EXECUTIVE COACHING: The Content of the New Book by Michael Hall.

I recently sent out a description of the new book, Executive Coaching and also the table of contents.  In spite of the table of content, several people have written and asked, “So what’s in the book?”  I thought the table of contents sufficiently answered that, and when I said that to someone, they said, “Well, yes, of course you would.  You wrote the book.  You know what those titles refer to and what’s in those chapters.”  That’s when I put my palm to forehead and decided to write the following.

The World of Executive Coaching.  
After a brief introduction to coaching and executive coaching (chs. 1-2), there’s a chapter on “Life in the C-Suite.”  The design is to provide a picture of the nature of what work-life is like for those at the senior management levels-what executives face on a daily basis, the stresses and pressures, the challenges and concerns.  Today I’m enroute back from Moscow where I delivered the training on Executive Coaching, my translator asked “What is C-suite?” “Well, you know, CEO, CFO, COO, etc.”  Oh yes, now she
understood.  Chapter 4 follows that up by connecting the value of living a self-actualizing life as an executive.  Is that possible?  If so, how?  How does an Executive Coach think about enabling the person to actualize his or her whole self and in that context still be a full and caring human being.

Executive Challenges
This second section has eight chapters.  Each of the eight chapters addresses the key and critical challenges of an executive’s life: emotional well-being, vision, feedback, change, leadership, politics, creating culture, and derailment.  Well-being is important because not only do others have to live in the organizational or corporate culture, so do the executives.  Is it a healthy place to live?  Does the stress and pressure in the company overwhelm people?  Or is there support there?  Vision is a critical challenge because it is the job of those in the executive roles to inspire people.  If they do that, then people in the organization will find their work meaningful and significant.  If not, then their work lacks meaningfulness and therefore their engagement will be nil. 

Feedback is key because of the tendency to avoid giving bad news to people over you.  Not infrequently the bearer of bad news has been connected to the bad news and then shot!  Whistle-blowers, who are so important in organizations, know that if the person over you can retaliate, then giving accurate sensory-based feedback can be dangerous to your career.  So executives are oftentimes the last person to know what’s really going on.Then there are the challenges of change in an organization, how to lead that
change; politics and how to deal with the political agendas in the office, and culture and how to create a culture where people can be open, transparent, honest, etc.  

Then there is derailment- a person going off his or her career track and messing it all up.  And given all of the critical factors just listed, there’s lots of ways that an executive can mess things up and wreck his or her career.  Many do.  In fact, lots do.  And that’s one of the big values of having an Executive Coach.  In all of these challenges, at the heart of executive coaching is relationship.  After all, that’s what the top managers and executives do- they work with and through others to create a collaborative enterprise and to achieve together what an individual or a few individuals cannot do alone or apart.

Executive Coaching Conversations 
In the third section there’s an introduction into a Coaching Conversation-“the conversation like none other” which describes the heart
and soul of Meta-Coaching.  After all, coaching is a fierce conversation that enables an executive to face critical issues in a safe context.  And as with personal coaching and group and team coaching, there are a number of specialized coaching conversations that are unique to executive coaching.

The Sounding Board Conversation is a special gift to senior managers-because so often they have no one to talk out-loud to.  Now they do.  The Outcome Conversation is one for clarity and focused and once complete gives one a relevant direction for vision and inspiration.  The Feedback Conversation distinguishes real feedback from judgment and evaluation.  The Confrontation
Conversation is another gift- given that others in the organization have political agendas and can’t afford to bring up hot or sensitive subjects. The Meta Conversation is one for gaining perspective as well as for exposing the kind of thinking by which we create our interpretations and conclusions.

The Unleashing Potentials Conversation returns to the subject of self-actualization and keeps an executive alive, vital, and curious.  That’s because with the unleashing of one potential, other potentials begin to emerge as a person’s next level of development and challenge.  The Integrating and Integrity Conversations address how to execute what one knows, how to implement new learnings in order to close the Knowing-Doing gap.  This is a matter of integrity.  There’s nothing than can derail an executive quicker than incongruency, talking but not walking the talk, promising but never coming through.  Integrity, however, goes further and addresses the moral and ethical factors in organizations.

The Systems Conversation invites an executive to move beyond simple and linear cause-effect relationships to the dynamic complexity that occurs in systems.  And executives are leading and/or managing a system.  That means there are never just one cause or factor, there are multiple factors and often in cultural change is dealing with it at the systems level.  The Paradoxical Conversation flushes out pseudo-problems, especially those that have been created by a false dichotomy that polarizes factors that are actually a part of the same system.

Launching your Executive Coaching Career is the final section and has a single chapter which focuses on the business part of Executive Coaching, how to think about it as a business, how to get started, how to get in, how to frame and sell oneself, and much more.

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