Michael Stern Executive Coaching
Management Consultants - Executive Coaching
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Our Executive Coaching Program

Michael Stern Associates’ Executive Coaching Program is an intensive, one-on-one customized program designed to assist already-successful executives enhance their professional effectiveness and on-the-job performance.

The following outline may give the impression of a rigid structure. Actually, our Program is extremely flexible.  All phases of the Program are covered each time and the focus on achieving agreed-upon goals never waivers.  However, the exact make up of time and content is adjusted to the requirements of the individual and his/her organization and the phases of the Program may overlap somewhat, as required.

PHASE 1: Contracting for Engagement and Assessing "Fit"

Since the coaching relationship is built on trust, communication and confidence, the first meeting with the executive is also a time for mutual assessment – a chance for the coach and the executive to get acquainted, determine whether the “chemistry” is right between them and whether they can work together. At this meeting we also discuss “rules of engagement” (e.g. confidentiality; how the coaching process works and each person’s role in that process).


PHASE 2: Information Gathering and Assessment,

To supplement the executive’s own perceptions, we initiate a process to gain additional information on how the individual is viewed by others in the organization. Data is gathered using one or more of the following methods:

  • In-depth interviews
  • Psychological assessments
  • Multi-rater feedback
  • Direct observation of the participant (e.g. site visits, observation of staff meetings, etc.)

This creates an overall blueprint that establishes goals, and an action plan for the coaching process. Our objective is to identify strengths, areas for development and success criteria for the coaching assignment:

What are the executive’s special skills/behaviours responsible for successes to date? 
What is getting in the way of further success?
What specific behaviour changes are anticipated?
How will we recognize progress?

We have found that investing this time up-front will produce a more successful, more tangible and more sustainable result.


PHASE 3: The Executive Coaching Process

2 peopleThe coach and the executive talk regularly about implementation of the development plan and alternative strategies to try going forward. Coaching sessions are customized to the client’s needs but usually include the following:

  • Regular weekly or bi-weekly coaching sessions, in person or by phone as appropriate.
  • Unlimited “real time” access via phone, cell or email for coaching support between sessions.

The coach’s role is not to give advice.  Rather, the coach is there to act as a catalyst; to harness the executive’s own resources and focus them for greater success.  The individual executive remains responsible for making decisions, designing solutions and taking the steps to produce the desired behavioural changes.

The coach is there to act as a sounding board, devil’s advocate and benign “conscience” in monitoring progress toward agreed-upon commitments and to help the executive learn alternative ways of managing problematic situations. The coach supports the executive by asking the right questions, by providing a safe place to explore feedback and practice new behaviours, and by encouraging the discipline needed to sustain change.

The coach may also recommend relevant literature, journals, articles and Internet websites to assist with the executive’s growth.

Coaching tools we use may include:

  • “Enlightened conversation”- Active, insightful listening by the coach, with feedback to celebrate progress and to help identify causes and solutions when objectives are not being met.
  • Role playing, allowing the executive to practice new skills or a new leadership style
  • Psychological assessment and 360° feedback when appropriate
  • Assigning/Monitoring between-sessions “homework”, where the executive can practice new behaviours and share the experiences with the coach.
  • Live observation” – watching the executive in an actual work situation. This allows the coach to see how the executive behaves and communicates first-hand


PHASE 4: Assessing and Tracking Progress:2 people

Einstein once said: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”.  We agree. 

We strive to evaluate the executive’s progress in a way that makes sense: through a combination of measurable, objective assessments and subjective observations. 

With the executive’s concurrence we solicit input from relevant others, for observational updates of the person’s behaviour, communication and leadership style.  We also encourage the use of 360° assessment tools, which offer objective performance feedback and another useful measure of coaching success.  Most often, changes are noted in the executive’s relationships with others - they become improved people managers, better communicators, more confident, more open to suggestions/criticism and more willing to change.


PHASE 5: Follow Up

We schedule a follow-up meeting after the completion of the coaching engagement and discuss a “maintenance” plan to ensure that progress is sustainable. 


We hope this document gives you some insight into Michael Stern Associates’ approach to Executive Coaching and would be happy to answer any additional questions you might have.