A Letter From Josh

6 March, 2012

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I am very excited to share with you some specifics about the next phase of my professional life. Since stepping down from the leadership position at PEJE, I have been preparing for the formal launch of a new endeavor which I am thrilled to share with you today in some detail.

Executive and Leadership Coaching — My Next Chapter

Given my long standing interest in board and professional leadership development, and the profound need to increase the availability and use of coaching services, I am thrilled to be launching a practice devoted primarily to coaching executives and the volunteer/professional leadership team. I am particularly passionate about the critical partnership in any nonprofit organization between the board chair/top executive. Within that dyad resides the leverage that determines how well an organization will perform now and into the future.

My coaching practice will substantially focus on the coaching of that dyad – that volunteer-professional team, either in person or via telecommunication (phone or Skype). My practice offers three options: executive alone; board chair alone; or together as a team. Regardless of which options are chosen, the message will be consistent - this strategic  partnership/team represents the point of most influence on the organization.

I am also very interested in focusing on the capacity of organizations to navigate successful leadership transitions on both the board side and the professional side. That capacity is a powerful indicator of overall organizational health and maturity. Planning thoughtfully for a wide range of leadership succession challenges is one of the critical topics which must be addressed routinely and in an ongoing manner during the coaching of the top board leadership-executive partnership.

Other Parts of My Evolving Practice

In addition to coaching, I look forward to working with board and professional leaders in a mentoring or consulting capacity. I will also be making myself available for teaching, facilitating, and speaking engagements. My new website will soon list the topics I am most interested in focusing on.

While I have been associated with Jewish day schools since 1978 (virtually my entire career as a Jewish educational leader), I do not plan to limit my practice. I welcome inquiries from other Jewish organizations, as well as from outside the Jewish communal structure. The challenge of forging a strong board-professional collaboration exists within all nonprofit organizations. I look forward to sharing my expertise with a diverse group of organizations; through that diversity, I believe that my coaching will become increasingly strong as a result of the cross fertilization.

The Power and the Value of Coaching — Taking Stock

Since 1990, the power of executive and leadership coaching has been more and more recognized, and not as a remedial intervention, but rather as a resource that can benefit even the top performers. I have always been struck by the use of coaching in professional sports. If star athletes all have coaches, and in some cases dedicated to them individually, why shouldn’t every executive and  board leader in the nonprofit world also have a coach? 

Jim Loehr, the co-author of The Power of Full Engagement, has specialized in the coaching of high performance athletes from a variety of sports, especially tennis. As Loehr expanded his practice to include other high performance settings beyond sports, he made an unexpected discovery: "The performance demands that most people face in their everyday work environments dwarf those of any professional athletes we have ever trained." (p. 8) Loehr and his co-author Tony Schwartz point out that sports pros spend on average 90% of their time training, and only 10% actually performing in real competition. These athletes use the training time to rest, reflect, and renew their energy, which is depleted during competition. Since leaders of organizations are “on” for a much higher percentage of the time than athletes, they need to cultivate habits to foster renewal and the restoring of energy. The case for coaching these leaders is strong. Coaching is a vital support which helps leaders catch their breath, gain valuable perspective, and increase their effectiveness and overall satisfaction both professionally and personally.

Learning More About Coaching and My Practice

In addition to this periodic email communication, I will soon have an active website where I describe in greater detail aspects of executive and leadership coaching. In the near future, you will also find there some video clips of me speaking about aspects of coaching and providing a feel for the range and power of this kind of work. The website will also contain some recommended reading, a blog, and some of the workshops and speaking engagements that I am prepared to do.

I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully, at some point, to be  working together with you and your leadership teams to create the desired transformations that you all aspire to in your professional and personal lives.

Stay in touch.

Josh Elkin

Contact information:
617-332-1191 (office)
617-304-1042 (cell)