Autumn 2014 Issue
Recommended Reading: The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization
Recommended Viewing: Coaching for Behavioral Change
From the Web: Exploring the "Social" Personal Leadership Resources
Toxic Leadership: Tracing the Destructive Trail
Leadership coaching, leader role-efficacy, and trust in subordinates.
Changing the Narrative on Why Women Aren't Reaching the Top
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Dear Clients & Partners, 

Welcome to the Autumn 2014 edition of Executive Edge. 


In this edition, our selections are designed to put the spotlight on the negative and positive impacts that leaders can have, as well as exploring gender stereotypes and their origins among leaders


We hope our selections are informative and thought-provoking, as well as providing you with ideas, 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




The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization by Jacob Morgan

Also check out the Future Organization website to learn more about Jacob Morgan and his work. While there, check out the an invitation only membership community for sharing advice and best practices to meet the challenges of the new, open, collaborative future. 




Leadership Coaching for Results: Cutting-edge practices for coach and client by Sunny Stout-Rostron

This second new book begins with a review of the leadership literature on leadership before exploring leading coaching practices. It provides a comprehensive and practical global description of leadership coaching; offers insights into the next ten years; and provides perspectives, insights and pearls of wisdom for strengthening a coaching practice as well as personal leadership.



Steps in the Coaching Process: Coaching For Behavioral Change
Steps in the Coaching Process: Coaching For Behavioral Change - Marshall Goldsmith

The Coaching for Behavioral Change process has been used around the world with great success by internal and external coaches. Goldsmith recommends following these steps to help leaders achieve positive behavioral change.

From the 
  Exploring the "Social" Personal Leadership Resources


 Ideas in Action  
Summer 2014
by Ontario Ministry of Education  


Although written for leaders in the educational field, this publication uses a solid research foundation for the leadership advice it offers. This includes 10 strategies for developing social resources. This is the first in a three part series that focus on one of the three categories of Personal Leadership Resources (PLRs) - social, psychological, and cognitive. Deepen your understanding about each and gain insights
on how to build and expand these resources in yourself and others.


Web Link - Does not require a paid subscription  




 Are You Ready to Get Creative? 


Five factors seem to set apart those companies who are ready for successful innovation. Using the free Innovation Accelerator online profiler, you can measure your company's readiness and gaps across these five themes. 

Web LinkDoes not require a paid subscription

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Toxic Leadership: Tracing the Destructive Trail 

Sunita Mehta & G.C. Maheshwari. International Journal of Management 5.10 (2014): 18-24.
The authors make the case that the literature on the negative aspects of leadership is scarce and yet the recent incidence of corporate scandals and scams has been attributed to toxic behaviors. In this paper, they trace the origins of toxicity and examines the impact on individuals and organizations.

After a literature review, the authors arrive at a working definition (see image caption above). In tracing the origins, they point out that behaviors can run the gamut from mild, unintended toxicity to more extreme unethical behavior such as manipulation, sabotage and fraud. Some of the key points they make are as follows:
  • Leaders develop toxic behaviors over time as the drive to protect or enhance power and authority becomes addictive. Behaviors increase when left unchecked by superiors and peers.
  • The impact of the behavior is greater as the leader climbs the organization.
  • Behavior is elicited when there is a perceived threat to status, power and control in leaders who are vulnerable.
  • Toxic leaders may be accepted when their teams achieve higher productivity and profits. The behavior is often sanctioned until good subordinates start to leave the organization. 
  • Organizations can become an incubator of toxic and dysfunctional behavior through excessive internal competition, unreasonable goals and a blame game culture. 

The authors discuss the impact on employees (E.g. stress, high turnover and inability to attract talent); and the impact on the organization (E.g. sustainability and bottom line performance/results). They point out that things might appear to be normal from outside when there might be serious trouble within the organization. 




Toxic leadership is a sensitive issue and hard to pinpoint. However, because it is associated with decreased employee performance and commitment, the behaviors and performance of leaders need to be monitored to ensure a healthy work environment.


Organizations are urged to develop checks and controls to identify and address the phenomenon early; to educate leaders and provide feedback when toxic behaviors are displayed; and to intervene in time to curb them. 


The authors acknowledge that further study on the traits of toxic leadership is necessary to develop a scale to measure and address toxicity in organizations. 


Web Link - Does Not Require Paid Subscription  

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Leadership coaching, leader role-efficacy, and trust in subordinates. 


A mixed methods study assessing leadership coaching as a leadership development tool  


Gro Ladegard & Susann Gjerde. The Leadership Quarterly 25 (2014) 631-646
Using data from leaders participating in a six month coaching program and a control group, the authors explored the effectiveness of leadership coaching based on two universal outcome criteria: leader role-efficacy (LRE) and trust in subordinates (LTS). They also investigated how the coach's facilitative behavior may affect these outcome variables.

LRE is defined as "a leader's confidence judgment in his/her ability to carry out the behaviors that comprise the leadership role." Ladegard & Gjerde also proposed that coaching may improve the quality of the relationship between a leader and his/her subordinates by increasing a leader's trust in his or her subordinates (LTS). 

In total, 24 leaders participated in the coaching program along with 192 and results were compared with a control group of 6 leaders. 


As shown in Table 2 below, the coaching group had substantially lower levels of both LRE and LTS at baseline than the control group at the start of coaching, but the coaching group showed significant improvements in measures of LRE and LTS post coaching while the control group showed none.  

"We found that leaders who increased their LRE had confidence in their ability to master tasks in their general leader role, self-reflectiveness, and agential behavior. We also found that the leaders who participated in the coaching process increased their LTS. Furthermore, the increase in trust was related to a decrease in the turnover intentions of the leaders' subordinates."

Practical Application
  1. The researchers argue that effective leadership development could focus more on the interior processes that build confidence and less on the exterior and observable competencies as primary outcomes of their leadership development programs. 
  2. Although trust in leader-subordinate relationships has been studied extensively, LTS has received little attention. This study found that leadership coaching influences LTS. By facilitating the leader's willingness to engage in risk-taking behavior that leads to sharing authority and
    delegating responsibilities, employee engagement can increase and turnover intention will decline.
Web Link Requires a paid subscription

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Changing the Narrative on Why Women Aren't Reaching the Top


Rob Kaiser and Wanda Wallace. Talent Quarterly Vol. 1 Issue No. 3, 2014 pp. 15-20.

According to research firm Catalyst, the percentage of women holding corporate officer roles in Fortune 500 companies grew only 3.4% (from 11.2% to 14.6% between 1998 and 2013). The authors tackle some of the common gender stereotypes and narratives and seek to discover if these are supported by objective research.  

The Stereotypes
  • Women are naturally more relational and team-oriented. They are empathic and better at listening than men
  • Male senior leaders are more confident, assertive and competitive 
The Reality: Data-Based Gender Audits

The authors cite gender audits they have conducted using large samples and objective data. They concluded that while these stereotypes may be true of the general population, they do not apply to most driven, career-oriented women ... and they are not supported by field research with business leaders comprising dozens of studies and thousands of managers.  


Leadership Versatility Index Findings


Using the Leadership Versatility Index they paired females with males based on comparable age and managerial experience. They looked for gender bias in the way men and women rated their own sex as well as the opposite sex. Their studies were conducted in six companies in three industries on three continents.  

  • Women and men are rated similarly by bosses of both genders, as well as peers and subordinates. 
  • The strongest evidence for bias comes from women and not men. Female raters rate women more harshly than do male raters. Self ratings are the harshest of all - women leaders are particularly self-critical. 
  • Women are more likely to be rated as "too much" on "Forceful behaviors" as controlling, directive, outspoken, and demanding.
  • Women are likely to be rated "too little" on "Enabling behaviors" such as hands-off, empowering, and receptive to push back. 
  • Men are more likely to be rated as "too much" on "Hands-off."
  • Women are rated better ("the right amount") on results-orientation, tactical, attention to detail, and follow-through compared to men who are more often rated "too little" on these "Operational behaviors." 
  • Men are rated better on "Strategic behaviors" whereas women tend to be rated "too little" on big picture perspective, growth orientation, and risk-taking.




The authors argue that women have become "boxed in" by excelling at technical mastery and results orientation, resulting in their being typecast in "hands on" rather than strategic roles. 


"[Women] ...get stuck in the technical expert, implementer role and are seen as not strategic enough to lead the enterprise. Further, they are so reliable in this role that they are often considered too valuable to put in other roles, roles that could broaden their perspective, expose them to working across boundaries, and connect their focus on execution to a bigger picture. There is a silent conspiracy among men and women themselves- everyone is complicit."


Web Link - Does Not Require Paid Subscription  


In Closing ...
I hope you have enjoyed this issue of Executive Edge. Like us on Facebook to receive more leadership articles and ideas throughout the year.
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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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Margaret D'Onofrio     
Principal & Executive Coach
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