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Executive

Coaching for Law


Enforcement
By STEVE GLADIS, Ph.D., and
SUZI POMERANTZ, MT, MCC

© Photos.com

L
aw enforcement ex- While the law enforcement ONE CHIEF’S DILEMMA
ecutives experience the profession periodically employs The chief of a police depart-
stress of a changing consultants, a systematic, active ment with approximately 500
world with demands for coun- use of executive coaches has sworn officers is well educated
terterrorism, community- been minimal.1 The wave of and also well respected by his
oriented policing, security, and baby boomers exiting from law peers inside the agency and
a host of additional evolving enforcement will thrust many community residents.2 His
issues. At the same time, they individuals into leadership posi- county police department has
face the pressure of decreasing tions without giving them the the sophistication (technology,
tax bases, spiraling costs, and benefit of mentoring as agencies training, and organization)
other emerging budget con- will have to cope with the loss similar to those in most large
cerns. When private corpora- of highly experienced person- cities. The chief, other agency
tions face similar challenges, nel. Executive coaching can leaders, and critical personnel
they often turn to executive meet the unique needs of law are eligible to retire. The coun-
coaches and consultants for enforcement leadership in such ty’s proximity to a competitive
guidance. critical times. employment market of other

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federal, state, and local law that people often might not During the conversation, the
enforcement departments express the real reason for leav- chief learned that this valued
concerned him regarding his ing a department in formal exit officer likely would have re-
own recruitment, retention, interviews (currently used by mained in the department if an-
and succession planning (R-R- this department and many oth- other option had been available.
S), so he contacted Dr. Steve ers); therefore, personal contact The chief admitted that had he
Gladis, an executive coach. by the chief might uncover any known these facts at the time,
The chief, a progressive county unwritten retention issues. At he would have tried anything to
administrator (the chief’s the same time, such interview- retain such a star employee.
supervisor), and Dr. Gladis ees were carefully selected as
worked together to determine potential rehires. DEFINITION
the vision of the department in One interview with a highly Coaching is a $1 billion
a year if it operated optimally regarded officer who left the industry, second in growth
and focused on R-R-S. This department for advancement only to information technol-
group determined the chief’s revealed that he actually had ogy worldwide. In fact, a recent
strengths and challenges to resigned because he was not survey revealed that coaching
optimize them in setting goals selected for a higher position contributes $1.5 billion annually
and objectives, which also he temporarily had filled for 6 to the global economy.3 Con-
included those of his depart- months. He recounted to the sulting differs from executive
ment. For example, the chief chief that he was told, based on coachingconsultants enter
chose to have preliminary R-R- the position description guide- organizations as experts to solve
S reports completed by certain lines, that he was not qualified, a specific problem. They have a
dates and required the drafts even though he had operated particular area of expertise, such
from his staff. Thus, the chief well in that position and, in fact, as financial or strategic planning
was the client for the engage- had to train his replacement. or personnel development.
ment, but he did not personally
execute every step himself.
While he could have completed
this entire project on his own,
he readily admits that having an
executive coach helped acceler-
ate its accomplishment.
However, the chief took
complete responsibility for the
plan and actively participated in
its execution. For example, one
task called for follow-up con-
tact with key officers who had
quit the department 6 months or
longer ago to find out why they Dr. Steve Gladis, a former Ms. Pomerantz is a master
actually left and to ask them FBI agent, is president of an certified coach and heads
executive development firm a leadership coaching and
if they wanted to return to the and an executive coach. executive development firm.
department. It was hypothesized

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On the other hand, although no legally binding privilege as coaches are open to the next
executive coaches may have a in law and medical professions. interview. Usually, clients and
specialty area, they ask probing coaches quickly determine
questions, rather than offer STEPS OF whether an immediate sense of
expert judgment, and use a THE PROCESS chemistry exists between them
systematic methodology (a five- The coaching process begins based on the psychological
step process) to lead organiza- when clients realize they want phenomenon known as “thin
tions. Thus, the answers emerge help getting to the next level, slicing.”6 During this interview,
from the executive or team solving an issue, or modifying a coaches ask a series of ques-
coached, not from the coach. behavior that might be blocking tions centered around what
The executive coach drives this their pursuit of success. Often, executives hope to gain from
solution process through pre- the organization’s human re- coaching, what they perceive
coaching, self-discovery and sources department or corporate it to be, how it works, and
awareness, goal setting and ac- board will not only initiate the whether they are committed to
process but also pay for it.


countability, action learning and the entire process. If both meet-
execution, and evaluation and ings go well, coaches typically
revision.4 sign a 6-month contract with the
Executive coaches often client and company.
resemble psychologists be-
cause they ask many questions …coaching… Step 2: Self-Discovery
but give few specific solutions. looks more at the and Awareness
However, coaches are different present and future The second step begins with
from psychologists, and execu- than the past. an initial session, which often


tive coaching and counseling lasts 2 hours. The coach and
should not be confused. Coun- client discuss what coaching is
seling focuses on the past and and how it differs from consult-
root causes of problems present- ing and counseling. Coaches
ed by patients. Psychologists Step 1: Precoaching discuss several other factors.
and psychiatrists have legally This first step consists of • Coaching takes time,
mandated licenses and confi- precoaching interviews, often energy, and commitment
dentiality rights and a theoreti- with the CEO or human re- from the client to work.
cal research basis many years sources department, to identify • The coach-client relationship
old.5 On the other hand, coach- the client. At this meeting, the is confidential except where
ing, which quickly has become coach listens carefully to rea- the law dictates otherwise.
a powerhouse in the boardroom sons why the company wants
and among leading executives, coaching for the executive. • The ebb and flow of energy
looks more at the present and Most experienced coaches will in coaching potentially can
future than the past. It is action refuse to assist organizations decrease in the first few
oriented and seeks accountabil- that use coaching as a last-ditch months as the work sets
ity and effectiveness. A strong solution because the process is in and the initial burst of
bond of confidentiality exists about moving forward, rather excitement wanes.
between the coach and client than pretermination. • Coaches help executives
(the primary relationship in ex- If the organization wants identify their “inner voices”
ecutive coaching), but there is the best for the client executive, that want to keep the safer,

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more familiar status quo. researched, reliable, and data communicator this year” might
Identifying these inhibit- driven. They can produce prodi- be “Internal communications:
ing tendencies early in the gious reports and often propose After 3 months of improved
coaching process helps specific remedies for the client. internal communications with
both clients and coaches Other 360-degree evaluations my direct reports, I will be
recognize them. are more qualitative 360-degree able to articulate in writing the
• Coaches also discuss goals, interviews asking colleagues to strengths and challenges for
time frames, intended assess the strengths and chal- each person reporting to me.”
results, reporting, assign- lenges of the client. External communications
ments, readings, personal © Photos.com objectives might include attend-
likes and dislikes, and issues ing outside events and belong-
related to preparing the ing to industry and community
relationship for success. boards to increase outreach.
During the next part of this Another such goal might focus
step, which lasts for several on constituent communications.
weeks, various instruments are With each of these communica-
used as assessments for insight. tions subgoals, a discussion will
For example, coaches might ask reveal the potential business
clients to use the balance wheel, impact of each objective if ac-
which reviews areas they do or complished during the 6-month
do not feel content in their lives; coaching engagement.
examine the strengths-finder Following interviews with
indicator;7 write a short auto- Step 3: Goal Setting and clients and a comparison of cli-
biography of themselves; and Accountability ents’ and stakeholders’ observa-
complete several other exercises The common wisdom about tions, the goal-setting process
to provide data for the coaching goal setting is that people get begins. Primarily, coaches ask
engagement. what they aim for. According clients to examine their pro-
Finally, if the client agrees, to most research, 90 percent of posed goals and objectives with
some coaches offer the op- laboratory and field studies that stakeholders who may have
tion of a 360-degree review.8 involved specific, articulated, participated in the 360-degree
Frequently, the CEO, human and demanding goals resulted in evaluation or informal inter-
resources personnel, and client better performance than easy or views. Sharing goals and spe-
agree up front on what behav- no goals.9 Typically, behavioral cific objectives with stakehold-
ioral aspects they want covered objectives consist of the action ers before setting out to achieve
in the coaching. This review, to take, standard of perfor- them accomplishes several
which might be helpful, is un- mance, timing of the action, and worthwhile purposes. First, cli-
necessary at this point. Rather, finally, results reporting (e.g., ents let stakeholders know that
it could be relevant later in the being accountable for actions). they appreciate their input and
process, depending on what For example, a behavioral value their opinions. Second,
results the client and sponsor objective for improving inter- it places pressure on clients to
desire as the relationship grows. nal relations within a company live up to publicly stated goals.
Several instruments used as part of the overall goal “to And, finally, clients gain corpo-
in these reviews are well become a more effective rate and moral support to reach

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the goal. When supervisors and Step 5: Evaluation is difficult, especially in high
peers know a person is work- and Revision achievers who believe their
ing extra hard to improve, they How will clients know success results from certain
want to support those efforts— success when they see it? If patterns of behavior (bullying,
especially if, early on, they had coaches have done their job anger, tantrums), instead of in
a hand in providing input to the well and clients have cooper- spite of them.11 Such behavior
process. ated along the journey, clients might get short-term results but,
will have a few successes and ultimately, become incredible
Step 4: Action Learning even some breakthrough mo- derailers because such leaders
and Execution ments. Sometimes, clients will affect greater numbers of people
Action learning10 says that look at something clearly for in the organization.12 Thus,
people can learn better if they the first time in years. When this what might have worked before
do so when they 1) need the happens, coaches typically con- becomes inoperative later. Suc-
information, 2) learn it with the gratulate them to celebrate such cessful people become almost
help of others, and 3) have ef- breakthrough “aha” moments superstitious about behavior


fective questions drive the pro- (if it worked then, it will work
cess. Action research (reading, now). These leaders adapt
interviewing others, consulting the same sort of rituals every
with experts) couples with the time they face a new issue.
execution phase, where coaches …various Breaking this cycle may seem
work clients through their stra- instruments minor at first, but the long-term
tegic plan toward their goals. In are used as results are substantial both to
this step, clients research issues assessments executives and their organiza-
and teach themselves in the for insight. tions. Therefore, even subtle


process. changes in highly influential
Executing the plan, goals, people mean major changes in
and objectives (on a daily basis organizations.
for 3 to 6 months) is the core of A powerful evaluation tool
coaching. This phase is neither and recognize their clients’ hard is to simply ask stakehold-
glamorous nor easy. There are work. Leaders will remember ers, “Has [the client] made
no immediate results nor is the moment they discover why, any progress on goal 1, which
it as dramatic as the discov- for example, a particular advi- was to more clearly communi-
ery or goal-setting phase. The sory board member clashes so cate a vision on this project to
execution phase is slower and often with others, or how they employees?” Alternately, this
more cumulative. However, can overcome procrastination at question can be open-ended,
over time, this plan pays off in work, curb a temper outburst, “Describe just what [the client]
large, breakthrough dividends, find time to work on a strategic did to communicate her vision
so clients routinely report on plan, take a stand on innovation, to employees….”
their progress toward goals and or even decide when to move Providing a numeric scale
objectives. Also, during this on. Such breakthrough moments gives the evaluation a degree of
phase, clients must get informa- are the highlights of the coach- quantitative measure to a some-
tion from stakeholders about the ing process. what qualitative evaluation. Us-
progress they observe clients Making even a small but ing this technique, coaches can
making. significant change in any person provide clients with a specific

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indicator about how far they executives who lead the heroes authors’ contact with the Police Executive
have come. of law enforcement? Research Forum reinforced this finding.
2
One of the authors served as the
At the point in the coaching While it probably occurs executive coach for this chief. While the
process when either the coach in an ad hoc manner across the chief gave his permission to cite the coach-
or client or both sense that the country, a more concerted effort ing work as an example to instruct other
client is at an effective stopping to implement executive coach- departments, the authors have chosen not
point, clients receive a final re- ing should take place in major to use his name nor identify his depart-
ment because of the original confidential-
port. Coaches use this occasion law enforcement training and ity agreement pledged to him as a client.
to carefully recount the journey development institutions. It is Further, the chief has read and approved
and then succinctly review all a powerful, cost-effective way this article prior to publication.
3
of the steps they have taken to provide support for leaders, International Coach Federation,
“Global Coaching Study,” February 5,
together, from the precoach- leverage their strengths, and
2007; retrieved from http://www.coachfed-
ing meeting to self-discovery maximize their engagement for eration.org/ICF.
and awareness, goal setting and the benefit of the entire depart- 4
Richard Gauthier and David Giber,
accountability, action learning ment or force. The return on “Coaching Business Leaders,” in Coaching
and executing, and evaluation f Leadership, ed. Marshall Goldsmith
for
and Laurence Lyons (San Francisco, CA :
and revision. This review has a Pfieffer, 2006), 116.
remarkable effect; it allows cli- 5
Lynn Grodzki and Wendy Allen, The
ents to recall every major twist, Business and Practice of Coaching (New
turn, bump, and straightway York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2005), 24-42.
6
encountered from start to finish. Malcom Gladwell, Blink: The Power
Acknowledgement and appreci- of Thinking Without Thinking (New York,
NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2005).
ation, or recognition of results, 7
Marcus Buckingham and Daniel Clif-
are important to the completion ton, Now, Discover Your Strengths (New
of the process. York, NY: The Free Press, 2001).
8
This review combines various
CONCLUSION perspectives by using feedback from
Coaching can meet the © Photos.com such sources as peers, subordinates, and
unique needs of law enforce- stakeholders.
ment by providing a framework, value for executive coaching 9
G. Lathem and Edwin Locke, “Build-
has not been measured specifi- ing A Practically Useful Theory of Goal
methodology, and system- Setting and Task Motivation,” American
atic technology for furnishing cally for law enforcement, but Psychologist 57, no. 9 (2002): 705-717.
much-needed support for lead- corporate leaders document a 10
R.W. Revans, ABC of Action Learn-
ers facing daunting challenges. predictable 545 percent return ing (London, England: Lemos and Crane,
In law enforcement, executives on investment for executive 1998).
11
coaching.13 Imagine the impact Marshall Goldsmith, “Helping Suc-
and key leaders face intense cessful People Get Even Better,” Business
demands, stressful situations, on law enforcement if execu- Strategy Review 14 (March 2003): 9-16.
accountability, and isolation. tives increased their effective- 12
David Dotlich and Peter Cairo, Why
Where do law enforcement ness by nearly 5.5 times. CEOs Fail (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-
leaders find a sounding board Bass, 2003).
13
Joy McGovern, et al, “Maximizing
and strategy partner? Where do Endnotes
the Impact of Executive Coaching: Behav-
they go to confide in a trusted 1
An extensive review of the literature ioral Change, Organizational Outcomes,
advisor outside the politics of revealed little information linking law and Return on Investment,” The Manches-
their field? Who supports the enforcement and executive coaching. The ter Review 6, no. 1 (2001).

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