Open New Doors

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Did You Know? Coaching can create clarity in the midst of chaos and open doors you may not have known existed. If you are serious about changing the way you work and are willing to undertake the effort to make it happen, I may be the coach for you. I work with clients individually and groups in a number of different areas:

Executive Leadership Coaching

Half of leadership is observation. Half is doing something about what you observe. All of it is about being human. Leaders face challenges that often cannot be discussed with people in their organization. An external coach can help explore challenging and sensitive issues in a neutral environment. Coaching can assist with transition to new leadership roles, completion of roles, recovery from mistakes, working with difficult staff members, planning major changes, dealing with the stress of changes, pacing leadership work at a rate the organization can absorb, and managing personal life balance.

“Dollar-for-dollar, my work with Sam is the highest value professional development I’ve ever done. It’s incredibly useful to me.” – Eric Svaren, Coach and Consultant

Supervising and Mentoring Other Professional Coaches

There is always room for improvement. As coaches, we are regularly immersed in the world of our clients. We are called to be fully present and connected in profound ways so that we can evoke questions in ourselves and in our clients that have previously crouched beneath the surface activities of their/our lives. Yet this essential relational space makes us vulnerable. Whether we are new to coaching or have been at it for a very long time, it is utterly natural to, in a sense, fall asleep to the effects of these connections, to the intentional practice of being present. In the process, we become less aware of our own practice and, while acting instinctively is very often a good thing, over time we develop unconscious patterns that may or may not be right for our current client. As a professionally-trained coaching supervisor, I work with experienced certified coaches to renew their skills, adjust relationships, and help them be the very best they can be for their clients.

“[Sam has the] courage for doing what I would not have considered.” – Boeing division president

Organization Change Management

What do you do if a whole company, organization, or department needs to change? Maybe it’s reorganization, merger, or simply facing a situation that isn’t working anymore. I’ve teamed with management to move large or small organizations forward slowly and surely by using proven coaching techniques and meeting designs to improve communication and buy-in.

Team Building, Group Coaching, Facilitation

We all depend on others to get work done. In every work setting there is some chain or network of relationships that supports or impedes progress. I am regarded as an expert in helping clients understand these connections and in fostering growth among the people involved. This isn’t touchy feely stuff that can be easily dismissed; in fact, it can be the most important and rewarding work of all.

If you or someone you know is interested in coaching, please contact me via email or call (425) 787-0846.

Being Human

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Me and my colleague Gilles Roy in France

I have been consulting and coaching in aerospace, health care, education and government since 1977. I hold an MBA and am a Master Certified Coach (International Coaching Federation). My background and approaches are eclectic, drawing from solid experience in a variety of organizations, a rich educational background and a life long commitment to learning. I have worked as an independent coach and consultant for over 10 years.  I am best used with leaders who want to dive below the surface of quick answers in order to look at patterns, relationships and cultural habits that dampen organization effectiveness. Although I have taught many workshops over the years (and continue to do so), my interest now is sustained coaching relationships in which I and my clients know and trust each other enough to do real work. I am is regarded as skillful, insightful and authentic. My observations through all this experience are as such:

Part of leadership is about observation. I’m amazed at how little leaders know about their own organizations. We must get better at seeing – just as the old naturalists learned to see the world with fresh eyes every time they went walking. A big part of my work focuses on helping people see and hear what is happening. That’s why I’ve included my own works of poetry and photography in this site. I know it might not seem business like, but I can tell you many stories about how listening to the subtle nuance of communication has helped increase effectiveness. Similarly, I have learned to look at situations with my camera in hand and ask, “What wants to be seen here?” In our organizations, I believe people are crying to be seen, to be heard, to be involved in effective ways. That’s what I want to help clients do.”

Part of leadership is about doing something. According to Ronald Heifetz, at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the purpose of leadership is to mobilize people to collectively affect positive change on crucial and often complex issues.

Yet, getting from ideas to action is often a breakdown point for leaders. I’m interested in the chain of relationships among people that allows work to get done. Getting things done requires having the right conversation at the right time, knowing how to make effective requests, knowing how to keep work going once it starts and knowing how to gather in the results of effort – not just the bottom line, but for each person who contributes in their particular way. It also involves letting go of methods and ideas that no longer serve.

All of it is about being human. There are a lot of efforts these days to find some common ground on which communities and organizations can be built and sustained. We spend countless dollars and euros and pesos dealing with the effects of not having common ground, but finding it is really quite simple. The fact is we are all human. What a concept! That is our common ground and once we figure that out, we can get on with addressing the enormous challenges we have in communities and organizations across this tiny globe. This business of being human crosses all the boundaries of communities, countries, and organizations. Doctors, farmers, field workers, teachers, politicians, CEO’s – underneath all our situations and titles, we’re pretty much the same. Let’s get on with important work that honors all human beings.

If you are committed and ready to do something to advance your organization, give me a call at (425) 787-0846 and we can talk about how I can help you achieve your goals.

Polishing the Rock: Refining the Coach Towards Mastery – Forever

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Sam has the distinguished opportunity to present as a breakout session speaker during the 2014 International Coach Federation (ICF) Midwest Regional and Global Conference in Cleveland, Ohio on June 19-21.  The theme for the conference is “Coaching ROCKS!” 

Rocks take a long time to polish. In fact, when the rock is in nature, the polishing never ceases, but only occurs under the right conditions. This workshop introduces the emerging refinement process for coaches called “Coaching Supervision”.  We will explore what this process is, why it is necessary and sample some of the ways coaches can refine themselves and their practices in service of their clients. A key part of refinement involves “Reflective Practice”, and each participant will practice reflecting on themselves.  Imagine a rock in a river: after thousands of years it knows itself and how it works really well.

Participants will:

  • Understand the nature and purpose of coaching supervision
  • Learn some of the characteristics of well-refined rocks (coaches)
  • Sample a few models of coaching supervision, including reflective practice
  • Reflect upon at least one of their own coaching engagements while using powerful supervision methods
  • Begin their endless journey of coaching refinement, whether they are currently ACC’s, PCC’s or MCC’s

If you are interested in attending the conference and/or Sam’s session, please visit the ICF Conference websiteThis session is 1.5 Core Competency CCE Units.

Considering Coaching

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For some people, the choice to work with a coach is the result of a long process of research, decision and then indecision, and more research.  Some of the indicators that you might be a good candidate for coaching include:

  • You are concerned about your effectiveness.
  • You just entered a new role.
  • You’re about to leave a role.
  • Being a leader isn’t fun any more.
  • You’re feeling out of control.
  • You’re working harder and getting fewer results.
  • The people around you are not responding as you would like them to.

Once you determine that a coach is part of your way forward, you then have to find the “right” person to help you achieve your goals.  Before you schedule a meeting with a potential coach, take some time to ponder the following questions.  The answers will help to lead the discussion when talking with him or her about a possible coaching relationship.

  1. If you only answer three questions, make it these:
    • What keeps you awake at night
    • What needs to be discussed in your organization and yet is never mentioned?
    • Why do you seek coaching now?
  2. If you want to start working now, try these:
    • What is your role: what is it REALLY, regardless of title and job description? There could easily be a difference.
    • Your history in that and previous roles: what has worked, what has been a challenge? Understanding lessons from the past guides current exploration.
    • Your surroundings: what’s going on around you, why it is changing? Your work always exists in a context.
    • Other players: Who is around you? What is your relationship? What do you think of their work? None of us achieves our objectives alone.
    • The future: What do you see? What do you want? How will you get there? We start from where you are, but coaching is about facilitating the future.
    • Balance: What will it take for you to be sound in body, mind and spirit so you can do your best?
  3. And for some serious reflection before the meeting:
    • Where are you finding that stakeholders have to adjust their plans, values, relationships or ways of working to make progress?
    • Where are stresses to quickly solve problems at odds with the problem’s complexity?
    • Where could you hand over work (instead of controlling it directly) to those individuals affected by the problem so they could fully engage the issue?
    • Where might a shift in authority be needed to achieve a goal?
    • What shifts in perspective might YOU need in order to get the job done?
    • Where are there gaps between aspirations and the reality of the situation?
    • Where is strong authority needed to keep the issue from overwhelming the resilience of the group affected?

    If these questions resonate with you and you want to schedule a time to talk with me, please reach out by phone (425) 787-0846 or email me at