How Stakeholder-Centered Coaching Helps Companies


In any conversation about the world’s most influential executive coaches, Marshall Goldsmith’s name is bound to come up. Marshall, Heath Dieckert’s mentor and instructor in the field of executive coaching, shaped the world of executive coaching as we know it today. 

Goldsmith developed stakeholder-centered executive coaching, which involves gathering 360-degree feedback based on surveys of a client’s peers, subordinates, and supervisors. Utilizing the feedback from all levels of an executive’s interactions, we can create a plan to improve the trajectory of an executive’s leadership skills, career, company and life. 

Executive Coaching For Companies

Companies seek coaching services for their executives for a variety of reasons, primarily dependent on their size and situation.

Large Companies

The largest companies, those that generate billions of dollars in revenue, typically seek coaching services centered around an executive assessment. Often times they are in the midst of succession planning and want an assessment on the pool of candidates for promotion to identify the strongest leadership traits and success potential. It is important to them to build a future for their company with leaders that possess desirable traits and skills to improve business practices and company growth. 

In these cases, we implement the first phase of a Marshall Goldsmith-style engagement where we provide 360-degree feedback and a psychological assessment, producing a summarized executive report detailing the candidates’ leadership and performance skills. 

Large companies usually have their own internal HR structures and competency models, so our assessments are customized based on what their needs are, but the end result is inevitably the same -- there will be areas of potential growth for the executive being assessed. 

The depth of the feedback we provide is incredibly powerful, and many companies end up wanting us to engage with the rest of their employees as well - through the process they recognize that every executive grows and benefits from self-awareness and evaluation. 

Mid-Sized Companies

Mid-sized companies, and sometimes larger companies, often face a common issue; the founder of the company will have elevated the business to a certain point, but hit a wall. 

This often happens because the qualities, competencies, and leadership behaviors that made the founder successful when the company was a startup are quite different than the behaviors that can make a mid-level company successful, which are in turn quite different than the behaviors that they need for success in a giant company. 

Gradually those behaviors that were once beneficial slow the founder down and they hit a point where they can’t work any harder and they are no longer having the successes that they are used to. This can feel sudden to the founder, and they struggle to understand what changed, and why the company has plateaued. 

In these situations, the company seeks an organizational assessment to find out why they are no longer progressing. The stakeholder-centered coaching method provides the feedback they need to reevaluate their own beliefs, strengths and areas that are hindering their growth. Through coaching engagements, we can assist these founders in developing new strengths and leadership skills to scale their company and continue to grow.

Smaller Companies

With smaller, volatile startups, an issue often comes into play because the board or even the c-level executives are also the investors. This causes mixed agendas between people whose money is on the line that are also trying to be good leaders, which can create behavior dynamics that are not productive. 

For these clients, the money pressure and the people pressure are not always aligned, and they are just too close to see the problem clearly. Stakeholder-centered coaching can enlighten them to these issues and set them on the right path to success. 

Executive Coaching for Individuals

Executive coaching engagements can benefit companies of all kinds, but many of our clients are also individuals in the corporate world. Individual executives primarily come to us in three ways:

Some forward-thinking executives reach out before their situation gets too out of whack. Unfortunately, when an individual is having moderate success, their ego is often elevated to the point where they no longer think they need any help. 

As a company grows and an executive’s influence becomes more powerful, their ability to hear feedback, or even the willingness of others to provide honest feedback significantly diminishes, and blind spots are formed until it is too late. 

The best time to come to us is when things are going great, but that happens more rarely than the other two situations. 

Another tier of individuals who seek coaching engagements are executives who are introspective and thoughtful; they sense things getting a little bit bumpy, or they are entering an organizational or career transition and want help to navigate that change. 

The majority of people, however, fall in the third category. They are the ones who wait until it’s late in the game. Something is going very badly, and the board or the staff are mutinying, or there is public media pressure due to poor performance. 

In those cases, the board, stakeholders, or investors are often the ones that mandate the coaching or even initiate the engagement. While our preference is to only serve the primary client, there are situations where we take on a reporting relationship to the board or stakeholders. Those situations are more complex and difficult to navigate with integrity, but a good coach can find a way to serve those parties and keep all their interests aligned. 

Feedback and Fear

When an executive enters a stakeholder-centered engagement, there is, understandably, often a degree of fear, especially if they have been mandated by a board or investors. Opening yourself up to peer feedback seems intimidating and frightening at first.

But the reality is that this is the first time that client is going to know the truth about how their peers see them. Their ego has to take a check, which is the hard part. 

As coaches, we help clients see that this is a good thing; for the first time they are clued in to what others think of them. There will no longer be surprises, questions or wondering; just knowing how people perceive them and their performance and where they can improve and succeed. When the client can see the feedback that way, it’s a relief, not something to fear. 

Once they open themselves up and are ready to receive the feedback, it can be an emotional experience. When we deliver the initial assessment to a client, which includes a psychological profile, a behavioral profile, and a personality profile, as well as 360-degree feedback, it’s rare not to have some tears. 

Even the most jaded, gruff, gray-haired executives that are known for never cracking a smile are emotionally moved by the feedback. The willingness of their peers to speak into their life and the power of what they are saying is a life-changing experience that affects the heart of even the toughest clients. 

The Dieckert Group and Stakeholder-Centered Coaching

Marshall Goldsmith brought stakeholder-centered coaching into the executive world and changed the game, enabling profound changes in people’s lives. He was a great role model, and his methods continue to benefit companies and individuals around the world. 

If you are ready to make positive changes in your own company, career, or life, reach out today to discuss what we can do for you.

Heath Dieckert