Gary has worked and lived on four continents and spends 90 percent of his time away from his home base in New York City, having traveled almost 800,000 km last year to meet with his clients. In recent years as he spent over 300 days in China, he became increasingly aware that not only could China learn from the U.S., but the West could also learn from China.
Gary is a pioneer in the coaching profession, having been approached by General Electric in 1989 to be one of Jack Welch’s first coaches to GE's most senior executives. He was charged with helping top managers to consider behavioral and management changes in style, a practice that became known as executive coaching. Forbes cites him as being one of the top five executive coaches in the world, and London’s Financial Times describes him as one of the 50 most important global thought leaders. Gary co-authored the book Political Dilemmas at Work, a practical guide to surviving negative political situations at work.
Gary’s passion is in coaching CEOs (and potential CEOs) for whom a global mindset is important. Based in Manhattan, New York, he travels the world coaching his clients. His professional experience includes: CEO, Hallmark Cards Germany; Co-in charge, Hallmark Cards UK; Director Sales & Marketing, Hallmark Cards Europe; CEO, Textron Australia; CEO, Textron New Zealand; and Marketing Director, University of Southern California School of Business.
Gary received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Psychology & Sociology from the University of Redlands, U.S. He holds a graduate degree in Global Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management, U.S., and a diploma from the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft International Business in Cologne, Germany. Gary also holds a Ph.D., in Human and Organizational Development from Fielding Graduate University, U.S. He is a member of the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC). Gary has worked with: GE, Goldman Sachs, Jefferies, UBS, Harcourt Publishing, Sony, Houlihan, Ackerley Group/Clear Channel Media, GWF, PWC, LIXIL and Leighton. He has received Global Mindset Inventory Certification from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, U.S.
Global mindset is not a nice to do anymore. It is not just about curiosity. It is not just about being tolerant of diversity. This is all about survival in our rapid increasingly hyper-connected global business environment.
We in the large developed nations have been sometimes insulated from intense competition. We have not traditionally had to confront the realities of our changing world because we had large domestic markets. We miss cues that would help us take advantage of new opportunities, and we end up being blind-sided, wondering how to climb back out of the ditch as we lose clients and our costs increase while prices for our products fall. The bad news is this trend is going to speed up. The good news is this trend is going to speed up. My mission in writing Global Mindset Coaching is to help you find your way to the opportunity side of this trend.
We interviewed over 100 global CEOs, for our new book, many of whom have been my clients over these 27 years that I have been doing management coaching. I've been using the term 'global mindset' for over a decade, and all of a sudden it's become a buzzword. The type of coaching that I do is somewhat different from most coaches. I present myself as a coach to help someone develop more of a global mindset. It is a very intense experience.
For myself, global mindset means my ability to get beyond my base culture and realize that there is more than one correct way to do things. In fact, I think one of the core concepts of global mindset is the firm belief that there is no one universal correct way, but rather that customs and ways of interacting, decisions, and even management styles are situational. We need to look at what is most appropriate, and look to the individual people and the unique characteristics of a particular culture. Only by looking at these individual characteristics can you come to a best decision about which style and which choices to use, depending upon the circumstances.
A necessary component of globalization of business is for the leadership and for the key persons in that whole business to possess a global mindset. The preparation for global expansion, therefore, is predicated on people recognizing the importance of global mindset, and the ability to embrace global mindset in their everyday management.
Topping the list of the most important skills in global management is the ability to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty, how to manage across cultures, the ability to manage risk that constant change creates, and the ability to understand actions from the different cultural contexts, not simply from the context of the home culture.
Things like ambition are expressed differently in different cultures. Attitudes are different. Even communication is very dependent upon culture. Some people are born into a global environment where global mindset skills came naturally. Many people did not plan to be in an environment that produced more of a global mindset orientation, but it happened to them. Still other global managers deliberately and proactively sought out opportunities to develop global mindset.
There are a number of learning experiences, proactive opportunities where the individual who was attempting or wishing to have more of a global mindset set out deliberately to learn. Coaching as a method of developing global mindset can be a form of individual teaching or tutoring. The coach can focus very specifically on customizing the coaching experience towards the needs of the individual executive. Coaching enables us to embed very specific skills. My international business contacts say their coach helps them to understand their own issues about target behaviors they could change to be more effective.
It’s almost unthinkable in athletics for a person who is world-class to consider coaching as a temporary intervention. The same should be true for management coaching. The senior executive or CEO has a demanding group of stakeholders who expect performance to continue to increase year after year, quarter after quarter, month after month. There is a value that I find of multiyear relationships because I become more and more aware of not just the individual culture of the company which the CEO is in charge of but also know the person being coached better and better.
In my own coaching I tell people that there are three major parts to what I do. First is self-awareness. The second is awareness of the social context, in other words the people who are most important to them and why. The third is awareness of the perception people have of them. It is those three areas that form the basis of my coaching. The coach needs to be totally trusted. As an advisor in an ongoing way I get to know the agenda and the goals of the individual being coached perhaps better than anyone. Becoming an advocate, perhaps a protector in certain circumstances, are some of the roles. The coach needs to be humble, attentive to learning constantly, be very balanced and curious.
Coaching can be extraordinarily valuable, but not everybody is suited or really wishes to have a coach.
The process I use for coaching has been tested and used all around the world. There is not a country in the world where it does not work. The reason it does work all around the world is that you learn from everyone around you in a non-judgmental way. Then you can follow up with that and measure improvements. My job is to facilitate the manager to learn. I’m just facilitating people to learn from what’s around them. That’s why it’s very important in a global environment to ask, listen and learn. Learn by just asking people what to do and how to do it.
Often to get started with a new client I ask about their history. I find that will help me to understand some about what has formed their values. When I begin to learn about what is important to a person who I’m coaching, and what they wish to achieve as goals, I’m beginning to be able to formulate my coaching, my assistance, to help deliver on what they feel is most important. Not only do I ask about what they have as dreams, but I also sometimes go over into discussing with them things that they fear, people or situations, places that have been negative in their lives. All of this, both the positive and negative, helps me understand more about them. This enables me to do a better job as a coach.
Over time I begin to discuss with the person who is most important to them currently in the organization where they work. We usually identify at least five people, and I begin to discuss with them why the people are important, and what they wish from them. We talk about how are they dependent upon that person, or what it is that they do, that they need. I begin to get a picture of how they fit in the organization and how my coaching fits to their individual needs.
There is a very major area that I discuss, and we keep coming back to throughout the coaching. I start talking about it very soon after we met. I ask the person, ‘What have you never got ahold of? What have you never improved or altered, and yet you know this behavior keeps you from being your best? I find this is a very central item with almost everyone.
I use an analogy. If you have a car with a very powerful motor, you can be starting up that car, you can have your foot on the brake pedal, it’s possible to put the car in drive, and get the car to a very high speed, all the while you have your other foot on the brake. Because the car is so powerful,it can overcome the drag from the brake. I work with people who are extraordinarily successful and powerful. The fact they have a few behaviors that keep them from being their best, has not kept them from being successful. The reality is, however, that the ‘brake’, their behaviors, are dragging on their efficiency. If they took their foot off the brake, they’d be able to go faster using the same amount of energy. Or they could use less power, less energy, to get the same speed. In other words, it does have an effect. It’s just that they are powerful enough to absorb that inefficiency.
As I begin to have a more trusting relationship, I’m helping them to understand the primary people in their lives who can help them and how, who gets in their way (the political side), who they need, and how to maximize efficiency and minimize friction in their relationships. We talk about questions they have, that they don’t have answers to, that they perhaps have considered, but gone away from. All of what we do has to be viewed within the lens of pragmatism, not just helping them to get to know themselves. Rather, they are getting to know themselves so they will be more effective, more efficient.
Each of us has an individual personality. Some of us are more introverted, some are extrovertered. Some of us have specific talents that are different from others, so we have an individual personality. Corporations also have personalities, or corporate culture. What’s required, what’s acceptable what’s encouraged really varies depending upon the company. When I coach someone I not only coach to help them change some of their behavior and to consider how they can be most efficient, but I also coach the person within the context that they work in. In other words we need to think about the corporate culture, the personality of the corporation. Nations also have differences in terms of behavior and what is encouraged, what is discouraged, what is socially acceptable and not. This is the third level of “personality” - the national culture. I help the person being coached to understand all three levels.
Often when I work with a CEO, after a time they ask me to work with one or two or three of his or her direct reports. I prefer to have long-term very in-depth experience with fewer corporate clients where I spend many years. Each year allows me more and more knowledge of the corporate culture. I’m beginning to learn the culture very well and understand it through the eyes of a number of people. As I work with more and more individuals at the top of the company, I understand more fully how to coach to the unique expectations of the company’s culture. Generally the assignment with the CEO continues over all the period of time. I believe you can now see how I take all three levels of “personality” into consideration in my coaching.
The first pillar of my coaching method is self-awareness. The second is awareness of one’s social context. The third is awareness of the perception other people have of you.
Some of the people I work with have never really been reflective about themselves, and so for them this is a very new experience to be self aware. To become aware of their social context is also sometimes totally new for the coaching client. The third pillar is understanding and becoming more aware of the perception other people have of them. Very often the impression we think we have, is very different from the impression that other people have of us. In coaching clients, this is particularly important to focus on.
My coaching is generally longer than most coaches suggest. I’m working often at multiple levels within the company, which is different from most coaches. Because of the situation I have where I am working not just with the CEO, but also with the direct reports, I often observe conflict between two persons. Sometimes it is between the CEO and a direct report. And other times there may be conflict between two of the direct reports. Because I have a heavy psychological grounding through studies and research, I’m able to understand some of these difficult interpersonal relationships. When I observe conflict, I then attempt to discover the basis of the conflict and work towards resolution and help the parties work out solutions by using something like shuttle diplomacy.
Because I have a long-term relationship with the CEO, I discuss with them what their goals are for each of their key persons. I’m able to keep these goals in mind when I work with and perhaps even coach some of these key people. I’m working at several levels with the person I’m coaching. Being able to carry the agenda to several people within the organization helps to further the CEO’s vision in ways that are beyond what she or he can do themselves.
“Here is what I got from Gary: First to help me see, assess, and realize it’s really not a dot but a range on a scale. Second to help me form a habit, a framework of reflective thinking and continued learning and progress, and third to help everyone around me to form that habit as well.” - CEO, Beijing, China
“We’ve structured some of Gary’s coaching assignments with our company as more of an intervention. The leaders trust Gary and they trust the organization, given the fact that it’s ongoing. For it to be effective it has to be ongoing. After some time people may reach a point where they need something different, but I think it certainly is more of an ongoing relationship than a short term intervention. A short term intervention is to fix a problem; long term ongoing coaching is to develop potential and help the person to go beyond potential.” - Global Human Resources Executive, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
“I was offered coaching as a bonus to stop me from leaving the company. The company was willing to invest in me. Working with Gary, sometimes we focused on short term interventions resulting from a crisis at a certain point in time. He needed to focus on helping me on a particular topic that's really an urgent concern. At that point in time, how I am managing my staff or how people see me is not the most important thing. There is a long term goal to make me a better communicator, to enable me to get the best from my people and to be the best leader that I can possibly be. But of course you have to deal with the crises as they come up. I think it works very well. Gary deals with what is important to me and in the background I rely on Gary to help me notice what I can improve about myself as a leader.” - CEO, Dubai, U.A.E.
“While I understand the Japanese culture, I want to maintain the toughness and the discipline that I’ve learned from the US company. There are ways I can become muddled when I get pressure from Japanese stakeholders who have not had international experience. Gary gives me a good balance between. He always brings me back and reminds me what I should do and what I should be disciplined about. In a global context it’s extremely important not to lose myself. Gary has helped me with this.” - CEO, Tokyo, Japan
“I was incredibly satisfied, impressed and grateful with the coaching Gary did for me and my people. The number one thing that I got out of Gary’s coaching, and I could not have done my job without it, was the help getting me through some pretty dark places. There are times in these roles it does border on killing you with the pressure and stress. What worked for me was Gary’s ability to help me be able to draw a breath and realize what the priorities were. If I’m not in a position where I’m physically, mentally and emotionally fierce and able to look after myself, there is no way I can perform in my job or look after others.” - CEO, Sydney, Australia
“When I think about my journey with Gary, what it set out to be and what it became, it changed pretty dramatically to play to my needs. I did not expect what I got. It’s hard to put myself back a couple of years, but I don’t think I expected it to be what it was, which was so uniquely tailored to my own needs and evolved. I don’t think I expected it would be as personal.
What is it that sticks out of my mind in terms of lasting value are two things. One is bespoke planning around individuals to ensure that I really strategically think about what I want out of that relationship, and the best way of getting what I want out of that relationship. And the other one is maintaining a positive mindset.
I’ve told Gary that he is going to have to find a new name for what he does, because I think the term ‘coaching’ undersells what he does.” - CEO, Hong Kong