What is Executive Coaching and Why do YOU Need it?

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Dr. Cathy Greenberg and I discussed why leaders under perform and what Executive Coaching can do for them. We all want to be star performers, but things get in the way. A leaders default is to find fault in normal situations.

Dr. Relly Nadler: There is brand new research that just came out from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland which was reported in the NeuroImage Journal, that the brain has a built-in neural-constraint that stops us from thinking analytically and empathically at the same time. So there are two neural-pathways. You can do either one — analyze or you could do the other, be empathetic — but you can’t do both at the same time. This causes a leadership dilemma because we know what gets everyone’s attention; it’s the analysis of the problem, the pressing issue.

What gets relegated and often procrastinated is the leadership development and exercising empathy with a person. So when you think about it, the brain has two channels, 10 and 11. Channel 10 is solving problems and you don’t ever get the opportunity or take the opportunity to turn to channel 11: giving feedback, understanding their perspective, listening a little bit more, spending more time to find out what they are doing and to support them.

We all know about work/life balance, but this is really work/leadership balance. On a daily basis you can tune into this other channel, which is the empathy/leadership piece, and do a few things that are on your leadership checklist. You do these things daily; you check in with your people and you set direction. What happens is, work becomes so demanding and it’s so urgent that we are on the work checklist but we are not on the leadership checklist.

The good new is that you don’t have to be doing this all day long. You can be a working manager. But on your checklist, you do have to spend some time; 5 minutes, 1/2 an hour, sometimes a 1-2 hour meeting – it has to be on your checklist and often that is what gets relegated and procrastinated.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Makes a lot of sense to me, but a lot of people don’t have the time in their day to sit and think about how to plan these kinds of approaches. I think one of the things that you and I try to express in all of our programs that we conduct in the public domain or over a webinar, is micro-initiatives have macro-impact. Just doing a few tiny things differently, which any human being can accomplish, will surely make a huge difference for you in reducing your own stress and building higher commitment around you. We both know, bad bosses increase heart attacks and they increase personal days, and it is so important for us to have good work environments, good employees and good bosses.

Dr. Relly Nadler: That is a perfect segue in going to those two different channels about executive coaching. If you have an executive coach it forces you be on the other channel. You have organized time with the coach and you are talking about the empathy channel, but you are also bringing in your analysis. We said that is the default that we go to analysis, well how do you use that analysis about people? How do you use that analysis to be strategic about your own time. Having a coach is really important.

Cathy, maybe you can give our audience your description of coaching. Between Cathy and I this is what we do most of the time, almost every day; on the phone and in person. We really want to help organizations take a look at coaching and some of the ins and outs of it.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg:  Well, for me executive coaching is about helping people perform at their best. That means helping them find the best of themselves. Asking them the powerful questions that they made need in order to create a breakthrough. One of the things that I find incredibly helpful to individuals that have never experienced executive coaching or who have been reluctant to use an executive coach, sometimes because there are so many wonderful self-help books out there and so many wonderful tools, like your iApp on Leadership Keys or my iApp on Your Happiness Now, that they have so many free resources that they don’t know the value of having a “thinking partner.”

To me, an executive coach is someone who helps you think through the issues, grounds you in who you are when you are at your best, who you want to be, giving you those reflections. Holding up that mirror and helping you see the best in you. At the same time, helping you improve what makes you the best and helping you see where you should be focused to have the right impact. That is what really makes us feel purposeful and self-actualized. That professional satisfaction from using an executive coach, to me, is really where the sweet spot for coaching is.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Cathy, you brought up a term that I’d like to describe is a “thinking partner.” What is interesting, both Cathy and I are on the faculty of The College of Executive Coaching with Dr. Jeff Auerbach, so we train people in organizations to be executive coaches. One of the things that I usually say to someone in coaching, first is, “have you ever had a coach before?” I’m always surprised that most people haven’t. Probably 25% have.

I would describe this “thinking partner”; there are three aspects. I typically say to the person, well, let me tell you about coaching. I’m a thinking partner with you and for you. What that means is that what we are going to talk about, you have thought about, but going back to the research I just stated, they probably haven’t thought about it a lot. the three aspects are:

  1. There’s a depth quality: We will have organized time and we will go deeper into the things that are important to you, like Cathy said.
  2. Breadth of resources: Not only do we want to go deeper, but lets go wider into bringing resources; the iApps, books, and free tool. Let’s bring resources to what you think about as most important.
  3. Accountability: In any kind of change program whether it is exercise or diet, having an accountability partner is important.

Executive Coaching Means:

  • Helping people perform at their best.
  • Helping them find the best of themselves.
  • Asking them the powerful questions that they may need in order to create a breakthrough.
  • Helping them think through the issues.
  • Grounds you of who you are at your best.
  • Helps improve what makes you the best.
  • Helps to see where you should be focused to have the right impact.

Learn more about Executive Coaching, the challenges, tools, how to maintain performance gains, and what the process is. Listen to the complete recording of our discussion, without commercials, above.

Thank you,



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