Shelley Smith, Managing Director, LAK GroupShelley Smith, Managing Director
For more than 40 years, the LAK Group has played a key role in transforming careers, cultures and organizations throughout North America. With a focus on delivering individually tailored solutions, the company has helped clients shape their highly diverse company cultures, align and implement effective talent strategies, identify and develop leaders, and support people in their career transition.

LAK Group’s client-centric approach has built a tight network with organizations across the healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, exploration, development and distribution, insurance, consumer packaged goods and bioscience space. LAK Group uses the term On Purpose in that they are very intentional about why and how the work they do is applied as part of a sustainable or development process. This leads to positive experiences and results.

In an interview with Manage HR, Shelley A. Smith, Managing Director, LAK Group, talks about the coaching practice within LAK Group and what differentiates their team and work from others in the coaching practice and industry.

Making a Difference in the Executive Coaching Space

Our primary differentiating factor is the team of coaches we work with. We have a heavily vetted community of credentialed coaches to ensure that our coaching brings value to the person or company we work with. At LAK Group we are very intentional as we continue to build our portfolio of talented executive coaches because it allows us to have more options for our customers.

We treat every coaching engagement uniquely. To that end, we explore different ways to help transform our customer’s business goals into people strategies by creating sustainable plans that are appropriate for each client or organization. If a customer needs one-on-one, dyad, or group coaching solutions, we offer our services accordingly.

Our company’s coaching solutions are built around measurable outcomes. We rely on different forms of outcomes to ensure that the sponsor, the client, and the coach are on the same page when it comes to meeting the expectations and objectives of the coaching engagement. Measuring the outcomes also serves as an accountability effort and demonstrates the progress and impact of the coaching sessions.

In addition to my role as the managing director of the practice at LAK Group, I am a faculty member of an organization that trains people to be coaches. This helps me bring in the mostrelevant and up-to-date competencies and ethical practices to our coach vetting process and the continuing development of our coach community.

Challenges That Bog Down the Efficiency of Coaching Programs

Many organizations face the challenges of finding a coaching partner that will be effective in helping them achieve their desired results. This includes helping them identify when coaching is the right solution to be applied. Many companies turn to coaching as a last resort or to help improve a poor performer within theirteams. While this can help, coaching is a much better solution when it comes to the development of employees.

Organizations who have a better understanding of the true benefits of executive coaching utilize it to further develop those leaders that are performing at or above the level of expectations as well as high-potential employees. This helps develop people in their current role as well as build the organization’s bench strength. This proactive approach also helps companies engage their employees differently and be prepared for changes within the organization.

Finding good coaches is another challenge many organizations face. There have been many instances where organizations spend a lot of money and time on coaching without positive results. At LAK Group, we expect our coaches to align themselves with the goals of the client or organization, work toward the desired outcomes and build partnerships with the clients. We are very particular about the return on investment (ROI) for our customers who avail of our services.

Laying the Foundation for Effective Coaching Engagement

Our company believes that the foundation of great and effective coaching lies in the relationship between the coach and the client. During the engagement initiation process, we delve deep into the clients’ preferences on coaches. Based on the conversation with the sponsor or the HR business partner, we pull profiles from our coach community, send them to the clients, and ask them to meet with the coaches for a 30 to 45-minute conversation. Conversations with the coaches will enable clients to determine who they want to engage with.

We know that this process is important for our coaches as well. They also need to feel a connection with their clients to effectively partner with them to accomplish their goals.

We also know that different people need different things from their coach. Diverse options help ensure a better fit between the client and the coach, as well as chances for improved outcomes. Our diverse coach community helps make this possible. The vetting process for coaches involves evaluating their coaching style, approach, and practices. Either through recorded or live coaching sessions, we assess their skill sets and approach in coaching. We ensure they align with our practice and model of coaching as well as with the International Coaching Federation’s core competencies and code of ethics.

Our company believes that the foundation of effective coaching engagements lies in the relationship between the coach and the client

Customer Success Stories that Prove Value

Success in coaching is different for every person and every organization.We work diligently at the start of coaching engagements with everyone that will be involved to align on what success looks like.

We recently worked with a physician who moved out of practice into an interim CEO position within an organization. Hereached out for coaching to better understand his strengths and what he needed to develop or do differently.

Our engagement began with an analytical approach, weighing in on his ability to self-reflect in deeper thought processes. The coach worked with him using a number of assessments and conversations to correlate how his values contributed to his leadership approach and how others were likely to perceive him, along with his potential blind spots and derailers.

The process leading to deeper self-awareness encouraged him to be more honest with himself and other people. Coming to terms with his emotions and their effect on the people around him also increased his ability to focus on people and relationships rather than looking at situations as mere problems to be solved.

By the end of the engagement, the physician CEO was able to initiate powerful conversations and was proud of the growth he had achieved. He embraced the art of leadership and his enhanced interpersonal skills for ongoing effectiveness in all areas of his life and relationships.

Unique Value Proposition that Cuts above the Rest

Most of us at LAK Group have been in our customers’ shoes. This has helped us better understand and relate to their situations and challenges. We also realize the time-consuming and intensive nature of having to vet out coaches and match them to their employees. An additional service we provide for organizations is to help manage the coaching process in a seamless manner. We enable our customers to get the benefit of having a coaching practice within the organization without having to make the investment in staffing or keeping up to date with the coaching world.

Our Coach Community consists of LAK Group employees as well as professionals who work on a contract basis. This provides us with the option to find the best fit for the organization or client when it comes to fostering the coach-client relationship.

We have a strong bond with the larger coach community and make use of the opportunity to learn from each other on best practices, exercises, activities, or frameworks that we can incorporate into our practice.