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Executive Coaching: What It Is, and What It Ain’t

By Peter Mirus (bio - articles - email) | May 25, 2010

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to directly receive executive coaching. I’ve seen executive coaching and leadership training in action before, but only as an observer—not as a subject. So this has been a good opportunity to deepen my sense of its value.

Here’s what executive coaching provides: principled guidance that helps you to identify personal and career goals/priorities/values while at the same time assessing benefit and costs associated with those items. Ultimately, the goal is to discover the right path for your executive career within the context of your personal development, and then to help you follow the path successfully while maintaining a good work/life balance.

Here’s what executive coaching does not provide: a ready blueprint for your success. In other words, your coach isn’t going to simply hand you a detailed roadmap for your specific future after the first session—just like reading Good to Great by Jim Collins won’t provide you with a detailed blueprint for the success of your specific company. The principles and guidance are provided, but you still have to participate in the legwork of building the plan. You have to build it so that you can own it. The time that you invest to the executive coaching process must vastly exceed the time spent in session.

Executive coaching (such as they would train you for in a certificate program at Georgetown) does not take “the God experience” into account—at least, not in a meaningful way.

However, some Catholic members of the business community (such as myself, and a current client who provides leadership training) have been exploring ways to inform the best of the secular executive coaching and leadership training markets with the best of Catholic Christian principles (even if those principles aren’t utilized in an overt manner).

The result of these efforts will be business strategy, executive coaching, and leadership training that are more comprehensive in addressing true human resource development as a means to creating sustainable business models. This will perfect existing models that focus on humility and discipline without the benefit of a complete understanding of the dignity of the human person.

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