Executive Coaching

The person who receives expert coaching has a "teammate" that helps him or her to address difficult or unfamiliar situations with greater confidence, effectiveness, and mastery. When the relationship is strong, coaching creates an intimate connection that provides the person being coached with special strength, insight and wisdom. An effective coaching relationship is a learning experience that emphasizes openness and reflection.

Michael Sales and his colleagues have an extraordinary track record as personal coaches. They have advised literally hundreds of people in all sorts of roles across a broad spectrum of organizations facing a multitude of substantive issues. They have written about coaching, and they have experienced the benefits of having great coaches themselves.

The enhancement of the ability of people to get both what they need and what their organizations need is a central objective of Art of the Future's coaching efforts.

Professional coaching is based on proven frameworks. A good coach should be able to articulate the ideas behind the support provided.

Michael draws on a variety of conceptual models as a professional coach. For instance:

For twenty years, he has been very intensively associated with the "whole systems thinking" of Barry Oshry. He has gained insight into the impact of position and role in organizational and social life on our mindsets and behaviors.
He worked closely with Chris Argyris for years, studying how people use "skillful defenses" that, unintentionally, limit their learning and constrain the development of relationships.
He has also had extensive exposure to the work of Lee Bolman and Terry Deal, who taught him to use different frames of reference for thinking about organizational issues and to appreciate the "spiritual" side of executive behavior.
He has employed "the fifth discipline" of systems analysis through his association with Richard Karash, a colleague of Peter Senge's.
He has been trained in small group dynamics at the National Training Laboratory (NTL).
Michael's, his degree from the Wharton School, his role as a member of an entrepreneurial family, and the unusual breadth of his professional engagements have exposed him to a wide range of concrete business problems.
Finally, his continual and systematic reading and research, particularly in the evolution of "driving" trends that will affect organizations (and the world more generally) prepare him to think creatively about the most complex and leading edge issues faced by clients.

Theories and professional training can take a coach only so far, however. Intuition, humor, a positive attitude toward people, empathy, compassion, the ability to suspend judgment and a capacity to validate what is important to others - both in the near term and in life in general - are all important for good coaching. And these are qualities people appreciate about Michael and his affiliates.

Organization development can be a difficult, complicated field to describe to the "uninitiated." One executive, when asked to explain organization development to others said, "OD is whatever my last consultant told me it is." Since discussing work is one of the ways in which Americans, in particular, relate to each other, especially on introduction, Michael frequently responds to that question about his professional life by saying, "When you tell me what you do, you'll find out what I do." In other words, when people talk about their working lives in organizations to Michael, more often than not he ends up responding in a way that looks and feels like coaching.

When Michael coaches, he does not look at present-day issues through the lens of a person's early developmental experiences or through the evolution of an individual's unconscious. His coaching focuses on a client's current reality and goals. It helps people map the social system that they are part of. That analytical/reflective process allows one to understand how one affects a system and how one is, in turn, affected by it. Perhaps most importantly, coaching encourages clients to look into what they are doing that might be contributing to any problems they are facing and what they could be doing to approach systemic conditions more effectively. It helps them to develop the courage to make stretches outside the "comfort zone."

The successful coaching relationship is an adventure: The territory is not strictly defined and the tools that are needed for the journey will have to be discovered or invented along the way by everyone involved. And, as in any good adventure, the coaching relationship will be infused with energy, excitement, learning, and, usually, a lot of fun.

Back to