James Mcleod – My Coaching Practice

June 2017

I have been practicing one on one coaching since 2010. My journey into coaching came from a desire to achieve self-actualisation, to serve others and to give back and share the fruits of my accumulated wisdom and experience which I had been fortunate enough to acquire in my exposure to so many business challenges in many foreign cultures during a long career in sales, marketing and general management.

I have spent extended periods of time engaged in business in the following locations:

UK (London)-9 years

France(Paris) -8 years

Hong Kong-6 years

North America (New York)-5 years

China (Shanghai)-5 years

South Africa (Johannesburg)-3 years

Ireland (Dublin)-3 years

My Practice

I have coached and trained teams from:

An Post, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deloitte, Eir, Fingal County Council, Generali Link, The HSE, LGMA, LeasePlan, Leo Pharma, Meath County Council, American Superconductor, Airplus, Activision, Actuant, Cargill, Mastercard, Novartis, SIKA, Target, Bertelsmann, Rio Tinto, CRTX, Jones Lang LaSalle, DTZ, IBM, Astra Zeneca, Genencor, Yves Rocher, Luxottica, Kongsberg, Symrise, Danisco, Prologis, Voith, Philips, Morgan Stanley, Hoganas, Swedbank, Carrefour, DSM and Ericsson.

My senior leadership roles:

1. Chairman-Redwood International (now part of Omnicom Holdings, New York) (7 years) Based in London and New York

After my time as Managing Director of the International Herald Tribune, I set up the international division of a global custom publishing company which had been acquired by Omnicom Holdings; one of the world’s largest advertising conglomerates.

My role was to establish global partnerships with other publishers around the world. Our visibility outside of the UK was minimal. This required me to source, educate, inform and encourage publishers from around the world and from very diverse backgrounds to partner with us.

I undertook many global road trips and had conversations in North America, Asia, Germany,France,South Africa, the United Arab Emirates,Switzerland, Turkey,Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

I was able to conclude joint ventures in Canada, the United States, Hong Kong and Germany.

I also networked extensively with my colleagues in other Omnicom business divisions to promote the concept of custom publishing and to encourage cross-referrals into Redwood from other parts of the Omnicom Group.

I was dealing with many types of personalities and had to appeal to people with diverse motivations. Often, it was not so much about money but more about where Redwood might ‘fit’ with their aspirations and how we could cooperate to both make money and align with their mission, vision and values.

I worked with many lawyers and accountants to set up the joint ventures and to ensure that the structures we set up were agreeable to all parties and complied with the rules, laws and regulations of all the countries in which we traded. This required considerable negotiations with our parent company, Omnicom, who often wanted to set up deals and insert clauses that were not acceptable to our Joint Venture companies. I was the one to navigate these challenges and ensure that all the deals got done.

I was Chairman of the Board on all the Joint Ventures that we created. We had majority stakes in all the joint ventures, however I never had to invoke the majority clause in any of the annual Board meetings as I was always able to craft agreement round the room in a spirit of cooperation and unanimity.

This experience allowed me to practice, develop and craft the core coaching skills of:

  • Building empathy
  • Active Listening
  • Powerful questioning
  • Using my intuition
  • Giving and receiving effective feedback

It also required high levels of patience, optimism, tenacity and persistence as I worked through all the many issues that came up in a spirit of resourcefulness, trust and openness in ensuring that we were able to move our joint ventures forward and achieve common aims and objectives. A non-judgemental and open mind were essential prerequisites as I worked through this process.

I bring these acquired skills and attributes to my current coaching engagements and it is these combined experiences that have given me the unique set of competencies that I now possess in the executive coaching environment; where in over 7,000 hours of coaching, I have had considerable success in bringing out the best in my coachees and contributed to making them the very best version of themselves.

2. VP, Sales International Herald Tribune-Paris

Managing Director-London

(now part of The New York Times Publishing Company)

I came to this role after 5 years heading up the sales portfolio in Asia, based out of Hong Kong.

I had a sales team of 60 who collectively represented annual revenues of 100 million dollars. I had a large team of independent sales representatives and permanent teams in:

Paris

London

Frankfurt

Amsterdam

Brussels

Milan

New York

Tokyo

Hong Kong

Singapore

Bangkok

This role allowed me to perfect the art of leadership and to grow to understand the need for a balance between asking and telling. I learned the importance of Situational Awareness and Scenario-Based management…when to direct, when to manage through objectives, when to coach and when to empower.

I also learned that managing others was a combination of knowledge, subject matter expertise and interpersonal skills…that success hinged on bringing out the best in all members of the team and that motivated people succeed because they want to work for you rather than because they are obliged to work for you… That there was a Job description, a job description+(JD+) and a JD ++…and a JD +++ and that great, engaged people voluntarily would take accountability for team and organisational outcomes without feeling restricted by being responsible to tasks. I saw my role as identifying these people and expanding their roles in the IHT to reach the maximum of their potential capabilities and capacities.

I learned that accountability for outcomes rested with me and that to be successful on a sustainable basis, I had to be authentic to my values, principles and beliefs and to always speak my truth.

It is these life and career lessons that I bring to each of my coaching engagements. I draw on this well of experiences and through powerful, skilful questioning and listening, I bring my coachees to a place where they can lay the foundations for growth in a safe place, reflecting on what they need to accomplish to move forward and what goals and associated actions they need to work through to achieve transformational change.

Here is a list of my recent coach and leadership facilitator roles:

  • Irish Rugby Football Union-Senior Manager-For Executive Coaching
  • ESB-Senior Manager in Innovation Directorate for Executive Coaching
  • An Post(Coaching for Managers, Supervision For An Post internal Coach Mentors)
  • Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Coaching for Managers)
  • Eir (Coaching, Conflict Resolution, Cross-Cultural Communications)
  • LGMA (Coaching, Mentoring)
  • LEO Pharma (Coaching for Managers)
  • NAMA (Conflict Resolution)
  • Generali (Conflict Resolution, Coaching for Managers)
  • DSM (Leadership Development)
  • Philips (Leadership Development)
  • Cargill Foods (Executive Coaching, Team Building)

My Coaching Interventions

Some of the typical coaching challenges and issues bought to me by my coachees and L&D partner companies are:

1.Dealing with pressures of handling a team

The presenting issue is typically ‘overwhelm’ and an over heightened sense of personal responsibility, linked to self-sacrifice and unrealistic expectations around requirements.

I typically use a Time Matrix and a 4D Matrix to work through with my Coachee what is truly important and what can be delegated…..what is urgent and what is enduring. We also look at ‘What if’ scenarios and reframes to give my coachee the feeling that they are taking back control and access their internal resources to manage their overwhelm resourcefully.

I find that once the coachee can discuss their situation in a practical way with a non-judgemental third party, they can see new options and new ways forward to alleviate their worries and lower the level of the pressure gauge.

2.Interpersonal skills

This starts with self-awareness. We look at trying to help the coachee understand how their style of communication is impacting on their relationships with their colleagues, subordinates, manager and other stakeholders in their ecosystem and what the consequences and knock-on effects of this might be.

I will often start with Goleman’s four pillars of Emotional Intelligence. We work through the quadrants to check in where my coachee sees themselves in the areas of Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management and what discrepancies there might be in how the coachee rates themselves and what others say. We then work on closing the gaps by coming up with appropriate goals and associated actions. Once the Coachee becomes more self-aware and can start visualising the consequences of their actions, their sense of ‘not-knowing’ and vulnerability starts to lift. At this point, we start to work together on a plan to close gaps, build bridges and harness the power of others in their ecosystems to garner positive change and desired outcomes.

I will often use check-lists with my coachee in sessions to help them build frameworks and deepen their inter-personal dialogue with colleagues using the Marshall Goldsmith Six Questions Framework:

DID I DO MY BEST TO: Score:

1-5

Q1 Ask/Prepare/Plan Powerful Questions
Q2 Actively Listen
Q3 Give concerned challenge in an appropriately assertive way
Q4 Use and share my Intuition
Q5 Invest in my own physical, cognitive, spiritual and emotional well-being
Q6 Use my signature strengths to increase my personal effectiveness with my key stakeholders

3.Managing upwards

This coaching intervention is about creating a safe space for the coachee to test new ideas on how to influence their manager without the benefit of ‘title power’. It is often a cause of frustration and centres around the coachee not finding a way of being appropriately assertive. In their communication style, they will typically undershoot and consequently appear evasive or overshoot and consequently appear blunt or rude.

I use communications models to work on communications styles with my coachees, using models such as Thomas Killman to assess my coachee’s current style, understand the likely style of their managers and what they can do to align more closely to get their message across in effective ways.

When I am monitoring progress and assessing real evidence of positive change, I will use Kolb’s experiental learning model to allow my coachees space to reflect on their new practices and embed new learnings that are contributing to more effective communication with their managers.

I also employ the ‘empty chair’ technique to give my coachees the space to reframe their situation and try to see it from the view points of the other key players in their ecosystem.

4.Anger management

This will quite often take place in a remedial context and I use similar techniques to those I apply to helping coachees become more effective in their interpersonal skills.

Gaining an understanding of the impact that their anger issues are having on both themselves and others is the first part of this process.

We then look at when the anger flares and what scenarios light up the anger.

We look at Triggers and work through what we can do to stay resourceful and mindful when triggered. The principle is around creating strategies to allow the coachee to THINK, FEEL, PAUSE, ACT in triggered situations rather than employing an ACT, FEEL, THINK pattern that will lead to harming the Coachee and other people in their ecosystem.

I also spend time understanding my coachees values, principles and beliefs and what they can tolerate or not tolerate. Often, the source of the anger will be when the coachee is in dissonance with their values, principles and beliefs or they are doing something regularly that they cannot tolerate…and it is this clash which is causing unhappiness and frustration…which leads to outward manifestations of obvious anger.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as the environment that they are in and by learning to ‘walk away’ in trigger situations, they can manage anger and unhook themselves from the situation before they get swallowed up by it.

The simple act of creating a clear plan to manage workplace anger and be aware of the triggers that can cause outbursts, can be enough to start rectifying issues that are commonly tripping up the coachee.

5.Work/life balance

This has become an increasingly common coaching intervention for me as people grapple with the twin demands of a work and a home life in a world where there is a perception of limited job security coupled with performance targets that are the major measure of success in the job role.

The need to pay the bills and fuel the modern lifestyle allied to the pressures of social media and the ‘always on’ digital world has put huge pressure on individuals to prioritize work whatever the long-term outcome to health and life satisfaction.

We start with a Wheel of life and score the coachee’s level of satisfaction in the 8 key areas of their life which are typically:

  1. Friends and Family
  2. Significant other
  3. Personal growth
  4. Fun and Leisure
  5. Home environment
  6. Career
  7. Money
  8. Health

This allows us to shine a light on the lower levels of satisfaction and find ways of bringing up these satisfaction levels aligned to a set of actions to bring the changes to reality.

The Wheel will usually pinpoint many factors within the coachee’s wider ecosystem that are causing challenges in their work/life equilibrium which can be worked through with me and solutions verbalised and tested with me.

It will often highlight a need for change and many people fear change and particularly to take the first step towards change. It is incredibly helpful to have a coach who is with them through this period of adjustment, holding them accountable but sitting in a non-judgemental, neutral place.

6.Managing subordinates in the organization who used to be Peers

I have often been called in to help leaders manage the ‘promoted above my Peers’ conundrum.

For many, it presents a dilemma and results in overshoot (being too rigid with ex peers) or undershoot. (being too ‘friendly’ with ex peers)

It is an area where it is difficult for coachees to find internal support and can be a hard area in which to share your concerns and worries with your manager for fear of appearing to be weak or clueless in your new position…after all, it was your manager who promoted you! I see coachees going into a ‘wait and see’ pattern, taking very tentative steps and talking about ‘not crossing red lines’ with ex-Peers.

I talk through my coachee’s areas of concern and work on reframing techniques for my coachee to consider how the ex-Peer feels and what their new expectations will be of the coachee in their new role. This is the time for open, transparent and regular dialogue between the two parties where formal space is created to allow each party to acclimatize and settle into their new roles. The key is open dialogue and the intention is supportive, where both parties must be open to honest and regular feedback in the transition phase.

My role as the Coach is to support the coachee through the transition and make the coachee accountable to the process of formal and regular dialogue and feedback with their ex-peers through the transition phase.

I am now retained by several global corporations to work with their newly promoted coachees when these types of situation arise.

My theoretical underpinnings

My practice is underpinned by the theory and practices supported by the International Coach Federation, The International Coaching Council and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council.

I have access to a wide range of internationally-recognized people assessment tools through my established business partnerships and alliances.

I am an EMCC- Certified Coach Supervisor, attend regular supervision myself and subscribe to the Code of Ethics of all of the above-mentioned Organisations.