Month: December 2008

Coaching leaders: How can I truly coach anyone who does not share my values?

I talked earlier about true leadership and earning the trust and respect from their clients, employees and shareholders.


What does that mean for me as an executive coach? How can I truly serve anyone who does not aspire and commit to my values?


As I was thinking about this question a dear friend came to mind. Wendy Johnson is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC).  In May of last year, during the WABC International Conference in Vancouver, Canada, Ms Johnson delivered a memorable opening speech in which she answered that question.


Here are a few of her thoughts which she addressed to us, professional business coaches from all over the world:


“To earn the right to demand of others, we must first demand even more of ourselves.

What are the essential values required of any business coach? I believe there are five:


1. Authenticity


2. Integrity


3. Courage


4. Perseverance


5. Relentless self-improvement


1.         Authenticity—It was Shakespeare who said, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” True to our values, consistently and constantly; centered in our intention; focused in our purpose. How can we be of any value to another unless we are first true to ourselves?


2.         Integrity—When values are integrated into behaviors, and continually evidenced in actions, we demonstrate integrity. We say what we mean, and we mean what we say; we follow through. Our actions speak. Words may confuse, but actions define. As Alfred Adler, Austrian psychiatrist, stated: “Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. 1st movement.”


3.         Courage—Above all, we must commit to doing what we believe to be right by testing our decisions and actions against our values, and by challenging our clients to do the same.


4.         Perseverance—Stick-to-itiveness is critical for the people we serve. It demonstrates our loyalty; it fires their courage. And finally …


5.         Relentless self-improvement—To deliver to the highest standards of our professionalism, I believe it is critical that we regularly examine our intentions, our motivations and our competence.


To summarize, our values as business coaches—authenticity, integrity, courage, perseverance and relentless self-improvement—all speak to the common good in their realization—one and for all!


So we ask ourselves what I believe is a critical question. Recognizing and living our values as we have defined them, how can we truly serve anyone who does not aspire and commit to those same values?


To remain aligned to our values in qualifying our clients is essential to our process. We must test the evidence of their actions born out of their behaviors, and not simply be persuaded by their words, before we can engage in a meaningful and lasting relationship”.


Ms Johnson spoke as a true leader. That’s why I am such a proud member of the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches.


Next time more on ethics.


Economics: a social science

When fear gets the upper hand in today’s stock market, people start losing money. When people expect to lose money they start acting in an irrational manner: they start selling their shares like crazy.


Now why exactly is that?

Kahneman, Knetsch, and Thaler (1990) came up with a theory called Loss Aversion[1].

Loss aversion implies that one who loses $100 will lose more satisfaction than another person will gain satisfaction from a $100 windfall. Loss aversion is a concept of Social Psychology as much as economics. It is not the reality of loss that matters but the perception. The pain of loss is two and a half times stronger than the gain of the same. 


In other words, were are willing to walk a mile to earn $ 100 and we are willing to walk 2,5 miles if it prevents us from losing the same amount. That’s why we act so swiftly or take enormous chances when we have the illusion that we can stop losing money.


So, when Steve Jobs catches the flu, people start selling their Apple shares. When a rumor would be spread that Steve just ran the New York marathon in 2 hrs flat, nothing would change.

Nations have gone to war until their doom because of loss aversion. It simply means you refuse to admit you made a mistake. “Once we have committed a lot of time or energy to a cause, it is nearly impossible to convince us that it is unworthy”[2].

The real question is “How bad do your losses have to be before you change course?” In stocks this is called capitulation, in war it’s called surrendering.


So what could stop us from being so irrational? What do we need in order to change the tide and start having some confidence in the future again?


It’s leadership.


And what kind of leadership have we witnessed in the past decade? Well, the kind of leadership that made us feel ashamed that we were stupid enough to put our trust in them. And, as explained above, that betrayal hurts us two and a half times more than the gain of trust.

The collapse of Enron (and with them accounting firm Arthur Andersen which was convicted of obstruction of justice for shredding documents related to its audit of Enron), WorldCom and most recently, the collapse of Lehman Brothers tells us that something’s rotten in today’s world. And when the Bush administration convinced us that weapons of mass destruction were stashed away in Irak, well, we know the story. If we can’t trust government officials, who can we trust?


So, to get ready for the new era ask yourself this question, dear leaders of the future:


“Why should anyone  want you to be their leader?”


If your answer is without terms as: ethical behavior, respect, care, role model, management by example or servant leadership start looking for an another way to fill your days. The new generation of global citizens will not tolerate you much longer.


The new era will not be about ‘having’ it will be about ‘being’.

Ponder that for a while!






[1] Kahneman, D., Knetsch, J., & Thaler, R. (1990). Experimental Test of the endowment effect and the Coase Theorem. Journal of Political Economy 98(6), 1325-1348

 [2] Social Psychology Fourth Edition, Aronson et al., p. 175

WABC Recognizes New Chartered Business Coach

Chartered Business Coach







For Immediate Release

December 2, 2008 

WABC Recognizes New Chartered Business Coach

Victoria, Canada — The Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC) has awarded Ton de Graaf of the Netherlands, the prestigious Chartered Business Coach designation. This international credential, the first ever chartered-status designation for business coaches and the industry’s most advanced credential, is reserved for the world’s most senior coaches. Chartered Business Coaches have completed the WABC Accredited (Chartered Level) program and have achieved a record of excellence and leadership in their field.

Chartered Business Coach is the third and highest level in WABC’s three-tiered certification program for business coaches. Certified credentials, the most rigorous type available to individual professionals, are based on strict guidelines—they require validation, must be renewed and can be revoked if necessary.

Wendy Johnson, WABC president and chief executive officer, comments, “The Chartered Business Coach designation is as good as it gets. This credential singles out the world’s top business coaches, the ones who have the most experience, skills and training. A Chartered Business Coach is at the pinnacle of our emerging profession—a leader, an influencer, an example to us all.”

Ton de Graaf is the founder and president of Quest Coaching Netherlands, a Dutch company that has specialized in Business and Executive coaching. Quest Coaching also focuses on the “people” side of business, providing developmental coaching, consulting and management training. Clients have included the Fortune 100 companies and Global 500 companies.


“Business and executive coaching is the perfect avenue for what I do best – working one-on-one with people in a supportive, goal-directed professional relationship.”


Business coaching, which includes niches such as corporate and executive coaching, is one of the fastest-growing professional services in the world. WABC has represented business coaches and their clients since 1997, and is the first international association dedicated exclusively to the industry. Says Ms. Johnson, “Our goals at WABC are to set the highest international standards for business coaches, to create a lifelong ladder of learning for our members, and to build and maintain public trust in our industry. Offering rigorous professional designations for business coaches satisfies all of these goals.”

About WABC

The Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC) is the first international professional association dedicated exclusively to business coaching and the only association of its kind to require advanced qualifications for membership. WABC’s mandate is to develop, advance and promote the emerging profession of business coaching worldwide.

Since it was founded in 1997, WABC has seen its membership grow steadily. The hundreds of internal and external coaches who belong to WABC work with entrepreneurs, managers, CEOs, presidents and business professionals from all industries in the public, private and non-profit sectors. WABC members come from over 20 countries, including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.


Contact Ton de Graaf:


Phone: 0031-623382038




Contact WABC: 


Phone: 250-656-8732