Posted Tuesday, September 14th, 2021 by & filed under Leadership Development, Organizational Change, Regenerating organizations, Uncategorized.

The last eighteen months have been challenging and paradigm shifting.  Are you ready to spend time with your team to focus on renewal and chart the path forward?  Or are you dreading the same old approach to the annual offsite or the quarterly business review as you feel how out of step this process feels now?  

If you are in the midst of planning quarterly or annual meetings; which are typically meant to facilitate a review of the past and chart the path ahead,  we offer some tips to help ensure your time is productive and renews you and your team. 

DO!

  1. Focus on inclusion: Whether meeting in person, virtual or hybrid, ensure everyone can fully engage no matter the forum.  If you haven’t used new forms of virtual collaboration, now is the perfect time to explore tools like Miro.  
  1. Dream a little or a lot: Allow for some 10x, creative, pie in the sky and what if? thinking.  This is the time to stretch your thinking way beyond what you think is possible.  This will open the door to possibilities and perspectives.  
  1. Regenerate at personal / individual levels: Spend as much time revitalizing yourselves as you do focusing on the business.  Allow space for personal reflection that enables learning from and honoring of the journey and the extra effort (in so many ways) the last eighteen months have demanded.  
  1. Support “what’s next?” action: Many insights and new commitments are made during these meetings. Ensure ways to drive accountability so that you can realize the outcomes. Don’t wait until the last hour to develop a plan of action.  Come back to the commitments list throughout the convening.  Allow it to evolve and change, what you think needs a next step on day one could be very different on day three. 

DON’T!

  1. Think “event”:  Strategic conversations must have a cadence that is then connected to day to day execution – have a clear sense of both timing and other convening vehicles whereby the rich discussions continue and support transformation and progress. 
  1. Walk in with the answers: Mindfully shift your stance into one that is lower on the ladder of inference, dealing with the real pool of data vs. all the conclusions and assumptions you’ve drawn about it.  Staying close to the ground helps you navigate the real terrain which is dynamic and significantly more complex than your fixed ideas about it.  When you do this an emergent and “real” quality to your thinking comes forth more clearly. 
  1. Pack the agenda:  Things always take longer than you think.  In addition to allocating more time for specific items, reduce the number of items and topics, to allow greater depth of fewer and more important topics. Now is not the time to do updates or other activities that can be handled via email or other modes.  Use this important time to sensemake together – this means conversation and discovery. 
  1. Neglect involving the organization as a whole:  When leadership teams get together the rest of the organization is wondering; what’s going on in that room?  What are they talking about? Don’t leave them wondering!  First, make the meeting, the topics and objectives transparent to others.  Second, gather important input and ideas from the organization to support the meeting. Third, loop back after the meeting; share meeting materials and communicate the action plan and how it involves others.  

P.S. The picture below illustrates how we think about strategic leadership offsites and we’d be delighted to work with you to customize this for your team!

Posted Monday, August 30th, 2021 by & filed under Organizational Change, Regenerating organizations, Systemic Change, Uncategorized.

Dear Status Quo –

You have your supporters, friends and colleagues.  The seats are warm and comfortable.  The paths you take are well worn, paved, tried and trusted. 

As you sit in the Status Quo Lounge, you have your community that took time to build.  It is quite crowded here.  This is a community with strong relationships.  Why are they so strong? Well, they are often built on agreement.   The seats are arranged in a circle so you can only look inward and see all the nodding heads.  When it is time for someone to lead, the Status Quo crowd tends to look to those from within.  Why? It’s obvious; you know the Status Quo will be well understood and perpetuated.   

All the systems and processes are in place and many people use what has already been created by you.  This gives you a feeling of being valued and admired but also grounded and secure.  Status Quo, you rely on and analyze historical data. You have a team of analysts who provide reports with predictable trends.  And of course, you can’t help but agree with the information you see.  

While you sit in the Status Quo Lounge, you may be so comfortable that you miss movement around you.  When you start to feel uncomfortable, you wiggle in your chair and then sit back again.  You like the coffee here and the buffet.  You have earned your miles and have your gold card. So why move?

Status Quo, do you realize how your well-worn path impacts decision making, relationships or even success?   No, often you do not.  You rest on your past accomplishments.  You often use the phrase “this is how it has always been done.”  You think this phrase scares people from changing, keeps them with you.  It is not easy to leave you.  You have gravity, history and the majority on your side.  

If there is someone that wants to leave – you let them and laugh, “They will be back.”  The Status Quo culture is powerful.   And often, they do return.  Many doors point back to the security of those fixed and comfortable seats in the lounge.  

But some do escape. Once they do, they immediately wonder: Status Quo, do you really have status?  

The lounge just outside is the Disruptor Lounge.   Those in the Status Quo Lounge have heard the noisy Disruptors.  They have invited you to join them, but you resisted.  You are not interested.  

The Disruptor Lounge has big windows to see the world outside.  When new faces appear at the door, they are welcomed in. The Disruptors often move around and switch seats, creating an environment that has a vibe of curiosity and openness.  The space is in constant flux as new collaborations emerge alongside individuals who are in deep thought.  

These folks embrace the shifting landscape.  In fact, this is energizing to them because it gives them a chance to share information and ideas.  The data and information, like the world around them, is unfolding.

People enjoy challenges and can handle conflict as all perspectives are welcome, needed and used.   In this lounge, you hear more “What If’s?”   Since forecasting here is not as predictable, or proven, the Disruptors test out new ideas.  Here, you find less talking about the past and more imagining the future.  They imagine new and better ways as they explore uncharted territory and discover what can be – together.

<An announcement is made:  Status Quo, the departing flight is leaving.  Disruptors, you are also set for take-off. >  

As the Status Quo, you prefer to stay.  Your friends are here and you are grounded and comfortable.  You grab another coffee.  

Meanwhile, the Disruptors are ready for take-off.  Where are they going?  Only the future will tell.

Posted Tuesday, August 24th, 2021 by & filed under Uncategorized.

A question we are fielding a lot lately is this:  Why are the two of you going out on your own?  And for you Simon Sinek fans out there, you know that many times answering this question is hard.  People can tell you what they do, some can tell you how they do it, and even fewer can tell you why they do something.  We are clear on our why!  

We believe we are at the beginning of what is to be a long period of organizational re-invention.  The reigning paradigms for work no longer serve and must be recrafted.  We are seeing this all around us.  A movement is underway, and we must take part. 

We see the rising tide of “things must change” as meeting us where we’ve been operating for many years. Both of us have healthy amounts of rebel/disruptor/challenger DNA which translate into a fair amount of pushing and prodding organizations within which we work to change.  We were the early adopters of new technology and processes, innovators who kept a pulse on the external landscape, status-quo busters who had a vision for the future, and the go-to change agents leading transformation.  Thus, as we surveyed the current landscape and took stock of our own skills, passions, and interests we said, yes! – now is the time. 

We are here to help you make progress that leapfrogs over into a new way of working that fully supports the flourishing of people and therefore the flourishing of your organization (and also, BTW, the flourishing of the world). 

Behind the bio 

This is a story of two motivated, battle-tested, experienced, and whole-hearted women, who sense an important inflection point both within themselves and within the world of work.  We won’t bore you with the bio, you can find that type of information here.  We want to share what pumps the lifeblood into the mission of Green Mesa Consulting. 

This story is fundamentally about the potential of people; ours, yours, everyone’s. It is born out of doing the hard work it requires to build organizational systems capable of fully tapping the potential of the people within it (and seeing how few are willing to do that). It’s born out of the very personal frustration of experiencing our own potential, and others, as being undervalued and under-utilized.  We recognize this problem as systemic not individualistic – as organizational systems struggle to make use of the talent laying in wait. 

We are ready

We have studied organization systems, planned hundreds of strategic events.  We have coached over 200 individuals and trained thousands.  We have designed and implemented organizational change efforts.  With more than fifty years of combined experience, in working in or with some of the largest and most successful organizations in the world, we might choose to sit back in our chairs, but that is not who we are. The rebels in us cannot sit still.  We believe that work can be an experience that promotes human flourishing.  It’s more important now than ever.  

Our partnership 

Our partnership has been forged over the past thirteen years. We’ve collaborated on a host of projects across many different contexts, including co-leading and reshaping the Organization Development Network of NY (ODNNY) for three years, co-designing a systemic organization-wide performance management process and change effort, and co-facilitating high impact training sessions.  Throughout these various collaborations, we often talked about forming a business together, as we recognized the strengths we brought out in each other.   

The foundation of our partnership is a real interest in and support of each other’s talents and growth. We are unified by our seemingly undying interest in how to be better or more effective in myriad ways.  We’ve mastered the art of giving and receiving feedback to each other and by mastered, we mean – we do it even when it’s scary.  We have developed a relationship that continues to expand and is therefore capable of holding the fullness of our individual and collective unfolding.  We are in new territory and some of it is unknown.  In doing this, we have created an environment where our full potential is not only valued, but also used. 

We are, of course, our business.  Who we are and the experiences we have had provide a clear demonstration of how we approach supporting others who want to build organizations that are fit for the future.  We also recognize we build our work on a set of important beliefs.  

We believe 

Organizational potential = people potential.

The time is now to make systemic change.

Adaptive challenges must be tackled differently.

Your individual transformation is not separate from an organization’s transformation. 

Putting humanity/human-ness at the center of organizational life is key.

An invitation

As we launch Green Mesa we invite you to go with us on the journey!  We seek community, clients, and collaborators who are ready to take on designing organizations for people!  We look forward to having conversations with you that disrupt your current ways of working and support your desire to go beyond the status quo.  We have walked in your shoes and can help you start the journey, accelerate down the path and transform yourself, your team, and your organization. 

Our Why is simple.  People matter.  Your potential is limitless.  People need healthy systems in which to grow and realize their full potential.  

The Mission – Building People-centric Organizations – Together. 

Posted Tuesday, August 17th, 2021 by & filed under Leadership Development, Organizational Change, People-centric organizations, Systemic Change.

Over indexing on individual development

Think back to your latest individual learning or development experience.  Perhaps you attended a webinar, some kind of course, or participated in coaching.  It is very likely that you didn’t do this as part of a systemic effort, there was little that changed in your work context, except you.  Now armed with newfound insights, ideas, and burgeoning skills, you “come back” into work and are faced with colleagues who haven’t been exposed to these learnings, a boss who has a shallow sense of what you’ve learned, and unchanged tools, processes, and cultural norms.  How in the world are you meant to sustain and embed this learning? How is this supposed to help you or the organization in any way?  We have been over-investing in this type of individualized approach and paying too little attention to the environment that gives rise to the context in which people work.  

We have over-indexed on the individual development solution to improve organizational effectiveness.  To be clear, we are not saying that individual development isn’t important, it is and will continue to be, however, it is not the magic bullet, and many organizations seem to treat it as if it is. 

We must stop sending changed people into unchanged systems!

Focus on the environment – see it in action

We recently read an interesting article in the New Yorker this week by Cal Newport, titled; How to Achieve Sustainable Remote Work.  In this piece, Newport focuses on the massive experiment Best Buy did in the early 2000s with allowing greater autonomy at work. (BTW this great work continues at GoRowe under the leadership of Jody Thompson).   What interested us in this article was how they learned that the environment needed to change for individual behavior to change.  They called their attempts to shift the environment: “The Environmental Sludge Eradication Strategy.” Basically, individuals were unable to change their behavior until the environment stopped sending “sludge” their way – this sludge communicated that taking a more autonomous approach to work was not desirable.  Thus, a huge amount of learning needed to happen at an environmental level to allow for change to happen at the individual level.  

We must stop sending changed people into unchanged systems!  And must focus on the Environment.  

Where is your investment? Follow the money

Now let’s look at where investment dollars typically go.  Organizations invest significant dollars into leadership development.  It is a multi-billion-dollar industry.  You’ve made an investment to “upskill” individuals, what kind of investment must you make to “upskill” the environment to realize the value of your investment? 

We must stop sending changed people into unchanged systems!  And must also invest in organizational readiness to enable the return on the investments made in people.  

Focusing on organizational readiness – is supporting your people

What if when thinking about leadership development, we simply replace the word leadership for environmental?  How would one approach environmental development?  Let’s use a similar process we often use for leadership development.  

  1. Start with an assessment or diagnostic of key competencies.  
  2. Make sense of the diagnostic by looking at the collected data and identifying the strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan of action designed to make shifts. 
  3. Try out the shifts and discover what happens in the operating environment.

Organizational competencies (not leadership competencies)

Now, let’s make a shift away from leadership competencies and assess the environment that will support people.  So, what competencies would you assess?  This is the question we asked and answered!

We have developed a framework that defines the critical organizational competencies needed to enable the full flourishing and growth of people at individual and collective levels.  Our people-centric framework is depicted below.  Within each of the four domains, there are two competencies each, hence the name “Magic8 Framework.”  Please follow us here or here to have an opportunity to test drive this assessment and see what you can do to upskill your environment to reap the full value of the leadership development efforts you make.

Posted Sunday, August 8th, 2021 by & filed under People-centric organizations, Regenerating organizations.

Why mindset matters

Would you be surprised to learn that sometimes when we talk about building people-centered organizations that we get some pushback?  This pushback sounds a bit like, “things don’t work that way,” or “that would never fly.” 

Where does this pushback come from?  One place it comes from is a mindset entrenched in status quo paradigms that give rise to debilitating and outdated ways of thinking about people, work environments, and change. 

As we’ve developed our people-centric framework and approach, we have found it important to make visible the four mindsets we see and how they help or hinder the ability to create transformational change. 

Change is here to stay. . . big time

We are in a period of exponential change like we’ve not experienced in our lifetime. (The futurist Gerd Leonhard has said that the next ten years will bring more change than the previous one hundred years! Let that one sink in.  It’s actually pretty hard to imagine; this short 10-minute film might help). 

2020 was an appetizer for what is yet to come. The speed and force of change (CV-19 and the push for social justice) catapulted us forward in important ways.  We now have a unique opportunity to shift forward rapidly and taking a hard look directly at our mindsets can help us do that. 

The four mindsets 

 

The dial above shows the range of mindsets from Exploit on the left to Regenerate on the right. Radiating out from each mindset are the ways in which this mindset then relates to People, Environment, and Change.  We believe that organizational success in the near future will be underpinned by a continued shift toward a regenerative mindset.  A regenerative mindset focuses on systemic capacities and capabilities to evolve toward increased states of health and vitality. It is focused on the interdependence of people and the environments in which they work and live. This regenerative mindset underpins the ability to build people-centric organizations and people-centric organizations have the best shot at being future-ready.  

Our mindsets in action: how we approach change

We’ve written about the risks organizations face when initiating strategic change and clearly we can see that being able to effectively change is only going to increase in importance.  Below we take a quick tour of these mindsets in action when enacting change.

Exploit Mindset: Change is Forced, Environment is a Bureaucracy, People as Resource

Change is engaged reluctantly and only when it cannot be avoided. The focus with this mindset is on procedural and process changes with little attention paid to how people need to change outside of technical training or putting people into new job roles. Change is slow-moving as the bureaucratic environment’s rigidity requires even small shifts to be explicitly introduced and enforced.  Since people are seen only as a resource or means, they have no choice or input and are expected to simply comply. 

Deplete Mindset: Change is Managed, Environment is a Meritocracy, People as Capital

The focus with this mindset is on control with the change at the center, managed by a chosen few, the change effort focuses on expecting and overcoming resistance and communication relies on carefully crafted top-down messages. While there may be some incentive or carrot-type approach to change, people are largely seen as something to do change to with stakeholder maps used to drive these “done to” efforts. The meritocratic blind spots (bias and inequity) insulate those with power and influence.

Sustain Mindset: Change is Enabled, Environment is Empowered, People as Talent 

When in the Sustain mindset, change is now enabled, through the greater involvement of more people. Ideas and input are solicited, and grassroots efforts are launched.  People are seen as talent; however, the focus is on a set of pre-defined competencies seen as important to the organization with the use of high potential frameworks that narrow the investment of development dollars into fewer people. Ultimately, too few people must carry the torch of change which limits adoption. 

Regenerate Mindset: Change is Regenerative, Environment is an Organism, People as Whole Person

A regenerate mindset sees change as an opportunity to refresh and renew. With the people and organizational purpose at the center, change is an essential way to bring forth the full potential of both. The capacity for change is systemic and interdependent as tightly coupled and loosely coupled parts of the organization shift in emergent ways. Involvement is democratic and decision-making is transparent. Experimentation enables learning that supports movement with and toward emergent opportunities. 

We believe organizations must keep Turning the Dial toward a regenerative mindset that sees people as whole and that turning this dial will help organizations realize their own full potential.  

Are you ready to turn the dial?

Table: Spectrum of Mindsets 


Posted Monday, August 2nd, 2021 by & filed under People-centric organizations, Regenerating organizations.


First – The Bad News 

Whether change is thrust upon us or we are in an organization where we initiate a strategic change, the chance of success is rare and the risks of failure are great.  Research from Gartner shows that 50% of organizational efforts are clear failures and another 16% deliver mixed results. 

This is a bit of a conundrum for most leaders.  In order for an organization to thrive it must engage in proactive strategic change and organizational development. However the risks are large. If this statistic shows the bad news, can it get worse?  Maybe.  2020 has turned up the heat and 2021 isn’t showing many signs of cooling.    

The Change Challenge You Face Right Now – The Heat has Intensified

Right now many organizations are facing a very special change challenge and that change challenge is to become a workplace that enables the flourishing of people.  We call this change challenge, building a people-centric organization. The heat and intensity you feel about the need to create true systemic change has increased and will only continue to increase. As  we are more than half way through 2021 it is important to notice that the demands for change at work have only grown louder. 

Demands for change include: employees wanting more flexibility and control over the how and where of their work, employees prioritizing their mental health (and we’ve all seen a very important example of this with the recent courageous actions by Simone Biles), employees unionizing in order to get important needs met that employers are ignoring, and the list could go on. You don’t have to look very hard to find many articles discussing the “great resignation” as employees seek to rewrite the old contracts of work that have led to burnout, high turnover and low employee engagement.  

What Can You Do? 

As a leader of an organization, a division, a function, or a team, you know that you must respond to the demands for an organization that is more people-centric, and you also have three immediate questions: 

  1. Where should we start?
  2. How can we make adequate time to engage with and lead this work?
  3. How do we ensure our change efforts don’t drag on and on? 

And you also have some dread in your belly.  You have likely experienced the Garter statistics personally. Even if we can answer these questions, can we really create successful change? The answer to that question is yes!  You can create successful systemic change and we can help you do it.  

How We Can Help – We Guarantee It

To help you drive strategic, proactive and successful change and build a people-centric organization, we’ve designed a process by which any leadership team can, within 20-weeks:

  1. Identify and align on where to start
  2. Communicate and engage with the organization as a whole to develop ideas 
  3. Create a feasible plan of experimentation that delivers clear learning 

To help you identify and align on where to start we have developed a simple and powerful organizational scan that measures the current level of people-centricity in your organization. This process takes four weeks from start to finish.  

If you’d like support beyond this scan, we have developed a sixteen-week process we call Activ8.  Activ8 integrates individual, team and organizational development and includes a focus on engaging others throughout the organization.  You exit this stage with a clear sense of where you are going on both individual and collective levels.  

Lastly, you can move to the final step of the approach, which we call Regener8. Regener8 is where the rubber meets the road and you ignite opportunities across your system to test out and learn from the ideas you’ve incubated in the Activ8 Stage.  

We’ve been exactly where you are.  Overwhelmed with the complexity of figuring out how to make strategic change and feeling like many of the consulting offerings you see are either too transactional, (i.e., implement an employee wellness and resilience program) or too all consuming, (i.e., embark on a three-year change effort that delivers mixed and unclear results).

Let us help you move from complexity to clarity.  We do that by grounding your efforts in useful data, through the organizational scan, and support you with a clear timeline and process.  To help you manage the risk (helping with that dread in your belly), we also guarantee our work. 

P.S. If you aren’t pleased with your results, you don’t pay us.  

Posted Monday, February 1st, 2021 by & filed under Regenerating organizations.

Please stop saying “let’s get back to normal.” Going “back” anywhere is a huge waste of this unprecedented (in most of our lifetimes) opportunity and the high costs we’ve paid to have them. Yes, we have a unique opportunity in 2021!

Whatever your current role, whether that be an individual in an organization, a leader of a team or an organization-wide leader, you have an opportunity to continue to transform your work and your workplace.

Imagine that 2020 was an experiment designed to help you examine assumptions, try new methods and uncover hidden pathways. In 2020 you had the chance to rework all aspects of your life both personally and professionally. Now is the time to turn your attention to diligently learning from these experiments and continue forward from here. You made progress, you gained ground, please don’t let it slip through your fingers.

What ground you ask?

One of the biggest and most obvious gains in 2020 was fully embodying the aphorism that “work is a thing you do, not a place you go.” Instead of theoretical debates about the role of the workplace, we actually interrogated this construct and have come out the other side with a much richer and more nuanced understanding (if we were paying attention) about the what, why, and how of the centrally maintained workplace. We believe, the most successful and competitively advantaged organizations of the future will be those that embrace the structure of distributed work to enable nimbleness and speed and enhance autonomy and creativity. Organizations that choose to recapitulate how they worked pre-2020 will lag further behind the pack. One specific way in which they will lag is in the ability to attract the talent they need to support their ambitions. It is vitally important for leaders to recognize how dramatically employees are reorienting themselves to their work life. This is a movement that has been going on for some time and 2020 added important fuel to this fire. People want and value autonomy and control over the when, where and how of doing their work.

A less obvious and more profound shift going on is the important and necessary “de-centering” of workplaces or work itself as the central coordinating function of our lives. This is an important step to enabling humans to reclaim their humanity, i.e., their “being” function, and get out of inordinate identified with our “doing” functions. In order to create a society that works for ALL people, we must center people and their needs. In some ways it’s as simple as that and of course it is also simply radical. When we center the needs of people vs. centering the needs of a business or organization, we begin to design new structures and ways of doing. We cannot continue to deplete people, viewing them as “resources” to be churned up in our organizational machines. We are being called to envision and design regenerative organizations – organizations that enable flourishing of individuals, flourishing of our communities, flourishing of our world.

Everything is connected – we see that now more than ever – this is the ground we are gaining.

Posted Thursday, March 29th, 2018 by & filed under Development, Practice.

Many of us live in a world we experience as requiring us to constantly “produce” or “perform.” Seeing our world this way can impede our ability to grow and develop. Imagine for a moment your favorite sports figure or performer. How much time have they spent practicing before they step onto the field or stage? A lot, right? What about you? How much time do you spend practicing verse performing? Many of us may feel like practice is a luxury, as the world speeds up and we feel pressure to get things done now and get them done well. Clearly, if we relate to our work this way we will hamper our ability to grow and develop. This blog explores the critical imperative to practice more and find ways to do that.

When we lack enough practice arenas many things can happen. One obvious one is that we don’t perform as well. A simple example of this is giving presentations. Your ability to present effectively will be enhanced by rehearsing a few times before doing it live. All of us know this, yet many of us avoid practicing our presentation and then suffer the consequences of being a less effective communicator. Another, and perhaps less obvious, outcome of failing to develop practice arenas is slowing down our growth. Let’s go back to the sports figure metaphor. If I always throw with my right hand and have less skill with my left hand, how likely will it be that I use my left hand during a play on the field? Pretty unlikely, right? My ability to tolerate a “failure” in the moment is probably pretty low, so I default to what I know (i.e., my right hand) and fail to develop my new move (i.e., my left hand). Similarly speaking, if I don’t have enough space to practice a burgeoning skill it will likely never blossom and be a full fledged part of my repertoire. So I become stagnant in my moves and become less adaptable and therefore less effective over time. Ironically, in trying to preserve my performance, my performance will decline.

Thus, the imperative for all of us is two-fold. First, we must identify our growth edges. Where are you running into challenges that are inviting you beyond where you are now? Once you have this growth edge clarified, you can now move into intentional practice. Where will you choose to be less skillful, where can you focus on learning? A few conditions and attitudes can help us do this, and will be different for us all. However, one universally supportive condition is relaxing our identification with performing and adopt what Carol Dweck calls the “growth mindset.” This mindset is less focused on pass/fail and more focused on getting feedback in order to grow. Interestingly, your ability to relax with this and talk openly and frankly about how you are growing and practicing, will allow your peers and team to do the same. In many ways it signals that you expect others to develop new skills and that growing and developing must include some fumbling at times and that’s actually an indicator, not of failure, but of intentional development. So an underlying condition to which I am pointing is vulnerability. The ability to acknowledge areas that are under construction will accelerate your growth. Often we try to hide these areas and in doing so, we slow our growth down.

Posted Thursday, March 15th, 2018 by & filed under Coaching, Development.

We live in a D-I-Y world. You can gut your kitchen and install those sleek cabinets from Ikea, just load up the car with the equipment from Home Depot. Have you thought about making your own beer? Step over to aisle three and there’s the kit to do so, step-by-step.

If you want to get into better physical shape, there’s a video to watch and you can follow the routine. It’s tempting to “do it yourself” with your professional life, too. You can manage your LinkedIn profile to maximize your “brand recognition.” You can read the latest Harvard Business Review and try to implement that new strategic planning framework. But, just like having a great contractor contribute to your home renovation project, or a personal trainer help you reach your fitness goals, a qualified executive coach will contribute to your professional and career growth and help you thrive.

An executive coach can provide value in a myriad of ways. Let’s focus on four things a coach can do for you that you can’t do for yourself:

1. Provide perspective

The coach, as an “outsider” (i.e., not you, not living in your organization, not your boss) can often recognize options, trends and patterns that you might be overlooking or unable to see. This outsider’s perspective sheds light on the situation and as the situation is illuminated you’ll find yourself asking questions and uncovering solutions that were there all along, but were hidden in the dark.

2. Challenge your thinking

An effective coach often serves as a mirror that allows you to see your own reflection. As you hear the coach ask a question about what you just said, it’s very possible to be surprised and think, “I couldn’t have possibly said that! Is that what I really think?” So much of our everyday thinking is habitual and unexamined. This can be dangerous because our thinking drives our behavior. A coach will help you snap out of autopilot and examine your thoughts. Do you really think your boss hates you? Do you really think there’s nothing you can do to change the relationship with your peer? A great coach will challenge you to examine distortions, exaggerations and erroneous beliefs that may be standing in your way.

3. Introduce new ideas

Many executive coaches are experts in the field of human development and draw on rich and varied fields of study, including humanistic psychology, adult learning theory, adult development theory, neuroscience, and communication theory (just to name a few). Utilizing this knowledge, a coach will have frameworks, templates, articles and exercises that can help you deal with issues or concerns in new ways. Often a coach can normalize an experience or situation by simply introducing you to a theory or idea that explains what’s going on.

4. Help with accountability

A coach helps you set goals and track progress toward those goals.  A coach will help you notice what is changing (and what isn’t).  A coach will help you piece together the puzzle of motivation. If you aren’t following through, what’s behind that? What are the competing priorities and how do you get the priorities aligned? A coach helps you review and reinforce the commitments you’ve made to your professional growth. Through a focus on the process of establishing goals and taking actions, a coach can help you be accountable to yourself in a supportive, constructive, and positive way.

Although going it alone can be a smart way to approach some things in life, often a D-I-Y approach takes more work and time and the results are less than optimal.  Engaging an executive coach can help you quickly gain new insights, recognize thinking traps, use new tools, and stick to your plan, all of which will help you grow and thrive as a professional.