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Eric Turbiville: How Leadership Coaching Can Lead To Better Business Executives

Posted on June 2, 2021

MSP 52 | Leadership Coaching


Most C-Suite individuals are promoted to their current position since they are top performers and extremely responsible with their job. But many people who reach this level often still lack the required executive skills, which is where leadership coaching comes into play. Samuel Gbadebo continues his discussion with Eric Turbiville, President and Chief Acceleration Officer at Turbiville Group LLC, about producing better business leaders today. They explain the ingredients in building a strong executive presence, which is about getting the right balance between confidence and critical thinking. Eric also emphasizes why everyone needs a coach to become successful, going back to the roots of coaching: asking the right questions and having a learner’s mindset.

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Eric Turbiville: How Leadership Coaching Can Lead To Better Business Executives

We are continuing into part two with Eric Turbiville. He is an Executive Coach and an Author. He comes from the pharmaceutical space. He was Vice President of Sales for Novo Nordisk. In this episode, he’s going to continue to share with us more about how people can get ahead in their careers and how leaders can continue to lead better. As always, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy this episode.

Even in my program, I’m working with a champion. Get your sponsors and mentors together. I get the question of, “Samuel, I want to reach out to this sponsor or make this person my mentor but I don’t know if that’s going to make my manager feel like I’m overreaching from my position.” What are your thoughts about that?

I don’t think it’s overreaching. I’ll give you an example. I have a son that works for Oracle. He came right out of college and started working for Oracle in sales. I talked to him a lot about having a mentor. Most people, when you ask them to be a mentor, they’ll do it. As long as you let your manager know that you’re seeking a mentor that’s a couple of levels higher, most managers don’t get upset at that as long as you keep them in the loop and they don’t feel threatened that you’re telling on them or doing something like that. My son who works at Oracle, we talked a lot about him having a mentor. He said, “What if they say no?” I said, “I promise you, they’re not going to say no to you. As long as you bring value to them, they’ll bring value to you and help you.”He’s an entry-level sales kid. He goes to a VP. The VP agrees to mentor him. He’s getting ready to get promoted for the third time because he has that network. These are the people that are making the ultimate decision on a lot of these promotions too. Tell your manager. Let them know that you want to mentor. Let them know who you’re thinking of or get their suggestions on who you might have as a mentor then go seek out a mentor that can help you at least a couple levels higher than you. I’ve never said no to somebody who asked me to mentor. I mentored lots of people in my career.

Eric, I know you coach a lot of different types of people from C-suite to a sales rep. Where is the majority of your time spent? Which type of person is the majority of your time spent?

The majority of my time is spent at the VP level, coaching VPs. The reason why is what I find which I love as an executive coach is that most C-suite and VPs don’t get coaching of any kind. They are expected to know pretty much everything when they get hired for the job. While they may be learning along the way, there’s no time for most executives to get coaching from their bosses. It creates a beautiful gap for me to come in and coach.

Introverts can have just as much executive presence as extroverts. It's all about asking the right questions. Click To Tweet

Talk about this gap. Out of all the VPs you’ve been coaching, the people from that level, what have you noticed is missing or that needs to be developed?

Decision-making is one of the big ones. For many executives, they don’t always have an executive presence which encompasses a lot of characteristics and traits. You usually think of it when they walk into a room, people want to listen to them. They don’t have to be extroverts. Introverts can have just as much executive presence as extroverts like decision-making, executive presence. Learning to ask good questions of their people and coaching their people. Coaching is a huge gap. There are very few leaders especially executives who truly coach their people.

I’m assuming if they were brought into that role, they have some strong level of decision-making. When you say decision-making, what are you speaking of?

I’ve had some clients that want to overanalyze. They analyze and it becomes paralysis by analysis. I always believe that you get 70%, 80% of the information and you make a decision. If you need to course-correct, you course correct later but you have to make a decision. Especially in our marketplace now, things are happening very quickly. You have to plan for it, move quickly and make decisions. That’s probably the biggest one I see. The other one around decision-making that I see is for new executives. They don’t always have the confidence to speak up and make decisions quickly. They start trying to get leadership by consensus and getting people’s input is very important so that they feel like they’re part of the decision in many cases. You can’t let a team make a decision. You are the leader. You have to make it.

You’re not talking about trying to play politics. You’re talking about decision-makers ready to decide because they want to make sure they have all the facts and all the input from everybody they can possibly get it.

That would be the one person. The other type is a newer executive. He doesn’t quite have the confidence yet or understands the decisions that need to be made usually fairly quickly.

MSP 52 | Leadership Coaching

Leadership Coaching: Always seek out a mentor that can help you, at least a couple of levels higher than you.


When you talk about executive presence, tell us a little more about what you’re talking about.

I’ll use the podium as one example. You’re up to talking to a team of 800 to 1,000 people or you’re talking to a team of 10 or 20 and your body language shows that you’re not confident. Your voice shows that you’re not confident. You don’t get people’s attention or they’re not actively participating because they’re watching you going, “What’s going on? Is this a leader? Who is this?” The more important part of executive presence to me is having characteristics and traits like people trust you that you’re trustworthy, candid, and open. Those are part of having an executive presence, all of those characteristics that make for a great leader. When I’m coaching somebody around executive presence, I like to try to find out quickly where the gaps are. There’s one company that I’m a partner with that can measure executive presence. I use one of those surveys and such to be able to figure that out.

That’s an interesting one because you would think that someone that is at that level demonstrates that already but you’re saying they either need to get to a higher level or people that get to that position sometimes don’t demonstrate.

There are a lot of people that get promoted because they’re technically extremely competent. I’ll give you an example. I was coaching an executive at a major music label. He was technically very competent. The problem was he lacked emotional intelligence and executive presence. He was going to get fired if he didn’t turn it around. I worked with him for several months on his executive presence and his emotional intelligence. He didn’t have a filter. He said things and it came across as grossly offensive, insensitive, and a variety of things. His direct reports were not doing well with him but he was able to turn that around. He became more confident with his team. He developed some simple things that he would do before he would talk, not just counting to five but we had some techniques that we used with him to be able to stop and trust that people have good motives.

That makes me wonder and what you could share. I’m curious to know, what’s the most dramatic change that you’ve experienced coaching someone at this level wherever they started and you saw them blossom into almost a completely different person and took their bull by the horns?

I was coaching a new sales VP. She had just been promoted into that role. She took over geography that had been led by someone who had a very strong will and who directed his people. He told them what to do rather than coaching them and letting them have some autonomy. The team was very much tied to that previous leader. He had a little click.

Leaders can't let a team make a decision. They have to make it themselves. Click To Tweet

That’s how they saw things getting done, “It needs to be delivered to us that way.”

When this leader came in, her style was different. She was very candid but she didn’t play favorites. She wasn’t a political animal. She wasn’t trying to become the president of the company. Initially, she got very low reviews and ratings when I did the Qualitative 360. We worked together for six months. Her ratings went from out of 5, maybe a 2 on average to a 3.5 to 4. I don’t take credit for that. She took it seriously and she evolved as a leader. There were a lot of frustrating moments for her taking over that team but she all ultimately did it. She gained the respect of them. One of the things that that team realizes that it’s okay for a leader to be different than our previous leader.

She worked with them in a way that they adopted her style as opposed to her changing the way she does things to accommodate the previous style.

As a side note, her business unit went from the bottom to the top within over a year, which in a big organization is very difficult to do. I don’t attribute it to my coaching. I attribute her changes to her learning curve as a VP because it can be like this sometimes.

We’ve talked before Eric and you told me that you don’t just coach within pharmaceutical and healthcare. I want to know what are some of the spaces that you never thought you’d be coaching in that you’re coaching now?

I’m coaching a CEO of a small high-tech company. I am not a tech person at all but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to be an expert in that industry that they work in. What I have to be an expert in is how a leader is successful. This CEO has done extremely well. It’s fun because he talks about things that I don’t even understand. I don’t worry about clarifying his technical parts of the discussions. What I focus on is what he’s doing to lead his team.

MSP 52 | Leadership Coaching

Leadership Coaching: Most C-suite and VPs don’t get coaching of any kind. They are expected to know pretty much everything when they get the job.


Coaching is a popular word. It’s a buzzword now. Thanks to so many of the influencers out there especially like yourself, coaching is much more commonplace. However, there’s a little bit of disconnect on what coaching means. I would love it, Eric, if you could share with us what coaching means. What does helping a leader or a professional do?

For me, coaching is helping people think differently about a situation. Asking great questions that get to the heart of whatever it is that they’re dealing with. I do this little workshop where we start out with something that’s going on in the company. Maybe it’s why is the sales department not respected by marketing? Let’s use that. What we do is we take five minutes and all people can do is ask questions about that statement. They can’t give input and feedback. They can’t sit and make a statement. They have to ask a question. Maybe it’s challenging, that statement or maybe it starts opening up windows and different ways of thinking about it until you get to the right question.When you get to the right question then you can answer it. For me, coaching gets to the heart of asking great questions that allow you to solve your own problems because your answer becomes your own best solution. That’s probably a very different view of some people on coaching because they think techniques and all kinds of other things. You use all that stuff in coaching but at the heart of coaching is asking great questions. The first question that people come up with or the first idea probably is not the best. You keep asking until you put that ladder against the wall where it’s the right question and you start climbing it and getting down into how you can solve the problem or the challenge.

Would you give a small example of this exercise that helps get to the right question? Maybe an actual question that you asked in one of the groups you worked with and then a question that they were only allowed to ask.

There was one where it was the market access department of an organization. If I remember right, the question was essentially, “Why is the market access department not respected by X?” I can’t remember if it was marketing or sale, “Why is there a disconnect between the two?” The way the exercise works is that somebody will raise their hand and they’ll ask a question about that statement.

Like what?

It could be, “Is this a leadership issue? Do we do and market access something that offends or is not effective with marketing?

A team must be open and realize that it's okay for a new leader to be different than the previous one. Click To Tweet

No one can answer these questions.

We make notes. Every question, we take a note on. It takes about 2 or 3 minutes before the light bulb starts coming on and people start getting it. All of a sudden they’ll go, “My gosh,” and then they’ll ask the question. Within 3 or 4 minutes, you get to the heart of what the right question is. It’s raising your hand, you ask a question and then somebody else raises their hand, asks another question that may or may not even be tied to the last person’s comments. What people want to do is they always want to critique whatever question is asked and we don’t let that happen. It’s a fun exercise.

Should everybody have a coach?

At every position?

Sales professionals, first-line leaders, VPs, CEOs, and everyone in between. Should they all have coaches?

Yes but that doesn’t mean that it has to be an outside coach. For me, a sales rep, their coach should be that first line manager. At times, the second line manager who works with them and who’s watching them if they’re being developed to become a manager or if they’re being developed to become not just to move up in the sales ranks within the field. I do believe that everyone should have a coach. The biggest disconnect for coaching comes from VP and above. Most VPs don’t effectively coach their subordinates, their team. That’s where the disconnect comes where you need to get outside coaching.

MSP 52 | Leadership Coaching

Leadership Coaching: Coaching gets to the heart of asking great questions that allow you to solve your own problems because they become your best solution.


When sales professionals get outside coaching, how do you network very well for them or have you seen that?

I haven’t seen that as much. I do know there are some that do it. I’ve known sales reps who do not just the business part of coaching. Some of them get life coaches to help them navigate through the challenges that they’re having in their life or to help them get perspective on what it is that they want to accomplish and where they want to go in their career. Life coaches are great. Most business coaches, if you’re a credential executive coach, that can help somebody with those life issues too throughout the coaching process. Bill Gates said everyone needs a coach.

I agree with that. For example, in our program we train and coach sales reps. It’s useful because they’re going through a lot of scenarios that they’re not sure they can bring to their manager, they’re not sure they can bring to their colleagues or they just have no idea how to navigate, to begin with. To be able to go to an outside source, get a lot of value, then go back to your company and do things differently provides value for them in their career.

There’s training that reps get. It sounds like what you’re doing is more coaching too, which is going to help them navigate their career or network probably more effectively or move on in their career because they know how to work with other leaders. That’s critical. I don’t see it as often. It would be great if somebody who is a sales rep and wants to progress in their career gets a coach even if it’s for a couple of months. Get a coach and have them help you find somebody who’s got the experience. Someone like you that has a lot of experience dealing with pharmaceuticals and healthcare in general because you can help them.

Training and coaching are both critically important. They can go a long way especially at the professional level. As you are saying, there’s a gap with VPs but it’s not available to them. I’m under the impression that a lot of companies are starting to realize the necessity of coaching their VPs. They are looking for outside sources to do that. You’re saying that it’s still not being met very well or that’s not the reality.

There are some companies that have recognized how effective coaching is. There’s a Deloitte study that shows that the number one management tool that you can use to drive performance is coaching. More organizations are starting to listen to those outside sources like that and say, “What does coaching look like?” The first thing they have to do is define coaching because most people don’t know what coaching is. More organizations are but there are still big gaps in the organization.

The biggest disconnect for coaching comes from VPs and above because they don't effectively coach their subordinates. Click To Tweet

That’s why you’re here doing your thing, Eric. This was great. I’m so glad you got to spend time with us. One thing I always ask when someone like yourself comes on the show, what overarching theme would you leave for all the readers? Our readers, some of them are CEOs, VPs, sales managers, sales reps and people who don’t want to get into the industry. If there’s one thing you can share with everyone, your overarching theme and how you do things, what would it be?

I would say to find a mentor and a coach. Usually, a mentor isn’t necessarily coaching you. They’re doing other things but you need a coach and a mentor. If you get those things, it may lead to a sponsor that supports you and is going to help you get promoted in your career. Even if you don’t want to go up in your career, having a mentor is still important. If you don’t want to climb the career ladder, finding a mentor is vital to your success. I lead for the Southwest region of HBA, the mentoring program. It’s amazing the impact. We do group mentoring. I was a mentor too. We had a group of five mentees. Three out of the five wanted to get promotions within their company. During the six-month time period that we did the mentoring program, three of them were promoted. The mentees in the group contributed to that just as much as the mentors. There were 2 mentors and 5 mentees. Whether it’s a group mentorship or an individual mentor, find one because it’s going to help you in your career.

Eric, it was a pleasure to see you. Thanks for the time. We’re going to follow-up with you and find out what you do.

Thanks, Samuel.

MSP 52 | Leadership Coaching

Leadership Coaching: Getting a mentor and a coach may lead to a sponsor that will help you get a job promotion.


That was Eric Turbiville. It’s beautiful to learn from someone like that because not only has he led at a high level in the pharmaceutical sales industry but he continues to lead, learn, see and teach the best ways to demonstrate leadership amongst all different types of executives especially when it comes to healthcare sales. If you’re someone that wants to get into the industry then make sure you visit us at EvolveYourSuccess.com. If you’re someone that wants to improve their sales performance, you’re looking for a way to give your team the edge, make sure you visit us at EvolveYourSuccess.com or find me on LinkedIn under Samuel Adeyinka. Reach out to us. Send us a text or a voice message and I or one of our client specialists will reach out to you. Make sure you look into Eric’s book. He has his latest book, The Perfect Leadership Triad. It’s a great read. Thank you so much for reading. Make sure you come back for another episode.

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About Eric Turbiville

MSP 52 | Leadership CoachingI am a credentialed Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and hold an MBA degree. I am the author of the forthcoming book, The Perfect Leadership Triad: How Top Executives Maximize Productivity through People, Coaching, and Performance. I am also a keynote speaker.

My passion is coaching and developing people using a question-centered problem-solving approach that helps my clients develop smarter solutions. I have had the privilege of coaching and mentoring many executives across multiple industries.

I conduct one-on-one executive coaching, coach high potential employees, team coaching, and onboarding of new executives. My training workshops include leadership development, improving executive presence, sales process and how to hire and develop a high-performing team. My keynote addresses include Why Employees Matter, Building and Leading a High-Performing Team, and The Perfect Leadership Triad: How Top Executives Maximize Productivity through People, Coaching, and Performance. I accelerate growth and performance for leaders and executives.

I meet my clients where they are, and take them to where they want to go. I inspire leaders and teams to perform at a high level. I share my passion for coaching, growth, and development with leaders so they can inspire and coach their direct reports to exceed expectations. I want to change the business world by helping one leader at a time become more people-focused, coaching-centered, and performance-driven!

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