How to Make Executive Development Measurable

Imagine the following situation: You want to test the little restaurant that opened in your quarter a while ago. You have been looking forward to it, but the overall experience is anything but amazing, as both food and service leave a lot of room for improvement. So you decide not to go there anymore and avoid the place from now on.

Before too long, the restaurant goes out of business and new management takes over. The quality of the food improves massively and likeable, well-trained professional waiters are now taking care of the guests. You would be amazed by the culinary experience the place now has to offer. If you only knew! Because as long as you don't get the news you still carry your bad impression with you. Everytime you drive by, you still perceive the place through that negative filter, even though it doesn't mirror reality anymore. So, what needs to happen? Right - you have to get the word one way or another. Only then will you reconsider your perception and possibly give the place another try.

Changing leadership behavior is only half the game
This example has commonalities with many coaching processes. They often focus on leadership assessments and action planning. As a result, the leader intellectually understands where leadership change would be desirable and how this change would lead to higher effectiveness. Though this step is critical at the outset of the coaching process as it defines the 'intent of the leader to change', it often results in a long list of good intentions that might not see the light of day. And even if they are implemented, this does not necessarily mean that the environment's perception changes too, and that the change is actually perceived.

Actively involve stakeholders
At the end of the day, this perception is one of the crucial success factors for coaching. Stakeholder Centered Coaching by Marshall Goldsmith* takes the leadership change process further, outside the leader's office, and into his/her work environment with the stakeholders. Stakeholders can provide important and insightful suggestions for behavioral change that would help leaders to become more effective on the job. Moreover, these stakeholders' perception changes at the same time, as they begin to pay more attention to the desired change. This form of executive coaching creates real value through implementing change that is sustained, recognized and acknowledged by stakeholders in the workplace. Because perception is reality.

The Stakeholder Centered Coaching process guarantees measurable leadership growth and behavioral change. Its efficacy has been clearly demonstrated:

  • Many top executives, leadership thought leaders and HR development professionals have experienced the benefits of the Stakeholder Centered Coaching process firsthand for themselves and their organizations.
  • A comprehensive study among 11,000 business leaders in 6 multinational companies on 4 continents concluded that 95% of leaders who consistently applied the Stakeholder Centered Coaching process measurably improved their leadership effectiveness. This study is described in 'Leadership is a contact sport' (Strategy & Business September 2004).
  • Stakeholder Centered Coaching does not require any 'extra valuable time' from busy business executives as the coaching and leadership change process is integrated in his/her leadership role on the job.

As a Certified Stakeholder Centered Executive Coach and Co-Editor of the German SCC Engagement Flow, I am especially pleased to support not only English speaking but also German, Italian and French speaking executives in their individual leadership growth.

With Marshall at last year's ICF Middle East Coaching Conference in Dubai.

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* Dr. Marshall Goldsmith is one of the world's most sought after executive coaches and business speakers. He is the author of 34 books and numerous articles. His books have been published in 11 countries, and translated into 28 languages. He has recently again been recognized as the # 1 Leadership Thinker and the # 7 Business Thinker in the world at the bi-annual Thinkers 50 ceremony sponsored by the Harvard Business Review.