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Bespoke 1-2-1 coaching – How it works

Each of the five prospective candidates completes a short questionnaire, with
advice to spend no more than five minutes completing it, plus up to 15 minutes additional thinking time. Questionnaires are best completed within four weeks of a ‘pre-session’.

Free ‘pre-session’

A 45-minute to one hour ‘pre-session’ is provided at no cost to you or your organisation and is offered without obligation. These chemistry/investigative meetings are vital since candidate and coach need to feel comfortable working together. I frequently receive feedback that even this short ‘pre-session’ is inspirational, since it immediately gets the candidate thinking in new ways by opening up fresh possibilities and creating focus. Since January 2012 just one candidate has backed out at this point.


Under our industry’s strict code of professional conduct, coaching sessions have to be confidential between coach and candidate. The only feedback that any ‘sponsor’ receives is from the candidate and this often happens after Session Three.

Exploratory first coaching session

In preparation for Session One, I identify approximately eight top-priority themes most likely to unlock a candidate's true potential. Every candidate has unique strengths, weaknesses and experience, which is the reason that 1-2-1 coaching works best when developing the skillsets of senior management. Themes are written up in longhand in a way that helps define successful outcomes. Each candidate edits and scores these draft themes as one major part of their first coaching session.

Subsequent highly focused coaching sessions

Extra time is allotted to a candidate's highest scoring themes. There is rarely 'homework' in between sessions apart from using eyes and ears differently plus, occasionally, some relevant background reading. Having coached hundreds of senior leaders over the last 20 years it is considered valuable to compare each candidate using my uniquely configured matrix system, which meticulously tracks specific nuances in each leader’s communication style. This can be a revelation to many.

Candidate selection

A single initial candidate may ask 'why me?', so ‘sponsors’ often propose two candidates. If required, start dates for multiple candidate programmes can be staggered to spread the monthly investment. A typical four-session programme provides eight hours of coaching over four months, which I find works best for generating long-term change. I used to provide eight two-hour sessions. 20 years of experience in supporting many hundreds of leaders have helped me to deliver greater value at an even faster pace. One approach for selecting candidates is to identify at least one 'mover and shaker'. This sends out a clear message that coaching can be used successfully with stars and rising stars. Coaching isn't a punishment. Professionally delivered coaching is about taking people to their next level, at every level, and it works. Read a few of my many attributed endorsements under the section called 'Squawk!'.


Coaching is usually held on client premises or somewhere close by. All we need is a private space with a table and two chairs. 28% of candidates actively prefer to be coached in our boardroom at Embassy Gardens near Vauxhall.

Bespoke password-protected session notes

I provide password-protected bespoke session notes that typically run from 10 - 30 pages per candidate per session. These are almost invariably issued by email within 48 hours of the end of every session.

OvationXL’s unique promise

I pledge the unequivocal offer to take calls and emails in between sessions plus up to ten years after the coaching ends at no further cost to your or your organisation, up and till such point that I decide that a follow-up session would be best.


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