Expert Interview with David Brendel About Executive and Personal Coaching

By Cheryl Morgan

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David Brendel of Leading Minds Executive Coaching understands the importance of creating leaders in today's world. He knows that having strong leadership skills helps in a myriad of ways, including lowering stress, increasing performance, and finding fulfillment in all that one does.

Brendel's approach to executive and personal coaching has helped scores of individuals achieve their professional goals. He shares some of what he offers these individuals in this interview.

Executive and personal coaching might be a new concept for many people. Please describe what you do and the benefits your clients experience.

Executive and personal coaching provides clients with practical assistance in managing stress, achieving peak performance, and finding fulfillment in all areas of their lives. Since people's personal and professional lives these days are so interwoven, Leading Minds provides clients with services that are individually tailored to optimize work/life balance and integration.

Many of my clients are in the midst of a major transition in their careers - whether it be a job loss, or a promotion to a new leadership position, or some other challenge entirely. Oftentimes, they are also grappling with significant personal issues such as divorce, illness or death of a loved one, and other family difficulties. Following a careful assessment of each client's unique situation, I customize a coaching plan that supports clients in overcoming stress and identifying new opportunities. Together, we implement a strategic life plan that draws on the client's core strengths and empowers him or her to grow in exciting new directions both professionally and personally.


In what ways does coaching help leaders to inspire those they work with?

Coaching builds confidence and enhances leadership capacity. When an executive leader is both personally fulfilled and functioning optimally in his or her job, major benefits ripple throughout the entire organization. A successful leader inspires by creating a safe environment in which others can thrive and grow as people. As a result of receiving coaching, the executive leader is now better able to coach others along the same lines; and to empower directors and managers throughout the business to mentor their direct reports more effectively. In other words, when leaders embrace the philosophy of personal and executive coaching, they create corporate and workplace cultures that value employees as human beings with assets and strengths. When the leader has inspired a culture of coaching, employees assume the work roles for which they are best suited, learn strategies to adapt to change, and receive consistent support in dealing with the personal and professional transitions they are likely to face.


How can executives incorporate what you teach them into the hiring process to build a successful team?

Executive and personal coaching helps leaders to develop greater self-awareness and a better understanding of what makes other people tick. When leaders understand the strengths and shortcomings that they bring to the table, they can more confidently and effectively identify strengths and shortcomings in others. This combination of self-knowledge and insight into others is absolutely critical to the hiring process.

Executives and HR leaders must find the right "fit" between prospective employees and available job positions. In the process of executive and personal coaching, leaders become high-level experts in human psychology and behavioral assessment. By engaging in high impact coaching conversations and completing formal style assessments (like the Myers-Briggs and others), the executive leader learns a lot about himself or herself. Equally important and powerful, the leader also deepens his or her skill in assessing other people, thereby ensuring a successful hiring strategy.


In what ways can your services help an executive to promote himself? For instance, can your services help build a brand or name recognition around an individual so he or she can be promoted on social media or on the web in some fashion?

Despite some initial reluctance on my part to fully embrace web-based marketing and social media, positive experiences with these technologies over the last few years have turned me into a true believer. My coaching practice has absolutely boomed as a result of effective use of my website, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, articles for the Harvard Business Review, and interviews for online sites like RealMatch.

As I have witnessed first-hand the power of creating good name recognition and a reputable online brand, I have incorporated into the Leading Minds services a variety of coaching strategies with regard to social media and online marketing. In the course of coaching certain clients, I frequently suggest that they develop online profiles on various services (e.g., LinkedIn), develop a website, or write a blog article in their areas of interest and expertise. As a result, I've been gratified to see many clients introduce or redefine themselves online as they proceed through a daunting career transition and ultimately land a wonderful new opportunity.


In what ways do you already use social media to promote your business? Do you encourage your clients to use social media for recruiting or anything else pertaining to team building?

In addition to the social media strategies mentioned above, I find Internet searching via Google and use of certain social media services (particularly LinkedIn and Twitter) to be particularly helpful to identify who else is working in related areas. This can be useful when I need to engage another coach or consultant as a collaborator with a large client for whom I cannot provide all the necessary services by myself.

Sometimes I need to refer clients or other acquaintances to appropriate coaching services not provided by Leading Minds, and the first place I always look for resources is online. Of course, word-of-mouth referrals within your own personal network are still as useful as ever. But the world of online search and social media algorithmically increases our options for referring, hiring, collaborating, and so much more.


Tell us about the ProfileXT and other assessments that you use.

In some cases, an essential early step in executive coaching is to conduct formal style assessments that help to guide the coaching work and suggest helpful steps for career development. The ProfileXT is completed by the client online, and the results are interpreted in a dialogue with the coach. The assessment provides data on the client's cognitive strengths and challenges, as well as information on his or her preferred style of interacting with others.

This information can be incredibly useful to a client (and his or her employer) contemplating a transition to a new career role that may or may not play to his or her core strengths. The information can suggest to both the employer and the prospective employee whether the job is a good "fit." It can also help to determine key areas for coaching the worker in that role. In addition to the ProfileXT, Leading Minds also uses other style assessments (e.g., Myers-Briggs step 2, Individual Directions Inventory, and Career Leader) that provide clients with useful insights about their interpersonal style and the elements of a job that impassion and energize them for success.


What do you think all executives can benefit from when it comes to hiring an individual?

Regardless of industry or size of company, all executives benefit when they hire the right person for the right job -- and don't later have to go through the time-consuming ordeal of firing someone and recruiting for a replacement. The coaching services and style assessments I've been discussing can add significant value here. When executives have participated in effective coaching themselves, they are better able to hire strong colleagues and provide them with strategic guidance about both how to hire and manage their teams most effectively.

A culture of coaching and mentorship helps to ensure that people land in jobs well suited to their interests and personal styles, and that they receive appropriate support when asked to stretch beyond their comfort zones. Use of certain style assessments during the hiring process also can identify whether 1) the candidate is a good fit for the job and 2) what kind of coaching the future colleague might need in order to thrive in the position.


How do you help executives achieve peak performance?

There are several elements in the coaching process that support the client's growth and achievement of top-level performance. At its core, executive and personal coaching is founded on structured, thought-provoking, and powerful conversations between client and coach. Part of the role of the coach is to ask relevant, open-ended questions that prompt the client to self-reflect and evaluate his or her situation from a fresh perspective. An equally important role for the coach is to suggest new patterns of thought and behavior that will help the client manage what could be a rocky transition into new career roles and responsibilities.

Together, the client and coach construct a practical action plan that helps the client navigate across a stressful landscape and arrive successfully in a fulfilling new job destination. Along the way, the coach is an "accountability partner" who checks in with the client regularly to troubleshoot and help the client ensure that he or she is taking the action steps necessary to reach the agreed upon goals. All of these functions of the coach add up to a transformational, highly satisfying professional alliance in the service of the client's highest aspirations.


Please share anything additional that you would like to about Leading Minds.

Leading Minds provides coaching services to a wide range of individuals and corporations of all sizes. Coaching clients come from the Greater Boston area, around the United States, and across the globe. I have worked with individual executives as well as executive teams from companies in the following sectors: healthcare, biotech, engineering, software, law, professional search and recruiting, food services, and others. With my background as a Harvard-trained medical doctor and Board-certified psychiatrist, I have particular expertise coaching physicians (and other healthcare professionals) who are transitioning into executive leadership roles.

In addition, I have particularly strong experience coaching attorneys confronting major job challenges, whether as a partner in a large law firm or as General Counsel in a corporation. Regardless of the client's industry or profession, Leading Minds provides rigorous assessment and coaching services that are carefully customized to the client's unique needs and focused on achieving practical results in a timely manner.

Follow Brendel on Twitter.

About the company

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