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The CEO and the coach

I've been reading a fascinating new book “Unfiltered. The CEO and the coach” co-authored by Anna Lueneburger and her client Saurabh Mukherjea. This is apparently the first time that a coaching relationship has been written about from both perspectives, providing fascinating insights.

Ana starts by considering what makes a good coach, things that anyone thinking of hiring a coach should consider. These include training and accreditation by one of the major coaching Federations (ICF, EMCC, AC). A similar business background or at least an understanding of the type of business environment in which you work can be beneficial and generate more effective questions.

Most important is the ability for both parties to create a real rapport. Because beyond all the training and techniques, what really matters is an ability to build a strong working relationship. That's a relationship in which the client feels able to disclose their deepest thoughts, including their vulnerabilities and failures. I think that’s difficult for anyone, especially successful executives. It also enables the coach to challenge from a real-world perspective in the interests of finding better solutions.

A good coach will also suggest exercises and homework for the client. This has led me to thinking about the extent to which it is the responsibility of the coach to hold the client to account. When is it for the coach to simply follow their client’s interest, recognising that between one session and other things will have moved on? In the end, it's about the clarity with which both parties contract at the beginning and continue to re-contract throughout the coaching relationship.

And the client’s perspective: for executive coaching to be impactful and meaningful, it needs to facilitate extrinsic goals – ambition, status – and intrinsic goals – connection, collaboration, and authenticity. In Saurabh’s view, the sweet spot is in ‘offering ways to combine doing well with doing good’.

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