How Did I Become a Leadership Coach?

animation production leadership stakeholder-centered coaching Dec 15, 2022

My journey from Executive Producer to leadership coaching and how it can positively impact your studio culture.

Over the last few years, I have offered consulting services to several studio owners and industry leaders looking for more clarity in their leadership practice. They all had one thing in common: they were looking for an approach that helped them and helped their team learn, grow and level up. I have put my experience to the service of these leaders that choose to lead by example.

Without noticing, my consultative services had shifted into Coaching. I trusted my listening skills and insights, but I lacked technique. I knew I had to skill up before continuing my coaching journey.

I decided to take my first coaching training to help me better serve my industry (you!).

Animation is a collaborative medium. The intricacy of teamwork is essential to the success of any production. Being able to work as an effective team is critical. That’s why I wanted to find a coaching program centered around the team and the leader being coached. I decided to become an accredited coach with Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder-Centered Coaching.

What is 
Stakeholder-Centered Coaching?

Coaching for behavior change.

Stakeholder-Centered Coaching is focused on behavior change. Why? Because changing, adding, removing a behavior is much simpler than changing who you are. The thing is, you are perfect the way you are ( awwww… ), but sometimes you can act (behave) more effectively.

What defines a behavior? A behavior is something we “witness.” How we speak or treat others, deal with meetings, communicate, make and share decisions. Behaviors are how we act and interact. Wouldn’t you want to have more effective behaviors and change the perception of the team around you?

Who are the Stakeholders?

The stakeholders are a group of people, chosen by the leader, directly impacted by the leader’s actions and behaviors, people that interact with the leader every day. 

The group is best positioned to provide feedback on the leader’s past performance and propose feedforward to help the leader become more effective at their chosen objectives.

Most importantly, the Stakeholders witness the leader’s improvement.

Wait! What is Feedforward?

Feedback is so 1999. Welcome into the 21st century! Feedback is focused on the past and often time charged with perceptions. Unless you own a time machine, you cannot change the past. But you can impact your future. That is the beauty of feedforward. 

Try this:

  • Pick a behavior you would like to be more effective at, for example. Delegating more effectively.
  • Ask anybody (Yes, anybody. The magic with feedforward is a person does not have to know you to provide it as they are not reviewing the “past you” but helping the “future you” by offering you with feedforward about Delegating more effectively:
    • “Try delegating small tasks first.”
    • “Make a list of all things somebody else could do and assign it to someone you trust.”
    • “Make a list of clear objectives and make sure you agree on the deliverables.”
  • As you receive the feedforward, your job is simple:
    • Listen.
    • Say thank you.
    • No “but” allowed.
    • Just listen and take it in.

Feedforward is like asking for directions to the closest grocery store from a stranger on the street in a city you don’t know. All you have to do is take note and say thank you.

How Do You Know If You Are Ready For Leadership Coaching?

Courage. Humility, Discipline.

These are the essential traits of great leaders. 

Through the coaching process, the leader will have to show courage to step up in front of their team, show humility by sharing the behavior they wish to become more effective with, and have the discipline to follow through the process and show measurable and sustainable progress.

It takes a team to elevate a leader!

Within the Stakeholder-Centered Coaching, here is how the process breaks down as supported by the three essential leadership traits:

  • Humility.
    • A group of people is selected to review the leaders’ performance with a 360 review.
    • Based on the results, the leader chooses one or two behaviors they wish to be more effective at.
    • Such as:
      • Setting more precise goals
      • Sharing information more frequently
      • Delegate more effectively
      • Build trust
      • Provide constructive feedback
  • Once the goal is picked, the leader and the coach do a cost/benefit exercise to inspire the leader to move forward with his choice by realizing how this simple change can impact his professional and personal life.

Imagine getting rid of stress and worries related to work. Would you feel better coming home every night? Would that not only make you a more effective leader but also a better life partner and parent?

  • Courage.
    • The leader presents his choice to the stakeholders.
    • The stakeholders propose actionable suggestions to the leader to support their objective.
    • The leader picks from the provided list and creates an action plan.
    • The action plan is behaviors the stakeholders can witness.
  • Discipline:
    • Once a month, the leader will ask stakeholders ‘’feedback’’ about his progress and ask them “feedforward” to support their goal.
    • During the one-year engagement, the leader’s progress is measured by the stakeholder answering three anonymous mini-survey, where they are asked to rate the leader’s progress.
    • The leader revises their action plan when needed.
    • Meet up with the coach weekly to follow on progress and stay motivated!

Simple right? Simple but not easy. Not easy, but so impactful!

Imagine how this process can positively impact your studio by helping a leader become more effective and create a culture of collaboration, teamwork, and improvement. Imagine taking part as a stakeholder in this process with one of your leaders; what would be your perception of them once you start seeing genuine and sustainable change? Wouldn’t you grow more respect for this person? What if you were the leader being coached? Imagine being able to grow with the support of the people around you?

Do you have the courage, humility, and discipline of great leaders?

Let’s get to work!


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