The New Frontier of Executive Coaching? Solution-Focus Executive Coaching!

Rockefeller Plaza, NYC, March the 27th

I am very grateful to Peter Szabo for inviting me to co-facilitate the Executive Coaching Conference Pre-conference Workshop, on the 26th of March in NYC.

It was an amazing experience to see Peter in action – and it was awesome to see the response of the audience, all seasoned coaches or HR professionals!

It is definitely the time for Solution-Focus.

The point was driven home further by David Peterson‘s keynote presentation the following day.

David Peterson, after 25 years of being at the forefront of the coaching industry, is now working at Google as Director of Learning & Development.

In his presentation, he shared what he learned  at Google and how, based on that, successful Executive Coaching would look like in the future.

I was blown away – Solution-Focus is the way forward!

Even though he did not mention SF explicitly, it was implied in his presentation – as a matter of fact we were honored to have him at  the pre-conference workshop, and he gave a shout-out to Peter Szabo during the keynote address.

Here are some of  the key points of Peterson’s presentation:

– Executive Coaching should have a strong “user focus” (like Google has). The key question any executive coach should ask his or her clients is: “what would be most useful for YOU?”. Not what would be useful (many things can be), but what can be most useful. Not what would be useful for the client’s boss, organization, spouse… but most useful to the client. Sounds familiar, SF practitoners out there? ;)

– To stress the point above, Peterson mentioned “self-directed learning” and the fact his goal is to get his clients “out of there [his office] ASAP” – a vindication of Solution-Focused practice, which is predicated on seeing clients just a few times, ideally just once

– Executive Coaching should have “velocity / speed / impact” (like Google has). David Peterson stated that his personal challenges in this regard are: “how can I make my coaching faster and better? How can I do this in half the time? How fast can I get clients to say “wow, this is totally worth my time”?“.  I, and other members of the Solution-Focused community, have been trying to get these very same questions asked in the coaching industry for so long! It was mind-blowing so see someone of the stature of David Peterson asking himself those very same questions! The answer, of course, is: Solution-Focus! Solution-Focused coaching is designed to deliver value in as little as a single 30 minute session.

– Even though it is not strictly Solution-Focus, I loved another main point Peterson made: Executive Coaching practice should have a focus on innovation (like Google does). Coaches should experiment all the time, do pilots or run betas all the time, they should do something new every time, in a systematic way. This is definitely in the spirit of Solution-Focus, because this is how it came to be – via experimentation. And I talked about the importance of testing things out in coaching when sharing my comments about the book Little Bets in a previous post, here.

– Peterson challenged many assumptions shared by Coaches, including one dear to Solution-Focused practitioners: “never give advice”. As he pointed out, “why would you restrain from giving advice if it is helpful?”. Excellent point. Peterson then added that the question is not whether it is right or wrong to give advice, but rather when and how giving advice can be be helpful. The criteria he embraced to guide his coaching is the essence of Solution-Focus: “what is most useful to this client right now?”. For more on how, ultimately, the essence of Solution-Focus is its key assumption that the client is the expert, see this post of mine –> here.

    What cutting-edge Executive Coaching should look like in the future is pretty clear – thanks to David Peterson’s presentation.
    How to get there is pretty clear, at least to me: Solution-Focused practitioners have the know-how, the experience and the business model to make that happen. Today.

    Since it ties so well with the content of this post, shameless promotional plug: f you are interested in acquiring the Coaching Skills of the Future today, check out our training programs in the US! —> here