The Grand Coaching Philosophy

August 9, 2023

Coaching gets you from where you are, to where you want to go.

Our members often tell us, The Grand feels different. They feel like my people. We thought we would try to explain what makes our community feel this way, by telling you a bit more about what coaching means to us, and how we put our philosophies into practice here.

🚞 Coaching as conveyance

Coaching is really a travel word – if you look at the etymology, it's related to carriage or coach class on a plane or a train. When you hold that visual in your mind, you realize coaching gets you from where you are, to where you want to go. This is an important thing to remember: you don't always have to be directive and tell people what to do. You can coach them and help them get to where they want to go. This is how we approach coaching at The Grand. We believe the best coaches help you discover the answers from your own inner teacher.

🧠 Coaching for emotional intelligence

At the Grand, we believe that emotional intelligence is an essential and learnable leadership skill that leads to clarity and confidence, and becoming the grandest version of yourself.

Daniel Goleman is the psychologist often credited for popularizing the concept of emotional intelligence. In his groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, emotional intelligence is defined as: “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships.”

He goes on to explain that it “describes abilities distinct from, but complementary to, academic intelligence and technical skills. Emotional intelligence competencies are not innate talents, but rather learned capabilities that must be worked on and can be developed to achieve outstanding performance”

Goleman identifies five components of emotional intelligence at work:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social skill

In our view, organizations are made of people. As executive coaches ourselves, prior to starting The Grand, we found that many of the challenges that came up at work for our clients were indeed actually interpersonal or intrapersonal. By helping people become more emotionally intelligent and develop coaching skills themselves, we are helping them solve their challenges at the root cause — providing a strong foundation to solve challenges with their own strengths and talents.

It’s an oft-repeated cliché that the farther in your career that you advance, the more your job becomes about people problems. We think this is not something to fear, and emotional intelligence is the underlying skill that makes these responsibilities feel less daunting.

🏋️ Coaching as a space for learning & purposeful practice

Developing emotional intelligence requires being present, paying attention and having a reflective practice. It’s critical for all of us to take the time to make meaning out of our experiences, otherwise life passes us by on default mode. You're going through it, but you're not being intentional, nor are you thinking deeply about what's happening. Do you want to be the active driver of your life, or do you just want to be a passive participant, letting life happen to you?

Susan Ashford, Management and Organizations Professor at the University of Michigan, writes in The Power of Flexing that, based on the 70-20-10 rule:

...if we go through our high-challenge work experiences mindlessly or without a thoughtful plan to convert experiences into a source of growth, we are giving up on 70% of our learning. 70%! That’s not a resource any of us can afford to waste!

Renowned cognitive psychologist K. Anders Ericsson (renowned for his research on the development of expertise and mastery, which inspired Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers) supports this idea in Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, explaining that experience alone is not enough for improving our skills:

Research has shown that, generally speaking, once a person reaches that level of “acceptable” performance and automaticity, the additional years of “practice” don’t lead to improvement. If anything, the doctor or the teacher or the driver who’s been at it for twenty years is likely to be a bit worse than the one who’s been doing it for only five, and the reason is that these automated abilities gradually deteriorate in the absence of deliberate efforts to improve.

There are two frames for understanding our experiences.

The most common way is the performance-prove mindset. People usually take on tasks and challenges with the goal of demonstrating their effectiveness and skill to others as well as to themselves. This is the default in most business settings. But, research shows that the performance-prove mindset tends to overemphasize avoiding failure and proving that you are a high performer, and this overemphasis often detracts from performance rather than enhancing it. Even more important, the performance-prove mindset is not conducive to learning.

Instead of the performance-prove mindset, when you’re facing any upcoming work or life challenge, we recommend shifting to a second way of framing — the learning mindset. Approach situations looking for the learning they might contain. Here, you’re trying to improve over time and do better than you did in the past. This mindset encourages behaviors like: asking questions, trying new things, challenging assumptions, seeking help, and taking risk, all of which are behaviors we practice at The Grand. People for whom the learning mindset becomes habitual feel freer, have less anxiety, and feel more in control and empowered.

Through The Grand, you will practice the learning mindset. A learning mindset will reduce your anxiety, increase your confidence, and make you more open and willing to explore, therefore helping you learn and grow from your experiences.

Research has shown those who have a learning mindset are more likely to set themselves specific and challenging learning goals.

Learning mindset and high performance go together.

For skills development and mastery, Ericsson distinguishes between “naive practice” and “purposeful practice.” Purposeful practice has 4 characteristics:

  1. has well-defined, specific goals
  2. is focused
  3. involves feedback
  4. requires getting out of one’s comfort zone

Great athletes spend a lot of time practicing in this way, and little time performing. But most people in business feel they have little time to reflect on or even be thoughtful about that they are doing — business professionals tend to spend no time practicing and all their time performing. That leads to problems being recycled and showing up over and over again.

We’ve designed the Grand experience to offer everyone a safe and regular space to purposefully practice their emotional intelligence skills with an executive coach and likeminded peers.

🌈 Group coaching as a kaleidoscope

But, why group coaching?

A recent Harvard Business Review article calls out several of the tactical benefits that peer coaching offers over traditional 1:1 executive coaching:

  1. Immersion in real-time group dynamics
  2. Insight into diverse perspectives
  3. Opportunities to practice new skills in a safe space
  4. A robust accountability system
  5. An enduring support network

The way we see it: if 1:1 coaching is like a mirror, with your coach serving to expertly and objectively reflect your experience back to you, then group coaching is a kaleidoscope where you are able to see a multitude of perspectives. Hearing about other people's experiences often helps you see yourself with more clarity, uncover your own blindspots, and make meaning of your experience in a new way.

In Peak, Ericsson and Pool write:

The best way to get past any barrier is to come at it from a different direction, which is one reason it is useful to work with a teacher or coach. Someone who is already familiar with the sorts of obstacles you’re likely to encounter can suggest ways to overcome them. And sometimes it turns out that a barrier is more psychological than anything else.

We believe that the inherent diversity of perspectives in group coaching allows you to discover a wider variety of directions to try. This is why the power of community is a core piece of our philosophy and ethos. We believe that people truly flourish when they can tap into the wisdom of both community and self.

…sometimes you run into something that stops you cold and it seems like you’ll never be able to do it. Finding ways around these barriers is one of the hidden keys to purposeful practice. Generally the solution is not “try harder” but rather “try differently.”


Next, learn more about The Grand Guiding Principles.