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So, what is Executive Coaching and what makes it so valuable?

Interview with Dean Miles, President of Bridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group

- Mountain West Credit Union Association, which represents 400+ financial institutions.


Q: Dean, what is Executive Coaching and why is it something leaders should consider?

A: In 1999 a Fortune Magazine cover story discussed the failures of prominent CEO’s and came to the conclusion that the emphasis generally placed on strategy and vision created a mistaken belief that the right strategy is all that’s needed to succeed. They found that 70% of the time, the real problem wasn’t bad strategy – it was poor execution. We can all relate to that, can’t we? For most of my clients, the problem is not a shortage of knowledge or good ideas. The problem is in the application of that knowledge and the execution of those ideas. That’s one of the main reasons why coaching is such a great resource.

Coaching isn’t therapy or mentoring. It’s not about fixing what’s broken or developing specific job skills and knowledge. It’s about the execution of ideas and making the leap from good to great. Coaching is a partnership that focuses on setting goals, creating forward action and managing change.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about how coaching works?

A: Sure. Good coaches are there to inspire insight, balance perspectives and drive results. Most of the time, that comes from reminding leaders of what they already know. Think about the amount of information you’ve learned over the past decade. You’ve probably read quite a few books and articles, attended conferences and seminars, maybe watched a few TED talks, learned new skills and gained insight from those around you, etc. But, how much of what you’ve learned has actually been put into action? How many of your good ideas have actually come to fruition?

The truth is, most people spend the majority of their time somewhere in between where they are now and where they want to be. Coaching provides the necessary structure for moving from where you are to where you want to be as quickly as possible.

Q: What can one expect to gain from working with a coach?

A: Professional coaching can provide a fresh perspective about personal and professional challenges, enhance decision-making skills, improve interpersonal relationships and boost confidence. As a result, most professionals who work with a coach experience vast improvements in productivity, satisfaction with their work and the attainment of goals.

There’s a great quote from Samuel Johnson that says, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.”

Most leaders already know what they need to do, they’ve just forgotten. Coaching helps them synthesize every thing they’ve learned and put it into practice. It helps leaders be more deliberate about what day-to-day actions they need to take in order to move closer to their goals.

Remember the Pareto principle? Also known as the 80-20 rule, it simply states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Most of the time, the key to moving from good to great lies in doing less of a few things and more of the one thing that is generating the most results.

Think about it for a moment. What is the one thing that’s generating the majority of results you are getting? Most of the time that one thing is simple to find, but difficult to achieve. Coaching can help identify the actions generating the majority of results and provide the structure and impetus to act on that insight.

Coaching is not a 3-step method. It’s not about information – it’s about implementation and follow-through. It’s about being deliberate and making a plan for translating an idea into day-to-day actions. I ask clients, “What do you want to do? Tell me how to motivate you?”

Q: Is there an example you can share about how coaching impacted the professional success of one of your clients?

Yes, our coaching with U. S. Steel Oilwell Services comes to mind. This is a good example of an organization having a good strategy, i.e. goals, with the challenge being the execution. We were able to work with all levels of the organization. Once we were able to establish that every level knew their goals as it related to the overall strategy, we turned our attention to the execution.  Here again, it wasn’t so much about teaching them anything new, but reminding them to establish and maintain the structure of priorities, making commitments, giving account, and driving success.

As a result of this partnership, they have developed a high performing management team that meet or exceeded their goals and accomplished a 7 to 1 return on the investment of coaching.

Our coach worked with our employees at all levels to help us align our business strategy across the organization. He helped us develop the road map to reach our goals and provided the right amount of assistance and support so our employees were equipped with the tools to succeed.
— David Clarke, Director of Offshore Operations.

Behavior is always perfectly aligned with results. As you change behavior, results change right along side. When someone is there to remind them of what they already know and help them put that knowledge into action, we can really accelerate their growth and create the results they are looking for.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Bridgepoint Coaching, you’ll find them at