Thought Series: 5 Practices for driving trust


Thought Series provides actionable ideas and anchors for reflection on your life or your work.


Marketing is becoming a more resource-rich function of business. Marketing is the function that creates and sustains long-lasting relationships with the most important assets of any business—the employees, customers, suppliers, and partners. Led by the guiding principles of the organization, marketing matters in every relationship. To some degree, everyone must be a marketer.

Data, digital, social, mobile, analytics, real-time agility—are all common vocabulary and the subject of numerous business articles and conversation. Thus marketers need to shift their focus from pushing messages at people to engaging them in an ongoing conversation and relationship. The speeddirection, and magnitude of the changes in marketing have been widely discussed. But no one has the answer locked up on where connection, collaboration, sharing, gifting are headed—as a means for building trust.

Leaders of values-based organizations offer a path forward since connection and quality of their relationships is how they operate.


You establish and build a community using both content and social media marketing. It can be difficult. You’re interacting with your audience constantly: fostering new relationships, nurturing existing ones, and listening/responding to feedback. You’re building trust and rapport and your social reach is growing.

These things are great for building awareness. You’re putting yourself out there and joining in the conversation. You may not think people are interested in your business and what you have to say, but guess what, they are.

All of that is important. But there is one thing to remember: Our emotions are the primary driver of our on- and offline actions.

Put It Into Practice

One way to measure healthy relationships with other people, is to think about:

  • Do you look forward to seeing that person?

  • Do you care about them?

  • Do they share your values?

  • Do you speak well of them to others?

…because these questions apply to companies as well. See more about the science of emotions in marketing.


Collaboration is one of those words, like innovation or execution, that sometimes loses its meaning in a management context because it is overused. We know we need to work together better. We know we can all get along, and that more heads on an issue make for better solutions. Yet it’s also one of those behaviors that many companies hope will just happen. They think, “let’s put a bunch of good, motivated people together and the collaboration will take place, right?” It’s not that easy — leaders must create conditions in which collaboration is inevitable. And everyone in that environment needs to make a conscious choice to learn from others.

Put It Into Practice

  • What should we make?

  • Who should we make it for?

  • How do we make it in such a way that the story of our product is true?


We all want to feel that our lives have meaning. We gravitate towards brands that help us find that meaning. Apple’s “Think different” or Nike’s “Just do it” represent challenges we can bring into our personal lives. It could be an allusion to our common humanity like Skype’s family portrait series, which illustrated the growth of a long-distance friendship between two girls, each missing an arm. Or it could be a global call to action like Wal-Mart’s sustainable supply chain initiative. Each of these companies built an engaged audience by finding a big, ambitious theme and building a long-running campaign around it. Each also experienced sustained growth.

Put It Into Practice

  • How can you improve people’s lives?

  • How can you develop others?

  • How can you invest in your community?


As Bill Gates said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

I think the same is true with Agile. Agile was originally promoted as a “movement” over a decade ago.  Like many new ideas, Agile adoption was slow to start and quick to dominate. From the looks of the marketplace, it looks like Agile has finally hit its stride.

As recently as five years ago, most marketing departments were set up only to conduct campaigns and launches. That is changing, especially at larger companies with large numbers of customers. It is not the old mode of planning a campaign, executing it, analyzing the results, learning from them and applying those lessons to next year’s campaign. Marketers are increasingly running a real-time dialogue, constantly listening and instantly connecting in relevant ways. Consumers have an expectation of immediacy.

A 24/7 mentality requires a different way of working. The industrial model assembly line is gone. Now, open space provides a kind of trading room floor, responds to the ebbs and flows of the market as they occur. Although disciplines experience the larger product launches, it is the day-in and day-out efforts of relationship building with employees, customers, suppliers, and partners who in return reward you with a supportive ecosystem of brand loyalty and a steady stream of purchases.

Put It Into Practice

  • Does the experiment have a clear purpose?

  • Have stakeholders made a commitment to abide by the results?

  • Is the experiment doable?

  • How can we ensure reliable results?

  • Have we gotten the most value out of the experiment?

Although those questions seem obvious, many companies begin conducting tests without fully addressing them.


Unilever Senior Vice-president of Marketing Marc Mathieu likes to say that marketing “used to be about creating a myth and selling it and is now about finding a truth and sharing it.” It is difficult to sustain myths these days; with a few clicks of the mouse, anyone can discover almost anything and instantly circulate it to an audience of millions. Companies confident enough to share the truth are choosing to participate in a web-enabled show and tell— and consumers, employees, suppliers, and partners appreciate it.

Transparency is appealing because you can’t really connect with someone unless there’s some level of transparency. We seek transparency from organizations because we do business in a culture that is characterized by social transparency. Yet, we do business in a culture that has experienced the erosion of privacy.

Put It Into Practice

  • What do you see as the relationship between transparency and generosity?

  • Can you point to examples where transparency made a difference?

  • What steps do you feel you can take to increase transparency? (about what you do, what your group does, what your organization does)

Thought Series: The Value of Coaching


Thought Series provides actionable ideas and anchors for reflection on your life or your work.


The International Coach Federation made a client study of what was gained from coaching

Professional coaching brings many wonderful benefits: fresh perspectives on personal challenges, enhanced decision-making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence. And, the list does not end there. Those who undertake coaching also can expect appreciable improvement in productivity, satisfaction with life and work, and the attainment of relevant goals.


Professional coaching maximizes potential and, therefore, unlocks latent sources of productivity. At the heart of coaching is a creative and thought-provoking process that supports individuals to confidently pursue new ideas and alternative solutions with greater resilience in the face of growing complexity.



Building the self-confidence of employees to face challenges is critical in meeting organizational demands. In the face of uncertainty caused by workforce reductions and other factors, expectations of the remaining workforce in a suffering company are very high. Restoring self-confidence to face the challenges is critical to meet organizational demands.



Coaching generates learning and clarity for forward action with a commitment to measurable outcomes. The vast majority of companies (86%) say they at least made their investment back.




Virtually all companies and individuals who hire a coach are satisfied. If your company is not thriving, coaching is an effective catalyst for change.


Source: ICF Global Coaching Client Study (2009) was commissioned by the ICF but conducted independently by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Thought Series: Coaching


Thought Series provides actionable ideas and anchors for reflection on your life or your work.


Executive Coaching applies to a wide range of leaders and up-and-coming leaders: C-suite executives, leadership teams, managers, entrepreneurs and business owners, and up-and-coming talent. Executive coaching is an efficient, high-impact process that helps high-performing people in leadership roles improve results in ways that are sustained over time.

It is efficient because, unlike traditional consulting assignments, it does not require invasive processes, large outside teams, and lengthy reports and analyses to get results.

It is a high-impact process because Executive Coaches typically work with clients in short meetings (i.e., 30 minutes per session). During this time, we will work together to generate important insights, gain clarity, focus, and make decisions to improve performance.

Executive coaching works with high-performing people in leadership roles. It is not therapy, meant to “fix” a person. However, it helpful to have support from time to time in order to perform better. Finally, my goal as an Executive Coach is to improve results in ways that are sustainable over time.

My clients want some sort of outcome, usually related to improved profits, career success, organizational effectiveness, or career and personal satisfaction. At the same time, coaching is about helping people improve their own capabilities and effectiveness, so that the results and performance improvements last.


Not therapy
As noted earlier, executive coaching is not therapy. I am not here to fix you. However, I do ask powerful questions that inquire about why you behave the way they do, or inquire about your beliefs and values that might be causing you to behave the way you do, etc. The questions are about understanding how you can embrace more empowering beliefs and values to get the results they want to get?

Not interim management
Likewise, executive coaching is not the same thing as interim management. I am not stepping in to do the job for you. Instead, I am a “shadow leader” working behind the scenes to help you succeed and improve in lasting ways.

Not consulting
Consultants tend to conduct analysis and make recommendations to clients. Coaches are more non-directive, relying on clients to come up with the answer. If the client needs data or an analysis, the coach holds the client accountable for doing that work. Receiving coaching is not the same as outsourcing your brain.

Not a crystal ball
Finally, my job as an executive coach is not to be a “crystal ball” that magically provides an answer. As a coach, I will intervene and provide advice when appropriate. But I’ll engage in dialogue with you, and then customize a tool or solution that works for your unique solution. Sometimes there is no easy answer, and my value will be to support you in making decisions with incomplete information.


My clients are mid to senior level leaders, spanning multiple sectors. They are values-driven, and focus on work that has meaning.

When these leaders understand what drives their best thinking, they can show up every day and consistently lead from that place. That’s when great things happen. Employees play how they are coached – they follow your lead on what is permissible. If standards rise, expectations increase and performance takes off.

Leaders at all levels of organizations increasingly seek coaching to complement training and other development tools for employees because the return on investment is convincing (see What is the value of coaching?).

The impact can be enormous, and my clients find they benefit most from working with me to:

  • Establish executive presence both internally and externally through thought leadership

  • Solidify equal footing with board members, investors, industry thought leaders and all stakeholders

  • Activate their power-base to leverage and maximize their influence

What does a typical 6-month coaching engagement look like?

  • Discovery Session

  • Leadership 360 Report

  • 1:1 Coaching — up to 20 hours

  • Action planning for goals

  • Observation as needed (up to 6 hours)

  • Critical Coaching — (Limited access for brief calls/emails.)

  • Thought Leadership & Strategic Operational Support (i.e., management of monthly business reviews, annual strategic calendar)

  • Strategic Introductions (client dependent)

Thought Series: Coaching, the map is not the territory


Thought Series are deeper pieces than to reflect on than daily thoughts from short blog posts. They provide actionable ideas and anchors for reflection on your life or your work. 

Many think coaching is about finding a map. But the map is not the territory.


There are many kinds of coaches out there today (Sports Coaches, Trainers, Life Coaches, Mental Health Professionals, etc.) Most engagements emphasize one of three domains: content, process, and context. While every engagement includes some combination of all three, the most powerful coaching gets into what we call context.

Content is the “what.” With content-style engagements, clients asks to share particular
knowledge about specific areas of business. Examples might include:

  • Marketing

  • Business planning

  • Financial management

  • Productivity benchmarks

  • Competitive and strategic insights

  • Legal issues

  • Productivity improvements

  • Technology strategies

  • Legal issues

  • Recruiting, retaining, and developing people

  • Human Resources systems

  • Risk management

The “content engagement” is the safest, easiest type of engagement for clients to request. Content is generally intellectual, and doesn’t require much risk or even action. However, most content-style engagements require process and context in order to get measurable results.

The other challenge with content coaching is that – if you already have the answer – it is very challenging to stay in coaching mode, vs. shifting to the role of a consultant.

Process refers to the “how.” Process-focused coaching helps the client lay out a structure and an action plan to get things done. Typically process engagements are large initiatives that the client is undertaking. Examples include:

  • Transform the culture

  • Develop leaders through an internal Leadership University

  • Improve productivity by 12%

  • Complete a strategic planning exercise

  • Improve the board’s effectiveness.

  • Turn around profitability

  • Develop a plan to increase sales at a large client

  • Restructure the organization

  • Implement a mentoring program

For the most part, you will have an idea already about how to get it done – but for some reason, nothing moves forward. This is why coaches have to move to a deeper level of facilitation, what we call the context level.

Context engagements are engagements in which coaches help clients improve their behavior, attitude, and effectiveness as a manager. Context is about who you are as a leader, the tone you set, the messages you convey, the relationships you build, and what you do and don’t tolerate. Examples include:

  • Influence colleagues and managers without using formal authority

  • Get a better response from employees

  • Eliminate behavioral “blind spots” that are hurting performance

  • Build on talents

  • Be more assertive

  • Collaborate more effectively

  • Handle conflict appropriately

  • Improve relationships with superiors

  • Be more politically astute when recommending ideas

  • Transition to a new, unfamiliar role

Context is often the missing piece that prevents process- and content-related engagements from succeeding. That’s because sustainable results require all three domains: sound decisions based on good knowledge/content, a sound process to get results, and effective interactions and behaviors. In fact, the most effective and satisfying engagements involve content, process, and context.