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Deep Coaching: No One Size Fits All - Bonar Institute for Purposeful Leadership

James de Gaspé Bonar Ph.D., CEC, PCC

June 18, 2017

Our approach to executive coaching is based on the firm belief that each client is unique and has specific needs, challenges, opportunities and practical goals. One size doesn’t fit all!

In our practice we have identified the risks and benefits of a coaching engagement. The risks of a failed engagement are considerable, both to our clients and to the Bonar Institute, as follows:

Risks for the client:

  • The client does not receive the full value of the coaching they require. This includes adapting satisfactorily to a new organizational culture or position, fine-tuning competencies, enhancing professional development and having access to the trusted advisor/executive confidant they need.
  • The financial investment for an executive coaching engagement.
  • The potential opportunity costs in terms of time, unmet expectations, and unrealized revenues and profits for their organization.

Risks for the Bonar Institute:

  • A dissatisfied client
  • Possible lost business
  • Potential tarnishing of our reputation

The long-term benefits of a successful engagement to a client’s organization are a more productive, satisfied and effective leader, and overall improved organizational performance. The benefits to the Bonar Institute are that the organization will likely use our services again, if the situation should arise, and refer us to others.

To ensure that our coaching is tailored to meet our client’s specific needs, we have developed the following three-stage preparation program:

1. Establish the potential success of the engagement

Many prospective clients don’t fully understand the purpose of executive coaching. Without this understanding, it is difficult for them to know what to expect. Expectations may be misinformed or impractical. To minimize this risk, we ensure that our prospective clients understand the nature and limits of deep coaching. Have they had any previous experience with an executive coach? What were the most helpful elements? What were the more challenging ones?

We then identify their expectations and goals for the coaching engagement. What would success look like? This often requires clients to change their beliefs, attitudes and actions. We determine whether they have the openness and motivation to change. Are they fully committed to the process? If not, the coaching will likely fail. If the prospective client is committed and we determine that we can help them, we then evaluate whether positive chemistry exists between the prospective client and our coach. Only then do we accept the engagement.

2. Personalized Review:

We need to have a deep understanding of our client. To this end, we administer an Eqi (Emotional Intelligence) Leadership assessment to the client and a 360 to key stakeholders. We ask the client to tell us their story in a comfortable and safe environment. Confidentiality and trust are the hallmarks of our entire engagement. We pay particular attention to what we learn of this client’s career and the following needs:

  • Behavioural
  • Intellectual
  • Emotional
  • Physical (e.g. nutrition, exercise, stress management)
  • Purpose
  • Fulfillment

This review will provide valuable insights to the coaching process. It will also serve as a beginning benchmark of the client’s situation prior to starting the engagement.

3. Review of the Organization and the Industry:

  • Corporate governance, organizational structure, operations, culture and values
  • Key challenges and opportunities for the organization and for the industry

Our three-stage preparation program helps optimize our coaching engagements and minimize risk of failure. We ensure that our personalized coaching engagement is tailored to the unique needs and expectations of our clients. The Engagement Plan is based on goals and timelines that are clear, achievable, measurable and monitored. We develop these with our clients and we then hold them accountable.

Typically, we conduct a second set of Eqi assessments at the end of the engagement to measure success. We review areas that might not have met the goals of the Engagement Plan, and explore possible next steps.

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