Orientation to Leadership Coaching

Phase 1: Orientation



Welcome to Phase 1 of SOLID Leadership Coaching. This article contains critical information that will help you have a highly successful engagement with SOLIDleaders, LLC. Your SOLID coach will use this orientation as a roadmap for coaching you. He or she will refer to it from time to time throughout the engagement, so it will provide the most value if you read it as soon as possible.

Role Definitions

There are six key roles discussed throughout this article. They are:

Leader: The person receiving the leadership coaching—you!

Sponsor: The person in your organization who is championing this engagement for you.

Stakeholder: A superior, peer, indirect peer, and/or direct report who has regular interactions with Leader and can provide feedback regarding progress.

SOLID Behavioral Coach: A certified leadership coach trained in the methodologies addressed by this article. For our purposes, we will call this person your SOLID coach. A behavioral coach is what most people think of when hiring a leadership coach. Such coaches are skilled in the behavioral sciences, and help leaders modify their behavior to improve performance.

SOLID Functional Coach: You may have access to a second coach who is a subject matter expert with industry experience similar to yours. They may also have held similar roles, at the same or greater levels of authority, in organizations of similar size. Such coaches can provide you with the most practical experiential advice on your functional job. They act more as advisors or personal consultants than a traditional behavioral coach. At SOLID, we have many coaches of this type on our team. Most of them have been SOLID clients, and are now at a point in their career where they want to give back and help raise up the next generation of leaders for a greater purpose.

SOLID Assessment Coach: You may have an assessment coach who specializes in testing and assessment, administers and debriefs you on your electronic assessments, conducts the 360-degree interviews, and writes and debriefs you on your report. They may even help design your Leadership Development Plan.

If you have any questions, please ask your SOLID coach.

SOLID’s Core Values

SOLID delivers principle-centered coaching based on our five core values, forming the acronym SOLID. These principles are:

  • SOLID Service: To Serve.
  • SOLID Organization: To Order.
  • SOLID Leadership: To Lead.
  • SOLID Integrity: To Integrate.
  • SOLID Design: To Design.
Serve Order Lead Integrate Design

To Serve

“It is better to serve than be served” is the motto of all great servant-leaders. The Principle of SOLID Service manifests itself in the form of leaders being altruistic and unafraid of putting others’ needs ahead of their own. Your SOLID coach will practice this principle and model servant leadership.

Wikipedia defines it this way: “Servant leadership is both a leadership philosophy and set of leadership practices. Traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the ‘top of the pyramid.’ By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.” You can count on your coach to be passionate about client service, and to go out of his or her way to serve you.

To Order

“Making order out of chaos” is one of a leader’s greatest responsibilities. Things are constantly going from a state of order to disorder, and great leaders are adept at turning the tide and structuring systems and people for success. The Principle of SOLID Organization counteracts entropy, the Second Law of Thermodynamics. As organizations and people grow, that change needs to be managed, or things fall apart. The fields of Organization Development and Organization Design (OD) are the sciences of planned change—how to take a person, group or organization from one level of functional effectiveness to the next. Your SOLID coach will be experienced in OD, implement our proven OD-based coaching process, and advise you on how to bring order to the chaos that often accompanies difficult leadership roles.

To Lead

Leaders must also develop new leaders to be truly successful. The Principle of SOLID Leadership is about multiplying yourself for increased leverage. Your coach will be a strong leader, one who has been successful in growing other leaders. He or she can guide you through the SOLID mentoring methodology to help you raise others up to realize their full potential. You will see your coach model this behavior as they lead you on this journey—one we hope will be a transformational leadership development experience like no other. We are not satisfied with just helping you take your leadership to the next level; we want you to catch the vision of taking other high-potential emerging leaders with you on your journey to become the best leader you can be, raising them up so they can help others do the same.

To Design

Leaders must think and act strategically, and to be a great leader, it is necessary to be a great designer of systems and strategy. Great leaders employ the Principle of SOLID Design in everything they do, and actively drive planning and execution of their intentional design. The founders of SOLID believe there is an intelligent design behind the universe, and extrapolate that to leaders, believing there needs to be an intelligent design behind all a leader does. Great leaders are great designers. Your coach will help you with an effective design for your long-term success.

Three Distinct Differentiators of SOLID Leadership Coaching

SOLID’s leadership coaching process was designed in the mid-’80s as SOLID pioneered the concept of delivering one-on-one coaching to high-potential leaders. SOLID’s unique coaching system is distinct in three key ways:

  1. Flexible Coaching System
    • Regarding the system, there is a four-phase process that is easily defined and followed, and which consistently yields transformational results. It has been proven with well over 1,000 engagements, so Leader can have greater trust from the onset of coaching, yielding more positive results in shorter periods of time.
    • Regarding being flexible, SOLID tailors each engagement to the individual client’s needs. No two engagements are ever the same, because no two leaders are the same. Each leader has different needs, learns in different ways, and requires a flexible approach to have an optimal engagement.
  2. Data-Driven Social Proof
    • Regarding being data-driven, we use an assessment process that provides objective data and
      a mini-survey process that monitors progress throughout the engagement
    • Regarding social proof, we use a stakeholder-centered coaching process that can involve any number of key stakeholders. From the very beginning, SOLID helps Leader design a coaching engagement that can involve stakeholders. The following question is asked: “Who should be involved in helping you achieve your goals?” The answer may include the boss, HR, subordinates, peers, and/or superiors. Involving stakeholders produces social proof that there have been significant improvements.
  3. Replication and Multiplication
    • Regarding replication, SOLID helps Leader learn effective coaching methods to grow others.
    • Regarding multiplication, SOLID coaches Leader to coach his or her direct reports.

Four Phases of Leadership Coaching

SOLID uses a four-phase system to accelerate Leader’s performance:

Phase Name Objective Duration
1 Orientation Build trust Weeks 1–4
2 Assessment Assess Leader’s top strengths and challenges Weeks 3–6
3 Goals Design a comprehensive Leadership Development Plan (LDP) Weeks 4–8
4 Coaching Drive results through accountability in following the LDP Months 2–12


Use this div to take notes on the introduction to coaching for discussion with your coach.

Phase 1


During the first month of coaching, the SOLID coach’s main objective is to build a high-trust relationship between Leader and Coach. The SOLID coach accomplishes this by providing an effective orientation to the coaching process. This is the primary agenda of the early coaching sessions. Phase 1 may be summarized as follows:

  • Objective: Build trust
  • Agenda: Orient Leader to the coaching process
  • Deliverable: Signed SOLID Coach/Leader Boundaries Agreement*
  • Timeline: During the first one to four weeks of coaching

Five Qualities of a Coachable Leader

The first order of business is to have a discussion with your coach around the subject of “coachability.” There are five qualities we believe are necessary for you to be considered a coachable leader.

Willingness to Change

Are you willing to change things you do currently that do not work as well as you would like? Are you willing to be vulnerable, try new things, and perhaps rethink deeply held beliefs? Great leaders are always willing to change and adapt to become more effective. Sometimes, when the answer is “I am not sure,” we ask the question, “Are you willing to become willing to change if enough evidence is presented to make a strong case for it?” We find that our leaders become much more willing to change once they get objective feedback in Phase 2: Assessment.

Practical Application: You will be getting feedback, some of which may be hard to hear. There may be areas you thought were strengths that are being overused, and now represent areas in need of improvement. Some behaviors that were strengths may have become weaknesses as you have moved up in the organization. You need to consider all feedback and coaching with an open mind if you are going to continue to scale successfully.

Desire to Change

Do you have a desire to make changes that may make you uncomfortable? Great leaders are willing to suffer personal discomfort for the good of those they lead. Sometimes, personal comfort can get in the way of a leader’s development. The best way to increase your desire to change is to look at the rewards. Ask yourself, “If I make changes in my leadership style and become more effective, what will the payoff be?” Reflecting on this future state can dramatically increase a leader’s desire to change.

Practical Application: You need to put in several hours per month of work outside of your coaching sessions, and you need to prioritize coaching to make sure it gets scheduled and occurs despite how busy you may be.

Courage to Change

Great leaders regularly get themselves and others out of their comfort zone. It takes courage to be uncomfortable and to try new things. Sometimes, we need to accept the way things are. At other times, we need to courageously challenge the status quo. It requires wisdom to know what to change, and when. Your SOLID coach is here to guide you through determining what you should try to change, as well as what you may just need to accept about yourself, others, or your circumstances.

Practical Application: You will involve stakeholders and ask them for constructive feedback at regular intervals during your coaching. When receiving the feedback, you will avoid giving context or making excuses, and simply thank them for the feedback, even if you disagree with it.

Humility to Change

It takes a certain degree of humility to let it be known that you have areas in which to improve. Humility is the mark of a great leader, and SOLID coaching is designed to help you improve in this area through an objective look at your strengths and challenges. By engaging in coaching, and acknowledging developmental opportunities to certain stakeholders, a certain humility naturally occurs. Great leaders do not let their ego get in the way of the change process.

Practical Application: Sharing your Leadership Development Plan with your boss or other stakeholders is humbling. Doing so builds character, models positive behavior for others, and sets the stage for others to open up about their developmental challenges.

Discipline to Change

Having the discipline to implement and hone more effective behaviors/habits/processes is a mark of a great leader. Making leadership change stick is about creating more effective habits and processes, which requires disciplined execution of your action plans and consistent follow-up with stakeholders.

Practical Application: You will be asked to check in with your key stakeholder(s) once per month, keep a daily/weekly checklist, and follow through on actions you commit to with your coach.

Review Coaching Agreement

The second order of business is to review seven key stipulations of the Coaching Agreement. They are:

  1. Frequency: How often will we meet?
  2. In-Person vs. Phone/Video: What combination of in-person and phone and/or video coaching?
  3. Duration: How long is the engagement?
  4. Location: When and how will we meet?
  5. Assessment: What kind of assessment is included in this engagement?
  6. Measurement: How will we measure progress?
  7. Sponsor: Who is Sponsor of this engagement?

Of special importance is number seven, pertaining to the engagement’s Sponsor.

Privately Paid Vs. Corporately Paid Engagements

We differentiate between privately paid and corporately paid engagements. A “Private Pay” engagement is one in which Leader is funding the engagement. Most of our leadership coaching is “Corporate Pay.” When this is the case, Sponsor is generally the CEO or an executive at the company. Sometimes it is the board of directors. When the company pays, the SOLID coach is an agent of the company, working on behalf of Sponsor, and needs to act in the best interest of the company.

Why Sponsorship Matters

Sponsorship matters for two key reasons. Firstly, it is who we have been hired by, and therefore are accountable to for our performance. Secondly, we have a fiduciary responsibility to maintain ethical boundaries. The most common example is regarding career advice we give Leader. It is unethical for us to help Leader leave an organization that is paying us to grow Leader to better perform within that organization. This is the most common ethical dilemma that coaches face, and the most common failure coaches cause to occur for their Sponsors. It is also the least understood by the industry, which, at less than 30 years old, is still relatively new.

SOLID borrows a saying from medical professionals as the solution to this moral dilemma of giving career advice deleterious to Sponsor’s interest: “Do no harm.” Therefore, SOLID’s coaches are not permitted to provide career coaching to Leader unless specifically sanctioned by the Leader’s Sponsor. Leadership Career Coaching is a separate and distinct offering we have, designed to help a leader prepare for and make a transition into a new role, either inside or outside their present organization.

Set Boundaries

The third order of business is to execute the Coach/Leaders Boundaries Agreement. This one-page document defines the roles and responsibilities of the SOLID leadership coach and the leader receiving coaching. The SOLID coach provides the Coach/Leaders Boundaries Agreement to Leader in advance of the first session with instructions to review, modify if desired, and return prior to the first meeting. During the initial coaching session, this Agreement will be discussed and negotiated, if desired by Leader.

The SOLID Coach is usually very flexible and is willing to modify the Agreement to best meet Leader’s needs. SOLID has been using this Agreement since the late ’90s, and so it is rare these days that we find a leader wanting to modify anything about it. However, it is our discipline to remain flexible. The S of SOLID’s acronym stands for Serve. We are here to do just that, and in Phase 1 of the coaching relationship, the SOLID coach is being most intentional about building a relationship. One of the best ways we have found to do so is by demonstrating a willingness to be flexible in meeting Leader’s needs. We avoid a “This is the program—take it or leave it” approach, in favor of an “I am here to serve you” one. We go out of our way to model servant leadership, and check our egos at the door when coaching. Our definition of coaching embodies this philosophy. At SOLID, we use this working definition: “Coaching is two people working together for one person’s highest and greatest good.”

Setting boundaries and defining expectations is a critical part of Phase 1: Orientation. Clearly stating the boundaries we have as SOLID coaches helps us build the trust we want and need to have with a leader. Confidentiality is the most common boundary and area of concern that leaders bring up. The leader wants to know: “Is the information I share with my SOLID coach confidential?” Yes, it is. We will not repeat anything you say in a coaching session, unless it violates the SOLID Code of Conduct.

SOLID Code of Conduct

Confidentiality in coaching is a hot topic. It would be easy for us to say, as most coaches do, that everything discussed in coaching is confidential. However, agreeing to keep certain things confidential would be unethical of us. Here are our boundaries:

We will keep confidential everything Leader tells us, unless it is illegal or unethical. Examples of this would be firsthand knowledge of insider trading, embezzlement, or similar crimes. We consider ourselves insiders, and SOLID’s policy for coaches is that we do not trade our client’s stock on any information we receive in coaching. SOLID also strongly discourages its coaches from owning stock in client companies. The “I” of SOLID stands for Integrity. We seek to model that behavior in all that we do.

We ask Leader to keep confidential what you are told by Coach. It dilutes your authority to attribute your actions to your coach. You are the player on the field calling the shots. The last thing you want to do is say, “My coach told me to ___.” Firstly, a SOLID coach has been trained to avoid “armchair quarterbacking,” where they are “telling” you what to do. Secondly, you are the quarterback, calling the plays. You need to take full credit for all that you do, and not lean on your coach as a crutch in any way. Thirdly, you may have misunderstood what your coach said, and it makes the leader look bad if he or she appears overly reliant on the coach. We have a saying worth remembering:

There are three rules in coaching. Rule 1: The leader does all the work. Rule 2: All the work is done by the leader. Rule 3: If confused about the rules of coaching, see Rules #1 and #2. The corollary to this: The leader gets all the credit.

Lastly, but most importantly, there are certain parts of the coaching that are meant to be shared with others. Specifically, you will likely want to share most or all of your Leadership Development Plan with your stakeholders. We will discuss this in more detail in Phase 3: Goals. For now, suffice it to say that a transformational part of the coaching comes when you openly share your developmental goals with key stakeholders who are invested in your development.

Moving into Assessment

Part of building trust is creating a safe environment. Your SOLID coach will do so by keeping all of the information you provide to them safe and secure. The things that you will want to provide at this point are any previous tests or assessments you have taken as well as contextual organizational documents, including:

  1. Behavioral assessments, such as the DiSC, Insights, Birkman
  2. Personality profiles, such as the Myers-Briggs, The Big 5, HEXACO
  3. Emotional IQ assessments
  4. Leadership assessments
  5. Electronic 360-degree assessments
  6. Interview-based 360-degree assessments
  7. Job description
  8. Organizational chart
  9. Business/operating/strategic plan
  10. Other documents that Leader and/or Coach deem useful in gaining a better understanding of Leader’s needs

During this time, your SOLID coach is making observations and asking questions like:

  1. What are your goals for coaching?
  2. What does success look like at the end of our engagement?
  3. What critical factors will determine the level of success we are able to achieve together?

As you can see, these types of questions quickly move the focus from a new client orientation to an assessment of needs. In Phase 2: Assessments, you will decide on all the specifics of the assessments that will be conducted. It is useful to note that SOLID has a leadership testing and assessment practice, and often, assessments are conducted by the head of that practice or someone who works for him or her.

For Further Reading

There are three key articles that we reference during Phase 1: Orientation. They are:

  • “Orientation to Leadership Coaching” (the article you are reading)
  • “Coach/Leader Boundaries”
  • Your individual, detailed Leadership Coaching Agreement

See the Appendix for copies of the last two articles.


Use this div to take notes on the introduction to coaching for discussion with your coach.

Phase 2


During the second month of coaching, the SOLID coach’s main objective is to complete an in-depth assessment of Leader’s strengths and challenges. This is the primary agenda of each coaching session. Phase 2 culminates when the assessment report is thoroughly reviewed with Leader. Phase 2 may be summarized as follows:

  • Objective: Understand needs
  • Agenda: Assess Leader’s top strengths and challenges
  • Deliverable: SOLID Leadership Assessment Report
  • Timeline: During the first three to six weeks of coaching

Four Types of Assessments

The first order of business is to re-review the types of assessments stipulated in the Coaching Agreement.

During the pre-engagement process (which we call Phase 0), we discuss the types of assessments available, and almost always have a certain assessment approach identified in the Coaching Agreement prior to the beginning of a coaching engagement. The options include:

  1. Electronic behavioral assessments and personality profiles.
  2. Leadership assessments and other electronic, self-reporting profiles and inventories.
  3. An electronic 360-degree assessment.
  4. An interview-based 360-degree assessment.

Team Approach to Assessment

SOLID has experts that specialize in testing and assessment. We often employ a team approach that enables us to provide these experts for you during your coaching engagement. Following are the four options for SOLID’s assignment of coaches. Please check your Coaching Agreement for the option that has been selected for you.

  1. One coach for Phases 1–4.
    • Your coach will also administer all assessments. If your agreement stipulates this, then we are very confident in your SOLID coach’s assessment and testing capabilities.
  2. One coach for Phases 1 & 2; second coach for Phases 3 & 4.
    • In this case, a SOLID assessment coach will complete your assessment. This allows us to provide you an expert in this area, and then provide a coach who is a great match for you based on the assessment coach’s analysis. You may be interviewing coaches during the time assessments are being administered. The advantage here is we can quickly execute an assessment, even if your coach is not yet available, or has not yet been identified. This is a popular option for those wanting to have a SOLID coach who is tightly matched to role, level, industry, and geography. The more specific the criteria, the less likely the coach will also be an expert in leadership testing and assessment.
  3. Two coaches, in parallel, for Phases 1–4.
    • Often, SOLID’s Leaders get two coaches. We believe in a team approach, where the assessment coach works in parallel with your primary coach. Members of SOLID’s Leadership Testing & Assessment Practice often administer and interpret the electronic and interview-based assessments. They are also adept at creating Leadership Development Plans based on the assessment results. They work in collaboration with your primary coach to ensure you get the best possible analysis of your greatest strengths, challenges, and opportunities for development. There are also several key inflection points during Phase 4, where they may be involved should your coaching engagement include mini-surveys every four to six months.
  4. Three coaches, in parallel, for Phases 1–4.
    • Typically reserved for our higher-level executive clients, we provide an assessment coach, a primary coach, and a secondary coach whose particular expertise is useful for the engagement.

Scope of Work

During Phase 2, your coach’s key objective is to fully understand your leadership development needs. Some of the steps your coach will take to that end are:

  1. Review Leader’s previously completed assessments. Your coach will need time to read these in preparation for a discussion. Ask your coach if they have had time to read them, or if they don’t understand what they have read. It is pointless to try to discuss an assessment you took a decade ago unless your coach has been properly prepared, and has context for what he or she will be reading. Briefly give high-level context to your coach, and then schedule another time for a deeper dive once they have had an opportunity to read your results with the benefit of your briefing.
  2. Identify ten top behavioral strengths, ten top behavioral challenges, strengths overused, and challenge areas that either are becoming or have become areas of strength. This is an exercise you can start with your coach and then finish for homework. You will make lists, rank order the items, and then specifically identify those areas that you feel you should be addressing right now along the lines of “strength to leverage” or “challenge to overcome.”
  3. Administer behavioral assessments, personality profiles, and leadership assessments.
  4. Administer 360-degree assessment (electronic and/or interview-based).
  5. Enroll key stakeholders in the process of giving post-assessment feedback. Upon Leader’s approval, SOLID has a process for involving Leader’s superior, HR, mentor, career manager, direct reports, and other stakeholders in providing ongoing feedback. See the Coaching Agreement for specifics of who will be included in providing feedback. Often, but not necessarily, the participants are the same as those involved in the 360-degree assessment.
  6. Compare SOLID’s assessment results with assessment results Leader has from years past.
  7. Begin to identify a small number of key areas to work on during the next six to twelve months.

Categories of Competency

SOLID has developed a Five-Category Competency model that is compatible with all the most respected leadership competency models, including the following:

  • Lominger Leadership Competencies
  • Center for Creative Leadership
  • 121 Leadership Competencies

Your 360-degree assessment will be analyzed considering these five categories of competency. A full explanation of our model can be found in Appendix 2.

For Further Reading

There is one key article that we reference during Phase 2: Assessment. It is:

  • “The Insightful Leader: Gaining Objective Assessment.” See the Appendix for a copy of this article.


Use this div to take notes on the introduction to coaching for discussion with your coach.

Phase 3


During the third phase of coaching, the SOLID coach’s main objective is to take the results of the in-depth assessment of Leader’s strengths and challenges and turn them into a draft Leadership Development Plan (“LDP”). You will find an example of an LDP in the Appendix of this briefing.

Phase 3 may be summarized as follows:

  • Objective: Choose what to work on, document it, and create tools that support the plan
  • Agenda: Collaborate with Coach to ensure the plan meets the SMARTER goal-setting criteria
  • Deliverable: Leadership Development Plan and SOLID Progress Checklist
  • Timeline: Within 4 to 8 weeks

Creating Your Leadership Development Plan

Together with your coach, you will iterate on the LDP until you are confident that it represents the best opportunity for you to transform yourself. The LDP becomes the blueprint for the remainder of your coaching engagement.

The LDP usually focuses on two to four specific areas of development. Your goals will come from the electronic assessments, stakeholder feedback in the 360-degree survey, your coach’s input, and your own sense about what you need to be developing. Pick things to work on based on what will have the greatest impact on multiple areas of your leadership abilities and your organization. This takes some time and thought, and your SOLID coach is there to help you work through this selection process. There is an example of a real LDP later in this div.

Golden Thread

Prioritize all developmental objectives on what we call the “golden thread,” which is the theme that runs throughout all the feedback that you have received thus far. For example, you may see a pattern where all your developmental areas indicate that you have low emotional intelligence. Instead of developing a goal such as “Become better at conflict resolution,” you may want to consider finding ways to avoid conflict altogether— by becoming more emotionally intelligent. Ask your coach for help in identifying the “golden thread” in your feedback.


Ensure all goals are tied to measurable and observable results as dictated by Leader’s purpose of engagement. Goals should deliver significant personal, team, and organizational value when completed. Assign priority codes, milestones, measurements, and timelines to all goals. Typically, there are three major goals in an LDP, but there can be as few as one and as many as five. Each major goal will have one to ten desired observable changes related to the major goal (see the sample LDP below). The observable changes should follow SOLID’s SMARTER Methodology: Specific, Measurable, Agreed To, Realistic, Timetabled, Evaluated, and Related to Mission.

Goal Short statement of your goal.
Two to three sentences describing your goal statement.
Goal Categorization
Goal Category Execution Relationship Management Leader-
Observable Change: Concrete, behavioral, and/or cognitive changes that would demonstrate significant progress.
  • I will _____________ (describe the improved behavior) as evidenced by the following behavioral changes:
    • example
    • example
    • example
  • I will _____________ (describe the improved behavior) as evidenced by the following behavioral changes:
    • example
    • example
    • example
  • I will _____________ (describe the improved behavior) as evidenced by the following behavioral changes:
    • example
    • example
    • example
  • I will _____________ (describe the improved behavior) as evidenced by the following behavioral changes:
    • example
    • example
    • example
  • I will _____________ (describe the improved behavior) as evidenced by the following behavioral changes:
    • example
    • example
    • example

Questions to Ask Yourself

While iterating on the draft LDP, Leader and Coach should ask:

  1. Is this behavior the most valuable one to improve?
  2. Will the improvement create a significant impact on the organization?
  3. How will Leader demonstrate progress to the stakeholders?
  4. Is it observable?
  5. Can I be more specific about the desired outcome and what it looks like?

SOLID Daily Checklist

Once your LDP is finalized, it’s time to create one of the most powerful documents to be used in the coaching process. We call it the SOLID Progress Checklist. While simple to understand and extremely effective, it has proven difficult to implement without the support of an accountability partner. Your SOLID coach is perfectly suited to providing this accountability, and will ask you to email your completed checklist on a weekly basis. The daily routine of scoring yourself is one of the secrets to achieving long-term, sustainable, and intrinsic behavioral change.

Creating Questions for Your Daily Checklist

With the help of your coach, you will take each of the observable activities in your LDP and convert it into an active question for your SOLID Progress Checklist. Start each question with “Did I do my best to . . . ?” See the example below. As you work on converting each of your LDP goals into an active question, it sometimes makes sense to consolidate two or more goals into a single question.

The goal of each daily question is to:

  1. Serve as a daily reminder about who you want to be
  2. Rank yourself on a scale from 1 to 5 every day for every question

Much of the practice’s value comes from your thought process about how well you should score yourself each day for each question. The grading will be subjective, but the thought process reinforces the new behaviors Leader is working on incorporating into their daily work life.


Goal Daily Questions Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri
Goal 1 Did I do my best to . . . ? (fill in from Goal #1; see your Leadership
Development plan.)
Goal 2 Did I do my best to . . . ? (fill in from Goal #1; see your Leadership
Development plan.)
Goal 3 Did I do my best to . . . ? (fill in from Goal #1; see your Leadership
Development plan.)
Goal 4 Did I do my best to . . . ? (fill in from Goal #1; see your Leadership
Development plan.)

For Further Reading

There are two key articles that we reference during Phase 3: Goals. They

  • “Goal Attainment for Leaders.”
  • “Growth Plan for Leaders.”

See the Appendix for copies of these articles.


Use this div to take notes on the introduction to coaching for discussion with your coach.

Phase 4


You will spend most of your time in Phase 4, practicing the behaviors you have outlined in your
Development Plan. Phase 4 may be summarized as follows:

Objective: Implement the Leadership Development Plan and achieve demonstrable change
Agenda: Provide accountability for Leader following the Leadership Development Plan
Deliverable: Ongoing feedback, accountability, and mini-surveys to chart progress
Timeline: Begin approximately 8 weeks after kicking off the coaching engagement Note: Continues for 10 months (12-month engagement) or 4 months (6-month engagement)

Step 1: Select Stakeholders

The beginning of Phase 4 starts with the selection of who you will use as sources of feedback during the duration of your coaching engagement.

Your stakeholders will likely be the same people who participated in your 360-degree assessment. However, depending on what you are working on, you and your coach may decide to add people to or delete them from that list. The resulting list should be made up of anywhere from a few to a dozen or so participants who will be able to judge whether you are improving in the areas identified in your LDP. Your SOLID coach will partner with you to select organizational stakeholders and enroll the stakeholders in your development process.

It is important to note that “perception is reality,” and stakeholders often have negative perceptions that can be easily changed and managed with this process. Throughout the month, you will be implementing your action plan and demonstrating to the stakeholders through your actions that you are working to become a more effective leader in the selected leadership growth areas. Implementing change and following up with stakeholders involves them in your evolution, which creates a social support network for you and helps alter the stakeholders’ perceptions of you over time.

The process of consistent and regular follow-through is a key contributor to your leadership growth and improved effectiveness, resulting in a changed perception of stakeholders at the same time. This social proof ensures that the community of stakeholders around Leader are “along for the ride” and notice the changes you are working so hard to create in yourself and the organization.

Step 2: Send Introductory Email to Stakeholders

After stakeholder selection, send an introductory email to stakeholders (see Appendix for template).

Step 3: Host a Kickoff Conference Call with Stakeholders

After stakeholder selection, you will have a kickoff meeting, which is always attended by your coach, who facilitates the meeting with you. The group meeting should last between 10 and 20 minutes, maximum.

Objectives are:

  • Coach
    • Explain coaching program
  • Leader
    • Acknowledge value of 360 & apologize (if needed) publicly for past indiscretions
    • Ask for buy-in from stakeholders for the process
    • Ask all stakeholders to provide you one or two suggestions each, as soon as possible

Step 4: Incorporate Suggestions

After stakeholders send suggestions, review, discuss with coach, and choose which ones, if any, to incorporate into your LDP and Daily Questions.

Step 5: Send out Modified LDP to Stakeholders

After incorporating suggestions in Step 4, decide on how much of the plan to release to stakeholders. Modify your plan and send it out as shortly after the kickoff meeting as possible.

Step 6: Begin Scoring Yourself on the Daily Checklist

Pick a daily time to score your performance on a scale of 1 to 5. See the Appendix for an example. The greatest value from the scoring comes from deciding how you are going to score yourself. You will share your scores on a weekly basis with your coach, but no one else.

Step 7: Monthly Checkpoint

Once a month, you will schedule brief feedback “checkpoints” with each stakeholder. During these 5- to 10- minute calls, you will follow a three-step process as follows:

  1. Ask:
    1. “Would you give me some feedback on how I am doing?”
    2. “How do you see that I can continue to grow in my role as _________ here at (__organization__)?” NOTE: Focus on the subjects already included in your LDP.
    3. “What other suggestions do you have for me?”
  2. Actively listen:
    1. Repeat back to them what you think you are hearing; reflect on their input.
    2. Avoid giving any context, explanation, excuse, or defense whatsoever.
    3. Take notes.
  3. Thank:
    1. Thank the stakeholders for sharing their valuable feedback with you.
    2. Avoid getting defensive and giving any explanations.
    3. Respond positively when receiving input. “Thank you!” Nothing more!

The Monthly Checkpoint is one of the most critical parts of SOLID’s coaching process, and is one your coach will be most interested in discussing in your regular coaching sessions.

Agenda for Phase 4 Coaching Sessions

Your coaching sessions will focus on skill development, overcoming leadership challenges, stakeholder management, and/or dealing with other organizational issues. Throughout this process, Coach operates as a sounding board and accountability partner, knowledge/experience resource provider, and stakeholder advocate, among other things. The diagram to the right illustrates the multiple “hats” your coach wears

SOLID uses a unique, six-pronged, session-based methodology. At any given time during a coaching session, a SOLID coach will provide:

  • Asking: Collaborative Coach
  • Guiding: Socratic Teacher
  • Mentoring: Holistic Advocate
  • Suggesting: Trusted Advisor
  • Referring: Resource Connector
  • Reflecting: Active Listener
  • Cheerleading: Inspirational Supporter mj

Frequency of Coaching Sessions

Your SOLID coach will deliver regular coaching interactions to you via face-to-face, telephone, and video conferencing. You will generally connect twice per month, but the frequency is something that you will work out with your coach. When and how often to meet is a matter of personal preference, but we do believe that two touchpoints per month are critical to gain and maintain momentum in the engagement.

SOLID Snapshot (Optional)

After 5, 8, and 11 months into the process, we collect the opinions of the stakeholders to understand & measure their perception of your improvements in the leadership growth areas as determined in the LDP in Phase 3. At these points in time, you can evaluate your progress and identify areas for continued focus in partnership with your coach. At the end of the yearlong coaching program, the final SOLID Snapshot results are used to measure leadership growth and the success of the coaching engagement. They provide social proof not only that you have changed, but that the organization recognizes that fact and is operating in the new leadership paradigm.

SOLID Mini-360 Refresh (Optional)

Following is an example of the survey that SOLID will send out to your stakeholders during the SOLID Mini- 360 refresh.

Developing Others

The ultimate place you want to get to in Phase 4 is where you and your coach are working to develop your direct reports. You have several options:

  • Option A: Your coach is engaged to coach one or more of your direct reports – even the entire team.
  • Option B: Your coach provides you with coaching to develop your own people but stays behind the scene.
  • Option C: A combination of Option A and Option B.

SOLID will provide tools and coaching for Leader to support Leader’s development of direct reports and/or others. Included are some or all of the following, based upon needs and Leader’s preferences:

  • Testing and
    • Assist Leader in identifying developmental needs of direct reports.
    • Collaborate on a rank-ordered assessment of each employee’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Goals, Objectives, and Strategies
    • Assist Leader in developing a Leadership Advancement Plan for each direct report.
    • Develop milestones and measurements, which will be evidence of improved performance when achieved.
    • Develop quarterly scorecard for each of Leader’s direct reports.
    • Capture actions toward developmental objectives for each employee.
    • Aid Leader in helping employees set personal and professional goals beyond present roles.
  • Tools and Best Practices
    • Provide “coach-the-coach” mentorship to assist Leader in becoming an effective people developer.
    • Advise on recruiting, interviewing, hiring, onboarding, and employee performance management.
    • Assist Leader in learning, designing, and implementing best practices in organizational development.
    • Provide coaching in organizational design and change management best practices.
    • Collaborate with Leader on design and implementation of individual and team initiatives.
    • Assist in addressing relationship issues, conflict, morale, and other behavioral subjects.
    • Develop strategies for productivity enhancement and goal achievement.
    • Collaborate on development of succession, transfer, demotion, promotion, and termination plans.
    • Gain mentorship skills to be an effective career mentor and grow direct reports and/or others.


Use this div to take notes on the introduction to coaching for discussion with your coach.

Daniel J. Mueller

President & CEO
SOLIDleaders, LLC

Cell: 832.732.9395

CEO / Board Advising

Board Management Executive Team Performance Organization Design Organization Development Recruitment Succession Planning Strategic Planning

Industry Expertise

Christian Non-Profits Financial Services Healthcare/Wellness Information Services Manufacturing Oil & Gas Private Equity Professional Services Technology Venture Capital

Areas of Focus

Daniel started college at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and relocated to Austin to complete a degree in the Plan 2 Honors Program in Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. He is gratefully married to Patty, has three awesome daughters, and has called Austin, Texas home since 1977.

1:1 Executive Coaching Non-Profit Leader CoachingDaniel Mueller is one of the earliest pioneers of the executive coaching industry, and since 1987 has provided executive coaching for more than 1,400 CEOs and executives, delivered over 80,000 executive coaching sessions, and witnessed a major transformation in the lives of most clients.

Passionate about serving leaders at every level, Daniel is dedicated to helping executives become more effective in all aspects of their personal and professional lives. Prior to specializing in executive coaching, he was CEO of a management training company, a business advisory firm, and an organizational development consultancy – all of which influenced his approach to executive coaching. In addition to drawing on these disciplines, Daniel has extensive training in the behavioral sciences, behavioral psychology, and executive career counseling. An avid student of executive leadership, he regularly speaks and publishes on subjects critical to executive peak performance.

Since 1996, Daniel has specialized in CEO and executive coaching, working in three main areas: leadership coaching, helping executives remove blind spots, leverage strengths, and overcome weaknesses; executive career coaching, helping executives transition from one role to another; and executive onboarding coaching, helping executives start new roles. He also provides training for professional executive coaches. Daniel delivers all coaching either in person or via video call, and typically begins engagements with a qualitative 360-degree assessment.

During the late 80s, Daniel had a meteoric rise to the top of the emerging executive coaching profession. The more outwardly successful he became, the greater the internal pain grew of feeling like an imposter. Daniel chose to numb this pain with alcohol, which led him into recovery for alcoholism – his sobriety date is March 4, 1996. Humbled and broken, Daniel began diligently working to achieve personal transformation. This story of amazing success, total failure, and complete redemption has led to his favorite saying: “I coach from a place of weakness, not strength.” Feel free to ask him about his journey.

From 1990 to 1996, Daniel served as President and CEO of Solid Foundation International Inc., an organizational design and development consultancy. There, he led team-building initiatives, administered hundreds of interview-based 360° assessments for executive coaching clients, and created individualized leadership development plans. A prolific writer, he authored numerous curricula for corporate universities, including “Training Skills for Leaders” (how leaders learn) and “Service BUILDS Sales” (how leaders sell), and dozens of white papers on critical success factors for leaders.

From 1986 to 1990, Daniel was CEO of MAI, a management consultancy acquired in 1990 by Organizational Leadership and Development, Inc., and from 1982 to 1986, was CEO of Wellness Consultants, Inc., a management training company. He began his career in 1975 as a personal trainer and fitness coach.