Professional summary

Bill Shirley is an Executive Leadership Coach working with Business Owners, CEO’s and Professionals in closely held enterprises. His clients include a wide range of manufacturing, service, and professional organizations. His company, In Search of Eagles, Inc., focuses on the selection, leadership development and retention of key employees in our 21st Century Global Economy; an economy where talented people have unlimited mobility and only the most innovative businesses will survive.

Bill makes Succession Planning an integral part of Leadership Development; key employees are carefully selected, consciously developed, and intentionally retained. He began developing Authentic Leadership Insights in the late 1950’s when he entered the chemical

Engagement overview

Duration and cost of an engagement depends on the scope of work, identified during the initial consultation.


Over a life time of consulting, mentoring and coaching, I've worked with a wide range of service, manufacturing and governmental organizations. References are available on request.


Your talented individual contributor shines in discovering the correct, logical answer to technical problems. However, as a team leader, you are asking him to also deal with non-technical problems reeking with ambiguity, polarity and uncertainty; problems where no clearly correct answer exists! His behavior suggests fear of being accountable for ambiguous decisions.

Also, as your “ideas guy... Read more


The executive skill most in demand today involves the ability to create an environmental ecosystem of agile teams comprised of enthusiastically engaged employees that adroitly respond to the rapidly changing market expectations.

This involves gaining Buy-in among the leaders (at multiple levels) in new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, i.e. a culture shift.

Typically, over 50% of the e... Read more


You describe an "uncoupled" organizational culture, typical of many teams charged with creating innovative designs. Moving to a culture more focused on new product introductions without stifling creativity (a "loosely coupled" culture) will require gaining Buy-in to the desired culture shift.

The process of choice for this shift is "Deep Democracy" where all of the voices in the system are h... Read more

Please consider three concepts:

1) The "culture" is the employee’s most successful way of thinking, feeling and behaving. The values (of your values-driven) organization reward those who "navigate recurring crises" over those who prevent them. The proper function of a culture is to resist change, thus the stronger the culture, the greater the resistance.

2) Management cannot DIRECTLY cont... Read more

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” (An ancient Zen teaching.)

There is a high probability he has conflated his identity (as a human Being) with his professional persona (as a human Doing). From this space, the very thoughts about the openness, humility and vulnerability required in any successful coaching relationship are probably terrifying and paralyzing!

Has the s... Read more


A mentorship program can be very effective in developing leadership skills among those employees who have developed rudimentary Social Emotional Intelligence, especially self awareness and self acceptance. (Not everyone with leadership potential will benefit from a relationship with a mentor.)

The most successful programs have these specific rules:
1. The mentor is NOT in a reporting/accounta... Read more

From your brief description of your situation, I surmise that your revitalized leadership team is “stuck” or at least inhibited, in its strategic thinking. When reorganizing, most leaders focus on strategy before aligning the organizational ecosystem that supports their culture.

I've seen this movie before. May I re-frame your question? The question I really hear you asking is “How d... Read more

I may have seen this movie before. It appears you are engineering a culture shift (a qualitative change) when the situation requires a culture transformation (a conversion of one structure into another related structure.) It sounds as if the leadership team has created a new business strategy for commercializing the unique high-technology you have developed. However, “Culture eats strategy fo... Read more

What you describe is a symptom of a much deeper and more serious problem: a lack of safety and trust within the executive leadership team that hobbles the entire organization. The stress of uncertain expectations creates confusion and indecisiveness. Un-negotiated expectations are at the core of most organizational dysfunction.

The era of the all powerful, all wise CEO being well-served by un... Read more

You asked two questions. First it is possible to be honest and open with your employees without revealing information that is not appropriate to reveal. The earlier responses (above) address this issue quite well.

Once early in my management career when I felt senior management was not being honest and open, one of my early mentors pointed out: “The executive that is honest because honesty ... Read more

Your IT Department provides a limited supply of a valuable, even indispensable, resource. All limited resources require some sort of rational allocation system. How is a project’s priority established in the present system? Is it political, bureaucratic, or competitive?

It sounds as if the current allocation system is not very discerning as to 1) which requested projects will contribute th... Read more

The description of your dilemma is a bit sparse so I must make some assumptions regarding your situation based upon my experience. Some engineering companies offer advancement in pay and recognition to exceptional technical talent who have no desire or aptitude for any formal leadership role. Their titles were generally something like “Senior Engineering Specialist.” Their office space is c... Read more

“The fear of death is only exceeded by the fear of public speaking.” – Mark Twain. You are not the Lone Ranger. This fear is especially strong for those of us steeped in technology as compared to the liberal arts.

Over the years as an executive, I “encouraged” the rising technical geniuses aspiring to leadership roles to join Toastmasters, Int. (for at least a year) so they became c... Read more

I’m sensing several issues. First, you don’t sound as if you agree with the advice that the “integrity issue” warrants termination. (If this advice is coming from the Chairman, it does not matter whether you agree or not.)

A true “integrity issue” is a breach of trust with respect to the organization’s essential values. Nothing destabilizes an organization more than a loss of t... Read more

What I’m hearing in your question is a request for guidance in dealing with (line) executives who discount the contribution of a seasoned HR Professional in dealing with “people issues.” This kind of thing happens all too often where the senior leadership is not accustomed to soliciting information beyond its core, “inner circle.”

However, the most important decision line executives ... Read more


All healthy relationships are conscious, intentional and thrive on differences! In order for you, your colleague (and the two teams you are leading) to creatively solve the “falling Net Promoter Score,” and other issues, you all must learn to disagree without being disagreeable! Innovation is forged in the fire of passion and hammered into shape on the anvil of contention!

Besides the two f... Read more

The traditional three level, two tier performance appraisal system (you describe) is sacred in many organizations. It often is impossible to do more than tweak it and even that effort often encounters great resistance. It may help if management recognizes that this legacy system is operating “perfectly.” It is producing the results it was designed to produce: low risk, compliant behavior.
... Read more

I’ve read your previous question and the fine responses which provide the context for responding to this question of building trust. From the information available, it appears that the founder (and President) is now ready to delegate the day-to-day operations to you, his new Chief Operating Officer. However, it also appears that the founder has trained those who now report to you to “delegat... Read more


One of the best moves I made as the new Police Chief of (city) was to bring Bill Shirley into our organization as a coach and mentor. Bill brought remarkable insight and credibility in helping me establish trust and effective communications between management and our line staff.

My goal was to capitalize on the intellectual strengths of our department members and move the organizational culture from one of command and control to a goals and values-centered model. Bill Shirley's vast experience as a private sector manager and facilitator provided him with the requisite task knowledge to get the job done, and his engaging low-key coaching style earned him credibility throughout our organization.

Most impressive was how quickly our organizational culture matured and developed under Bill's mentoring. What was expected to be an 18-month process was completed in less than a year.

Bill Shirley has the talent to bring any organization to its optimum level of peak performance.

J.C., Chief of Police

I first sought out Bill for short-term help with a relationship I couldn't figure out. After one session, I had clarity and direction, and I was able to deal with it. Now, after ten months of Bill's quiet, but persistent guidance, I've learned to treat myself with "gentle good humor and loving kindness." With the benefit of Bill's wisdom and insight, I'm growing immeasurably – as a parent, a lover, a business owner and a person who's pretty happy with herself.

B.M. Personal Development Company

Going into our fifth season of a redesigned business unit, our goals, structure, and operating plans have evolved, but the basic tenets established through Bill's model for change remain the foundation from which we base our annual plans and objectives.

With Bill's help, the re-designed Ski Schools of Aspen operates under a strategic outline that has proven to be enduring and has brought us to a new level of customer and employee satisfaction.

M.K., Managing Partner Ski Schools of Aspen

When we started working together, I was poorly handling the stress created by owning two money management firms. I tried to do almost everything myself, and in the rare event I thought to delegate work, I did it less than artfully to employees who probably should never have been on the payroll in the first place.

I worked seemingly 24/7, frequently lost sight of the forest for the trees, and had trouble getting away from work mentally and physically.

With your skills, guidance, and leadership, (and a strong commitment to change on my part), the transformation in my business and employees is profound.

During the past 5 years, my businesses (and profits) have more than doubled, while my net employee count has risen by only 1. (Many former employees were asked to try succeeding somewhere else). I have learned to naturally delegate virtually all tasks, and thus have been able to take over 8 weeks of vacation and personal time per year to do the things I enjoy doing outside of work.

R.S., Managing Partner Investment Management Co.

In the time I had coaching with Bill, my professional challenges actually increased but I found a new calm in how I approach them. People comment on this all the time. I can identify when I'm approaching overload and am less tossed around by circumstances.

When I think back on where I was when I started coaching with Bill and where I am now, I am surprised to see the extent of the change. Bill showed me how to make deep down lasting change by teaching me that I am the one in control and the changes are mine to own.

D.W. Regional Non-Profit Business Supporting Kids and Families

As a Baptist minister overseeing and coordinating the work of about 400 churches in the state, I have a role of high visibility. There are few safe harbors available that provide total confidentiality accompanied by well honed listening and reflecting skills. My coaching relationship with Bill has allowed me to address among other things:

the tyranny of the urgent

the usefulness of my work ethic

articulation of my life purpose What do I want my legacy to be?

tapping self talk – listening intentionally to my internal conversation

discriminating between "control" and "influence" when dealing with adult children

establishment of realistic boundaries – especially in the area of availability

I find myself more at ease, a more effective leader and better focused on achieving my true purpose. Bill is a skilled professional who truly helps you sharpen your leadership skills.

M. E., Denominational State Executive