EPISODE #008: COACHING TEAMS FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE: A FIVE STEP APPROACH

PODCAST SHOW NOTES - GREG BURNS

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Greg Burns, President of G Burns and Associates, Executive Coach, Human Capital Transformation, Learning and Leadership Development Consultant

#008: Coaching Teams for High Performance: A Five Step Approach

Join Dr. Krister Lowe and leading organizational coach Greg Burns for this week’s episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast.   Greg Burns is the President of G Burns and Associates, an Executive Coach, Human Capital Transformation, Learning and Leadership Development consultant with over 25 years of senior executive experience in leading global organizations. His corporate experience includes serving as the first Chief Learning Officer for Citigroup – leading 1700 learning professionals in 41 countries, Senior Human Resources Officer of US Consumer Lending at Citigroup, Manager of Organizational Capability at Pepsi, and HR and Training Manager at Saks Fifth Avenue. In this episode Greg shares his five-step approach to coaching teams for high performance and highlights the approach through two powerful stories from his own practice.

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Learn more about Greg at: 

http://www.gburnsandassociates.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/macgregorburns

RESOURCES RECOMMENDED ON THE SHOW

  1. Columbia Coaching Certification Program
  2. Immunity to Change: How to Overcome it and Unlock and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Organization. (2009) Kegan & Lahey
  3. Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) Daniel Khaneman 
  4. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business (2012) by Charles Duhigg, a great resource with implications at the individual, team as well as organizational levels
  5. Victor Frankel’s (1946) book Man’s Search for Meaning
  6. Assessments Mentioned: NBI Thinking Preferences Assessment, Hogan, Birkman

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SHOW NOTES

Part 1 – Getting to Know the Team Coach: Greg Burns

  • President of G Burns and Associates, LLC.
  • An Executive Coach, Human Capital Transformation and Learning and Leadership Development consultant with over 25 years of senior executive experience in leading global organizations. His corporate experience includes serving as the first Chief Learning Officer for Citigroup – leading 1700 learning professionals in 41 countries, Senior Human Resources Officer of US Consumer Lending at Citigroup, Manager of Organizational Capability at Pepsi, and HR and Training Manager at Saks Fifth Avenue. In this episode Greg shares his five-step approach to coaching teams for high performance and highlights the approach through two powerful stories from his own practice.
  • Greg has a B.S. in Education from SUNY, a Master of Arts in Communication Arts from the University of Maryland and an HR Management diploma from New York University. He is a certified Professional Executive Coach and a graduate of the Columbia University Executive Coaching Program.
  • Has had his own business the last 5 years, has worked with 35+ companies, in over 17 industries and in over 15 countries.
  • Focus of business: 1) senior executive coaching and team coaching; 2) large organizational transformations and culture transformations; 3) helping executives deal with stress more effectively
  • Lives in Forest Hills, New York
  • Married, 31 years, met as teachers early in their careers in Maryland
  • Interests: golf, gym, scuba diving, recent safaris in Africa, Mets and Rangers fan
  • How Greg got into team coaching: interested in how to build high performing teams; very hard to do and is rare to find such teams; True high performing teams are rare; of the few you may be able to help build it can be incredibly rewarding.
  • Last six years since financial crisis, operating environment has gotten more complex and volatile and the need for teams has increased.
  • More and more people are likely to go into team coaching
  • Often times you inherit teams rather than get to build them from scratch
  • What makes a team successful in the past isn’t always what helps make them successful  in the future.
  • Essential to be able to build trust in teams
  • How Greg developed craft for team coaching: managed teams of increasing sizes:  2–>5–>35–>175–>1700; experience is a great teacher; Columbia University Coaching Program helped a lot; pure reading and experimentation every day
  • Greg is voracious reader; always trying new things
  • Humility: being humbled by what we don’t know despite our rich experiences

Part 2 – Hits and Misses

  • Story #1 – Hit: High Performing Team Coaching Transformation
    • First engagement when he started his company around 2010
    • Spent 1 year with the team
    • Helped Greg make the transition from Senior Executive to a team coach
    • Has developed a 5 Step Process for Team Coaching that he finds helpful
    • Context: LinkedIn, Greg connected with ex-Boss who happened to have a major challenge
    • Global Telecom company; new CEO and private equity partner with 51% ownership
    • Need to turn the company’s profitability around in 1 year
    • Step #1: Understand the Context
      • What are they trying to accomplish?
      • Doing a lot of homework: read annual reports, business articles and interviews, asks about the company’s culture from friends and contacts, checks out LinkedIn profiles of the team members, etc…
      • Understanding the language of the group
      • Chief HR Officer was a great partner, very generous and objective, was relatively new to company.  Very good on the business situation. Was very supportive and trusting of Greg.  They knew each other from when they both worked at Pepsi.
      • Was a burning platform for change; change readiness was present
      • What are tailwinds that I can get out a specific engagement?
    • Step #2: Define the Critical Problems
      • Usually only 2 or 3 things that successful companies can focus on that makes a difference
      • Need to identify those things in short order
      • Company found 3 things they needed to work on:
        • Improve the senior team effectiveness: how they could work more effectively together and as fast as the CEO was moving
        • Guiding principles: help to accelerate role-modeling these behaviors to the organization in a new and different way.
        • Evaluating Top 100 Executives: top talent review
      • The thought was that these were three big levers for change; got buy-in from CEO and senior leadership team
      • Focus on a few key things
      • Don’t just focus on cutting expenses and costs to increase profitability
    • Step #3: Focus on Improving the Individual and Team Leadership Self-Awareness
      • Normally does interviews with the team and uses an instrument like NBI, Hogan or Birkman
    • Step #4: Gain and Embed a Commitment to Change
      • This is where the art meets the science
      • Took a look at the team guiding principles; still in a draft stage
      • Refined them (there were 4)
      • How well do you think you are doing modeling these behaviors? They did a confidential survey and got feedback.  Good to bring data especially to such an analytical group.  Found some significant gaps.  Good dialogue around the data.  This generated motivation for improvement
      • Used Kegan and Lahey’s Immunity to Change process: read book and applied some of the tools.
      • Later Greg got certified in the Immunity to Change process
      • Used “One Big Thing Commitments”and the “X-Ray Map” tools
      • Paired up team members and had them talk about commitments they were going to each commit to publicly.  Peers did a great job.  Greg wanted them to coach each other.  Got a lot of feedback.  About a 4 hour session.  CEO said “Thank you for accelerating the development of the team which normally takes 6 months in about 4 hours!”
      • Greg recommends both the book and seminar: Immunity to  Change.  About both individual and group and organizational change.  At the heart of the approach is surfacing hidden competing commitments that hold us back from changing.  Finds it to be one of the better frameworks out there and is well-researched.
      • Observational Coaching: had the opportunity to go in and observe them in action. Greg was helping them with the talent review which gave him a chance to get in a bit closer where he was coaching the leaders on rating the top talent.  Ended up getting some spin-off work with the same company in Germany doing conflict resolution with the supply chain.  That let to Greg watching them work for 2 days as well.
    • Step #5: Measurement & Ongoing Feedback
      • After 7 months of work, assessed their progress
      • Change that lasts, need to be assessing change with data every 6 months or so
      • They started to see progress in 2 out of the 4 guiding behaviors
      • Big believer in peer feedback: did a round of “speed dating feedback” where each one gave feedback – one piece of feedback that was working and one piece of feedback where they would like to see the person stretch.
      • End of Story: return to profitability; CEO said “This is why we hire McKinsey and companies like Greg’s!”
    • Key Lessons Learned:
      • Empathy – has been in the role of leading teams so he knows what it is like; takes an interest in the team’s success; role is different as a coach/facilitator/trainer
      • Take every opportunity to reinforce key behaviors that are very focused on a very strategic intent and plan.  This is the essence of transformation for Greg and differentiates good from great team coaches.
  • Story #2 – Miss/Challenge Story
    • Sets a high bar for himself: expects each engagement to go like the previous story discussed
    • Importance of trial and error
    • You have to go in with a “all in” attitude even though there are no guarantees
    • Doesn’t accept all client opportunities if he doesn’t think the client is ready
    • Single best source of referrals: great guy who was very connected; recommended an assignment with the President of a Private Equity partner
    • Newly formed Senior team and a CEO in speciality products
    • 3 Challenges:
      • 1) CEO was exhibiting some “less than effective” leadership behaviors;
      • 2) CEO didn’t see the value of what a coach could do for him or his team;
      • 3) Was a sense that the CEO was coachable: referring colleague and the sponsor  (President of Private Equity Company) had concerns about this
    • Met with CEO to build trust, submitted a proposal, got 360 feedback
    • Proposal was to begin with coaching for the CEO before working with the team as a whole
    • Started to sense that the CEO wasn’t really on board with the process
    • Ended up doing a session with senior leadership team and one follow-up session with CEO.  Went against his instincts mainly because of his relationship with the referring colleague
    • CEO was honest however that he didn’t want to engage in coaching.
    • President of Private Equity firm called again and asked Greg to try one more time; Greg noted that he felt that the CEO wasn’t coachable at this given point in time.
    • Tried one more time and the CEO decided to do the coaching session; Greg collected 360 feedback through interviews, did some coaching with CEO before and after the senior leadership team meeting
    • Couple of months later, CEO reverted back to some of the troubling behaviors.  Learned later that the CEO had some personal issues that he was grappling with that was contributing to the situation.
    • 360 was done through interviews rather than using an assessment. Looked at strengths as well as opportunity aspects.  Then brought the group together to look at the 360 results.
    • Lesson Learned:  never again has been shy about not taking an assignment when it doesn’t feel right.
    • Teams appetite was there for the coaching but not the CEO

Part 3 Parting Advice/ Resources

  • Team Coaching very challenging
  • Wants to bend the curve around accelerating the development of high performing teams.  Cracking the code on that is fun
  • Many executives are in a survival or “foxhole” mode rather than working with the team’s interest in mind; Greg is really trying to find creative ways to help executives get beyond themselves; doing a lot to prepare people for team sessions so they can bring out their best selves; does homework about the individuals and tries to help them get grounded in their strengths and positive experience so that they can show up to really contribute in a more self-less way to the team
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business (2012) by Charles Duhigg, a great resource with implications at the individual, team as well as organizational levels
  • Immunity to Change: How to Overcome it and Unlock and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Organization. (2009) Kegan & Lahey
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) Daniel Khaneman 
  • Team Coaching has to be a calling.  Not just a job.
  • Victor Frankel’s (1946) book “Man’s Search for Meaning”.  Quote:  “For success, like happiness,  cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
  • Get out of your foxhole and look beyond yourself in order to serve the team
  • Also true for team coaches to dedicate themselves to a cause greater than themselves: team coaching.
  • How to get in touch with Greg:

 

 

 

 

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