My new OKR Leadership book is available today… please help me promote it

Please help me promote my new leadership book!
Title: Objectives + Key Results (OKR) Leadership; How to apply Silicon Valley’s secret sauce to your career, team or organization.
Please forward this page to your friends and colleagues today.
Download Chapter 1 as my gift to you. It’s a big file, so the chapter and resources link is here.
Then write a review in your favorite social media platform.  Mention my title: Objectives + Key Results (OKR) Leadership; How to apply Silicon Valley’s secret sauce to your career, team or organization.
Please share these testimonials with your team or organization:
Doug Gray makes the complex understandable. More important, he makes it doable.”
   Craig E. Aronoff, Ph.D., author, Chairman and co-founder, The Family Business Consulting Group, Inc.
“Doug builds on the OKR approach with practical and valuable guidance for individuals, teams and organizations. If you plan on implementing OKRs for your organization, you need this book.”
   John Mattox, PhD, author, Head of Talent Research, Metrics that Matter, Explorance
“Introducing the OKR framework has not only allowed us to align our company goals throughout the organization, but it has also provided an easy mechanism to give visibility into how we drive operational accountability.”
   Justin Jude, Acting President, LKQ Corp, North America
“Finally, a much needed leadership focus on the importance of clear objectives and specific, measurable results. This book will be useful not just for the present but throughout a practitioner’s career.“
   Dave Vance, PhD, author, Executive Director, Center for Talent Reporting
Invest in an OKR Leadership Workshop for your team or organization today. Programs are direct or virtual. See details at and the OKR Leadership site here.
Learn about OKRs in the free course here.
Select a mutually convenient time for us to talk here.
Thank you in advance for your help.
Here’s to you, at your best!
Doug Gray, PhD, PCC . 615.236.9845


Here are some gifts from 2018 that I’d like to share with you, my clients and associates.

I strongly recommend that you save this url in your contact for “Doug Gray” or “Action Learning Associates.”

You may want to download this new content and add it to your digital folder for “Action Learning Associates.”   There are many great resources here!

Here’s to you, at your best!  When playing with new friends like Spider Monkeys, or not.

doug graydoug gray

Q4 included several customized leadership development workshops.

  • One F500 client wanted to “develop a culture of fiscal accountability using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).”  If you are a client and want to see the customized app that included that content please contact me here.
  • One client wanted to “introduce positive psychology practices into their organization.”  Over 1,300 people have viewed the content here.
  • One F500 client wanted to “develop the executive presence and the reputations of their leaders.”   A video of that content is here.
  •  Several small business leaders wanted succession planning content to accelerate their leadership to the next generation.

Q3 included trademarking the AD-FIT model for any managers or professional coaches to use.

  • Many clients asked, “What works?”  They needed a process or protocol to cascade consistent expectations to direct reports, to serve clients, to lead others effectively.
  • A 90-second video explanation is at and here
  • The AD-FIT process for external providers, consultants and coaches is at .
  • The AD-FIT process for managers and leaders is at
  • The AD-FIT Level 1 Certification Course is at www.WhyCoachesFail.  If you are a client and would like free access please contact me here.
  • Many consultants, managers and professional coaches have completed the AD-FIT Level 1 Certification Course.  And I have been invited to share the AD-FIT model at the Metrics That Matter conference hosted by Explorance, in March, 2019.  Contact me for licensing details.

Q2 included my PhD in Organizational Leadership dissertation defense from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

  • My dissertation title was “Positive Psychology Coaching Protocols: Creating Competitive Advantage for Leader Development.
  • My abstract / summary was:  A gap exists between positive psychology coaching (PPC) theory and practice because PPC lacks rigorous measurement, evidence-based protocols and standard processes. This quasi-experimental study assessed the relationship between PPC protocols and performance or behavioral outcomes of leaders. The participants were global professional coaches (n = 220) who completed two sets of surveys after delivering 90 days of coaching, and completed approximately 60 minutes of digital training. The primary assessments were (a) the Psychological Capital Questionnaire (PCQ-12), (b) the Values in Action (VIA-72) questionnaire, and (c) the Outcome Measures Survey that included the Goal Attainment Satisfaction (GAS) score. The PPC protocols included compliance using assessments, defining meaningful coaching outcomes, compliance over time, and compliance with the AD-FIT coaching protocol. Those participants with higher compliance to the AD-FIT coaching protocol (n = 16) reported slightly higher goal attainment scores than the participants with lower compliance (n = 18). Open text box analysis was conducted to deepen understanding of the relationship between participation and leader outcomes. The top two performance outcomes (n =100 responses) were increased productivity and focus. The top two behavior outcomes (n =115 responses) were improved relationships and effectiveness. The theoretical, methodological and practical significance of this research indicate opportunities to create competitive advantage in leader development.
  • A riveting 60-minute video of the dissertation defense with research findings is hosted at
  • In Q4 the dissertation was finally published online for researchers at ProQuest.  If you’d like a copy in PDF please contact me.
  • Yes, you may now call me Dr. Doug Gray, if you wish.

Q1 included a website redesign and marketing with new content.

A final note for your files…

All of you who are individual or team coaching clients are familiar with this new client intake document.   Here is a very generous gift.  When I work with leaders I ALWAYS use the AD-FIT process.  Since 1997.  It works.  Outcome-based coaching is a straightforward process.   I strongly recommend that YOU adopt the AD-FIT protocols.  Click on the bullet below.  Then download the content.  Then use these 28 validated outcomes for executive coaching or business coaching.  Leaders practice leadership, just as physicians practice medicine and attorneys practice law.

A friend recently asked why I like to GIVE AWAY so much content to my clients and associates.  I have several answers:

  1.   You are my champions and buying agents who will download and share this new content as you see fit.
  2.   My ancestors are teachers and ministers, accustomed to sharing practical knowledge.  I know what works.
  3.   I can share everything I know, and still know it.  Wisdom is meant to be shared.

May you have an OUTSTANDING 2019!

Should You Invest In A Leadership Workshop For Your Team?

leadership workshop

Managers, by definition, must maximize the productivity of others.  When we ask audiences, “How many of you are managers?” over 70% of the audience typically raise their hands.  Many do not have the word “manager” in their title.

As managers, you know that it is your job to maximize productivity and outcomes from your employees.  You need evidence-based best practices in leadership development.  Today.  And you need to demonstrate the ROI of that leadership workshop within 90 – 180 days.  There is a myth that leadership development programs should only be scheduled in the spring and fall, to avoid conflicts with vacations.  The reality is that leadership development workshops include both direct and virtual content that reinforces your outcomes.  Our programs last 3-12 months.  You should invest in a leadership development provider (like Action Learning Associates) because it is cost-effective and efficient.  Your core business is something else.  Our core business is to accelerate leader development.

Here are three reasons why YOU SHOULD invest in a leadership development workshop today.  

  1.  Investment in a leadership workshop should directly increase your team’s engagement 

Leaders need to practice leadership, just as attorneys practice law and physicians practice medicine.  Many studies have shown that when employees are engaged in leadership workshops they are then more likely to be engaged in the workforce. An employee who is more engaged is a) more effective at required tasks, b) more efficient on key performance indicators or objectives and key results (OKRs), and c) more likely to stay employed at your organization.  Retention of desired employees is a requirement in today’s competitive Talent Economy.  Be smart.  You never want to retain average employees- but you DO WANT to retain 100% of your desired employees.  And leadership development workshops are the most cost-effective way for you to increase retention of your desired employees.  We recommend that 70% of your promotions are internal, to encourage career ladders and talent succession.  We strongly recommend that you invest in 100% of your top performers with leadership development programs AT LEAST twice/ year.

2.  Investment in leadership workshops can help you develop your workplace culture

Culture can be developed, and must be developed, in response to changing market demands.  Ask anyone involved in leadership development coaching, and they will tell you that culture cannot be left to chance.   That would be reckless.   The academics describe culture as “how organizations function.”   As an example, we recently provided a leadership development workshop around ONE objective, “to create a culture of fiscal accountability using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).”  Let me explain…

Culture is best described using three overlapping circles.  Label each circle as: 1) underlying assumptions, 2) espoused behavior, and 3) artifacts.

1) underlying assumptions are the shared beliefs of your organization, including history of acquisitions, traits of key leaders who get promoted faster, competencies of leaders with higher reputations, or that unspoken assumption you have about a market or colleague.

2) espoused behaviors describe what we say we do, including common phrases such as “I’ll solve this” or “that’s not my problem.” Notice the difference between what we say we do, and what we actually do.

3) artifacts are tangible symbols of the culture, such as a new National  office in Nashville, TN for centralized services and consistent management of others. The cultural values posted in the lobby are artifacts of how you work.

Fact:  All three of these aspects of culture can change quickly.  Therefore, you NEED to invest in leadership development workshops to develop your desired organizational culture.   Today.  

3.  Investment in a leadership workshop should improve employee morale

Many studies have shown that large organizations are investing less time, money, energy and training  in their employees than they did 10 years ago.  Professional development discretionary budgets have plummeted from over $10,000 per person in 2008 to $4,000 per person in 2018.   Today, we invest more into maintaining cars and machines than we do in our most critical variable-  people.  That trend is reckless.   If you are investing less in your people than you did 10 years ago then you are LITERALLY in a race to the bottom of your market.   Look at the fact that only 35% of today’s F500 companies have been there for more than 50 years.  If you want to increase employee morale, then you need to invest in your top employees.  Nothing is a more critical investment.  Today.  Employee morale is NOT a lagging indicator.  If you want to develop agile problem solvers, then you need to invest in leadership development workshops.  You can make employee morale into a leading indicator.  Today.

You should not invest in a leadership workshop IF you do not care about 1) employee engagement, 2) workplace culture, or 3) employee morale.  We do NOT want to talk to you.  We wish you Godspeed.

You should invest in a leadership workshop IF you do care about 1) employee engagement, 2) workplace culture, or 3) employee morale.  We DO want to talk to you.  Today.  

We provide outcome-based leadership development workshops that guarantee your results.  We deliver programs throughout the United States and Canada.  We provide expert leadership coaching and executive coaching services, based in Nashville, TN or globally.  We’d like to visit you ASAP.

Contact us here.  Today.

If you are based in the Nashville, TN area then we are neighbors.  See details for leadership training for your employees here.   We’d like to visit you ASAP.

What is the best certification or methodology for executive coaching?

Recently I was asked this question by someone who desperately wanted to be certified as an “executive coach.”

Be careful.  Here are the facts.

There is not one “best coaching certification or methodology for those who work with executives,” for several reasons.

1. Executive coaching is a new approach with a short history (about 20 years) within psychology (about 100 years). The protocols that would be “certifiable” have not yet been well defined.  There is no external board or established practices, as in other professions such as healthcare, finance or law. I often ask, “Who certifies the certifiers?” (And I have been certified by several coaching providers for decades.)  One example of certification based on my dissertation research with global professional coaches is here.

2. The coach training industry is estimated at 53,500 global coach practitioners and over $7B in annual revenue, with 115 accredited coach training programs (ICF, 2016). The reality is that coaching certifications and silly acronyms abound.  I co-developed one back in 1999, when there were only about 20 ICF accredited coach training programs.

3. There is market confusion about definitions and coaching outcomes. The result is that vendors have responded to the market confusion. A gap exists between theory and practice because executive coaching lacks rigorous measurement, evidence-based protocols and standard processes. The largest organization, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) stated “the top future obstacles for coaching are (a) untrained individuals and (b) marketplace confusion (ICF, 2016).” That survey understates the confusion. Your question illustrates the desire by many to “get certified.”

4. In any marketplace vacuum, competitors emerge. Countless colleges and universities will declare that their certification programs define standards. Be careful. That archaic model presumes that academics know best, and we are increasingly aware of disruption in the marketplace. I like academics. My dissertation explored the competitive advantage of coaching protocols, using global professional coaches. As the “coaching profession” develops momentum, I encourage you to study the practical market demands for coaching protocols. You may want to be cautious. “The top future opportunities for coaching are (a) increased awareness of the benefits of coaching, and (b) credible data on ROI/ROE/outcomes (ICF, 2016)”. In short, we need to define protocols for outcome-based coaching, including useful certification programs.

5. Certification programs exist. I favor the ROI methodology described at the ROI Institute, and a 2-level executive coaching certification process. Last week the co-founder, Patti Phillips, and I discussed certification programs that moved beyond knowledge to practical demonstrations of mastery. She encouraged me to focus on practical applications. (Disclosure: I trademarked the AD-FIT coaching protocol when some F500 clients asked “How do you operationalize what works?” Those details are at Products Archive – Action Learning ( and throughout this website. The fact is that “Many professional consultants or coaches do not adhere to evidence-based protocols (Foster & Auerbach, 2015; MacKie, 2014. Citation sources available upon request.)

6. Organizational clients may design their own executive coaching certification programs. They are cost-effective and foster cultural expectations. (Disclosure: I also serve as an engagement manager and executive coach at CoachSource | Executive Coaching Excellence (, the largest global provider of executive coaching.)  Those internal coaching certification programs are customized internally, with expertise from coaches like me, for specific business outcomes that are proprietary.

Bottom line: Certification for executive coaching implies a mature profession with protocols that satisfy a market demand.

If useful, please contact me here. I’d love to discuss your interest in executive coaching certification programs.

All the best, Doug

What Is More Important For A Leader – Identity or Reputation?

Before you answer my question, let’s define both “identity” and “reputation”.

Identity: is how you see yourself.
Reputation: is how others see you.

Now, back to the question: What do you think is more important for a leader – Identity or Reputation?

Pick one before you read ahead or watch this video clip.

Here are some interesting facts regarding identity and reputation:


  • Self-awareness is inflated and inaccurate.
  • Self-ratings of performance underestimate our capabilities.
  • Less predictive of career success than feedback from others.


  • Other-awareness is variable and biased.
  • Based on what others think I do or say.
  • More predictive of future performance than self-ratings.

So, what’s more important? The answer to my opening question is Reputation.

That may seem counterintuitive. Executive presence is defined by reputation, NOT self-identity. Let me explain this with a short video.

Video Link - What do you think is more important for a leader - Identity or Reputation?

P.S. What do you think is more important for a leader – Identity or Reputation? Reply to this email. I would love to know your thoughts on it.

Action leads to learning.  What are you waiting for?

To contact Doug Gray, CEO, PCC, call 615.236.1892 or contact us here.  Today.

Positive Psychology Coaching Protocols: Introducing the AD-FIT% Model TM

Protocols abound in finance for security and risk mitigation.  Thankfully.

Protocols abound in healthcare for efficacy and efficiency.  Thankfully.

Protocols are not yet adopted by coaches, but they need to be adopted ASAP. 

For details on my dissertation research of global executive coaching and leader outcomes, using positive psychology protocols, contact us here.  For certification programs using the AD-FIT coaching protocols, see the products for internal managers here, see the products for external coaches and consultants here.

We trademarked the following model because our clients asked us, “What works?”

Positive Psychology Coaching Protocols:

The AD-FITTM Model

Assess coachee’s signature strengths:






Assess Mindset:  To what extent is the leader/ coachee willing to change?

(Fixed mindset 0-20%, 20-40%, 60-80%, 80-100% growth mindset)

Define a meaningful goal or outcome for the leader/ coachee. (A measurable performance or behavior)

Focus on the leader/ coachee’s agenda. (“I’m a little concerned about…”)

Intervention or possible action for the leader/ coachee. (“Have you considered…”)

Takeaways or next step for the leader/ coachee. (Model accountability and change.)

% of adherence to this model? (0-20%, 20-40%, 60-80%, 80-100%)

Understanding of Positive Psychology Coaching (PPC) protocols:

Introduction to Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology (PP) may be operationally defined as the science of well-being and optimal functioning.  The phrase “positive psychology” was coined by Maslow (1954) and is rooted in humanistic psychology.  Recent research in PP has defined five clusters of scientific findings, the PERMA model, that describe positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments (Seligman, 2011).  The construct of signature strengths can be assessed using the Values in Action (VIA-72) questionnaire (Seligman & Peterson, 2011).  The construct of Psychological Capital (PsyCap) can be defined as a dynamic, higher-order construct comprised of hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism (Luthans, Youssef-Morgan & Avolio, 2015).

Introduction to Positive Psychology Coaching

This Positive Psychology Coaching (PPC) program was designed in response to a perceived need for development of business leaders actively engaged in professional coaching.  The confidential relationship between coaches and coachees will be maintained throughout this research. Autonomy and mastery are critical aspects of professional coaching relationships, and will be maintained throughout this research.

The goals of this PPC program include: (a) assessing and developing individual character strengths using validated strengths-based assessments, (b) adhering to a structured evidence-based protocol for positive psychology coaching, (c) developing a strengths-based goal attainment process customized for each leader (coachee), (d) measuring Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) by evaluating adherence to three goals that are personally meaningful and relate to business outcomes for the leader (coachee), (e) modeling action planning and accountability in each coaching session by evaluating adherence to the coaching protocols, (f) quantitatively and qualitatively measuring the effect of positive psychology coaching on coachee outcomes.

Coaching engagement goals

The goals for each coaching engagement will be defined by each client (coachee) and customized with their professional coach.  Each coachee will be encouraged to define three goals that are personally meaningful, relate to business outcomes, and can be measured using the goal attainment scale (GAS).  Representative examples of coaching engagement goals may include (a) driving retention and organizational performance through tactical execution, (b) developing strategic thinking and planning, (c) developing leadership capability in key areas to leader success, (d) aligning and integrating current role with desired future role, (e) developing executive presence, (f) aligning operations with other business sectors to drive shared accountability and measurable impact on business outcomes.

Coaching engagement outcomes    

The outcomes of each coaching engagement are typically described by knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs.)  Examples of knowledge outcomes for the coaching engagement may include (a) aligning the leader’s role with organizational vision, mission, and values, (b) defining how the leader’s role expectations affect collaboration with others, (c) understanding the strengths and values that describe each leader “at their best” and incorporating those strengths into regular vocabulary, and (d) defining key actions essential to reinforce business outcomes.

Examples of the skills outcomes of the coaching engagement may include (a) building capacity to manage resources and the productivity of others, (b) developing strategies for managing energy and time to improve productivity, (c) communicating the leader’s vision and key messages in an impactful manner, (d) developing skills in written messaging that focus on strength-based leadership, (e) modeling self-awareness by incorporating signature strengths into leadership and management activities, (f) applying conflict resolution skills to reach mutually beneficial and positive outcomes, (g) demonstrating effective active listening skills, (h) accurately reading a situation and projecting confidence, decisiveness, assertiveness and poise under pressure, (i) modeling collaborative leadership skills by creating actions plans that include partnering with other leaders, supporting performance goals, building key alliances, and implementing business outcomes.

Examples of the abilities outcomes of the coaching engagement may include (a) fostering innovation, (b) directing initiatives that build alliances and mutual respect, (c) communicating across business sectors by translating key messages between different groups, (d) leading alignment with others using strategic thinking, (e) enhancing problem solving ability to approach common issues/concerns with extraordinary thinking to foster innovation.

Possible activities for PPC engagements

The following list of evidence-based activities is a descriptive resource and is not intended to be prescriptive for any professional coaching or consulting engagement.

  1. Encourage your coachee to take a validated assessment such as the Values in Action (VIA-72) assessment or the Psychological Capital (PSQ-12) assessment
  2. Conduct a strengths-based interview of your coachee using results from the Values in Action (VIA-72) assessment
  3. Conduct a strengths-based interview of your coachee using results from the Psychological Capital (PSQ-12) assessment
  4. Encourage your coachee to describe their best leadership story (“At my best story”) using results from a validated positive psychology assessment
  5. Encourage your coachee to determine three performance or behavioral goals, that are personally meaningful, that relate to business outcomes
  6. Measure achievement of those three business-related goals using the goal attainment scale (GAS)
  7. Encourage your coachee to develop a gratitude journal
  8. Encourage your coachee to document “Three Good Things” for a day or a week, and note any contributing variables or patterns
  9. Invite your coachee to practice multiple acts of kindness toward others, especially within 24 hours
  10. Conduct a Best Future Self activity or guided meditation activity
  11. Encourage your coachee to document the quantity and quality of physical activity, emotional shifts and cognitive energy, for at least 24 hours

My bias/  The bottom line:

The art and science of professional coaching requires that professional coaches adhere to the AD-FITTM protocol model.

See details in the products section.

For details on assessment, interventions, certification, training, or research contact us today.