Before the term "executive coaching" became popular, Midwest Consulting Group was there. Since our founding in 1990 we have served a wide variety of managers, chief executives, business owners, and professionals as guides, mentors, teachers, and yes, coaches.

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Mary Jo Asmus specializes in coaching high-potential leaders and corporate executives across North America and beyond.  She also teaches coaching skills to managers and leaders to help improve their ability to coach others.

Paul Knudstrup coaches managers, executives, and CEOs with an emphasis on helping them build their own capacity as well as the capacity of their management teams.

Mike Busch coaches managers and executives in a wide variety of organizations, with emphasis on those leading manufacturing firms.

Throughout our work with organizations of all kinds the coaching role is one that frequently evolves over time. We are valued for our experience, our perspective, and our external objectivity. Our coaching expertise is combined with our background in management and executive development, succession planning, assessments, and training to help individuals and organizations reach their fullest potential.

Succession Planning

Succession Planning – management’s greatest responsibility and biggest failure. In far too many cases the process of developing talent is left to chance. If we are to successfully make it through economic downturns and prosper in good times, having flexible, talented people ready to step up has never been more important.

A 2009 survey report from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) shows that:


  • More than 50% of survey respondents said that succession planning is only done at the most senior levels. 
  • Only 12% said their succession management process is integrated with talent-focused programs such as performance management or staff development. 
  • Less than 40% of respondents said their organization includes middle managers and professionals in succession-planning. Only 11% of programs include front-line supervisors.

It is the people who make an organization successful (or not successful - think GM, banks, etc.), so preparing the leadership of tomorrow should be a top priority. The recent CCL report says otherwise. What should you be doing in your organization?


  1. Address succession management issues at all organizational levels.
  2. Make sure that top management is committed to and engaged in staff development. 
  3. Talented people can take on new challenges in unimagined ways, but they have to be developed. 
  4. Assess progress regularly and provide honest feedback. 
  5. Think long-term, beyond the next year or two.

At MCG we have considerable experience in the assessment, training, and staff development process with hundreds of client organizations. Why not see if we can help you plan more effectively for the future by assisting with your succession planning needs?

For more information on MCG's approach to coaching, please Contact Us.

Coaches Corner

This section of the MCG website contains a variety of ideas, suggestions, and tips. We hope you find them useful.

How Are You Sleeping?

Recently I found myself waking up at 4:00 a.m. a couple of days in a row, and not really knowing why. The second time that happened I remembered this is often a clue that I have things floating around in my subconscious that are not captured in my system. And, since those things are not captured in a system I trust they will tend to mentally tap my shoulder at the least opportune times. Certainly, 4:00 in the morning is not when I want to be reminded of something!

My next action was clear; grab a pad of paper, my pen, and do a dump of everything that is on my mind, unfinished, incomplete, I’d like to have happen, needs to get started, etc.

Lo and behold, I discovered about 30 different items lurking in my head! Everything from calling an old friend I haven’t talked to in awhile, to picking up shirts at the laundry, to setting a strategy meeting to discuss our plans for next year and beyond. The list pretty much covered the waterfront from little errands to big-picture strategic kinds of items and everything in between.

You may not be waking up at 4:00 in the morning, but see if you catch yourself tracking off somewhere during that staff meeting or while someone else is talking to you. Is it because the staff meeting is dull-boring? Or is it because you have three (or 30) things floating around in your head that are not captured in your system?

When is the last time you invested a half-hour in dumping things out of your head?

Yours for a more effective, satisfying, and productive life,

Paul Knudstrup

Keeping Communications Flowing

Most of us have a fairly large number of people with whom we communicate. Friends, co-workers, relatives, family members – sometimes it is difficult to keep track of all the things we want to communicate about with each person.

Have you ever been in a phone conversation with a person who is a key relationship for you – your spouse, a key customer, your manager, one of your children, a direct report or important peer – and ten seconds after you conclude the call you realize you forgot to talk with them about something important?

Can you recall a time when you thought of that important piece of information that would help your staff assistant move forward on a project but you and he/she were not in the same place? For some reason those little light bulbs seem to go on at the least opportune time – when I’m in between a series of meetings, driving down the road, or on the phone with someone else.

I know that used to happen to me. I also know it doesn’t happen anymore. The key to keeping your communication on-target and complete is actually fairly simple. Just keep a separate short list for each of those key people in your life. I keep my lists in a category called “Communication” and when I think of something I need to discuss with my assistant, it goes on the “Vicky List” so we can cover it next time we meet or talk on the phone. When I make a commitment to do an evening program for a client I add it my “Sue List” so I can make sure my wife knows about it. When I see opportunities for our Midwest Consulting Group associates to provide value to my clients, it goes on the general “MCG List” or on a specific individual’s list.  In each of these cases people who are important in my life, and with whom it is critical to have positive, smooth communication, stay in the loop. And, any potential issues, questions, or conflicts can be handled on the front end rather than the last minute.

When I worked in large organizations I often worked relatively independently; I did not see my supervisor every day, sometimes as infrequently as once or twice a month. So, I started keeping a page in my planner where I would jot down items to discuss when we got together. That way, I was able to make sure he or she was kept up to speed on issues and any items that I needed clarification on were covered. It just made the whole communication process go more smoothly and seamlessly.

If you use a paper-based system you may want to just create a Communications tab or category in your List section and then put in separate pages for each key relationship. If you use an electronic system (PDA, computer, etc.) you can set up a category either in the To Do (Tasks in Outlook) or in the more free-form text like Memos (Notes in Outlook) or whatever that area is called in your system. Just remember, a personal management system is a wonderful servant, not a static tool.

Yours for a more effective, satisfying, and productive life,

Paul Knudstrup

Our Span of Control & Sphere of Influence

One of the concepts we explore briefly in the Personal Productivity in a Multi-Tasking World workshop is the notion that each of us has a Span of Control and a Sphere of Influence. We define these two terms as follows:

Span of Influence Span of Control
Span of Control – Situations, issues, problems, or opportunities that fall within your ability to decide. You can determine the outcome of the situation or solve the problem.

Sphere of Influence – Situations, issues, problems, or opportunities that you can influence, even if you do not have final decision-making authority. You can bring the situation to the attention of the appropriate person, make a recommendation, or otherwise influence the outcome.

Working on issues that fall within your span of control is a great place to start when you want to improve your personal effectiveness. Concentrating on these situations highlights your abilities; you will be seen as someone who gets things done and makes things happen.

Have you noticed, though, many of the things that irritate or frustrate us are outside our span of control; we simply do not have the authority or knowledge to make the decision. The issue resides within someone else’s span of control. So, the issue must then lie within our Sphere of Influence

Study the issue, do your homework, make your case or recommendation, and then accept the decision. Of course, if you are not successful in persuading the person within whose span of control the issue resides, you can always try another approach, do more homework, recruit an ally or influencer, or otherwise make your case again. There is, however, a fine line between being persistent and being a pest. Chose carefully.

When we first take on a new role or responsibility our Span of Control tends to be smaller than it will be a few weeks or months down the road. Usually we do the same thing when we bring a new person onto the team; at first their Span of Control will be fairly limited until our confidence in their ability to do the job increases.

As we grow more adept at performing the role or our new hire gets more comfortable with their job we tend to increase the amount of freedom or leeway we receive or grant. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

Your individual success will be enhanced as you become more effective at determining how much control you have in a specific situation. As you take appropriate action, you will get a chance to “graduate” or move on to new experiences, if you choose. The result can be to expand both your span of control and sphere of influence. Now, that is a win-win.

Yours for a more effective, satisfying and productive life,

Paul Knudstrup

For more information on MCG's approach to coaching, please Contact Us.