An Interview with Linda Glass

What drives you to be a coach?

When I work with a business leader, it begins with the fundamental desire to find clarity and direction. Through my processes and assessments, time and time again I have seen self-discovery lead to actionable goal setting and real results. It’s liberating for the leader and highly fulfilling for me to see the impact on both the individual and the business. I truly love what I do.

When was the moment you realized this was the role for you?

Working in management at Starbucks, I developed a true passion for discovering and developing talent, and the impact this has on defining a culture and driving business results. In my final role as director of Global Talent Strategies, I was searching for a way to take this love to the next level. I was already coaching informally, but it wasn’t until I took the ROI certification with Susan Steinbrecher that it really became cemented. I had always approached every endeavor with a business case to back it up. Here was a solid process, allowing me to connect with talented executives and make an impact. I was hooked and it was clear from the response that this was the right step for me and the launch of Glass Talent Strategies.

When does a client know they need a coach? What are the signs?

Over time as leaders, we develop habits and behaviors, which appear to be–many of them instrumental in creating our success. Some of these behaviors, however, can begin to create costs for us either in our work, relationships, communication… it usually happens in a period of transition such as changing positions, assuming new levels of responsibility. When someone realizes that they need to change to make things optimal, they seek a coach to help guide them through the process. It’s not always easy to tackle this development in a self-guided way. As an objective coach with actual business experience, I help leaders go through this change over a manageable period of time.

Some people think having a coach means your failing in some way? How do you feel about that worry?

Isn’t it funny how a coach in sporting terms is viewed as a vital guide to success? We would never see someone become an Olympian on his or her own. The most successful leaders I know have insightful partners… coaches that challenge them, steer them, help them see more clearly how to achieve their goals. Failing is not seeking help. Failure is trying to go it alone.

How do you define your role?

You know when you go to the optometrist and the lens click from one to other? Is it clearer now or now? How about now? Sometimes our vision can only be truly defined once we go through a series of assessments and the ah-ha of discovery. My role is to really capture what a leader wants to achieve, guide them through a series of assessments, and help them set an action plan to achieve their goals. Throughout the process, we take snapshots along the way to measure the progress. This could be a one-on-one coaching engagement or it could be a customized consulting arrangement designed to help the leader tackle his or her strategy around the talent they have inherited, acquired or want to tackle for (the workforce) their in a business.

Provide us with a snapshot of how you work varies to meet different client needs.

While I have a process and methodology to my work, it is far from cookie cutter. With each client, we begin with an initial conversation to really understand what the client’s desired goals are, what does success look like, how s/he likes to work, etc. That conversation will inform the process and assessments we will use, who else needs to be involved, and how we want to approach the work. It’s kind of like getting on Google Maps… you can certainly plug in a beginning and a final destination, but it’s truly not a successful trip unless you define up front whether you’re going by car, by foot, whether you need to go on the highway or country roads. I work with my clients to define everything up front in the process.

What is a sampling of the variety of work you might be of focusing on with three very different clients and what achievements did they see?

Client One: A company in high-growth mode that needs to go from “club to company”
This client came to me because his company was experiencing triple digit % growth year over year. The company was at the 5-year mark… they knew they were a viable company, but really needed to make the shift from “club to company.” The leader could no longer lead from the trenches. He also really needed to assess the talent in his company and understand whether he had a true strategy around how his people were going to help the company achieve their goals. We worked together one on one for six months to shift the leader’s behaviors from tactical to strategic using the ROI Coaching Process. Additionally we did a top down look at the talent strategy starting with the overall business strategy and ending with actual positions and people.

Client Two: A large international franchise looking to achieve some aggressive growth goals
I was asked to work with a large, franchised, international organization. While the company was certainly mature, it was going through a massive growth… new leadership in many channels and really looking to innovate and achieve some aggressive goals. The leadership knew they couldn’t do this unless they had the right people and they also knew that their approach to attracting, assessing and acquiring the right talent was antiquated. I embarked on a comprehensive research project for the senior HR executive, accurately capturing current state practices and industry trends and best practices. The final report included a customized, achievable recommendation, which was adopted by the client.

Client Three: The recognized leader who wants to push herself to the next level & a dream job
This individual was a highly recognized leader in her field, working for an international financial institution. She was winning several awards and while satisfied in her current role, really felt the need to challenge her thinking and discover what she was truly passionate about in her work. I customized my ROI Coaching Process for her to not only understand her core beliefs and behaviors, but for her to truly discover her value proposition… what is she both good at and passionate about… The work resulted in her landing her dream job at a progressive technology company. The best compliment I ever got… “I don’t need you anymore!”

What is the ROI Coaching Process?

From a strategic perspective, ROI (Return on investment) Coaching is a combination of self-exploration and actionable practices that are proven to have beneficial results when brought to bear in the work place. It was created by executive coach, Susan Steinbrecher of Steinbrecher & Associates. The work begins with discovering one’s “Mental Models” or core beliefs, which is instrumental to understanding why we behave the way we do. This work is then followed with a combination of 1:1 coaching conversations, a 360-interview process, as well as other personality profiling methodologies such as Myers Briggs, Strength Finders etc. The final result of this “discovery” is a comprehensive development plan. This differentiating process is structured to measure progress throughout the engagement both with the employee and the supervisor/ boss (when involved).

What do you love the most about your role?

The light bulbs that go off, the sighs of relief I get when clients use me to understand how to leverage their talent, the clarity that people achieve… It’s like any true teacher. The fulfillment is in the learning and the application of what is learned.

What are a few fun things about you that clients might enjoy knowing about you?

  • While getting my degree in Economics, I worked in the “Department of Good Ideas” for a month at Eli Lilly. I love that concept. Shouldn’t every company have one of those?
  • I grew up in theatre and began my professional career in marketing and pr there… no better training ground around. I learned to improvise in business and work with all different types of personalities from the local news to CNN, the local actor to Meryl Streep. It was foundational for me.
  • When I started with Starbucks, there were 1400 stores. When I left, there were over 16,000 and over 300 hires a day. Talk about creating a new business every other year! What an amazing, wild ride I got to go on… from marketing to product development to talent management. I realized I loved the impact of people on business more than mugs. It was a great opportunity.
  • I have two amazing sons and I am lucky to be married to Steve. They keep me humble and laughing every day.

What can people expect from you if they bring you on?

Clarity. Direction. Action. Results. It’s more than marketing speak. I mean it and my clients can back it up. I’ll only work with those truly interested in growth and doing the work. You can expect to be challenged, grow, and yes, have some fun.

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