with Jennifer Porter and Jessica Skon
About the show
The Fearless Thinkers podcast, hosted by Rick Cheatham and Masami Cookson, personalizes BTS’s perspective on the people side of strategy.
Fearless Thinkers is produced by Gloria Breck and Aron Towner.
Special thanks to Joe Holeman, Chris Goodnow, Meghan McGrath, and Roanne Neuwirth for their invaluable help.
In this special Fearless Thinkers episode, Jennifer Porter, Partner, and Jessica Skon, CEO, discuss how to help leaders develop, improve, and increase their effectiveness.
Jessica Skon: Jennifer, I am so excited to be having this conversation with you today, primarily because it gives a chance for BTSers around the world and our entire client base to have a chance to learn from you. The last four or five years, our clients [have been] asking us to support them with executive coaching; [whether] with broader change initiatives, or leader readiness, or succession, and so forth.
So, I spent the last four to five years meeting with different firms. One of the things that struck me about you and your firm and your approach was your unparalleled and exceptional quality standards.
If you don’t mind, I’ll share a little bit about my experience with coaching, my personal experience.
There were two times in my life when it occurred to me that it would be helpful to have a coach. The first time was when I was asked to take over BTS North America, which is about 50 percent of our business. And the second time was about a year and a half ago when I was asked to take over from our founder and run the global business. So, for me, it was two transitionary times.
If I’m really honest, I had no idea what to expect. I think the general feeling I had about coaching at that moment was it was mainly used for “problem leaders.” I hadn’t seen that many examples in my life of proactive, “I just want to get better —I want to make sure I form the right team,” and [making] the right decisions.
So I would say in both cases, it’s been extraordinarily helpful. The first time I’d say I mainly gained a lot of self-awareness around some of my strengths and therefore some propensities that I have and some watchouts. The second time is to help me think about my role, what I’m trying to get done and how I get things done.
I can’t wait to hear from you. How do you actually see coaching? What’s your definition of it? What’s the intention with Boda?
Jennifer Porter: The story you tell about your two experiences — they’re very consistent with what we hear from the leaders and executives that we work with, which is they don’t know what to expect. They maybe have a perception that it’s an indication something’s wrong, and they’re not sure what they’ll get out of it. I usually talk about coaching at its simplest.
Coaching is about helping an executive become the best version of themselves. I’ve been doing this almost 20 years, and I’ve yet to meet an executive who didn’t want to show up every day and be wildly effective, positively impact their colleagues, the business, continue to grow and get better. And yet we find ways to show up every day and be less than the best version of ourselves.
So, coaching really helps people do that, and the way that happens is by a tight partnership between a coach and an executive, where we as coaches help leaders answer five basic questions.
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