Exceptional Coaching for Exceptional LeadersTM
“Business coaching is attracting America’s top CEOs because, put simply, business coaching works. In fact, when asked for a conservative estimate of monetary payoff from the coaching they got… managers described an average return of more than $100,000, or about six times what the coaching had cost their companies.” - FORTUNE Magazine
CEOs work under the watchful eye of shareholders, boards, regulatory watchdogs, the media, and the public. Their successes are short-lived and their missteps magnified. There is little room for error, and no room for doubt, hesitation, or resistance to change.
Mike Harden understands the immense pressure and intense scrutiny; he has lived it, breathed it, and succeeded in spite, and because, of it. One of the Greater DC Area’s most sought-after executive coaches, Mike brings decades of experience to clients, helping them grow and develop into strong guides and guardians for their organizations.
Being a “good” CEO is not enough in today’s rapidly changing, unprecedentedly complex business world. Being good is the same as being adequate. Being great is the only option. Mike’s expertise, understanding, and ability to connect, question, and advise helps good leaders become great leaders.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about coaching.
In a career that has spanned four decades, there is little that Mike Harden has not seen. As an entrepreneur, executive, teacher, mentor, and coach, he has honed his skills and developed an exceptional depth and breadth of knowledge. His experience and insight has made him a sought-after coach and advisor for those charged with guiding their organizations in complex times. With nearly 14,000 hours of coaching CEOs and other C-level executives — Mike is committed to helping good executives become great leaders.
Mike Harden is:
Mike Harden provides each client with a customized coaching experience guided by decades as a CEO. With empathy and compassion, he helps executives break through the plateau of good and climb to greatness.
Read Mike's story "Good to Great" in Profiles in Success.
- The CEO of Clarity Group, offering top-level executive coaching to CEOs, COOs, Presidents, and business owners.
- A seasoned international executive who has worked for companies including Bank of America, CitiCorp, Sterling Software, BancTec, and Fiserv. With over 42 years of experience, he has spent 24 years at the CEO/COO level.
- The former President of a division of a Fortune 500 company, where Mike started with one employee and no revenue, and grew the division to over 1000 people with revenues of $50-$60 million within 14 months.
- A successful entrepreneur who tackled emerging technology with his ventures, Mike started several new companies in various sectors.
- A business expert - Mike testified before numerous Congressional committees on emerging technology.
- A trusted advisor to business and government leaders from around the world.
- A trusted source on industry events for news organizations including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and CNN.
- A respected lecturer and professor. Mike lectured at George Washington University; held the position of Professor at Strayer University; and was an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland.
Nothing prepares leaders for the enormity of their responsibility and the weighty knowledge that they cannot afford to make mistakes. Mike’s client-centric approach focuses on the needs of the client both as a leader and as an individual. Coaching addresses the real issues facing executives, offering CEOs a testing ground on which they can develop and strengthen the decision-making, communication, and leadership skills that are so vital to their organizations’ future.
An important strategy for a growing organization is to have solid, experienced advisors available to provide guidance, ask tough questions, and give unbiased advice. Mike Harden sits on numerous advisory boards, and draws upon his four decades of business and leadership experience to deliver world-class advice for organizations that need more expertise and knowledge than they currently collectively possess.
ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERSHIP
Situations arise where executives and managers display behavior that is counter-productive to the efficiency and productivity of the organization. Examples may be behaviors like: being condescending to subordinates, not getting along with peers, not being a team player, pushing back too hard on initiatives, and many others. Coaching can help these executives get back on track and learn ways to modify their behavior.
Organizations today are under extreme short-term pressure to perform and their management teams find themselves unable to plan for more than a quarter or two. Mike’s expertise in strategic management (the ongoing approach to strategic planning) plays an invaluable role in focusing companies on the long-term objectives necessary to remain successful in a highly competitive world.
Developing a strategic plan is the easiest part of the process. Most companies that fail strategically, do so in the execution of the plan, not on the formulation of the plan. For this reason, Mike stresses the importance of execution and implementation, and provides the guidance and tools to manage the process through successful completion.
Sales organizations and sales managers are a unique component of the success of a company. Without sales, nothing happens. So ensuring that sales people are performing at their peak, is the highest priority in a company. Training, coaching, and mentoring of key sales managers and sales reps is crucial to success. Mike Harden has decades of experience in sales and sales management, and often coaches sales organizations to higher levels of success.
"Executive coaches are not for the meek. They're for people who value unambiguous feedback. All coaches have one thing in common, it's that they are ruthlessly results-oriented." - FAST COMPANY
“Death by meeting” is an avoidable, and curable, affliction suffered by virtually every organization. Rather than leaving participants recharged, invigorated, and sure of their direction, too often, meetings drain the energy everyone in the room. Mike Harden offers facilitation and training that will transform meetings into productive, upbeat sessions that drive business objectives and engage employees and executives alike.
The value of facilitation is having an external expert direct the meeting(s) and give those usually charged with running them the chance to participate. With the pressure off, they can learn from and with the group. Mike’s upbeat style encourages participation, while his zero-tolerance policy for rambling ensures that time is used to everyone’s best advantage.
By utilizing the techniques that Mike models in these sessions, executives can implement more productive, streamlined meetings in their workplace.
Mike Harden writes a business blog for the Huffington Post. His articles can be found here: Mike's Articles
A sample of his articles can be found below. Click on the link to read the article.
"Using coaching instead of sending executives and managers to seminars two or three times a year can be more beneficial to ongoing career development, not to mention less expensive." - PC WEEK
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Q: What’s the Difference Between Coaching and Consulting?
I am often asked what the difference is between coaching and consulting. There is a big difference. Consultants typically come into an organization for some period of time to do a project, solve a problem, build some process, or offer advice to management. In many cases, tools (software programs, technology, or processes) are used. Consultants usually provide their service and then move on to other clients or projects. They don’t have a vested interest in the success of any one individual. They are more concerned with the organization or a specific project/problem.
Coaches work with individuals and spend their time trying to find ways to make them better at what they do, help them avoid the mistakes that can hold their organizations back, and push them to do things they may otherwise have avoided.
Of course, there are times when this is exactly what you need. I know… I have used consultants in my business for decades. They have their place and they can often help a company do things it couldn’t do on its own. When appropriate, find a good consultant that has the expertise your organization lacks, and use them. I supplemented my company’s weaknesses by finding good consultants to fill in the holes.
On the other hand, coaching is a much more personal thing. Coaches work with individuals and spend their time trying to find ways to make them better at what they do, help them avoid the mistakes that can hold their organizations back, and push them to do things they may otherwise have avoided. There is definitely a level of accountability having a coach work with you. Coaching is long term. It’s typical to work with a coach for a prolonged period of time. A strong relationship develops between you and your coach. Of course, this means that there has to be some chemistry there. Although some coaches use tools (I use 360 surveys and other analysis tools from time-to-time), they still focus on the individual.
Coaches work with people, not businesses. You may be a CEO or high level executive, but you show up for your coaching session as a human being, with all of the baggage and assumptions that human beings have. Great coaches know this, and work with each person on a very personal level, structuring their coaching to suit that particular person’s needs, personality, and concerns.
When you need something done, hire a consultant. When you need to do something yourself, hire a coach.
Q: Why Do I Need an Executive Coach?
Everyone needs a coach. Even I have a coach! A coach is a non-judgmental person who can help you develop in areas where you are weak. They help push you along, getting you to do things you didn’t think you could do, or more importantly, doing things you avoided doing. Think of a coach like a personal trainer…someone who pushes you to achieve more, encourages you while still showing you the right way to do something, and holds you accountable when you slack off.
Let’s take a look at Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers to ever play the game. How many coaches do you think Tiger Woods has? At least five that I am aware of. He has a putting coach, a pitching coach, a nutritionist, a personal trainer, and a swing coach. Maybe more! If the best golfer in the world needs five coaches, how many do you need to be the best in the world at what you do?
Tiger Woods has all of these coaches because he always wants to get better at his game. He is constantly trying to improve so he can stay the best. And there are other athletes that have multiple coaches, even though they are at the top of their game. Coaches can help us become the best at what we do, and help us to remain at the top of our corporate game.
Sometimes we need a coach for a very specific problem we are struggling with. Maybe we need to be better at developing our staff. Or perhaps we have been having difficulty dealing with disruptive employees. Or maybe we have been hiring people that don’t seem to work out.
Whatever the situation, becoming better at dealing with these types of issues is a key objective of coaching.
Q: What Do Coaches Do?
A great coach listens to you. He/she needs to really understand what you are struggling with. A coach asks questions that go below the surface to find the real issues that are causing you to lose sleep or wring your hands over a particular issue. Your coach will structure a program that identifies where you may be weak or where you lack expertise, and then pushes (or sometimes, pulls) you to overcome those weaknesses so you can achieve success, both in your life and in your business.
Really great coaches have a strong depth of experience so they can dig down into their own past (and of others they have coached) to recognize situations that are similar, what was done, and what results were achieved. Intuition is particularly important for a great coach. I know for a fact, that I can hear one of my clients talking about an issue they are struggling with, and I can immediately feel a sense of déjà vu, because either I have been there before, or I worked with someone who had a similar problem. I can use this experience to help the person I am working with develop a strategy to solve the problem. In many cases, they have an epiphany.
In some cases, my client just needs someone to vent to, and I’m that guy…sitting there and listening to them get something off their chests. There is no one else they can go to for this. They need an outside person, with no vested interest in their organization, to listen to what they have to say, and be non-judgmental about it. The coach becomes their guide, mentor, confidant, and teacher.
Anyone that has ever had a coach will tell you how powerful and productive that experience has been. If they can’t say that, they had a bad coach.
Q: What kind of results can I expect after having a coach work with me?
It’s often hard to measure the results of coaching in a purely analytical way. Metrics for a specific issue might be tough to develop. But measuring success is not impossible. When someone decides to hire a coach, there is usually a reason. There is some issue or problem to solve, or some weakness they want to overcome. You and the coach need to lay out what those issues are, and determine what does success look like. In essence, define for each other what results you expect to achieve from the coaching. Once you have agreed to the expected outcome, you have a goal to work towards. If you agree to a metric, for example, “I want to decrease my employee turnover by 20%,” then you can have a measurement to evaluate success. If the goal is “I want to be better at dealing with disruptive employees,” then the end result will be measured more by how you and your coach feel you are progressing based on anecdotal information and your description of how you are NOW handling these kinds of employees vs. how you previously handled them. I often hear a client say something like: “Mike, I have to tell you how I handled Bob’s outburst the other day. I did exactly what we talked about, and he calmed down almost immediately. It was so much better than the last time he had an outburst.” That’s a measurement of success that’s not a metric.
Ultimately, only you can tell if you are making progress and achieving the skills and capabilities you need to be successful. But, let me say this… when you are getting better at something, you will definitely know it.
Q: What Does it Cost to Retain an Executive Coach?
Most coaches charge per hour or per assignment. I usually charge $500 per hour for my coaching services. That’s based on individuals getting one or two hours per month. However, if someone wants me to do more hours, or we determine they need more, that price can decrease a little. Some clients put me on a retainer, and I guarantee them a certain amount of time each month, including phone conversations and face-to-face meetings, all for a fixed fee. In other cases, they want me to work with their entire management team. When that happens, there are some reductions in cost because I can be in one location for a longer period of time. The bottom line is that coaching needs to be flexible, and I understand that, so I will usually structure a program that meets an individual’s needs and fits their budget.
So, pricing is really dependent on how often you want coaching, or how many people you want to be coached, or how long you want the coaching to continue.