The 12 Steps of Executive Coaching: Part II

This month, we continue our discussion of applying the 12 Step model of recovery to leadership development. For the first half of this discussion, click here. Now, without further ado:

Traditional Step 7: We humbly asked our higher power to remove our shortcomings.

  • Executive Coaching Step 7: Asking others for accountability to recognize and address those shortcomings

As we mentioned in the last installment,

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The 12 Steps of Executive Coaching: Part I

‘Hi, my name is Dan, and I’m a recovering control freak,’ said no one ever.

There isn’t a 12-step program for this particular character defect; however, having been introduced to the 12-step philosophy of recovery over three decades ago, then moving into the corporate world five years later, and now having been a coach for the last decade, I can see great parallels between the 12 steps of recovery and developing wisdom in leadership.

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We and They, Us and Them

3 minute read

Organizational language matters. The way we speak about the work we do, how we do it, and who we work for and with can provide important insights into the health of an organization. Time and again, we’ve observed that a very quick and accurate acid test of cultural health is to listen to what pronouns those working inside an organization use:

“In Dallas, THEY do it like this.”

“This is the way WE track our sales on this team.”

“I don’t care how Nashville wants the report.

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On Change and Changing Our Minds

4 minute read

Change is the only constant…

The more things change, the more they stay the same…


In the dawn of our species, human survival depended on being hyper-aware of and sensitive to potential danger, in order to survive and have surviving offspring. Over time, vigilance repeatedly proved to be an asset, and our brains became hardwired to be biased toward,

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What Conversation Are You Avoiding?

2 minute read

As we have mentioned in various earlier posts, there is a positive correlation between the quality of our conversations and our leadership capacity, richness of life, and even the viability of our professional careers.

This has been explored thoroughly in a host of books, including Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith E. Glaser; Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B.

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For Best Results, Don’t Trigger the Subordinates

5 minute read

In this blog, we’ve talked at length about skillfully handling our own emotional responses when dealing with peers and superiors, but have you ever given thought to situations in which you might be triggering your subordinates?

There are times when leaning harder on subordinates does not necessarily result in getting unmet needs for competency, efficiency, reliability, collaboration, or clarity met. In fact, turning our frustration, anger, and disappointment toward them is patently counter-productive.

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A Lesson from the Snake and the Monk

5 minute read

There once was a snake who terrorized a tiny village. Women, children, adored family pets—he would bite them all, without a moment’s contemplation or modicum of sensitivity.

One day, a monk visited the village. He observed the snake’s behavior and committed himself to teaching the snake the principle of non-violence. As it turns out, the snake had a penchant for self-improvement and thoroughly absorbed the monk’s teachings.

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Coding Managers Anonymous: Surrender Is the Hardest Part

4 minute read

“Hello, I’m Bob, and I’m a coding addict. It’s been one month since my last line of code…”

Over years of coaching experience, we have discovered that when people are promoted—from technical/professional contributor to manager of technical/professional contributors, or from manager of technical/professional contributors to manager of managers—the newly-promoted often have a very difficult time surrendering the technical responsibilities they had as individual contributors. It’s a phenomenon we’ve observed with IT managers so many times,

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How to Tell Your Boss “Not Now”

4 minute read

I have a vivid memory from early in my professional career—in the first year or two of corporate work—of standing in the hall talking to a supervisor I supported. The Vice President approached us, and said to the supervisor: “Tom, I need this report by first thing in the morning.”

I could tell by the VP’s tone that he was not asking Tom, he was telling him.

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Your Maps Need Updating

4 minute read

This has been, by all anecdotal accounts, one heckuva flu season in Middle Tennessee. Most years, my household escapes the scourge of illness, but we were not so lucky this year.

It all started one Thursday afternoon, when I began to feel generally under the weather—chills, congestion, and just not feeling right. Friday morning I definitely wasn’t myself, and my temperature of 100.5 degrees confirmed I definitely had something;

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