What is Executive Coaching

Many times, I have been asked by clients and friends, “What is executive coaching?”.   A simple and straight answer would be the International Coaching Federation (ICF) definition  “coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”.  This definition is elegantly simple, but it is packed with many complexities.   Two of those complexities, especially when coaching CEOs and other high-level executives are related to the driver/objective and the length of the engagement. 

Let’s talk about the driver/objective of the engagement first.  When people initiate a coaching engagement it usually falls into four categories.  The one I am most familiar with is Coaching in response strategic moves, specifically managing critical talent, top leadership, CEO succession planning.    

The next complexity is regarding the ideal time of the engagement.   

Executive Coaching as a limited-time intervention.  Whether is three or six months; many coaches present their work as having a distinct period. They clarify that this is an intervention, albeit a very positive one, but an experience that is time-limited.  

Executive Coaching as a competitive requirement.  This type of coaching relationship is similar to a relationship with an athletic coach. This is my personal sweet spot.  In athletics, at the highest level, as long as you wish to stay in the game, to be at the top of your performance, you continue to appreciate the value of a coach. You need to continue receiving the benefit of feedback about style and form based on the coach’s observation. That is the way the athlete continues to improve in an environment where they know fully well that someone else will run faster or jump higher each year, unless they make contestant improvements.   

Coaching high level executives isn’t much different. They have a demanding group of stakeholders who expect performance to continue to increase year after year, quarter after quarter, month after month. The only way this can be achieved is to continue to become more and more efficient, more and more effective. And one of the ways that effectiveness can be increased is through the constant feedback about style and form that the executive coach provides.   

What are your thoughts on this?  I would love to hear your from you. 

What is Executive Coaching2019-07-09T22:32:53+00:00

Defining Global Mindset

For many years, as a global CEO coach, I have used the Global Mindset phrase to indicate an orientation of openness towards other cultures, other people, and another way of doing things.  In my most recent book, Global Mindset Coaching, I asked global leaders,  “what are the most critical aspects of a Global Mindset?”.   Their responses varied, but in short, the consensus was that having a Global Mindset means: 

  1. Having an openness to learning 
  2. Ability to adapt to new cultures 
  3. No one universal way to do things 
  4. Interest and curiosity 
  5. Proactive use of diversity 
  6. Not bound by local customs. 
  7. In my own experience and taking into consideration the results of my research, I have updated my Global Mindset Definition as follows.    

“It is the ability to step outside one’s base culture and to understand there is no universally correct way to do things”.  

To understand this, I have divided the definition into its two main components.   

A) The ability to step outside one’s base culture.  This is the willingness of the individual to take risks, exploring learning and adapting

B) There is not a universally correct way to do things.Global Mindset leadership is situational, cultural differences and similarities are neither positive nor negative;  “my way is not the only way.”   

In dealing with new cultures, there are things that you can see and explore.  Language, food, music, the way of dressing, and others.  Also, you can also see how people work, attitudes like punctuality, negotiation styles, and how decisions are made.   

There are other things you don’t see, but they impact how people work together.  Behaviors such as whether individual or group dynamics take precedence in decision-making, whether the culture is hierarchical or egalitarian, and whether relationships must be established before or after entering into a project.    

Developing a Global Mindset will allow any leader to take advantage of those differences to manage in a way that is sensitive and effective.   They become more effective because of those differences, rather than in spite of them.    

I believe that one of the most important characteristics for leaders to cultivate is a Global Mindset.  Today one of the biggest challenges of the globalization of business is preparing global leaders that embrace a Global Mindset. 

What are your thoughts on this matter? I’ll like to hear from you.   

Defining Global Mindset2019-07-09T22:32:08+00:00

Globalization of Business and Developing a Global Mindset

As you probably have experienced, the world today is not the one most of us grew up in.  Radical changes have occurred, the biggest drivers include global economic opportunities, trade liberalization and the communications revolution. This has strategic advantages and challenges.

Globalization of business is nothing new.  In fact, it started much, much earlier, with the early trading empires. The Silk Road between China and Europe, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Romans and Greeks among others.

In today’s economy, businesses want to sell more, stay competitive, increase their revenue thus they are looking to diversify their presence and their products across the world.  Their biggest challenge is preparing leaders to thrive on the global stage. Unfortunately, there is not a way to minimize this, if companies want to successfully globalize, they must develop leaders with a Global Mindset.

Global executives need the same knowledge and capabilities as domestic executives, as well as unique attributes and skills to work in often radically different cultures, political systems, and environments.  They need to develop a Global Mindset.

The most common assumption I have seen is that global leadership is developed only through experience.  I truly believe that experience is not sufficient for the development of an effective global leader.

If experience alone is insufficient to develop an effective global leader, what do executives need to learn to be effective?

They need to develop and embrace a Global Mindset, in fact I see it as a requirement for success in the globalization of business going forward. Only by being truly open to new ideas and new ways of relating to each other, leaders will be able to capture the opportunities available on the new, fast-changing global stage.

Interested in learning more about Global Mindset or the globalization of business,  please visit this page.


Globalization of Business and Developing a Global Mindset2019-07-09T22:38:13+00:00

What is Global Mindset?

I first started to use this phrase in the 1990s to describe myself.  It has become popular in the US and abroad, but what does this mean?  When I talk about having a global mindset, I’m indicating my personal belief that I can get beyond my base culture.  It refers to the cultural perspective that involves awareness of self, knowledge of many cultural values and an understanding of other people’s practices based on these values. In my view, when people make decisions more broadly rather than influenced by a single cultural perspective they are much more capable leaders, they able to deal with cultural diversity and lead global teams more efficiently.

As an American, having a global mindset means getting beyond my base culture and proactively learning about the differences and utilizing those differences to achieve my professional goals and those of my clients.   In my global coaching practice,  I have defined four beliefs that are at the bedrock of my Global Mindset Coaching.

Global Mindset: There is no one universal correct way, but rather leadership is situational.  We need to examine what is most appropriate, look to the individual people, and see the unique characteristics of a particular culture. If our goal is to have the other person agree with us, purchase what we’re selling or be involved in discussion with us, then we should use the most appropriate method to get that agreement. You understand local markets and take advantage of business opportunities

Global Mindset: Cultural differences and similarities aren’t positive or negative.  This is opposite than ethnocentricity, it is the recognition of the multitude of choices about how to interact, and indicates that we make conscious decisions based on that sensitivity and considerations for others.  It recognizes that your culture is not better than any other culture.  You understand the potential regardless of the package in which it comes.

Global Mindset:  Developing An Active Openness to learning  –  Learning about a new culture beyond being tolerant.  Global mindset goes beyond tolerance; it is proactively learning and utilizing the values learned to further personal, and organizational goals.   To put it simply,  imitating a foreigner can be viewed as tolerance and acceptance, knowing what you do and why you do it is having a global mindset.   It is the ability to be effective in interpersonal relations

Global Mindset:  Awareness is a very useful map. This map comes with three different views,  Awareness of self-  This is understanding you at a deep level. The more you know about yourself, the better you are at adapting life changes that come your way.   Awareness of Social Context -This level of awareness gives you the ability to understand and respond to the needs and wants people.  When you respond to those needs and wants,  you gain their trust.  Awareness of Perceptions –  Do you know what other people really feel about you?  If the people you interact with daily were to be completely honest with you and tell you how they think of you,  would you like what they say?

Many of us know people that seem to be successful working effectively across cultures, we all have that friend that moves from country to country and thriving wherever  he goes.  They seem to be able to address situations with a cultural knowledge and sensitivity without sacrificing their personal values and types.  They are consistent with others’ expectations of the way they will behave. Those leaders have a global mindset.  Do you?




What is Global Mindset?2019-07-09T22:47:55+00:00

Looking at Global Mindset

How do most of us make decisions? By default! We choose brands, styles, food, hobbies, friends, co-workers and careers that feel comfortable and familiar to us. We are often shaped by outside factors that push and pull us in different directions. Some people say it takes 10,000 hours to truly master a skill. How many of us plug away at the uncomfortable edge of the learning curve for those 10,000 hours just to learn a new skill? Most of us prefer to pull back and enjoy the experience of short-term gratification, albeit at some lower level of expertise, rather than continue pushing through those many unrewarding hours to real mastery. Mastery has become a lost art. Even more difficult is the task of understanding a trade or a skill outside of the context in which we learned the skill. When we are asked to remove ourselves from our common practices and rituals, and shift to a mindset that is conscious of global influences and impressions, most of us may feel some hesitancy and caution.

Consider the basic act of communicating. Let’s assume for a second English is your first language. In the United States, Canada, and many other parts of the world, you would have no problem communicating with a taxi driver, hotel clerk, or restaurant owner. As long as he or she spoke English, you will be fine. But if you found yourself in a foreign country, one whose natives speak little English, the simple task of asking for directions or paying for a bottle of water could be enormously more complicated.

It’s not easy to immerse oneself into an unfamiliar culture for an extended period of time. This is not a common practice and we often feel somewhat shy and not as confident in our abilities. It’s even more difficult to go to a distant land with the goal of establishing or building a successful business in that new culture. If we can’t communicate on a personal level, how can  we do so on a corporate level? Speaking the language is just the first step. Once we can overcome the language barrier, the next step is to study the culture and behavioral norms. There seems to be a never ending learning curve—ranging from local business laws and practices, managing talent, how business decisions are made, how to appeal to the local consumer, to how people think and relate to one another. In the global marketplace talent and consumers come from multiple geographic locations, making the cultural environment so multifaceted it’s hard to imagine anyone responding with finesse to every cultural equation. It takes time, effort, and the willingness to immerse oneself into the nuances and experiences of a whole new world.

Cultures differ as much as creatures in the ocean. There are thousands of regions, cultures, business practices, and socially accepted behaviors. To understand the context of your global scenario is to have a fast track to achieving your overall business goals. Simply because one formula works in one global market doesn’t mean it will work in another.

In the past twenty years, China has rocketed into the spectrum of global importance and business development. Some of the biggest business deals and agreements are occurring in this remarkable part of the world. While the speed in which business is accomplished in China is extraordinary, it comes with an entirely new set of business norms and behavior.

Conditions change rapidly in China, so assumptions and agreements must remain fluid in order to endure. With each change in Chinese management and government, the all-important context changes as well. Relationships must be revisited and adjustments made to fit new political and cultural contexts for every new leader.

Looking at Global Mindset2018-01-26T00:53:44+00:00

Understanding Global Mindset

Gary Ranker defines global mindset as the ability to step outside one’s base culture, and to understand there is no universally correct way to do things. He asks his clients to realize that persons in other parts of the world have different beliefs than they do, and different ways of doing things that work for them. To be effective as a global leader, we need to take this into consideration when we do business with others.

Developing a global mindset means accepting that our values and our ways of doing business don’t have the same meaning, or perhaps even work, for our counterparts in other cultures. To have a global mindset is to get beyond the trap of believing that what has worked for us and our organization in our country, will work to the same degree in another country. It may or may not.

But it won’t work to start with the assumption that we will be successful forcing our ways onto the other culture.

Understanding Global Mindset2018-01-26T00:47:51+00:00

Meet the Coach

Meet the Coach Who Fine – Tunes the Chiefs


It was about nine months into his role as Leighton Holdings chief executive – a job fraught with high drama and controversy – that Hamish Tyrwhitt first met executive coach Gary Ranker.

Tyrwhitt was under enormous pressure as the construction giant faced hefty write-downs on problem projects. He says it was important to have an external adviser not involved in the day-to-day
running of the company to help navigate a volatile world.

“I have a degree in civil engineering, but half the time I need a degree in psychology,” Tyrwhitt says.

“He [Ranker] has brought to me personally the skills to be able to make myself more aware and more equipped to deal with situations; the ability to be resilient in certain areas and to step back and prioritise. “I have moved from being reactive to spending more time in a pro-active space.”

With the average tenure of a chief executive dropping to three or four years, Tyrwhitt says it is important that corporate leaders find a way to survive longer in the job. He has also been open about having a support network of other chief executives to discuss common challenges with.

Nowadays, he has regular Skype conversations and quarterly meetings with Ranker, who is in Sydney this month to see some high-profile clients. New York-based Ranker, who specialises in advising senior executives in demanding cross-border roles, is considered one of the “fathers” of an industry that appeared just 20 years ago.

Ranker entered the profession as an experiment in 1989 when he was hired by General Electric as a consultant to help manage a former US submarine commander who had a senior role in the company’s energy division.

Executive coaching has taken off since then. There are about 1500 coaches in Australia alone, although not many advise at a CEO level. Ranker hopes coaches will become as common in the corporate make-up as hiring an external auditor.

“I can look any CEO in the eye and say ‘You can’t do it alone’,” he says. Ranker’s job is a balancing act of adviser and confidant on all matters from how to communicate with staff, to avoiding social friction, personal development, balancing the demands of constant travel and being sensitive to cultural differences.

Ranker likens the job to engineers improving a wind tunnel. They already have a successful aerodynamic shape, but removing the slightest distortion in an executive’s behaviour can deliver results.

“It is a clear recognition that it is a highly competitive environment where someone else is going to jump higher and run faster next month. You can’t stay the same,” he says. “The CEO has to find ways of becoming more productive and more efficient because the environment expects it. hey can’t work more hours; they are already doing that. They cannot become more diligent. They cannot became smarter.

“What they can do is have an outside person make minor adjustments.” Ranker says the modern-day chief executive is not very different from a professional athlete. “A person at a high  peak performance level such as an Olympic runner has a coach, so why should it be different for a CEO?” Ranker asks.

“As long as you wish to stay in the game in what is a very competitive environment, the coach’s role is integral to your success.” Gary has coached more than 100 executives at General Electric, and his clients include a number of high-profile Australian chiefs. The bulk of his work has traditionally come from the United States and Europe, but Ranker says he now spends about a third of his time working in China, where demand for executive coaching is booming.

Ranker’s advantage is that he has spent time on both sides of the desk, which enables him to build trust. He has held senior executive roles at Hallmark Cards and Textron Inc and worked all over the world.

He says it is sometimes difficult giving advice to people who are used to being told what they want to hear. “These are very successful people and that actually gets in the way. When someone gets to the CEO level almost noone is willing to give them truth, let alone small suggestions on how they can improve,” he says.

“It is an extraordinarily lonely role. Everyone has an agenda and you have to think about what you say all the time. Then there are the people coming to you who mostly have something that they want” Finding a balance between work and life is almost impossible at a senior level, he says. Personal relationships often take a back seat, while even the pressure to look fit and healthy is a challenge in a time-constrained role.

“We expect CEOs to look very fit. Yet that person has even less time to work out in the gym, and has more propensity to have something to drink or avoid exercise,” he says. “I do try and help people have balance, but I do realise if you accept a position as CEO it is impossible to have that work life balance. You have to accept there is a price you are paying.”

Meet the Coach2018-01-26T18:19:19+00:00

Taking Global Executives to Next level

Global Mindset Coaching with CEOs differs greatly from other types of executive coaching.  However, it carries executive coaching’s general goal: helping people be their best selves by improving their behavior.  And, like other coaches, Gary believes that having passion for one’s industry is crucial to success.  For example, Gary has always had a passion to help people from different cultures understand each other, hence his philosophy of global mindset coaching.

Global Mindset Coaching: Gary’s specialized approach:

  • Working with fewer clients, but more in-depth with each client.
  • Working with one company/client for many years to understand their agenda and culture.
  • Working with the CEO and their direct reports to better understand group expectations.
  • Coaching only CEOs or CEOs in training. Coaching CEOs is unique because CEOs:
  1. Have to care about the media.
  2. Have to satisfy the board of directors.
  3. Have to satisfy shareholders. Recently, shareholders have pressured CEOs for more power, in a trend called “shareholder activism.”
  4. Have a high turnover rate; outside factors usually cause CEO replacement every two to three years.

Examples from Gary’s work:

  • Traveling with a coachee CEO to Iraq to build empathy for the challenges the CEO faced doing business in that country
  • Serving as an in-house counselor to many employees at a company after 9/11, thanks to the trust he had built after coaching at the company for many years
  • Helping Japanese and American SONY executives navigate work culture differences to understand that neither culture is superior; there are multiple ways to conduct business.
  • Helping Beijing based CEO use more flexibility when working with two dominating companies in a joint venture.

Global Mindset Coaching Key Takeaways:

  • Understand that there are multiple correct ways to reach the universal goal: profit. Therefore, one should study and consider other cultures’ differing business strategies.
  • Remember that sometimes, especially during international business, things happen that are outside of one’s control.

General Executive Coaching Takeaways:

  • To business executives: Give fewer, clearer messages/objectives. Reinforce the objectives with consistent rewards to promote employee alignment with the objectives.
  • To coaches: remember that criticism is sometimes difficult to hear and accept. Be considerate of your clients while giving them feedback.
Taking Global Executives to Next level2018-01-26T00:53:35+00:00
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