundation. Flitting like a butterfly from one activity to the next, giving up too quickly, or coming across as scared or intimidated projects your own indecisiveness and cowardice, not a high AQ. For people to see you as adaptable, they have to know you are making changes for a reason, and that you are in control.

2) Decide Wisely

Do you try to understand others’ motives and behaviors? Do you make effective, timely decisions? Can you focus on long-term goals while also achieving short-term results?

Your own decision-making skills impact your AQ. Sometimes a quick decision is needed, and other times it’s wiser to deliberate longer, which also affords more time to consider multiple people’s perspectives and concerns. In a similar way, there are times to zoom out for the big picture and other situations where it’s best to dive into the weeds and execute!

3) Navigate Carefully

Do you help resolve conflicts for the best solutions? Can you manage challenging relationships and internal politics? Will you share your authority?

Handling relationships and internal politics well strengthens your AQ. Tackle the “tough stuff” and help others work through challenges, instead of shying away. Strive to see both sides of issues and encourage everyone to reach mutual understanding so they can feel good about the outcome. Accomplish this without issuing mandates or “pulling rank” on others.

4) Reflect Internally

Are you keenly aware of your motives and behavior, and the impact on others? Can you translate others’ feedback to you and your own life lessons into action?

Watching your impact and the outcome of your actions increases your AQ. Remove blinders that can obscure problems or deficiencies with the status quo. Lean into greater self-awareness to challenge your assumptions. Be passionate about soliciting feedback – and acting on it! While boosting your self-awareness, don’t forget to maintain your confidence and consistency.

By careful thought and these four actions — persevering, deciding, navigating, and reflecting — you can raise your own AQ and more capably demonstrate leadership worth following.

4 Ingredients for Winning Work Teams

4 Ingredients to a Winning Team | Leadership Worth Following

What makes a winning work team? Equating winning only to “high performance” misses other crucial elements, notably engagement and burnout. If team members are performing well in the short term, but are disengaged or burning out, the team’s long-term performance will suffer, perhaps irreparably.

To help evaluate team effectiveness and support the long-term success of work teams, we recently created a 19-item questionnaire built on established team-process measures. Using Dr. Eduardo Salas’ decades worth of research on what makes up effective teams, we developed a comprehensive, yet concise, measure of team processes that lead to team effectiveness.

It’s also the foundation of our ongoing research that revealed these top four ingredients of winning teams: Consideration, Trust, Feedback Culture and Celebrating Team Success. These four ingredients not only help teams ensure they are engaging in behaviors that encourage high performance, but these behaviors also enhance team member engagement and act as a buffer against team member burnout. This article defines each and offers improvement tips.

Ingredient #1: Consideration.

Ensuring that all teammates feel encouraged, listened to, respected, and included.

Improvement Tips:

  • Take time to hear out other team members’ ideas. This could be done by holding brainstorming sessions to help solve team problems.
  • Make sure to allow all team members, regardless of rank, to provide input when making team decisions. Include all team members whenever possible – do not exclude someone based on a perception that they have nothing to add.
  • When others do speak up, ensure they are not shot down or made to feel bad for speaking up.

Ingredient #2: Trust.

Trusting each other enough to bring up tough issues and take risks.

Improvement Tips:

  • Psychological safety is paramount. Help ensure the environment is open and welcoming enough so team members feel comfortable bringing up tough issues.
    This trust must be established over time, especially if it has been broken before.
  • To help build trust, ensure others are truly heard and respected when they bring up tough issues. Do not shame or embarrass anyone for bringing up issues with the team.
  • Do not take it personally and don’t get defensive when team members challenge your ideas. This will enable the team to be more effective, as members will feel safe enough to challenge others’ ideas to find better solutions while truly utilizing all team members’ inputs. More heads are better than one!

Ingredient #3: Feedback Culture.

Providing each other with helpful feedback if there are unmet standards or unfulfilled obligations.

Improvement Tips:

  • Be open to feedback from other team members, and do not react negatively when feedback is given. Consider it an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve performance.
  • Do not be scared to give feedback, especially if it will help improve team performance moving forward. When giving feedback, do not be harsh, critical, or judgmental, and do not place blame on anyone. Instead, frame feedback as an opportunity to make the team more effective.

Ingredient #4: Celebrating Team Success.

Allowing ourselves to enjoy it when our team has succeeded.

Improvement Tips:

  • Recognize a job well done. Take the time to celebrate how a team’s success comes from collective efforts. Avoid focusing solely on the task aspects – celebrate the people and their efforts!
  • Create a work environment that fosters celebrations of success. Devote time during team meetings to “celebrate something good” – encourage each member to share some positive team news or have the team leader take time up front to acknowledge the job well done.

Taking My Own Medicine

By Chris Coultas, Director of Science & Research; Senior Consultant

For most of us, it’s easy to notice the things that other people could be doing differently, but harder to objectively look at ourselves in the mirror. For the past several years, I’ve spearheaded development of the DRiV™ personality assessment tool here at LWF. Recently I “took my own medicine” by leveraging our new DRiV360 development report with my personal DRiV profile. The results made an immediate, positive impact on my work style and results. Here’s what happened:

BEFORE: My Work Style & Environment.

My own DRiV report shows I’m very low in Deliberation and Charisma, and high in Creativity and Autonomy. In other words, I like moving fast, coming up with new ideas all the time, and figuring out solutions alone. Being low in Charisma means it’s uncomfortable and draining for me to go through the process of convincing people, especially if I have to appeal to others’ emotions to help them see things from my perspective.

​Maybe in some situations this combination of drivers would not cause any problems, but in a culture that values collaboration and alignment, this can be tricky. I want to go fast, be creative, and do my own thing, but the culture needs me to collaborate, loop others in, solicit input, and so on. And of course, resources like people, time, and money are not unlimited, so I cannot chase every new idea that pops into my head. At any rate, while my Creativity is a strength, given my role as Director of Science & Research, it can also be a liability if not managed appropriately.

My DRiV360 Analysis.

We recently developed the DRiV360, a multi-rater feedback tool that complements the DRiV assessment. While my DRiV report highlights areas where I will probably overdo or overlook certain things, the DRiV360 helps test those hypotheses.

I wanted a taste of my own medicine, and I wanted to test those hypotheses (I am a scientist, after all). So I took the DRIV360 for myself, which involved soliciting feedback from multiple people in our organization: my leader, peers/colleagues, direct reports, and others. They were all asked whether I should do more of or less of various behaviors tied to my DRiV report. Considering my drivers, I expected that my DRiV360 feedback from others would be: slow down, stop being so creative, and focus on one thing while letting other stuff drop.

My DRiV360 Findings.

Surprisingly, I found that people appreciated my creativity. They did want me to slow down and collaborate more — no surprise there. The most helpful insight was that I could keep being creative (which drives me), as long as I could start leveraging a more effective collaborative process. I needed to communicate more often and more clearly, soliciting others’ input and assistance earlier.

I also should define goals better and take a more linear approach. These findings were in line with my DRiV report, but the DRiV360 gave me a completely different perspective on my own drivers. It offered me greater insight into what specifically I needed to do differently. Even better, I was encouraged to learn that some of my top drivers (e.g., Creativity) were valued and appreciated, with people wanting me to do even more of them.

AFTER: Applying New Knowledge.

The DRiV360 process provided clear, behavioral feedback I could literally apply the next day. I was managing a new project the same week I received the feedback, so I applied the DRiV360 insights to my preparations. In the past, I typically under-emphasized the importance of internal project kickoff meetings. I realized I had been under-preparing and was being too reactive. Because of my DRiV360 feedback, I took a more proactive approach to preparing for this meeting and considering the proper collaborative process.

This effort paid huge dividends. The leadership team was incredibly supportive of the project, we all had clear next steps, and the project was completed on-time and far exceeded expectations.

As a developer of the DRiV and DRiV360, it was gratifying and inspiring to experience the benefits firsthand. I’ll continue “taking my own medicine” and look forward to further insights.

How About You?

Interested in learning about how the DRiV and DRiV360 can positively impact you, your team and your organization? Are you a consultant who would like to add these powerful tools to your toolkit?
Please contact LWF for more information.

Building a Strong Bench: 6 Tips for Leadership Succession Planning

Building a Strong Bench | Leadership Worth Following

For sports teams, it’s understood that building a strong bench is a key factor for success. Through coaching and individualized training, reserve players are prepared to assume starting roles when needed. For organizations to enjoy long-term success, they must also build strong benches. Here are 6 leadership succession planning tips:


1 Understand Strategy & Structure.

As a first step, review current processes and practices. Conduct leadership and board interviews on organizational strategy and structure: current thoughts/feelings on succession; existing organizational situation, including internal and external challenges; desired talent profile; and importance of candidates’ competency ratings (using 12-factor Worthy Leadership Model). Armed with this information, identify your talent needs that fit both the structure and strategy.

2 Look to Future.

It’s said the only constant is change. To ensure long-term sustainability, envision what will be needed 5-10+ years out – in terms of talent, strategy, and structure – rather than only trying to replicate the current personnel and infrastructure. Blend a desire for continuity with the need for innovation and change.

3 Identify “Multiple Good” Options.

Keep your possibilities open by not narrowing selections too soon. For internal candidates, review recent job performance and recommendations from leadership. Evaluate possible internal successors ready now or those who could be ready after professional development. If finding or developing strong internal candidates is unlikely, formulate a plan for looking outside using description of talent needs outlined earlier.

4 Create a Process.

Beginning with initial assessments, understand you will need to revisit the leadership succession planning process many times, not just a single event or once-a-year examination. Key aspects of the process include: aligning, defining, assessing, developing, and measuring.

5 Consider the Team.

Looking at the whole organization, think about what skills/competencies will be needed across all team members to both complement and sharpen each other – now and into the future. When evaluating team members, utilize comprehensive assessment data through “multiple data sources – involving external assessments, past performance, and impact data like 360-degree feedback.

6 Develop for Success.

Minor-league athletes work hard in the hope of earning a call-up to the majors. In businesses and other organizations, employees’ commitment to their individual development plans demonstrates to management their level of dedication in preparing for their next opportunity. Going forward, quarterly reviews are a powerful benchmarking tool to track progress and to gauge commitment and readiness to rise to next opportunity.

It’s never too soon to start developing your talent bench. For more information about LWF’s services around leadership succession planning, please contact us.

Ten Commandments of Great Business Coaching

Ten Commandments for Great Business Coaching | Leadership Worth Following

They’re not carved on stone tablets, but we’ve refined these helpful principles during our 15 years of coaching executives and business leaders.


1 Earn Permission to Coach

Building a foundation of trust creates a respectful relationship. Start by asking personal and career questions. Share your own story to find common ground; it’s a conversation, not interrogation. People shouldn’t feel under attack receiving coaching. They will only let their guard down if they trust and respect you.

2 Make Sure People Feel Understood

After earning initial permission, strive to keep and deepen it. This requires good listening, which is hard work. Ask open-ended questions; paraphrase and reflect on what you’ve heard; make summary statements. Practice vital nonverbal cues: smile, lean forward, make good eye contact, etc.

3 Be Immediate, Genuine, Concrete & Respectful

Timely and direct communication shows interest and sincerity. Authenticity helps cement bonds of trust. Clarifying questions ensure mutual understanding. Courtesy recognizes others’ worth and capabilities.


4 Set SMART Goals

Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Timely. To whom are the goals relevant? A goal that is relevant to the organization but not the individual might result in compliance without commitment. Such goals are unsustainable.

5 Set Valid Goals

Before committing to a SMART goal, ask how valid it is. Such goals must meet conditions across three areas: Predictability, Methodology and Capability. For example, you need adequate capabilities (resources like money, skills, team members) to overcome barriers and sufficient motivation to persevere.


6 Capitalize on 8x Development

Research on personal growth shows the most effective SMART, valid goals are also FAST: Frequently Discussed, Actionable, Specific, and Transparent. When you hold another accountable for these goals, the results are 8x greater than a plan without accountability.

7 Communicate in Whole Messages

Whole messages encompass four elements: Sharing facts, Giving opinions, Explaining feelings, and Soliciting solutions. When you give feedback that first expresses confidence in another’s ability to meet high expectations, the result is 40% more effective.


8 Stay Engaged and Get Creative

Driving sustainability in business coaching is all about establishing an environment that encourages people to take ownership of their own development. To stay engaged even during failure, seize “coachable moments” to create learning opportunities. You may need to connect coachee with others who are better suited to observe or advise.

9 Wildly Celebrate Growth

The power of praise is amazing, and each person uniquely responds to combinations of the 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace – words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, tangible gifts, and physical touch – outlined in the book by Gary Chapman and Paul White. To demonstrate care in the workplace, you can also give recognition, greater responsibility, increased freedom, or more interesting work.

10 Empower People to “Try Stuff”

A supportive, caring, and open environment will inspire curiosity, experimentation, and self-reflection that leads to personal and organizational growth. Frame your feedback around intention, behavior, and impact. Integrity is more than aligning words and behavior: it’s aligning intentions and impact.

Questions? These 10 commandments of great business coaching are only an overview. Please contact us to learn more about our coaching and leadership development programs and services.