Be the Leaders, Find the Leaders, Create the Leaders
We hear from Jim Wetrich on executive coaching and his top tips on living a healthy and fulfilled life.
From your point of view, what are the key benefits of executive coaching and leadership development?
Without a doubt, the management and leadership playbooks have been turned upside down by the pandemic – what worked yesterday, for the most part, is no longer relevant going forward. As a result, we all need help maneuvering and navigating this new territory and, in that regard, coaching is more important than ever.
We believe that the effectiveness of coaching can be measured in the accomplishment of specific objectives for the individual coaching engagement. The establishment of these objectives from the outset is critical knowing of course that over time, they may be modified as the needs of the client may evolve.
In our practice, our clients have reported that they have seen the following benefits from our coaching engagements: improved work performance, increased engagement and retention, improved communication skills, and the development of enhanced leadership skills. One of my recent CEO clients commented: “I engaged Jim as my coach early in my tenure as the new CEO of a privately held health company. Jim was a great source of advice, wisdom, and counsel as I navigated the complex waters of leadership as a first time CEO. He was instrumental in my growth.”
Additionally, we have helped executives develop more focus in their work by setting priorities. We have also worked with clients who want to hone their soft skills including style and presence as well as self-regulation, self-awareness, and empathy.
Regarding leadership development, this has been a passion of mine for more than 30 years, and my enthusiasm on this topic has led me to publish a book: Stifled, Where Good Leaders Go Wrong.
Data clearly indicate that managers and leaders are failing in large numbers and there are a number of reasons for this that are spelled out in the book. For example, a Gallup poll of more than one million US workers concluded that the number one reason people quit their job is a bad boss or supervisor. Another recent Gallup survey noted that 51% of the people who voluntarily leave their organisation do so to get away from their manager. And, the survey also noted that managers are “getting no support from their leadership above.” We are not doing an adequate job of managing the managers and developing our senior leaders.
Why should all leaders consider it?
It’s difficult for many CEOs and senior leaders as well as very challenging to rely solely on your staff for guidance and assistance grappling with company challenges. Sometimes we need to work through these challenges ourselves and that is where coaching becomes so valuable.
CEOs also need someone who will hold up the mirror and ask them powerful questions that make them think deeply. Coaching provides an outside perspective and can help leaders navigate blind spots and strengthen areas where growth is desirable.
As I noted in my book, Stifled, I have seen so many leaders and managers fail because they do not know what they do not know and feel that they must have all the answers. Coaching can help executives stay grounded and vulnerable and humble and more self-aware.
I believe strongly in the notions of continuous improvement and lifelong learning and here are additional critical ways that coaching can be valuable. Some of the greatest leaders and professional athletes, including those at the tops of their games, use personal coaches to make them even better.
One of the frequent comments I get from people who read my new book is that those that need to read it most are those probably the least likely to do so.
Arrogance, narcissism and naivete are the triple threats facing CEOs and senior leaders. We all need to look inward and seek to identify how we can do better at what we do.
I also find that the senior executives that I work with appreciate having a sounding board and someone they can use to reflect on actions at work. Those of us who have been CEOs know that it is lonely at the top and there is a need for input and feedback from peers and coaches who are not part of the board of directors.
Coaching can be particularly helpful for a CEO and senior leader, a manager/ leader with a significant blind spot, a newly hired or promoted corporate middle/senior manager to assist with onboarding, and a first-time manager. Our clients have noted that coaching helped them gain a competitive advantage, improved talent acquisition and development processes, and assisted with developing scaling skills for growth.
Do you have your own executive coach? What are the things you’ve achieved with them?
I have been so very fortunate to have worked for some fabulous leaders and worked in a company, Abbott Laboratories, where I was surrounded by world-class executives. Throughout my career, I have had five mentors who have helped me and coached me including a former professor from the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University. There is no question that much of my success is due to the advice and counsel and support that I received from my mentors during my career. My mentor from Emory helped me take my leadership skills to a new level.
Part of my coach training included having mentor coaches and I have had two of the very best in the profession mentor me. Perhaps the greatest growth from my coaching training came in the development of my listening skills and growth in asking powerful questions that help clients dig deep into the coaching conversation.
Tell us about Wetrich Group’s approach when it comes to coaching?
First and foremost, our approach is customised to the individual and the organisation. While we have systems and processes we follow, we do so modified to the individual. Much like a manager leading a team, we treat everyone differently according to her/his unique needs.
We also are very selective who we work with, which is very much an issue of quality vs quantity. And the focus on the total person and not just the business considerations confronting them. The client must be 100% committed to embarking on the journey and understand that good chemistry is important as is the notion of independence; we are not there to create dependency. We also are keen to work with those with a growth mindset and individuals who practice Shoshin, a beginner’s mind.
Depending upon the situation, we debrief with the participant’s manager or board and understand the road map for action and meet with the participant to establish rapport and discuss our processes. And we meet with other stakeholders as needed.
We believe strongly in assessment-based coaching, and we use the company’s tools such as 360 feedback as well as other questionnaires and interviews. We look at what feedback the client has received in the past. We summarise the data and debrief on the assessments and tools and create an overall cadence for the coaching engagement.
Individual client meetings have their own process and most importantly, the client has to set the agenda.
Why should more leaders consider working with you?
In the time it takes to do a morning workout, we can hop on a call to determine if you would be a good match for our coaching services. Hiring me as your professional coach means you are ready to get to the next level of your career or business success. Coaching is not a good investment for individuals unwilling to look at themselves in the mirror. Coaching with me works best for individuals who are willing to get outside of their comfort zones, challenge their mindsets and modify behaviours with specific goals in mind. Coaching can help CEOs and senior leaders get unstuck, achieve a breakthrough, and realise their potential.
Trends show that a record number of CEOs are not surviving over the long term… pressures at the top are brutal; having a coach with you on that journey may be the difference for you beating the odds.
What are your top tips on living a happy and fulfilled life – both at work and at home?
First and foremost, understanding who are you and what do you stand for is critical to becoming truly self-aware. What is important to you in your work and at home and in your life?
Create whatever balance you would like; this work-life integration is an intensely personal thing, and no one can decide it for you. I know lots of people whose passion is business and that is primarily the only thing they really focus on – and that is their decision.
That said, we should have hobbies and activities that we turn to when we are not working. I also strongly believe in the adage mens sana in corpore sano, which translates from Latin to “sound mind in a sound body.” We must take care of our body and mind. Mindfulness, or being fully present, is a critical state. Too often we are distracted, and we can easily become overwhelmed.
Many years ago, I developed ago a credo and it is a constant reminder to me of what I believe is important.
Whomever you serve, serve them with caring and respect.
Whatever you do, do it with passion and integrity. Whenever you reach, reach beyond your grasp.
Wherever you go, go as a leader.
Above all, have fun.
About Jim Wetrich:
Jim Wetrich has been working in the hospital, medical device and pharmaceutical industries for more than 40 years; 10 years with hospitals, 22 years with medical device and pharmaceutical companies and nearly 10 years as an entrepreneur with diverse experiences managing several businesses which include his coaching business. He’s worked across three continents and has travelled to nearly 50 countries.
In Jim’s last corporate position, he and his team took a business from $28m to over $200m in sales and grew EBITDA over 20X; creating more than $1bn in enterprise value, moving the company from #5 to #1 in the market over an 8-year period.
Over the course of his career, Jim has bought companies, built businesses, grown businesses, turned around businesses, led businesses, and created joint ventures and partnerships. He is also an adjunct instructor at the School of Business at Texas Wesleyan University where he teaches principles of marketing to undergraduate business students.
Jim earned his certificate in professional and executive coaching from the University of Texas at Dallas and was recently elected to the professional coach’s global board of the International Coaching Federation.
You may contact Jim Wetrich at https://jimwetrich.com/