Aries Leadership Coaching

Executive Coaching in Intervention Skills with Don Dunoon

Opening-up Resources for Change

Achieving change in business and organizational settings is almost always challenging, especially when shifts in thinking and attitudes are called for. Yet, commonly, some of the potentially most powerful resources for change go virtually untapped: the relevant assumptions, thoughts, feelings, and knowledge of stakeholders.

If we are able to draw out and examine some of these mental resources – resources that people hold to themselves and do not readily reveal - we likely have a much stronger basis for acting. A key to opening-up hidden resources is to minimize the prospects of threat, and to work with others in highly relational ways.

Described in Don Dunoon’s book, In the Leadership Mode, ARIES is a framework for supporting leadership interventions so as to achieve greater shared meaning and deep-reaching change with contentious problems.

The Coaching Process

Don Dunoon helps executives in working towards change, through assisting them to apply the ARIES framework to better understand what is likely to be real currently for stakeholders regarding a problem, to clarify a preferred future, and to think through, try-out, and reflect upon possible interventions.

The coaching process involves a set of conversations to “drill down” into one or more specific incidents or events, to provide a window onto the larger issue/issues. Participants are encouraged to try out, after each session, the interventions identified and to reflect upon their experience of intervening.


In undertaking a series of leadership-mode coaching conversations with Don Dunoon, you can expect to gain:

  • A structured, systematic appraisal of the issues you are dealing with
  • Insights into hidden aspects of the problems that are likely to be important to particular stakeholders
  • Greater awareness of your own approach to the issues and of your leadership skills and areas for development generally
  • Ideas for alternative interventions, drawing on the insights gained, to achieve deep-reaching change
  • Assistance in assessing, trying out, and reflecting upon these alternative interventions.

Most importantly, you gain skills and experience in a set of practices and tools for making sense of, and taking action with, potentially just about any leadership-related issue you find yourself dealing with.

What’s that they say about teaching a person to fish rather than giving them a fish?

How the Process Works

Each coaching session is highly responsive to the needs of the participant. We center on the issues and challenges facing the individual and look into aspects such as:

  • What can be observed directly in relation to the problem/issue, as distinct from what can be inferred (the Attending practice)
  • The possible hidden assumptions, interests, feelings, and knowledge of the various stakeholders (we develop hypotheses about these as a basis for testing – the Reflecting practice)
  • What powerful questions might we ask of particular stakeholders? The Inquiring component of the ARIES framework includes a set of 5 question types for getting underneath the issues while minimizing threat.
  • What needs to be said to particular stakeholders, to open up the issues? The Expressing element of ARIES includes a structure for giving voice to what might be difficult to say – while maintaining safety
  • How we can frame current realities and vision to define the change to be achieved, in a way that invites engagement with stakeholders. This is the Synthesizing component of ARIES. It helps us integrate the various perspectives in a way that makes business and strategic sense and that elicits energy for change.

The coaching conversations are conducted either face-to-face or using telephone and/or easy-to-use web-conferencing tools.

The kinds of issue to which the process is suited:

  • are interpreted differently by stakeholders;
  • have a leadership dimension (they involve moving with people to a “new place” and are not purely technical or task-related); and
  • are ones where the executive being coached can see potential for moving forward, has a personal connection to the issue, and has some authority to initiate action.

In the Words of One Executive…

“This was the most positive four hours I have spent in a long time! Don’s insight into management strategies gave me the tools to approach issues in different ways. Applying the ARIES process enabled me to move from what looked like a fairly intractable position to one where mutual respect was gained. I would recommend that anyone in a senior management position seriously consider the program.” – Penny Temple RN BHM Grad Dip ASM, Director Yass District Aged Care Services, Yass, NSW

To find out more about ARIES leadership coaching, contact Don Dunoon using the form on this page.

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