» Remedial Coaching Anyone?

Can everybody learn and grow? At what pace, and at what cost?

The head of IT for a large insurance firm seemed to be floundering after about a year on the job. Following his department’s release of a flawed systems update, the CEO had issued some commands and demands to the entire organization. The IT head followed the CEO’s behavioral example, admonishing his staff that unless certain critical operational system issues were fixed, he would be terminating his own employment.

He followed this stellar example of ineffectual leadership with a few other missteps: Based on hearsay, he registered a complaint with HR about an employee three levels down. He insisted that another employee receive a sub par rating, despite the wishes and judgment if that individual’s direct manager. It certainly seems he needs help, and is in over his head.

When I heard about this, I thought to myself, “This executive certainly could use a coach!”

But then I wondered, is coaching the answer?

It appears this IT head has lost credibility with the executive team by releasing a flawed systems update, and with the HR department by exhibiting a peculiar lack of due process and inappropriately controlling behavior. Has he made so many fundamental mistakes that he is beyond coaching? Maybe, maybe not.

Using 20/20 hindsight, it’s apparent that this executive was a prime candidate for some transition/on board coaching. Some of his thought processes and corresponding behaviors could have been questioned and challenged by a coach.

At this point, it seems that the only way he might receive coaching is by requesting it himself. There is no indication that he will.

Harvard developmental psychologist Robert Keegan, author of In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life, writes persuasively about developmental change. More on this later.