Winter 2014 Issue
Recommended Reading: Focus - The Hidden Driver of Excellence
Recommended Viewing: Conversational Intelligence
Lead Authentically, Without Oversharing
Political Skill: Explaining the Effects of Nonnative Accent
How Are Top Companies Assessing Their High-Potentials & Senior Executives?
Executive Coaching Industry Research
Dear Clients & Partners, 

Welcome to the Winter 2014 edition of Executive Edge, where we share current leadership theories and research sourced and abstracted from preeminent academic journals and leading management authors. 


Talent management and leadership development practitioners in particular will find value in two of the three studies (featured on the right) as they benchmark current approaches and best practices used to develop leaders and high potentials. 


Also noteworthy are new books from Daniel Goleman and Judith Glaser who share their research and actionable insights from the growing field of neuroscience. 


We hope this edition is informative and thought-provoking and provides tools and resources to facilitate your success as a leader as well as aid in the development of others. Do let me know if you'd like to know more about any of these studies. 


DCP Margarett

Margaret D'Onofrio
Principal / Executive Coach


 Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence


Combining cutting-edge research with practical findings, Focus delves into the science of attention in all its varieties, presenting a long overdue discussion of this little-noticed and under-rated mental asset. 



Judith E. Glaser on Conversational Intelligence
Judith E. Glaser on Conversational Intelligence
gThis clip provides great insight into levels of conversation that can help us become better communicators. Alan Steinfeld's interview with Judith E. Glaser demonstrates using Conversational Intelligence to make deeper and more intimate connections. Watch as Alan and Judith demonstrate the 3rd level of conversation and create a bond of mutual trust. 

To read an excerpt from Glaser's new book entitled "Conversational Intelligence"
click here.

To learn more about Glaser and her work on Conversational Intelligence click here. Click the image below to link to her new book.

  Emotional Agility - How effective leaders manage their negative thoughts and feelings


 HBR Nov 2013 
by Susan David and Christina Congleton 
In this HBR article, coaches David and Congleton argue that leaders stumble because they "get hooked" on negative thoughts and feelings. Ignoring or minimizing techniques serve only to amplify them. By approaching them in a mindful, values-driven, productive way instead, leaders can avoid listening to their "internal chatter" and put their cognitive resources to better use. Read about the four practices they advocate, which they describe as developing emotional agility. 
Web Link - May require a paid subscription   
The Focused Leader  
 HBR Nov 2013 
by Daniel Goleman
Goleman is the author of Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence, and several other books on the power of cultivating awareness. In this article, he explains why focus is crucial to great leadership. "Focused leaders can command the full range of their own attention: They are in touch with their inner feelings, they can control their impulses, they are aware of how others see them, and they can weed out distractions and also allow their minds to roam widely, free of preconceptions."
Web Link - HBR Subscribers 
Also available as a PDF - no subscription required. See also our recommended viewing for more on Focused Leadership from Goleman

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DCP leadership   

Political Skill: Explaining the Effects of Nonnative Accent on Managerial Hiring and Entrepreneurial Investment Decisions  

Huang, L., Frideger, M. & Pearce, J.L. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2013, Vol. 98, No. 6, 1005-1017. 

business-man-phone.jpg The purpose of this research was to test the glass ceiling effect and discrimination against nonnative accent speakers when making hiring or capital funding decisions. For the purpose of this study, the researchers tested the hypothesis that nonnative accent speakers have insufficient political skill to be successful. 


Study 1: Managerial Hiring Study 
179 American university students were asked to rate candidates for a managerial position by listening to audio tapes of American, Japanese or Russian accents. Raters filled out a 38-item questionnaire and in which they assessed whether or not they would recommend hiring the candidate for the middle-management job.


Study 2: Venture Capital Funding
Study 2 was a field experiment using actual entrepreneurs vying for funding in top-ranked U.S. pitch competitions. 60 executive MBA students who had taken at least one entrepreneurship course assessed the entrepreneurs' accents, skills, and attractiveness after watching three videos each. 

Results: In both studies, speakers of native (American) English received significantly higher recommendations for either managerial positions or entrepreneurial funding than did the speakers whose nonnative accents signaled their foreign birth. Nonnative accent, not race, best explained executive hiring recommendations and new venture funding. The bias can be explained by perceptions that nonnative speakers have weaker political skill. The alternative measures of race, communication skill, and collaborative skill failed to explain the effects of accent on hiring or funding recommendations. 
Practical Application: The study has implications for HR professionals, executive search firms and venture capitalists. With increasing globalization and workforce diversity, combined with skill shortages, attracting and retaining talent is increasingly critical. To be competitive, organizations will need to be sensitive to nonnative accent speakers and glass ceiling impact. Through training of decision makers; selection criteria that measures and tests assumptions around political skill and careful selection of executive search firms, the impact of bias can be moderated. Organizations might also consider executive coaching of high potential nonnative accent speakers to address perceptions and bias that might limit promotion opportunities.  
Web Link - Free


DCP leadership   

How are Top Companies Assessing their High-Potentials and Senior Executives? A Talent Management Benchmark Study. 

Church, A. H., & Rotolo, C. T. (2013). Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 65(3), 199-223.

This benchmark study provides important insight into talent assessment efforts in large organizations with strong talent management and leadership development functions. The goal was to identify best practices in the use of formal assessments with high-potentials and senior executives. The study explored the purpose of assessments, methodologies, scope and ownership models, and types of resources used to support initiatives.  


After a discussion of the main assessments in use, the authors make a case for the adoption of multiple methods to overcome the limitations of any one assessment. They review previous industry studies on assessment practices for identifying talent and conclude that while identifying high-potential talent is acknowledged to be critical, some organizations lack a formal process and rely on "ungrounded methods".   


Study Participants 

Individuals from 84 companies participated out of 95 invited (yielding an 88% response rate). The organizations represented in the sample were large, multinational or global companies with a reputation for their talent management and leadership development efforts. Most were recognized by the Aon/Hewitt ranking of "Top Companies for Leaders" published in Fortune.



  • Use of Assessments: Over two-thirds (70.2%) reported having formal standardized assessments initiatives in place today.  
  • Target Population for Assessments: The most frequent targets were senior executives (90%), middle managers (81%), and high-potentials (75%). The emphasis on mid level assessment signals a strong interest in building succession bench strength. 
  • Purpose of Assessment: Assessment for addressing development needs was by far the most commonly cited purpose for both high potentials and senior executives. Assessments fulfill a dual role as they are being used for development and decision-making purposes. (See chart below). 

  • Assessment Methods: The top three methods in order of popularity are multisource or 360-degree feedback (66% and 60% for high-potential and executives respectively); personality inventories (66% and 57%), and one-on-one interviews with candidates (59% and 57% respectively). 
  • Multiple Assessment Use: 82% of organizations use more than a single method of assessment with high-potentials and 74% used two or more methods with senior executives.   
  • Scope & Ownership of Assessments: Respondents were asked if their assessment processes were global, regional, or local in scope. Results suggest a significant trend toward a global focus in the assessment process for both high-potentials at 63% and senior executives at 78%. 
Practical Application: The study is important in that it highlights best practices at companies recognized for developing talent. The use of multiple assessment tools; the importance of measuring the right content, with appropriate methods and for appropriate reasons; a dual focus on identifying and developing leaders through assessment; a growing dual focus on future senior leaders in addition to current senior leader development; and global talent development initiatives.  


Web Link - Requires Paid Subscription  


DCP leadership   

Executive Coaching for Results - Executive Coaching Industry Research 

Underhill, B. Ph.D. and McAnally, K Ph.D. - CoachSource, 2013.
Building upon the "High Impact Executive Coaching" by Executive Development Associates and CoachSource from 2005, this study examined the coaching industry from several perspectives: internal coaches, external coaches, leaders being coached, and organizations that use coaches. Highlights of results:
  • Executive coaching is expected to continue to grow. The majority of respondents from organizations (77%), internal coaches (92%), and external coaches (91%) expected coaching use to increase.
  • Primary purpose of executive coaching. Leadership development is the #1 reason for hiring a coach. Interestingly, executive presence was the second most important reason cited for coaching. (See chart below). 


  • Measuring the ROI of executive coaching.
    The number of organizations linking executive coaching to business results has increased significantly since the first study in 2005 (from 7% in 2005 to half of the organizations in 2013). 88% of leaders and 84% of organizations rated coaching as very effective or effective.  
Web Link - Requires Paid Subscription
In Closing ...
I hope you have enjoyed this issue of Executive Edge. 
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Margaret D'Onofrio

Principal/Executive Coach



Coaching Columbia Alliance

D'Onofrio Consulting Partners is a founding member of Columbia Coaching Alliance, a world-class group of seasoned executive and organizational coaches with diverse industry experience and unparalleled capability. Their access to Columbia's cutting-edge research in psychology, neuroscience, and organizational development establish an unmatched resource in the field and, together with their global professional network of coaching associations and support personnel, enable organizations to leverage their human capital advantage.

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DCP Contact

Margaret D'Onofrio
Principal & Executive Coach
Four Oaks Place, 1330 Post Oak Boulevard, Suite 1600
Houston, TX 77056
Tel: (713)-963-3673
Fax: (281)-286-1129

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