Since the very beginning, Sounding Board’s vision was to create a coach-led community and to be more than just a company where coaches could expand their coaching business or pipeline. We wanted to create a place where coaches connect with one another over a shared investment in doing excellent work, and learning and growing with one another. We wanted to be a place where coaches get to work with new customers and leaders and be supported in developing their coaching impact with those customers. We feel proud today – six years later – to say we are still just as invested in these outcomes for our coaches — and for our business.
Our President, Co-Founder and Chief Coaching Officer Lori Mazan had a very clear vision from the start — and an open mind — about how coaches could help influence coaching delivery and business growth to ensure we could scale high quality leadership coaching. We could come to her and say, “This isn’t working.” Or, “We wonder if it could look like this.” She was open to our feedback and used it to grow the business and challenge us in how we were thinking about it too. The same stands true today.
We find opportunities each week to gather feedback and expertise from our coaches to help us do our work even better. And this relationship goes both ways, as we provide developmental support and feedback to our coaches on their work as well. Given we tend to recruit coaches who are lifelong learners, they are often appreciative of the guidance they receive while working with Sounding Board, and we know their growth helps us grow our quality. I can confidently say that as one of the first three coaches in the company, the feedback I received from our leaders has changed me — and will continue to change me — as a coach, a leader, and a person.
I also appreciate that in working for a company founded by a coach, Lori brings a coaching mentality to how we grow the business. By partnering with coaches to leverage their skills, experience, talents, and backgrounds — we hire coaches who are experienced leaders themselves — we’ve built a company culture where tapping into our coaches’ perspectives actively informs how we scale.
Leadership coaching is Sounding Board’s core business
Our executive leadership team has also come to appreciate the coach’s perspective. In this stage of our organizational growth, it would be easy to just focus on generating revenue. You need to have some leaders who are driven by that. But our company’s leaders are invested in growing high quality leadership coaching, which means thinking about and looking beyond revenue.
My whole mission in leading the coaching excellence team is to maintain our delivery of the highest quality leadership coaching in the industry — to scale. Some of our competitors seemingly scale overnight. They’ll acquire thousands of coaches, but it makes me wonder: How do they know what all of those coaches are doing with their customers? Daily we are focused on growing coaches who grow leaders. We are thinking about how we maintain fidelity to our brand promise to grow the world’s most impactful leaders, and what quality assurance efforts we can scale to help ensure that quality.
To provide a return on investment to our customers, our brand promise is to not only develop leaders and their leadership capabilities, but to expand those leaders’ abilities to have a greater impact on their organization’s desired results. Given we provide corporate sponsored leadership coaching, we expect our coaches to coach leaders and executives in the context of their organizational environment. As a result, we see different outcomes than if you’re coaching an individual through a privately sponsored coaching engagement.
Some things change, others stay the same
In Sounding Board’s early days, it was really grassroots. It was our coaches and our co-founders, and the coaches were the only ones who got paid. But we were all here because we believed in Sounding Board’s mission. We all wanted to be a part of scaling really good leadership coaching, and we all wanted to be in a community with others who wanted this too.
In this industry, the vast majority of coaches are their own island, working independently and relying on themselves to manage all aspects of their work and its quality. I’ve been an internal coach within organizations. I’ve been an external coach. And I’ve developed internal and external coaching programs. In my opinion, by far the most successful coaching happens when you have a group of people who do the same thing for or with an organization, and can connect with one another for feedback and for growing their coaching practice.
As coaches, we are our own instruments. To be an effective coach, you have to be willing to learn new things and stretch your range because the more you do that, the more you help the leaders you coach do that. I have no doubt that creating a true learning community amongst the coaches at Sounding Board, learning from and with each other, is what continues to elevate our coaches and our coaching.
That hasn’t changed since day one. The commitment to maintaining that has had to evolve as Sounding Board grows, but we truly want people here who want to be in a community, partnering through learning to scale themselves as coaches. That’s who we try to find and recruit in as coaches, and I think that’s a significant reason why our customers consistently report that the quality of our leadership coaching is so high.
At Sounding Board, coaches are truly valued
We recognize that a big part of how we have gotten to this point in our company’s growth is because of the quality and commitment of the coaches who deliver our services. We strive to consistently demonstrate to our coaches how much they mean to us. Whether we are: maintaining a coach rate higher than the International Coach Federation’s global rate, paying our coaches for their time even when sessions might be canceled, finding unique ways to celebrate and recognize their contributions to the company and to our community, it all matters, and we hope our coaches would say so too.
Lauren Morley Hutto, CPCC, PCC, is the Senior Director, Coaching Excellence and a certified leadership and executive coach for Sounding Board Inc.