Shadow Coaching for Effective Leadership: Donna Karlin

Donna Karlin, Shadow CoachIt’s a privilege and an enduring pleasure to count among my good friends and colleagues in the coaching world Donna Karlin, Master Certified Corporate Coach, International Speaker, Author and Shadow Coach.

So I was delighted when Donna agreed to spend some time last week sharing her perspective and insights on leadership for the digital age, for the benefit of listeners to the Let’s Talk Leadership podcast show.

A pioneer in the coaching industry, Donna has spent 31+ years helping leaders figure out how to bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be by bringing a dynamic, strengths-focused perspective to executive leadership development.

Donna works with a diverse range of leaders and high potentials from the corporate and business sectors, global political offices and governments, the technology sector, communication design, and science and medicine.

Her work has been written up in Fast Company Magazine, The National Post (Financial Post), The Globe and Mail, The New York Times Business Section, The Boston Globe, and Personal Success Magazine. And her resumé on LinkedIn includes a seriously impressive array of achievements, certifications, qualifications, publications and awards.

She is also an accomplished story teller and teacher, as you will hear in this podcast.


Topics we discussed included

  • Coaching in the public and corporate sectors – similarities and differences
  • Impact of digital disruption on leadership
  • Constraints on people working in the public sector – perceptions and realities
  • Leaders’ attitude to digital technology and how that can affect decision-making
  • A valuable tip for how leaders who drive change can deal with resistance from those who like the status quo
  • Shadow Coaching® – what it is and how it works
  • Strengths-based coaching
  • What keeps leaders up at night and a powerful story about a border guard
  • Coaching, clients’ value systems and meeting challenges at that higher, values level

Shadow Coaching®

In a conversation I found full of insight and wisdom I was particularly interested to hear Donna talking about her Shadow Coaching®, part of the explanation of which, on her website, is as follows:

Shadow Coaching® is a real time learning approach in developing a refined self-awareness and capabilities in the workplace as a result of reflection on practice. It enables people, not only to benefit from the continuous presence of an observing coach over an extended period of time in a typical set of workdays, but also develops their own role as self-observer for the long term. It aids clients in becoming reflective practitioners.


On resistance to change

You’re always going to have those who want to do things the old way, who create roadblocks every step of the way. And until they see a benefit to them, that it has a positive meaning for them, they’re not necessarily going to switch.

About the communication advantages of technology

We are too reliant on face to face.

The technology makes rapid, effective contact possible, regardless of distance.

It’s great! Look, if my client’s in the middle of a bombing overseas, I don’t want to be there: I also want him to have access to me.

On what keeps leaders up at night

Until you look at the context and the content of what somebody is in, that “What’s keeping leaders up at night?” is not going to reveal itself as powerfully as if you ask them “what are you living right now?’

On coaching

Having a coach as a thought partner helps leaders to make responsive, not reactive, decisions.

On strengths based coaching

Listen to the section where Donna talks about her question to clients, “What do you suck at?” (At about the 20-23 minute mark – priceless!)

More about Donna Karlin

You can learn more about Donna, her work and the impressive range of services in Leadership Coaching, Consulting and Training she and her company offer, at her A Better Perspective website. Contact details here.

You can follow Donna on Twitter  – @The_ShadowCoach

Her LinkedIn profile is at: http://linkedin.com/in/donnakarlin

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Des Walsh

Business coach and digital entrepreneur. With coach training from Coachville.com and its Graduate School of Coaching, and a founding member of the International Association of Coaching, Des has been coaching business owners and entrepreneurs for the past 20 years. Over the same period he has also been actively engaged in promoting the business opportunities of the digital economy. He is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coach, and a certified specialist in social media strategy and affiliate marketing.

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One Comment

  1. Managing business is a tough work. That is why it is very important that you have a great leader who will always willing to do his or her best for the business’ success. Like Donna Karlin’s experiences, it will sure to inspire lot of entrepreneurs.

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