Don’t Poke the Bear – the Challenges of Coaching Managers, Senior Leaders & Your Boss

Presented By:

David Verble & Mike Orzen


  • Understand and prepare for the common challenges and obstacles of effectively coaching those who out rank you, including your boss.
  • Gain experience “coaching up” in difficult/awkward social situations coaching senior people in your organization.
  • Go home with a new strategy and some techniques you can use for coaching managers, senior leaders and even your boss.

As coaches, we may find ourselves in a position to coach another person in “real time.” These opportunities are not planned or scheduled, instead they just present themselves as they occur. When a coach is working with managers, senior leaders and even their boss, it’s a lot like being thrown into the lion’s den. How direct should a coach be when the questions they ask may challenge someone who they don’t want to provoke. How can you be an effective coach when you are tiptoeing around issues for fear that you might upset your senior?

In this breakout, we will explore a central question: “How do I maintain my integrity while balancing empathy and honesty?” As a coach, we need to empathize with the person we are coaching, but we need the backbone to say what needs to be said. This is difficult when the other person has direct influence over our career and even more challenging when we are coaching in a “just in time” situation!

Facilitator Bio:

David Verble has been a performance improvement consultant and leadership coach since 2000. Prior to that, he worked for Toyota in North America for 14 years, first as an internal change agent and later as a manager of human resource development at the plant and North American levels.  He has also been workshop faculty and consultant with LEI for 15 years

Mike Orzen has been studying and practicing lean for over 25 years in a variety of industries including service, manufacturing, healthcare and insurance. His work includes the coaching of numerous C-level leaders, managers, lean coaches and graduate students. Mike is the co-author of two books which apply lean thinking to information and technology: Lean IT and The Lean IT Field Guide. Mike is also the recipient of the Shingo Prize for outstanding research and publication. He has also practiced meditation and mindfulness for over 30 years.

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