Shadow Coaching™ at the Speed of Laser

by Donna Karlin,

Have you ever worked on an elevator speech, a two minute or less blurb about
what you do, how you do it and why you’re so amazing at it? (AKA your
sales pitch). Picture having that same amount of time to do an entire session
with a client. I’m not kidding. Oftentimes that’s about all the
time I have with a client in a secure elevator waiting for a car to whisk us
to the Hill, or another department or meeting. Sometimes we’re lucky enough
to be in the car without other staff and can actually expand a session to 15
minutes! But even then, we’re usually focused on the meeting that will
happen so all conversation is around that, not the client’s world. I, on
the other hand, from a Shadow Coach’s perspective, have to absorb everything
from time lines, dynamics, conversations, energy levels, engagement, level of
responsibility, global or financial implications, mandate, hierarchy, volume
of memos, reading material, emails and correspondence, processing time, and
staff support to name a few areas of focus. This is my clients’ world.
It defines the term "intensely complex".

Welcome to my world as a Shadow Coach™ to high level political, government
and corporate leaders. Picture the TV show West Wing in all its wonderful chaos.
Press releases are flying, TV’s are going in every office, communications
specialists, political advisors, high level government officials, world leaders,
corporate leaders are running in and out of offices and meetings and BlackBerrys
are buzzing constantly. That is the norm on a good day when all isn’t
going to hell in a hand basket. Add a crisis like a war, tsunami, quake, bombing,
plunge in value of the dollar, a recall, and then it actually gets really busy.
Truthfully, that’s become the norm. I can’t remember a day in the
not so recent past when there wasn’t a natural disaster, threat of a terrorist
activity, war-related or even ‘bottom-line challenge. Let’s face
it, to some people a fluctuation in the value of the dollar can be as devastating
in their world and that of their shareholders as an earthquake is to others.
Ramifications are different, definitely, but a client’s world is their
reality and it’s not for me to rate crises on a scale of 1 – 10.
It’s for me to help them get to wherever they want to and have to get
to by their definitions.

Take this chaotic environment and toss a Shadow Coach™ into the equation
and now you have a good picture of what my life looks like. Sessions are fast
and I mean laser fast. I have to get to a key dynamic of a situation in seconds,
articulate what I need to get across in as clear a manner possible so my client
gets it instantly; processes a quick clarifying conversation and integrates
whatever changes are necessary now, not later. Later for most of my clients
isn’t an option.

here to read more
(for members only)


Donna Karlin CEC, founder
of A Better Perspective™ (
has pioneered the specialized practice of Shadow
™ with over 130 senior organizational leaders in the public and
private sectors and in national and global political realms. Donna is an author,
lectures internationally and in response to widely expressed interest to her
highly successful and innovative approach to coaching, she established the School of Shadow
™ to enable others to learn the practice.

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