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The Leading Edge of Executive Coaching

SIOP’s 2008 Leading Edge Consortium Fosters Dialogue and Discovery

By Stephany Schings, Communications Specialist

SIOP’s 4th Annual Leading Edge Consortium, held in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 17 and 18, attracted academics and practitioners from across and outside the United States to discuss the newest research and trends in the field of executive coaching.

More than 170 people attended the 2-day event, which took place at the Westin Cincinnati, across the street from bustling Fountain Square in the heart of downtown Cincinnati.  Eighteen speakers shared their experiences and research regarding executive coaching, bringing together leading edge practitioners, researchers, and business executives. 

The smaller size of the consortium compared to the SIOP annual conference allowed participants to interact in a more intimate setting. For the first time, the consortium offered Open Space meetings to allow more interaction and dialogue on topics important to attendees. An Open Space meeting is one way to enable all kinds of people, in any kind of organization, to create inspired meetings and events. Open Space represents a self-organizing process; participants construct the agenda and schedule during the meeting itself. Participation was also encouraged and made easy with an audience response system, which enabled attendees to take part in instant polling via radio frequency keypads. 

Former SIOP President Jeff McHenry chaired the event, which he said was an impressive one.

“The 2008 Leading Edge Consortium was a big success,” McHenry said. “The goal was to bring together people operating at the leading edge of executive coaching practice and research and provide a forum where they can learn from outstanding speakers and from one another.  We accomplished that, and the feedback on the event from participants was very positive.”

Engaging the Audience

Mariangela Battista, Lisa Boyce, Gina Hernez-Broome, Douglas McKenna and Anna Marie Valerio chaired the event, each working on one of three topics: the psychology, impact, and best practices in coaching.

Doug McKenna and Sandra Davis kicked the presentations off with a rousing discussion on the psychology of coaching. Their thoughts on how individual coaches’ psychology shapes their coaching practices lead into an interactive session with small group discussions.

“We had many thought-provoking, interesting speakers and presenters,” McHenry added. “For me personally, the opening session on the psychology of coaching by Doug McKenna and Sandra Davis, and the Friday keynote by David Peterson on good versus great coaching were particularly interesting – they transformed much of my thinking about how and why coaching is effective and what it takes to be a great coach.”

Dr. Stanford Golden, who attended his first Leading Edge Consortium this year, also enjoyed Davis and McKenna’s presentation on the psychology of coaching.

“The first session was best,” Golden said. “It configured information in a way that was impactful and new to me.”

Following presentations on the effectiveness, ethics, and practice of coaching, David Peterson gave a keynote address on “Five Big Questions on the Practice and Profession of Coaching,” though he concluded that those questions lead him to one all-encompassing question of what makes a great coach and why it is so difficult to be one. Closing keynote speaker Bob Lee rounded out the final day of the consortium with a discussion on how to coach leaders.

Room for Discussion

The Open Space meeting on Saturday proved to be one of the most popular aspects of the consortium, receiving a great deal of positive feedback from participants.

“Perhaps the most memorable part of the event for most participants will be the Open Space time Saturday morning,” McHenry added. “We gave conference participants the opportunity to identify 20 topics that they wanted to talk about in-depth with others at the consortium interested in those topics. Then we spent more than 2 hours in open space discussion groups.”

Topics ranged from competency and experience requirements for executive coaches to how to set up a coaching program inside an organization to how to measure coaching effectiveness—and participants were able to “vote with their feet,” as Doug McKenna put it, by moving to discussions they felt were most interesting.

McHenry said the open space meetings were very popular with attendees for the purpose of both learning as well as getting to know one another.

“Participants loved the Open Space time,” he said. “There was tremendous energy in the room, there were lots of spirited discussions, and it allowed participants to get to know one another better and expand their networks. Participants were particularly enthused about the open space time.”

Marnie Crawford, first-time attendee to the consortium, said she attended the event because it was relevant to her areas of practice, but also to network with others who do similar work as she does. Crawford said her overall impression of the open space meeting and the consortium as a whole was positive.

“It was good to spend time focused on this subject with others who were interested in it,” she added. “The Open Space meeting and other opportunities to talk with attendees was my favorite part. It allowed me to discuss common and different experiences, knowledge, etc. with others. “

A  Night on the Town

After receptions Thursday and Friday night and a full day of presentations Friday, attendees headed off for the popular topical dinners for a welcomed taste of Cincinnati cuisine. This year’s dinners were held at eight area restaurants within blocks of Fountain Square. The topical dinners allowed attendees to get a glimpse of Cincinnati nightlight while conversing with other consortium attendees about the day’s topics.

Looking Ahead to Next Year

As the conference came to a close, SIOP Past President Lois Tetrick announced the theme of the 2009 Leading Edge Consortium will be “The Leading Edge of Selection and Assessment in a Global Setting.”

Tetrick will preside over next year’s Leading Edge Consortium, which will take place October 16 and 17 in Denver, Colorado. Focusing on selection and assessment, this will be yet another great meeting you do not want to miss.  It is never too early to mark your calendars for this wonderful event!

See You Next Year!

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Bring the Leading Edge Home

If you missed this year’s consortium, you can still experience the engaging sessions via DVD, which will contain all presentations held throughout the meeting.  DVDs are currently available for pre-order.  You can purchase your 2008 Consortium DVD online or by calling the SIOP Administrative Office at 419-353-0032.

In addition, DVDs are still available for previous-year consortia. These can also be purchased online or by calling the SIOP Administrative Office.  The 2005 Consortium DVD focuses on “Leadership at the Top:  The Selection, Globalization and Ethics of Executive Talent,”  the 2006 Consortium DVD focuses on “Talent Attraction, Development, and Retention: The Leading Edge,” and the 2007 Consortium DVD focuses on “Enabling Innovation in Organizations: The Leading Edge.”