Executive Coaching vs. Life Coaching – What’s the real difference?

By: Patrick D. Goonan

Pat is a 25+ year veteran in business who has been employed by such well-known companies as Merck, Xerox, Oracle, PeopleSoft and VMware.  He earned his Masters of Psychology at John F. Kennedy University and also attended the Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, CA after working in the business world in various capacities.  He has lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay area since 1994.

san-francisco-financial-district-above WOW

The difference between life coaching and executive coaching is largely one of emphasis.  Although a number of methodologies can be used in both cases, executive coaching has the added dimension of a business stake being intrinsic to the relationship and outcomes.

How I see this as altering the coaching relationship is that the process is not just about the executive.  The leader has a responsibility to the shareholders, the people working under him and to the organization itself.  This means there is accountability and generally executive coaching is more focused on specific measurable outcomes that impact the business.

In life coaching the emphasis is more strongly directed toward the well-being of the individual one step removed from organizational objectives.  The perspective is more on work as one component of a meaningful life and when work comes up it is usually framed in terms of work/life balance and business objectives aren’t necessarily center stage.  The happiness and fulfillment of the individual is the yardstick of success.  The coaching agenda is not mixed with a business agenda, life coaching is all about the individual.

In both cases, what you have is a co-designed relationship that deepens over time.  However, the differing expectations lead to the evolution of a different sort of emotional space.  In both cases, the coach facilitates the client’s process, but in executive coaching he also helps the client hold the agenda of the business with explicit recognition of the business systems, organizational culture, outward behavior/image as well as those elements internal to the client such as personal values, developmental level, etc.

In both cases, there is an emphasis on process vs. content and a goal to reach deeper insights, understandings, etc.  However, this processing in the case of a leader is subsumed or in the service of the business agenda.  This results in a somewhat different emotional tone and additional criteria for measuring outcomes.

In practice, I find that the expectations of the coach are different when working with a leader as well.  The pace of the work is usually faster, the expected outcomes clearer and there is a tacit expectation of measurable return on dollars invested.  This is reasonable because the coaching isn’t all about the leader, it’s about the leader and the business he or she is leading.  In other words, everyone has a stake in the coaching including the shareholders, employees, customers, etc.  This stake is more direct than it would be in a life coaching situation.

In all coaching situations I think it’s necessary to balance appropriate support with appropriate challenge.  This changes from day-to-day and moment-to-moment, however, given the strong and intelligent personalities that end up in leadership, I find it’s important to be more direct and even confrontational.  This is not something that some coaches are prepared to face and as a result the outcomes sometimes fall short.  This is where I think it’s helpful that the coach is truly comfortable dealing with strong personalities and preferably has some significant business experience themselves.  Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

My own personal philosophy is that a good business coach should have a lot of backbone and heart.  What’s usually lacking if a client doesn’t choose carefully is enough challenge of the status quo and the strength of personality to take the client to places that are uncomfortable.  The truth is if you can’t get someone out of their comfort zone either through creating a feeling of safety or by directing them, significant growth or insights aren’t going to occur.

In an business coaching environment, I also find that a more structured methodology that takes into consideration all the complexities of the business environment is helpful.  Only by taking the broadest possible perspective can you get deep insights that translate quickly into business tactics and strategy.  The playing field is large for the leader and all aspects and interdependencies need to be considered.  There is too much of a ripple effect to leave anything important out.

In both life coaching and executive coaching there is a dialectic between deep learning and taking action.  In other words, after a new insight it is important to embody it in some type of action.  This back and forth movement between learning and taking action is like alternating the movement of your legs in walking.  Deep insight alone is not enough in either case, but in business in particular meaningful action is expected and measured.

In summary, the distinction between these two spheres of coaching is one of emphasis, differing accountability relationships and a different psychological space with a somewhat different feeling tone.  In executive coaching, the business objectives intrude upon a solely personal agenda and often the business organization has a stake in the outcomes.  I also think more flexibility and broader perspective is required of the coach and a willingness to be more confrontational and not let the client off the hook with respecting to leading them to areas where they may feel uncomfortable.  As in all coaching, a good sense of humor and empathy is very important and I personally feel business coaches who have had significant organizational responsibility have an edge in terms of understanding the ambiguities, value conflicts, ethical dilemmas and other complexities inherent to the fast-paced modern business environment.


Although it is impossible to capture all of the complexities inherent to working with business clients, it is also important to understand the responsibilities of the management level of the client you are working with.  The word executive implies someone operating at the strategic level, but other possibilities exist as expressed in the graphic above.

Understanding how information, roles and responsibility is distributed up and down the management hierarchy theoretically and in practice is very important.  A knowledge of business best practices and horizontal interfaces at every level of the organization is also critical.  A good executive coach gets down to examining these areas quickly and understands the implications of the work being done to the organization as a whole.

While there are many good coaching models one could apply to the coaching environment.  Probably, some version of the integral model is best to understand the leader and his context most completely.  However, in practice this depends upon the needs of the organization, level of understanding required and the temperament of the client.


I do not believe in forcing any individual or organization into a particular perspective.  There are many possible lenses one can use, the burden is on the coach to be flexible and creative here.  Since, leadership coaching is a co-designed relationship the client and organization should have input into what model or models can be helpful and in what ways.  The point of this diagram is to show the breadth of what is at stake in a simple way.

Ideally, a good coach might use multiple lenses to look at problems, situations, conflicts and circumstances.  For a tactical problem, perhaps the well-known SWOT analysis below would bring out aspects of an issue that might be missed in others.  Although this is not a coaching model as such, it is certainly a useful tool for making decisions and diverging from a habitual and often distorted perspective.


.There are also very dynamic decision making models and tools for higher awareness.  One of my favorites is Action Inquiry championed by William R. Torbert.  Robert Kegan at Harvard University also has looked at the relationship between developmental levels as they relate to leaders and organizations.  For further reading, here is a bibliography of titles that might be of interest.

Titles by Robert Kegan

  • (with L. Lahey) Immunity to Change: How to Overcome it and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization, 2009
  • (with T. Wagner and L. Lahey) Change Leadership: A Practical Guide to Transforming Our Schools, 2005
  • (with L. Lahey) How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformation, 2000
  • In Over Our Heads: the Mental Demands of Modern Life, 1994
  • The Evolving Self, Harvard University Press, 1982

My own personal experience is that when the stakes are high it is important to increase the number of perspectives and breadth of an inquiry.  Organizations and individuals can not see their own blind spots and therefore, bringing in an outside experienced business coach could be an investment that ultimately yields unsuspected dividends.  In a fast-paced world, executive coaching is good insurance against unconscious errors and usually pays for itself many times over.

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Meaningful Life



Please click on the appropriate button to view the results of this poll.  Subscribe to my blog to learn more about personal growth, the world’s wisdom traditions and how to bridge the gap between science and religion.

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Inspiration – change, choice and principles

There are three constants in life… change, choice and principles. 
Stephen Covey

A lot of us fight it, but things are constantly changing and often we pit ourselves against the tide of life waiting for all of our ducks to be in a row before we give ourselves permission to be happy.  This is NOT the way forward.

Regarding choice, this is the only area you have control over.  It is the domain of coaching and no one can see their own blind spots.  So, if you haven’t worked with a coach before, perhaps you should try it because ultimately you become your choices!

The last one of these constants is critical.  We are all rushing, but toward what end?  Your principles provide the compass for your life journey.  Have you recently listed and prioritized your top 10 values?  If not, what are you waiting for?  Also, is your life and career in alignment with your principles?

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How to Leverage Your Network the Integral Way

BY: Patrick D. Goonan

If you have an address book in any form, you have a network.  Another word for a network or a market is a community.  How you choose to nurture your connections is a choice and one that has implications to the people that you serve and with respect to having your own needs met..  In other words, you can get what you want, if you help enough other people get what they want!

Image In this article, I want to turn some of the unconscious assumptions and conventional knowledge of what networking is upside down.  We will do this by taking a look at how things are usually done, how they might be done and making the process of networking fun and rewarding for all parties.  This is to say that I want to help you to make networking a win-win proposition for all the players.  Therefore, I want to assert up front that I do not hold networking to be a form of manipulation, arm twisting or anything unpleasant.

Networking is about forming, nurturing and sustaining meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships. Earlier, I talked about a network as a community.  This word has implications of belonging, caring and participation in both directions.  In this context, giving is as important as receiving.  Further, you as a node in your network are a source of knowledge, wisdom, certain skills, etc.

In other words, you are a giver as well as a receiver.  However, my suggestion is to put giving ahead of receiving. By asking yourself what do I have to give and to whom – you are taking a stance of abundance and power.  If you focus on the receiving components, it’s as if you inhabit a scarcity mentality.  Your orientation toward your network will be tinged with greed and expending effort to get.  This is a recipe for exhaustion, resentment and can easily cross over into manipulation.

What we want to create instead is a mutually beneficial reciprocal relationship and the way to get that moving is to give first! So, now we have reframed a network as a community and our attitude as one of giving.  The next logical question is to whom shall I give first and what do I have to offer?  By answering this question, you focus your efforts where there is the highest potential return on investment.

Here, I would let the 80/20 rule be your guide. The 80/20 rule states that in a prioritized “to do” list of 10 items, 80% of the value will be derived by focusing on achieving the top two things on the list.  Similarly, if you have a list of customers then 80% of the referrals will come from 20% of the clients just as the top several stocks in a portfolio will have the highest return on investment, etc. Therefore, instead of being overwhelmed by your number of contacts, concentrate most of your effort on the ones that you can most help and that can most help you.  In general, they are usually the same.  This is the place to start if you have limited time or to create initial momentum.

Once you have identified these top 20% of high value contacts, block out time to touch bases regularly, extend your help, etc.  Once you get moving, other ideas will occur to you and the cycle of engagement will become self-perpetuating. If there are people in this list who you don’t generally admire, feel a sense of community with or have ambivalence toward, cross these people off.

You are better off focusing your effort narrowly than trying to please people who you are not naturally drawn to.  Also, if there is a gross value conflict, this may be like having a cancer cell in your body. Once you have done the exercise above, ask yourself how can I help these people right now, brighten their day or make their life a little better.  The things most people seek are often free and easy to give – sincere appreciation, demonstrating concern, remembering a birthday, being interested in their life, etc.

What can you do right now to help meet one of their specific needs or a more general life need? By reaching out with this intention, you are demonstrating that you care.  I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that people don’t really care about how much you know, until they know how much you care!  When you have built this type of foundation, then trust and goodwill are built-in and positive energy flows throughout the system.

When you have reached out first, offered something without hooks and built trust, then you have earned the right to make a request.  If your real orientation is toward giving, then when you do need something, it won’t feel uncomfortable asking for help.  This attitude is characterized by a “we” mentality, WE are in this world, macroeconomic or work situation together.  This type of energy can move mountains, do not underestimate it.

The implication of all of this is that you will work with your network regularly as a service before you need anything.  Networking is NOT an activity that you do when you have a special need.  It’s ongoing like brushing your teeth everyday or taking a shower.  If you have this type of stance toward networking, it helps ingrain the giving habit without an expectation of any result.  Paradoxically, this results in the highest possible leverage among your adopted community.  If you don’t believe me, I suggest you put it to the test.

Now, what about the other side of the equation?  How do I get what I need?  The answer here is by asking for something specific, which can be accomplished within a fixed time frame and that feels legitimate and justified.  The last two points are important because you don’t want to ask people things that you can do for yourself and that you don’t feel good about following up on later.  This last point is critical, despite people’s good intentions you will have to follow up and you must let people know that you are going do this.

As much as we wish people were most concerned about helping us get what we want, more typically they are focused on their own survival and we need to help them to remember what they committed to. Another caveat of the principle above, is the assumption that you would not ask of anyone anything that you wouldn’t freely give yourself.  If you operate from a different emotional stance then you will be out of integrity and your actions will be contaminated by this inner conflict.

In my experience, most people can feel tainted intention and your efforts at networking may backfire.  Your goal is to help create a world where everyone wins. Therefore, when you ask something of your network, you must plan on following up on a specific date and provide people with feedback and rewards for helping you.  One of the rewards of helping you is sharing your internal experience of what that means to you upfront and at the time of their follow through.

In our society, we tend to undervalue feeling, but in reality e-motion is what moves us into action.  Why do we go to a movie, to feel the world differently.  Why do we buy one car vs. another?  You know what I mean, the principle is used again and again in advertising.  Make it work to your advantage, find out what people want and give it to them!

By now, you have a good idea what you need to do, what attitude you must have and the first steps to take.  What else is important and how does this fit with the integral model?  The next part of this article will address these questions.

According to the integral model, there are four areas or quadrants you need to pay attention to:  the internal and external of the individual and the internal and external of the collective.  In other words, your own interior, the realm of your exterior or more simply, your observable behavior, the systems that you participate in and the internal dimension of those systems which is to say your culture or shared values, assumptions, beliefs, etc.  If you are unfamiliar with integral theory, please read my introductory article, but here is the essence of the concept in one diagram: Image From the highest level perspective, what we are trying to do is to take advantage of and exercise all of our capacities in each of these domains.  Above, I focused on your intentions (individual interior), your specific actions (individual exterior) for example when making requests of your community (exterior of collective or systems) and how you hold that community in your heart (shared values or culture).

Now, we will just get more conscious about the dynamics and attach specific practices that focus on the synergy between quadrants.  This is largely a personal affair, but I do have some suggestions.  I will approach each of these in turn.

In the first quadrant, you need to be clear on your intentions, values, beliefs, expectations and what you are willing to give and hope to get.  When you move into action, your behavior needs to be aligned with your intentions and you must feel good about what you are doing.  What I recommend here is some deep inquiry and a written dedication with respect to how you will use your network and the boundaries you are not willing to cross in the direction of giving or receiving.  This will help clarify your purpose and direction.

The next most important quadrant to focus on is the upper right or your observable behavior.  Here, you must identify the “HOW” you will give, what you might ask for and how you will measure your efforts in terms of specific goals.  What you don’t measure, you can’t manage, therefore, it important to know what you as an individual are willing to do.

I put the two individual quadrants first because it is in these quadrants that you have the most control.  You are the master of your internal states and external behavior.  The other quadrants you can influence, but that influence is not as direct.

In the systems dimension, which is the external of the collective, you need to have practices associated with taking care of your network as a whole.  You might think of this as a type of ecology with respect to people.  In other words, to keep the collective happy, vibrant and receptive, I need to touch bases with individual at least x times per year, share information regularly, attend to the principles of good collaboration, etc.  Here, you may want to draw on other marketing, sales, social and conflict resolution resources.

There is a whole science around how social systems work, take advantage of it, but at the same time personalize the principles and make them your own.  This is where you get a chance to integrate what you know and decide on where to invest your time and energy according to your unique talents, disposition, etc.

In the cultural quadrant, we are dealing with shared values, beliefs, etc.  Therefore, we are focused on shared meaning.  Again, we need to make this more conscious.  For example, why is a person in your network in the first place?  Obviously, they are in the same profession, have the same skills or we feel some personal affinity toward them.  If we didn’t have something in common with them, they hopefully, wouldn’t be in the network in the first place.  Identify what these factors of commonality are and when you write to a group, share information, etc. do it with these things in mind.

In other words, when you fish you don’t put jelly donuts on the end of the line because fish prefer worms.  You need to put yourself in the place of the fish in order to know what your community wants.  Getting this in writing and thinking deeply about it helps you to provide that which will be most useful to your tribe as it were.

If you want the maximum return from your network, you need to focus on all of these domains and not privilege one over the other.  You need commitments to specific measurable goals and a willingness to follow through.  You must be aware of the individuals as unique entities, but also to various groups, group needs and dynamics between people. You must also understand the shared values, beliefs and assumptions each subsystem within your group holds and to be mindful of how you show up within the group, make requests, etc.

Of course, you must also be aware of your relationship to the whole and how everything hangs together including the tide of giving and receiving. Lastly, I want to explicitly mention the intersubjective nature of the collectives (WE).

When we engage another human being or group in a sincere and authentic manner with love and concern, something greater than the sum of the mere individuals arises.  If this wasn’t so, groups wouldn’t have evolved in the first place.  It is in defining how to amplify the effects of the collective energy that we really take advantage of synergy.  This is to say that now, one plus one is greater than two.  If you are aware of and grateful for this dimension of social cooperation, networking will be fun and you will paradoxically feel both an increased sense of belonging and autonomy.

As the French existential philosopher Gabriel Marcel said, “to be is to be with.”  Somehow as humans, we become more fully human an individuated when we participate in social systems in a healthy way. It is my hope that this article has given you some ideas as to how you can do that in a way that helps others and serves your needs in an atmosphere of respect and compassion.  If you focus only on other people as a means to get what you want, you are objectifying them and making them less human in the process.  You may not feel it right away, but somehow you are also gutting your own interior to some extent.

As always, I welcome your insights and comments.  When people provide feedback, other people read and benefit.  In this sense, I extend the invitation to you to add to the pool of shared meaning where my efforts plus yours are greater than the mere sum of each of our contributions. In other words, I invite you to become a part of my network where we can lift each other up and in the process evoke insights that are greater than either of us would have thought of on our own.  In this way, we can all become more of who we are as individuals and as citizens of our shared world.

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What are the 12 key elements of long-term job satisfaction? (survey included)

By: Patrick D. Goonan

Pat is a 25+ year veteran in business who has been employed by such well-known companies as Merck, Xerox, Oracle, PeopleSoft and VMware.  He earned his Masters of Psychology at John F. Kennedy University and also attended the Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, CA after working in the business world most of his life.


A concern that I see coming up more and more is what factors determine long-term job satisfaction.  I think this question comes up more often because more than ever we invest so much of our time and energy in our careers.  I also think the pace of life, the macroeconomic climate and an aging work force all contribute to an existential crisis in the career arena for many people.  Stress precipitates soul searching….

I think what most of us are really seeking is happiness and at some point in our lives we equated happiness with material success.  To some extent, there is a correlation, but at some point most of us realize that dying with the most toys doesn’t address the problem of day-to-day happiness and satisfaction.  This is the major point of this article.

As someone who does a fair amount of career coaching, I have noticed that many people have not consciously created their careers.  Others have outgrown decisions they have made in their youth or feel stuck in situations which they know are less than what they wanted or feel they deserve.  In these cases, often the culprit is fear!

For those who are satisfied, there seem to be some common denominators and I break these down into two areas: 1) Global/Static 2) Specific/Dynamic.  I think by raising awareness around what these elements are in each domain, one can experience higher happiness and job satisfaction.  Also, by assessing these often unconscious factors one can potentially overcome the fears associated with making a change.

In the Global/Static area, people who are satisfied with their career tend to choose a role or  function aligned with their core values.  Therefore, this implies that these people have done some sort of inventory and ranking of their values.  If you haven’t, I would suggest ranking 10 or 15 and then reducing them down to the 5 most important and comprehensive ones.  In other words, the key five that capture what you are about most fully.

Generally, those people that are most happy in their work have specific, measurable and written goals.  In other words, they have defined success so they recognize it when they achieve it.  If you haven’t defined success or worse borrowed someone else’s definition, then how can you hope to feel good?  As Stephen Covey was fond of saying, “before you climb the ladder of success, make sure it is leaning against the right wall.”

Those people most happy with their jobs do something that is well-suited to their basic personality type.  Without getting overly complex, introverts tend in one direction and extroverts in different directions.  Some people are more intuitive and others more concrete in their thought processes.  There are also differences in pace, resilience, risk tolerance, etc.  You get the idea here.

Another area that is important is work/life balance.  Some people find that 50 hours on the job is way to much while others think they are just getting warmed up at 60.  In other words, it’s possible that you can be in the right role, but that you are doing too much or too little of it.

Also, within this category is the notion of utilizing the skills you most enjoy using, not just the ones you are most talented at.  For example, someone can be very good at math, but hate it and be mediocre at woodworking and love it.  What is important here is the right ration of utilizing skills you enjoy.  Generally, these skills fall into three categories working with 1) people; 2) information and 3) things.  Determining the ideal ratio of these broad categories and then drilling down within each will yield a lot of insight.

Lastly in this section, finding an organizational culture that provides the right environment and appropriate balance of challenge and support is important.  While a job might sound great on paper, the wrong manager or organizational dynamics can make your situation miserable.  I lump all of these systems factors under the category of organizational culture.

In summary, some of the Global/Static Factors are:

  • Value Alignment
  • Meaningful Written Goals
  • Personality Fit
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Skill Fit
  • Organizational Culture

While the list above is not exhaustive.  I would say it captures 75-80 percent of what is really important.  While the needs above can evolve, generally they are more static than what I call the specific or dynamic factors.  These are how you relate to the job or what happens between your ears during the workday and when you get home.

I think the people that are most happy in their jobs are: 1) more aware of how they are feeling moment-to-moment; 2) celebrate their successes regularly; 3) have the ability to consider any challenge from a variety of vantage points or perspectives; 4) alter their emotional investment of stance in response to demands; 5) subsume work into the broader context of various life domains and 6) practice gratitude, appreciating the good things that occur on the job everyday.

With respect to awareness of feelings, it possible you can allow yourself to become overstimulated or at the other extreme bored without realizing it.  You can delay asking for help and become overwhelmed as a result.  You can walk around for day or weeks feeling angry without knowing how it happened or having this run you below the level of consciousness.

At a more basic level, what we want is to feel good, but if you have disowned your emotions and live only in your head you may be among the walking dead.  Your emotions tell if you if something is basically good or not, while we sometimes minimize their importance, they are essential to guiding us moment-to-moment toward what is fulfilling.  Why do people see a certain movie?  In attempt to manipulate how they feel.  Advertising takes advantage of this principle, why shouldn’t you in your daily work life?

With respect to success, if you don’t take time to celebrate it you are postponing your happiness to a future that never arrives.  You must make decisions about when you need to push and when you need to celebrate your accomplishments.  Some people keep setting higher and higher goals without enjoying what they have already achieved.  This is like continuing to run after you have caught up to the bus.

One aspect of resilience or dealing effectively with stress is the ability to try on different ways of looking at things.  This skill helps the happiest workers to make good decisions that result in more of what they want and less of what they don’t want.  Work environments are constantly changing, therefore, the skill of viewing challenges from many angles and choosing appropriate responses is indispensable.

Also, it is important to view work as one domain of several important areas of life.  If you lose this perspective where you define yourself by your how you are doing on the job, then your self-esteem goes up and down according to how work is going.  Remember, it is one area of life among at least 6-10 equally or more important areas e.g. 1) significant other; 2) friends; 3) leisure; 4) self-development/spirituality; 5) health and 6) family.  Subsuming work into this broader context helps you to hold the more stressful moments with equanimity and ride out the inevitable bumps and setbacks of life.

Regarding emotional stance, what I mean is your ability to lean in or pull back your boundaries and energy according to what is required in a specific situation.  We often talk about this as carefully choosing are battles, knowing when to back off and being aware of when we need rest, time off or just a coffee break.

With respect to gratitude, it is important to notice what is good about everyday.  For example, if two people walked down the same street and one just feel in love and the other had a fight with their spouse, they would notice different things.  The person in love might notice, the sunny day, the feel of the breeze on their skin, the beautiful park they just passed and the other person might notice the garbage in the gutter, graffiti on the walls of the building and an annoying fly buzzing around their head.  Our attention is selective and the way we use it is a habit.  You can change what you notice and pay attention to.

For example, one thing you have control over is whether you compare yourself up to people that are more successful, wealthy, good-looking, etc. or down to those that are less fortunate.  How you use your attention, ability to compare and capacity to appreciate what you have does make a difference in your outlook, overall happiness, confidence, etc.  When bad thinking becomes an unconscious habit, you will perpetuate your own misery.

In summary, there are the Specif/Dynamic factors again:

  • Emotional Awareness
  • Regularly Celebrating Success
  • Perspective Taking
  • Emotioanl Stance
  • Meta-Perspective/Contextualizing Work within the larger domain of Life
  • Gratitude

I won’t pretend that I’ve captured every factor that is important to career satisfaction, however, these 12 will take you a long way toward the happiness you are seeking.  Like in sports, mastering the fundamentals is important at every level of competition and a lifelong practice.  If you treat these key elements of job satisfaction as such, your happiness factor will go up substantially.

If this article was helpful to you, please consider leaving a comment.  If it was not helpful, please let me know what you found was missing or how it could be improved.  Your feedback will almost certainly help me and others.  We are all in this human drama together, let’s learn from each other.

Also, please take the survey above.  You can come back as more people read the article and see the percentages of various replies.

PATRICK GOONAN is an Organizational Development specialist and Executive/Career Coach.  For more information about his background and services see the menu at the top of this Blog.  If you are interested in a free consultation, you can contact him directly at patca63@mac.com.

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This is a nice article on applying Integral Theory to resistance. This is something that is universal in organizations and individuals.


Working with Resistance – When Reality hits, use its Force

Follow the intensity of your resistance down to its source and sure enough you will find a treasure.

“The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior” M. Scott Peck

With transformation work, encountering and overcoming resistances is an intrinsic part of the game. In coaching and facilitating transformative change, people naturally face stages of resistance, fear and confusion. This will inevitably trigger escape and protection mechanisms of the self/Self system that come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and flavours.

Many of these take the form of well-rehearsed identities (e.g.spiritual identities, cynical attitudes, attack of coach or method, sudden shift of priorities) that are designed to ‘protect’the coachee from the suspected pain of re-owning deeper lying disassociated parts (shadows). These defence mechanisms can easily sabotage the transformative process…

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The High Cost of Coffee – Applying the Integral Model to social inequality in Guatemala

The High Cost of Coffee – Applying the Integral Model to social inequality in Guatemala.

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Brief Introduction to the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment

This video describes the essentials of the Myers-Briggs type indicator in about 2 minutes. As such, it will you to understand the basic value of this test in management, career planning or other contexts.

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What are your favorite personality assessment tests for career coaching?

In working with career clients, my two favorite personality tests are the Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram.  Together, they tend to cross validate and they also yield a high quality  information that is relatively comprehensive with respect to basic temperament and possible areas of talent.  They also help to shed light on how to co-create the best possible working relationship with the client.

The Myers-Briggs can yield different results across the lifespan.  In addition,  when you look at the nondominant functions, it suggests what path the individual may find more fulfillment pursuing during and after midlife by identified unlived potentials.  Most of you are probably familiar with this test because it is common in business environments and looks at extroversion vs. introversion, intuition vs. sensing, thinking vs. feeling and perceiving (leaving options open) vs. judging (the need for closure).  If you are not familiar with it, look it up  in Wikipedia or elsewhere on the Internet.

In the Myers-Briggs you end up with a four letter designation such as INFP or ESTJ.  The former meaning an introvert who tends to be be an intuitive feeler and has more of an in the moment I’ll decide approach to life.  The latter indicates an extroverted thinker who likes to work with concrete things or relatively concrete ideas.  The “J” function denotes an individual who likes closure on situations rather than leaving things open-ended as in the “P” orientation.

With respect to the Enneagram, I once asked a Ph.D. psychologist who was a spiritual director for over 50 years what his favorite assessment tool was.  Without a blink, he responded that hands-down the best tool he found over his career was the Enneagram.  This man was the chairman of psychology at a major university and he did his doctoral dissertation under Carl Rogers.  His reputation was highly respected among his peers, so his input meant a lot to me and after talking to him I studied the Enneagram in-depth on my own and at John F. Kennedy University.

After studying and using the Enneagram for years, I agree that it is one of the most, if not the most powerful tools in the coaches arsenal.  I’m indebted to the psychologist who introduced it to me and shared his insights and years of experience.

I find the Enneagram sheds great light and nuance on the relatively static components of an individual’s temperament, but also on their psychodynamics under stress or in the opposite direction of movement toward self-actualization.  It has also been clinically validated by Riso and Hudson and mapped to the various types of pathologies at different levels of development.  At the same time, it has transpersonal applications and has been used for this purpose for centuries.

Along with these assessment tools, I like to use the integral model as a conceptual framework to capture every domain of the person’s life and the systems they participate in social and otherwise.  This model illuminates both external and internal factors in the person’s life, so provides the kind of breadth and depth that is appropriate to making fine discernments and balancing competing goals, agendas, etc.

You can take the MBTI and the Enneagram online at various sites.  However, a deep interpretation of both of them is difficult unless you have the knowledge and experience to use them to their fullest.  This is also true of the Integral Model, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from looking at them yourself.  That’s a great place to get started.

If you are seriously considering switching careers or you are deciding upon a career at at an early point in your adult life, a personal coach or career counselor who gets to know you deeply can be a great asset.  Often, it is the demon in your blindspot who undermines your best intentions.  A professional could help you to see  these areas that you are unaware of.  These professionals are also helpful guides when you must confront your own deepest fears in your search for a meaningful career.  Big decisions bring out big fears, especially when you are trying to express your deepest authenticity and integrity in your work.


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Get More Interviews – Transform Your Resume from Good to Great!

When the average person writes a resume, they often forget what its ultimate purpose is.  In fact, some people start and complete their resume without giving its true purpose a thought.  Maybe, that’s why so many resumes don’t even get read.  If you don’t begin with the end in mind, your resume won’t have much impact.

The real purpose of a resume is to grab someones attention and make them want to talk to you in a face-to-face interview.  If you tell the prospective employer everything or don’t grab their attention in the first thirty seconds, your resume will almost certainly end up in the round file or be lost in a black hole with a lot of other mediocre resumes.

Another way to express this point is that your resume is a sales tool and the reason why people buy one thing rather than another is because of how it makes them feel.  If you consider advertising, you will notice that the seller is always trying to connect a feeling to their product.  If your resume does not evoke a feeling from the prospective employer within 30-45 seconds, they almost certainly won’t continue reading.

When I was a youngster, I used to go fishing a lot.  If you did the same, did you put something on the hook that would appeal to you or the fish?  Of course, you put a worm on the hook and not a piece of chocolate cupcake.  So, why do so many of us write a resume from our perspective rather than the employer’s?.  If you are fishing for a job, use bait that will catch the recruiters and decision makers.  Put yourself in their place and make every word count.  Don’t leave anything up to chance.

Try this experiment.  Look through a book on resumes and find 10 of 20 that you think are very good or excellent.  Add your current resume to the middle of the stack and then put them all face down.  Have someone get a timer and go through each one including yours for thirty seconds and only thirty seconds.  After you have completed reviewing the entire pile ask yourself these questions:

  • What resumes do you remember?  What made them stand out?
  • What do you remember about each candidate including you?
  • Do you have a sense of wanting to go back to any?  Why?
  • Do your favorite resumes have anything in common?  What are those elements?
  • Were there any that really made you want to keep reading?

If you really made an effort at this exercise, you will realize that people don’t get a whole lot more from scanning a resume than an initial impression and a felt sense.  If you send an unsolicited resume, that’s about what happens when it reaches a recruiter’s desk.  Therefore, you need to take this fact into consideration when you are designing your layout and make best use of your resume real estate.

You want the employer to remember the most important things, don’t leave it up to chance they will ever get to the important details somewhere down below.  If you grab the reader’s attention quickly, they will keep reading for the answers to the questions they formulated in their mind from your very well thought out top half page.  The elements at the top of the resume have to capture what you are about and your intention in as few words as possible.  Keep writing and rewriting this section so it will have maximum impact.  Thing meaningful and specific vs. vague and general.

I used to hire a lot of people and participate in interviews and hiring decisions in many different types of companies and settings.  I have looked at and seen a lot of resumes and honestly, I have for the most part been “underwhelmed.”  That is good news for you because you can take your resume from good to great by putting it together in a conscious manner.  If you bait the hook right and crystallize your most important long-term and short-term achievements in the right kind of package, you will differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack.

While a resume is a relatively short document, it ought to be a crystallization of your values, experiences and define what you as unique.  It should grab the employer right away and to do this it must appeal emotionally to them by tacitly addressing the business problems they most want to solve.  It needs to do this very quickly because people just don’t go searching through the text for your bottom line.  What I recommend to make your resume stand out from the crowd includes the following:

  • Some sort of career highlights section, crystal clear objective or summary that captures the essence of what you would like to do, what you have done and your most important values.  Don’t make the reader look around for these things, get them at the top and communicate them in a coherent fashion.
  • Don’t just list facts that may or may not be important.  Tie your achievements to concrete problems with measurable outcomes.  In other words, liberally use what is called the CAR approach – statements that contain a business challenge, actions YOU took to solve the problem and results expressed in measurable terms.  I will give you an example of how to do this below.
  • Make all the CAR statements or stories, which is really what they are, point back to the overall business problem you think you can solve for the employer.  You may not even know what that is if you haven’t consciously mined your past experience for what types of problems you most enjoy solving, why and in what context.  This is partly why when someone reads your resume it doesn’t land or resonate on any deep level.  That’s a topic for another day, but you need to know these things.

If your resume doesn’t land on a deep level with you and you’re not enthusiastic about it, I suspect it won’t have a large impact on the target audience either.  In my next article on this topic, I will offer you some suggestions on how to mine your peak work experiences,  and life in general for the gem descriptive words, defining stories, priorities and values that will resonate with you and any hiring manager or company culture where there is a mutual fit.

With respect to CAR statements, you want to construct a series of success stories under the category of each job expressed in your own words.  From these stories, extract what the business challenge was, the action your took to address it and the measurable results.  If you get 5-10 of these written under every job you had in the past, you can pick specific ones on a tailored resume to whatever job you are applying for.  Even better, get at least 10 written under each job title and keep growing this as you think of more.

For example,  say one of my initial stories goes something like this…. I worked as a manager in a small fast growing company and we had to do a lot of different things.  However, at the end of the year we accomplished all of our goals and our customers were happy.

Here is a CAR statement version broken down into the three key points to focus on:

CHALLENGE: Lead a team in a chaotic environment with rapid growth, scale the area to double size and increase revenue by 30%

ACTION: Defined a strategy, implemented a project management methodology and continuous quality improvement.

RESULTS: Exceeded growth expectations by 10%, improved quality 25% and retained all original members of the team.

Now… reassembling these elements into a flowing CAR statement:

Agreed to take on the challenge of  scaling a department to double in size while increasing net revenue 30% revenue.  Provided leadership, implemented a new project management methodology and business processes that supported continuous quality improvement.  At the end of the year, the department more than doubled in size with a 40% increase in net profit and a 20% higher quality rating.  At the same time, we had zero turnover and increased customer and employee satisfaction by more than 25%

While this was a rather lengthy hypothetical example, the point is that you need success stories to talk about in an interview.  By writing stories and then analyzing them in terms of what the underlying challenge was, the action you took and the measurable results you got, you shift out of listing skills to telling success stories  grab employers attention by connecting your experience to their problems.

Does it really work?  Try it….. and let me know.  Every hour you spend preparing and refining your message will increase your leverage and confidence in the market place exponentially.  If you reach out to friends and professionals then you will be even further ahead.  Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to your career prospects in a touch market.

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