Coaching Report

2016 May Coaching Report

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2016 May Coaching Report

Crossing town from one coaching gig to another, I recently had an opportunity to reflect (Manhattan bus traffic provided a bit of down time) on the amazing diversity of today’s leadership landscape.  Women leaders, leaders of color, multi-cultural leaders and, of course, millennials appear in the C-suite in ever greater numbers.  It is an exciting time to be an executive coach—one in which the very definition of what it means to be a “leader” is transforming before our eyes.

Our theme for this month’s coaching report centers around these issues of “leader identity formation” — by asking questions like:  what does it mean to be a leader today? How do we develop leaders in a gender-varied, multi-cultural, VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex & ambiguous) world?  What role does leadership coaching play in supporting a new generation (or an evolving older generation) to lead in new and transformative ways?

In this month’s webinar, Harnisch scholar and leadership coach, Suzy Skinner shows us how to expand our toolkit by understanding developmental influences on leader identity and giving us strategies to empower clients to realize their full potential.

Our highlighted research this month — with practical tips for coaches —focuses on the theme of “leader identity and the motivation to lead” published by our European colleagues at the Instituto de Empresa and the European School of Management and Technology.  (We are also excited to be partnering with ESMT to bring our IOC Leadership Forum this June to Berlin!).

This month’s book selection showcases the growing impact that leadership coaching can play at all levels of an organization. In Karol M Waylyshyn’s book, “Destined to Lead,” she describes her unique experience as both coach and “advisor” to senior business leaders.  With case studies and reflections, Karol explores the complexities and challenges of working with the C-suite.

Stepping off the bus (finally) and heading to coach a female, millennial CMO at an e-commerce start-up, I had this final thought: coaching leaders today is different. No longer do we focus just on skill building or remedial behavior change. Today’s leaders are working with coaches to go deeper – exploring – and leveraging, the core motivations, the vision and the purpose that underpins one’s choice to lead.  At the IOC, we are honored to offer education, research and community that supports coaches in the midst of this transformation.  What an amazing time to be a coach!

With gratitude,


Jeffrey Hull, PhD, Director of Education and Business Development 


Is Leadership a Part of Me? A Leader Identity Approach to Understanding the Motivation to Lead Guillen, Mayo, & Korotov. The Leadership Quarterly. 26 (2015) 802-820.

Drawing on social comparison and identity literature, the authors of this study suggest that individuals' comparisons of themselves to other leaders and to their own standards of leadership relate to their leadership motivation. They tested a model of motivation to lead (MTL) based on two types of self-to-leader comparisons: self-to-exemplar and self-to-prototype comparisons. They collected data from a sample of 180 executives, finding that self-comparisons with concrete, influential leaders of the past or present (self-to-exemplar comparisons) related positively to MTL. They also found that self-comparisons with more general representations of leaders (self-to-prototype comparisons in affiliation) related to MTL.

Here are a few practical tips from this research. As coaches, we may look to build leadership capacity with our clients by:

  1. Exploring the “inner narrative” and sense of self-identity that motivates them to lead
  2. Uncovering a client’s beliefs around what makes an effective leader through reflections on influential leaders from their past and present
  3. Expanding their repertoire of effective leadership attributes by comparing themselves with role models; using these reflections to uncover limiting beliefs
  4. Exploring the impact of negative experiences with leaders; e.g. how might a “bad boss” inhibit one’s motivation to lead?
  5. Helping clients understand how their family and professional history may have impacted their self-definition with regard to leadership – identity, success, and motivation.


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