The State of Executive Coaching


Dr. Relly Nadler: This week, we are going to be looking at the state of executive coaching. We are very fortunate to have Dr. Jeff Aeurbach who is the founder and President of The College of Executive Coaching. Both Cathy and I are graduates of the College of Executive Coaching and are on the faculty.

The College is a leading training institute in post-graduate training in executive coaching. One of the uniqueness of The College of Executive Coaching is you have to have a Masters or a Doctorate to get in.

Jeff is also certified in the emotional intelligence tools, created by Daniel Goleman and administered by the Hay Group. He’s been an executive coach and a trainer for over 14 years. He started the College of Executive Coaching in 1995, and we’ll be asking him more about that. He has been instrumental in training over 3,000 mental health professionals and other professionals in coaching techniques.

He has presented topics on coaching at the International Coaching Federation, and he has designed the curriculum at The College of Executive Coaching, which does seminars professionally.

He has a Ph.D. in psychology from California Graduate Institute and also an MA from Antioch. He is a licensed psychologist since 1992 and he is also the highest level certified coach called a Master Certified Coach from the International Coaching Federation. Welcome Jeff!

Dr. Jeff Aeurbach: Hello Relly & Cathy. I’m glad to be on the call with you.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Great. I wanted to just add a little to your bio. You are also the author of the best-selling book, Personal and Executive Coaching: The Complete Guide for Mental Health Professionals. I know a lot of folks purchase that when they are in this transition of moving from either mental health or maybe they are in organizations in HR to become an executive coach.

Before getting into coaching, Dr. Aeurbach was the Chief of a major UCLA affiliated medical department and held numerous leadership positions in the public and private sector.

A couple of things that I didn’t know; Jeff has been mentored by many exceptional, accomplished individuals. Not only teaching people about coaching, you have been coached or mentored by many folks. I know of Ernest Rossi, who is a protégé of Milton Erickson; you learned about hypnosis from there. Terri Olson who is a Ph.D., the past UCLA Associate Professor and expert in personal growth. Also Nariel Fuller, who is the esteemed grandmother of guided visualization.

You’ve done post-graduate training in executive coaching and organizational development.

With that Jeff, I know you have done a lot of work not only at the college, but in corporations; Amgen, Nestles, Wells Fargo, Boeing, United States Air Force, MCI; some of these we have done together. I just want to really welcome you to the call.

Dr. Jeff Auerbach: Thank you, I’m glad to be here.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Jeff, it’s so exciting for us to have you here for a number of reasons. We always like to start off our programs with a little bit of background on the person that is of interest to our audience, who is you today. Who has been most influential; the people, the thinkers, in your life who have really shaped who you are and your thinking about the subject of leadership and coaching?

Dr. Jeff Auerbach: Thanks Cathy. You know it’s interesting, because the field of executive coaching is completely multi-disciplinary. The field of executive coaching comes from what people learn in business school. It comes from what people might have learned from sports coaches, and also from the field of psychology. For me, I come out of school of psychology. My Ph.D. is in psychology, so in the late 70s and early 80s, I was studying people like Carl Rogers and Milton Erickson and Viktor Frankl.

These are people that I wasn’t mentored by personally, but they are the great thinkers that I feel help shaped my thinking. They got me interested eventually, in the field of what was to become executive coaching.

So people like Viktor Frankl talked about the importance of meaning in one’s life and being on purpose. For me, that’s an essential element of what I’m focusing on when I’m working with an executive coaching client.

Then Carl Rogers really focused on a key way to help people is to make a great connection with them and really listen thoroughly to them to help them develop to be at their best they can be.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Jeff, tell us a little bit about; you were in the medical field and I imagine like myself and Cathy, slowly heard about this coaching and not only did you hear about it you kind of grabbed it and ran with it.

Tell us a little bit about your thoughts and how you shifted from being a psychologist, working in organizations, to all of the sudden hearing about coaching and then maybe that process that moved you forward today to The College of Executive Coaching?

Dr. Jeff Auerbach: I think it started in some way with important people in my life. Some of my mentors who influenced my thinking and my own development. I would say that one person helped me quite a bit to move in this direction.

Unbeknownst to him, because neither he nor I, at this point, had heard of executive coaching. That was a gentleman named Ernest Rossi, a very senior individual now. He is quite distinguished. He was the protégé of a man named Milton Erickson who was an incredible phenomenon. He was a MD, a psychiatrist, who pioneered the use of hypnosis and hypnosis therapy to help people in an amazing way.

I met this man, Ernie Rossi, actually in Westwood California. I was a young psychologist and I was looking to rent office space. I heard that this man had office space for rent and I went to meet him. I didn’t know who he was, he was like one of the most famous psychologists in the world, and I didn’t know. He wasn’t the people you study in the text books, he was a newer contemporary person.

I went to his office and I met with him at his office. It was lined with about 20 books he had written. What happened was is that I ended up renting office space from him, and then I ended up developing a kind of collegial friendship with him. He really became my mentor. What I got from hi, I met with him kind of a formal mentoring relationship for four or five years, is that if you really get in touch with your natural talent and strength, you can accomplish just so much more than you might have previously realized.

That was a great gift I felt. Really this realization that we have that potential within us if we tap into whatever our inner talents are.

Then I also was mentored by a woman named Muriel Fuller who was about an 80 year old woman at UCLA and she did post-graduate seminar for physicians and psychiatrists. She was France and was the only person on the UCLA faculty to have a Ph.D. or MD and she really helped people, again, tap into their inner vision.

These were very formative people who helped me realize that I could do maybe more than I thought I could have previously. I think that it set the foundation for my eventual interest in coaching.

Then what I began to do, this was about 1989, I was a psychologist at that point and was working with people individually helping with different problems. I began to be more interested in helping people who didn’t have any type of mental illness or problems so much as they wanted to excel in their career. Or they wanted to start a new business.

So I began to make the shift to this individual consultation model. I began to do it over the phone in 1989 or so. Then, as the time went on, in about 1995 or 1996 I began to hear people talking about executive coaching. That’s when the term executive coaching really began to get used. I’d say about ’94 or ’95, in a popular way. That’s when I gradually made a shift over into doing what I now call leadership coaching.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Jeff, as you talk about the shift into leadership coaching as distinguished from purely coaching, can you talk about what kinds of different coaching actually exists today and how you look at and then teach the concepts of coaching as you have just described them?

Dr. Jeff Aeurbach: Well, first of all, I think people might ask, what is coaching. From a simple way of looking at it, coaching is a relationship between an individual client who wants to excel and a highly trained individual changing coaching methodology to help them in a thought partner role and help them facilitate their goal setting and the following through with specific action steps to help them be a peak performer in could be in their personal life or usually the work I do is in the executive life.

So, there’s executive coaching which is helping people be a peak performer in their executive role or in their management role. And then you also hear people talk about personal coaching which usually is when someone is paying for the coaching services out of their pocket and they want to excel in their personal life, which also usually includes some element of excelling in their business or their career.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: If the average person then, who is listening to this message is clear, it’s an ability to help any individual perform better and it’s using a different twist than a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist would use. Is that fairly accurate?

Dr. Jeff Aeurbach: Right. Well, the main difference is that when people work with a coach, they are usually performing very well in their life or their career. It’s that they want to achieve excellence. They want to become even more outstanding. So it’s completely different than what someone might do with a counselor, which is usually about resolving some problem or issue. Coaching is completely different. Coaching is when people are already doing very well and their goal is really to achieve excellence.

When I say peak performance excellence, I’ve heard both of you talk about it in previous shows which I’ve really enjoyed, and you’ve talked about being at the top 10%. That is exactly what I’m talking about.

What we do as coaches is help people be in the top 10% of their game.

You can listen to the entire interview above.


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