Action Coaching: Putting Executive Coaching to Work in Real Time

user Mark Teitell and Darren Gold
calendar

Many companies use executive coaches to advise their management teams…but to take that guidance to the next level, coaching in action can be even more effective than coaching in isolation. So what is action coaching? Consider this example.

Every few years, the world becomes the stage for elite soccer (or dare I say “futbol”) players. This year, the Women’s World Cup in France saw 24 teams come together to battle it out on the pitch. Little girls the world over started dribbling and dreaming about playing at that level, in the end hoping to be the “next Rose Lavelle,” who herself once hoped to be the “next Mia Hamm.” Players scored, fouled, rejoiced, cried, suffered and overcame injuries. Fans cheered. Teams won and lost. If you are from the U.S. (and are a soccer fan), you would be hard-pressed to not love the outcome with the U.S. women securing their second consecutive, and fourth overall, World Cup title. With four Olympic gold medals as well, they have proven to be one of the most dominant, and influential, teams of all time. Needless to say, the players’ skills are tantamount, but the coaching they receive while in the act of playing as a team is also essential.

There is an important business lesson to be drawn from this analogy, so bear with us for a moment as we put it in context. Imagine this team of world class soccer players getting individual classroom instruction on the fundamentals of soccer and practicing alone on separate fields. Let’s say that they each have select coaches – the cream of the crop, who keep them in shape, work with them on foot skills, and make sure they maintain the right nutrition plan. They are at their peak physical condition. But what would happen if they never had the benefit of playing in a game together until the first round of the playoffs? Would they know how to play to each other’s strengths? Would their coaches know who to consistently rely on for penalty kicks under the pressure of those 90 minutes? How would the x’s and o’s from the clipboard translate to the game? Could they possibly win?

The fact is that while skill-building is essential, you could never compete at this level with without also playing as a team in actual games. Look at any professional sports team – when they are being coached, it is “in action” – in the context of a game time situation. They run drills and practice taking shots (again and again), and they scrimmage to simulate matches…but the real learning happens when they are faced with an opponent. Those are the moments that define the winners. For a management team, this is what action coaching is all about. Many companies use executive coaches. Arguably, it is one of the best ways to upskill leaders as they grow into new positions or inherit new teams. But action coaching is distinctively different and borrows from action learning, a problem-solving technique introduced in the 1940s that requires inquiry, action, and reflection.

Although we’ve known for decades that the best learning takes place in an applied fashion, this concept still isn’t regularly put into practice in the workplace. And if you think about it, it defies logic. Just as you would never expect an elite sports team to play in a match without first practicing together, why would we expect management teams not to apply the practices they are learning from their coaches to real situations?

The problem with modern executive coaching in the business context is that you get the x’s and o’s in the back room, but are not getting the coaching you need in real-time. Traditional coaching is often seen as an isolated learning and development initiative, delivered at an individual level to one person within a team, and primarily for remediation. It is also frequently provided by coaches that have little practical experience. Perhaps most importantly, since traditional coaching is generally delivered in one-to-one situations, it tends to lack integration with important business objectives.

That is not to say that traditional executive coaching shouldn’t be a priority. It is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to help leaders advance to the next level in their leadership journey. Action coaching simply takes it to the next level by using executive coaching in conjunction with real-time team decision-making and problem-solving. What makes action coaching different is that it brings senior leadership teams together and applies the learnings from individual coaching sessions to real problems, situations, and/or initiatives that they are working on together.

Let’s say that your company is undergoing a major acquisition. The management teams need to make sure that the new entity will create shareholder value but are also concerned about cultural changes and how to make the transition positive for employees. Any situation in which the stakes are high and team collaboration is essential to produce better results is a prime candidate for action coaching. Quite simply, action coaching is what has made the U.S. women’s soccer team a dominant force in sports. By taking their individual training, applying it in scrimmages and real games, studying their successes and failures, and putting those learnings into their game with the next opponent(s) , they have created a winning formula.

Imagine something you are working on over the next few months that requires extensive teamwork.

Action coaching could provide you and your team with the game-time situation you need to get the results you want.

Back to TriumIQ

Let’s Talk

Contact Us

Trium IQ

Perspective and Choice

From the stillness of perspective, you get to choose the quality of your experience. It is the…

Read

Three Ways to Embrace Team Appreciation

For leaders who want to make appreciation a year-round habit, this season of gratitude offers us a…

Read

What Story Are You Telling?

Leaders who choose to see uncertainty as an opportunity will be leaders who preside over businesses that…

Read

The Power of Proximity: Why “Up Close and Personal” is The Best Leadership Strategy In Complicated Times

The Power of Proximity is not about whether we’re in the office. It has nothing to do…

Read

Five Tips to Foster a Culture of Appreciation

When’s the last time you openly celebrated the achievements of a team member? A week ago? A…

Read

Be a Step-Down Leader: A Radical, New Paradigm for Leading in Anxious Times

Your primary job as a leader – in your family, community, or career – is to lower…

Read

VIDEO | Lightspeed Venture Partners Partner, Arif Janmohamed: Trium’s Expertise Applied to Venture Capital Firms

Lightspeed Venture Partners Partner Arif Janmohamed shares how Trium applies its unique expertise to Venture Capital firms.

Watch

VIDEO | MX Interim CEO & President, Shane Evans: Coaching through a Leadership Transition

MX Interim Chief Executive Officer and President Shane Evans shares the impact of Trium’s coaching through his transition to CEO of the company.

Watch

VIDEO | Zoom COO, Aparna Bawa: Advice to Leaders Considering Engaging a Coach

Zoom Chief Operating Officer Aparna Bawa shares her advice for leaders considering engaging a coach to support their development.

Watch

If You Want to Survive a Downturn, Invest in Leadership

We are all starting to feel the effects of the downturn and I’ve seen a lot of…

Read

How a Pry and Resist spiral between CEOs and CXOs is toxic to company culture, collaboration, & growth

A trace of “Pry and Resist” naturally exists in every leader-subordinate relationship. But for growth-stage CEOs (particularly…

Read

Three traits of a transformational leader

What qualities do leaders need to take their organization on a transformational journey: converting a seemingly far-off…

Read
Andrew Blum Clients Arif Janmohamed, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, Aparna Bawa, COO at Zoom, and Daniel Dines, CEO at UiPath

VIDEO | Executives share their experience of being coached by Trium Founder & Chairman, Andrew Blum

Clients Aparna Bawa, COO of Zoom, Daniel Dines, CEO of UiPath and Arif Janmohamed, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners talk about their coaching experience with Andrew Blum, Founder and Chairman of The Trium Group.

Watch

Navigating Web3 | A Scenario Planning Toolkit for Leaders

Uncharted Waters Imagine you are the captain of a ship at sea. You look on your radar…

Read

The Future of Work

Return-to-office versus remote is becoming this generation’s defining debate about the future of work. The pandemic proved…

Read