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Hybrid leadership coaching: the best of both worlds

Jill is a human resources executive at a large hi-tech company who’s recently been exploring digital solutions to help empower her organization’s mid-level leaders. We’ve been meeting the last few months to discuss the latest trends in executive coaching. 


After my last meeting with Jill, I received a notice about a digital learning fair taking place at the beginning of next month. Thinking that this would be a great opportunity to explore digital tools with Jill. I forwarded the invitation to her and wrote her a note inviting her for coffee at the conference center at the end of the day.


After a truly stimulating fair, with all kinds of innovative digital tools being presented and demonstrated by dozens of firms, I sat down in the break area and waited for Jill.


“Etika!” she shouted. “There you are. What an amazing day! I can’t believe all of the awesome innovations I’ve seen today. So many ideas. Such brilliance.”


I smiled. “I’m so happy you enjoyed the fair today, Jill.” I gave her a hug.


“I’m blown away, Etika. Now I’m starting to understand what you’ve been getting at all along,” said Jill. “Etika, you told me at our last meeting that you’ve also been developing something, right?”


I answered, “Well, it’s actually all developed...and in use. But it took me over five years until I felt I’d gotten it right.”


“Five years?” Jill was amazed. 


“And add to that the 35 years of experience and knowledge it’s based on,” Etika added. “But now it’s being successfully used by managers all over the world.”


Jill said, “Enough suspense, Etika. Tell me about it!”


“With pleasure,” I answered. “But first, do you remember from our last meeting what I’d said are the two main advantages of digital learning tools?”


“I certainly do,” Jill quickly responded. “I’m still a good student. The first is that because of the anytime/anywhere delivery, digital tools allow us to help many more leaders, especially those who might be too busy for face-to-face coaching.”


“You really are a good student,” I said. “Go on.”


“And the second one,” she said, “Is that we can offer a wider range of solutions, therefore ensuring that our organization’s leaders receive customized service.”


“Bravo!” I congratulated. “Well, these two principles guided me in my development of the Executive Mirror Program.”


“The Executive Mirror Program?” Jill repeated. “Tell me more.”


“The Executive Mirror Program, or EMP for short.” I continued, “It’s an online course for mid-level leaders who are stuck in their career. They feel as if they are never going to get promoted and have begun losing hope.”


“From what I’ve seen at my company,” Jill said, “I’ve noticed that this is a huge challenge and it keeps growing.”


“No doubt.” I explained, “It seems that with hypercompetitiveness, more leaders are fighting for their careers than in the past. In fact, 70% of mid-level leaders these days define themselves as stuck to some degree.” 


“That’s a huge number, Etika,” Jill responded. “So there’s your first principle, helping as many leaders as possible - wherever they are.”


“Bingo,” I answered. “With so many stuck leaders, all of the face-to-face hours in the world wouldn’t be able to help them all. That’s why the self-paced online EMP is a perfect solution for them.”


“It certainly is. And what about your second principle, Etika?” asked Jill.


“You mean customized learning, I assume. Well, thanks to sophisticated algorithms, the EMP is actually dynamically tailored for each and every client. No cookie-cutter programs,” I proudly stated.


“So organizations can actually provide a highly-customized solution to each of their leaders,” Jill added.


“Yes,” I said. “Something that would’ve been impossible without digital tools.”


“But what about the personal touch, Etika?” Jill asked. “Aren’t there managers out there who still want to talk to a live coach.”


“Of course, Jill,” I agreed. “And that’s why the EMP can be seamlessly combined with face-to-face coaching. In the digital learning world, we call this hybrid coaching.”


“I see,” Jill answered. “A hybrid between online and face-to-face.”


“Indeed,” I said. “And that’s why I’ve developed a certification course for coaches who’d like to integrate the EMP into a hybrid coaching program.”


“That’s really forward-thinking, Etika,” Jill said. “So the EMP can also be used as part of a live coaching program.”


“That’s right. Maximum flexibility in delivering a tailored experience,” I said. “This is a major advantage that digital learning tools can offer us.”


I added, “And don’t forget, Jill. Many leaders are already experiencing 24/7 learning online, whether it’s checking out a series of YouTubes on a subject or taking a full university course.”


“So you’re saying our organization’s leaders will come to expect digital learning tools?” Jill asked.


“No doubt,” I answered. “And if we want to remain at the forefront of our field, as you’ve done so far, Jill, we’ve got to meet their expectations.”


“Etika, I think that I now really understand where you’re coming from,” Jill said. “It’s amazing that you had the foresight to predict all of this five years ago. I feel like such a dinosaur.”


“Nonsense, Jill,” I answered. “Like the folks we help, we avoid change, so sometimes we don’t let ourselves see what’s really happening around us.”


“Well, you’ve certainly opened my eyes, Etika,” Jill admitted.


“I’m glad, Jill. That’s what being your mentor has always been about,” I responded.


“So when do I get to check out your EMP, Etika,” Jill asked.


“Why don’t you come by my office tomorrow at 9, Jill,” I offered. “I’ll show you a full demo. I’m sure you’ll find it both innovative and fascinating.”


“I’m sure of that, Etika. Looking forward,” Jill said.


With that, we got up, hugged as usual, and left the conference center, both of us contemplating our bright future with the help of digital learning tools. 


And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.


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