What are the two words that sum this year up for you? What do they tell you about 2020?

What are the two words that sum this year up for you, and what do they tell you about 2020?

My two words would be surprising and exciting. And what they tell me about 2020 is that everything is possible. Our mission is to enable a leadership that is fit for the 21st Century. One that is ethical, sustainable and profitable. This is finally becoming a mainstream requirement and that is exciting.

Where do you think coaching is now versus 2018?

Coaching has gone mainstream in 2019 and we at Performance Consultants continue to light the way. We have received a massive amount of support through respected organizations and our clients who now recognize coaching as fundamental to the transformational leadership needed today.

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What is the biggest challenge you have seen to coaching this year?

In April, the publication of Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell signalled to me that the term ‘coach’ is becoming commonplace at world-leading companies like Google. Unfortunately, the activity and philosophy of ‘coaching’ continues to be confused with the activity and philosophy of ‘mentoring’. For me, the latter sells the management style of leaders advising or telling a junior person what to do. This approach stifles empowerment and entrepreneurialism and is the opposite of coaching. The confusion means we often spend our initial meetings with clients educating them about what a coaching leadership style actually is.

What are the two key things you focused on this year?

Scale and relationships. ‘Scale’ because we have invested heavily in new digital products that support our flagship programmes Coaching for Performance and Licensed to Lead. And ‘relationships’ because our strategic focus has been to create stronger partnerships with clients. We really want to be holding hands with our clients over the longer term so we can help them to embed high-performance coaching cultures. In the past I think we have sometimes been guilty of delivering great programmes and moving on – simply because we were set up as more of a training company than a consultancy. Now we have added in consultancy so that we can support our clients in a broader sense and with deeper partnerships. With this comes the ability to effect lasting change on whole organizations.

You mentioned digital products, what are they?

We have been busy! There are three new digital products this year. Without going into too much detail, there is GROW Digital Training for Leaders – a standalone or part-facilitated online programme which focuses on the GROW Model.

Then we have Impact 360 – a new kind of 360 assessment that benchmarks leaders and companies against our Performance Curve. The tool allows people to see how they can move towards the Interdependent Coaching Culture that is the key to high performance. Thousands of people will be using Impact 360 in 2020. I am particularly excited about this because we will gather data from different industries on business culture and how it impacts the bottom-line.

The third new product is our bespoke habit-building ‘nudge’ programme. We have created a digitally delivered daily challenge or reflection to build new habits. Leaders and coaches are encouraged to do something differently every day, built around our in-person or online workshops.

What new clients have you signed up in 2019?

Some of them I can’t talk about but they’re big. Game-changers. Those I can mention by name are Heineken, Lidl, Anglo American and Collins Aerospace – companies with global reach and the vision and commitment to tap into the potential of their people. Also, the Performance Consultants European group, together with our local partner in Brussels, won the Framework contract to provide coaching to the European Union (EU) institutions, bodies and agencies such as the Commission, Parliament and Council.

In China, under our great MD, Jeffrey Wu, the operation has really taken off! Chinese organizations are starting to wake up to the power of coaching – it’s extraordinary.

What are your predictions for 2020?

We are growing. By the end of next year we will be a bigger business with more clients. I suppose I would say that, but it’s true. I think 2019 has been a tough year geopolitically and I don’t see any signs of that changing in 2020. The environment and sustainability are increasingly going to play a role in business strategy as well. Enlightened leaders make better choices for future generations and coaching will continue to play a role.

What are your personal highlights?

My personal highlights are being interviewed by Michael Lewis, bestselling author of The Big Short. As an ex-banker, this was a major deal for me. I think I should have been interviewing him! And being included as a thought leader in the Special Report on Coaching and Leadership for the Association for Coaching which is coming out January 2020.

Anything else?

Yes, I would like to acknowledge the extraordinary work of all of our team globally. It is an honour to do this work and to do it with like-minded people who are passionate about it, thank you! I can’t wait to see what we will achieve together in 2020!

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Sir John and his colleagues at Performance Consultants were the first to take coaching into the workplace and coined the term “performance coaching” in the early 1980s. We continue to lead the field in performance improvement through coaching leadership training.

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