A Discussion with Dr. Kellner On Executive Coaching

Hello, Dr. Kellner. Thank you for taking the time to sit down and discuss your Executive Coaching services with us. This sort of service is new to many executives out there in the business world, so I’d like to really frame what it is and how it works. I am particularly encouraged by the great feedback it is receiving thus far.

KELLNER: Thank you.

So let’s start with the basics. What is a Corporate Psychologist?

KELLNER: A corporate psychologist is a trained and licensed psychologist who specializes in working with individuals from the business world. Similar to an executive coach, a corporate psychologist, works one on one with individuals or companies to impact personal development and achievement in a professional environment.

Most executive coaches do not have a psychology background. The psychological training enables a corporate psychologist to provide experienced and nuanced support and guidance. Corporate psychologists are results-oriented and collaborate closely with clients to establish career and/or personal goals, define a clear path to achieve those goals, and foster growth and development.

Who engages a Corporate Psychologist? Is it only for struggling executives? Who benefits from this type of approach?
KELLNER: Corporate Psychology is NOT just about retraining troubled employees or correcting the toxic behaviors of a few individuals. Rather, the goal of modern corporate psychology is to develop and nurture talented, high-potential executives so that they become ambassadors for effective leadership and increased performance in the workplace.
Successful beneficiaries of corporate psychology are outcome-oriented; able and willing to identify and articulate their areas of strengths and weaknesses. I work with individuals independently seeking guidance for their own professional growth, and/or companies seeking to create a new/improved corporate culture or develop internal resources. My goal is to affect corporate and personal change through the use of psychometric assessments and advanced psychological techniques.
Specifically, this means tackling things like managing up, working with difficult but talented people, conflict resolution, managing team dynamics, time management, reducing stress, achieving balance between work and life, and so on. I want people to consider their skills as a mentor, define their personal and professional goals, and build effective leadership skills. 

Those are a lot of great points to focus on for most executives, but what if I’m not sure what I want to do?

KELLNER: Sometimes, the path forward is not always straight ahead with a clearly visible finish line. Sometimes, achieving a long-sought-after goal isn’t as fulfilling as you thought it would be. And sometimes you need to ask the hard questions to find creative solutions. A corporate psychologist can help you navigate the surprise s-curves and unexpected shifts and realign your personal and professional priorities. Together, we will examine your motivation and mindset, redefine your goals, and establish the best way to continue moving forward – whichever direction that turns out to be.

What types of companies do you work with?
KELLNER: I specialize in working with boutique firms or smaller companies. I believe change is more impactful and lasting coming from the few core executives who shape the entire culture, all meeting personally with one person, hearing one consistent message, and sharing that message throughout the organization. Whether working with C-suite executives, an individual, a team, or an entire organization, my goal is to effect corporate and personal change by fostering the acquisition and application of Emotional Intelligence.
I collaborate with organizations across a broad range of industries, including construction, finance, healthcare, insurance, education, and public sector; and offer in-depth understanding of the modern corporate environment and the workplace issues that transcend industry-specific or technical knowledge. Issues like improving employee satisfaction, enabling strong teamwork, and nurturing internal talent go a long way towards improving the corporate goals and organizational evolution of any company.
Okay, so let’s say you’ve convinced me and I’m ready to try it. What can I expect from a session and how long does the executive coaching process take?
KELLNER: The first meeting is always about determining chemistry and fit – it is imperative that you and I have a comfortable rapport. From there, we will work together to identify what you want to achieve and map out a plan with specific objectives, strategies, and tactics to get you there. Meetings are personalized and tailored to your individual needs, forward-focused, goal-oriented, and collaborative — yet open-ended, with the opportunity to explore any related work and personal issues.
Since work and life are rarely mutually exclusive, succeeding at one requires understanding the other. As a corporate psychologist, I leverage my expertise as a licensed clinical psychologist to link the two spheres in a meaningful and impactful way.This is achieved through asking the right questions to tackle the most difficult issues and elicit significant personal and professional growth.
The foundation of my session is based on developing emotional intelligence in the work place and honing self-awareness. Through this approach, each client will develop an accurate picture of themselves, acquire better social skills, learn the art of self-control, read people more accurately; and ultimately become a stronger, higher-performing, and more effective leader.
Sessions typically last 45 minutes to an hour and are usually in-person, although video conference and phone meetings can also be effective. During the initial meeting, we will discuss how many sessions it may require to meet your identified goals. While 10-12 sessions are standard, the relationship is flexible and can be adjusted at any point to meet your comfort level and needs.
Is it confidential?
KELLNER: Absolutely. As a licensed clinical psychologist, I uphold the oath of client-doctor privilege. What is discussed in each meeting remains confidential, as well as individual client names and information. If I am retained by an organization to work with individuals, confidentiality is addressed in a mutually acceptable agreement between the organization, the individual, and myself. I will provide the organization with important themes and direction that emerge, but I maintain the individuals’ anonymity and do not share specifics or any identifiable feedback.
What is your methodology, and what types of outcomes can someone expect?
KELLNER: My goal is to help clients meet theirs. The first meeting is always about determining chemistry and fit – it is imperative that a coach and client have a comfortable rapport. I assess each person’s needs and asks pertinent questions to best understand areas of challenge/opportunities for change. We will work together to define goals and map out a plan to meet these goals with specific objectives, strategies, and tactics. Discussion is forward-focused, goal-oriented, and collaborative — yet open-ended, with the opportunity to explore any related work and personal issues.
While sessions are personalized and tailored to the individual, my approach focuses on developing Emotional Intelligence, and honing the 5 tools of success. Clients can expect to develop more self-awareness, acquire better social skills, learn the art of self-control, read people more accurately; and ultimately become a stronger, higher-performing, and more effective leader.

What are those five tools of success?

KELLNER: First, self-awaremess: being able to articulate your strengths and weaknesses and how they affect others. Second, self-regulation: maintaining composure and reacting proportionately and thoughtfully. Third, motivation: internal drive to succeed. Fourth, empathy: awareness, understanding, and appreciation of other’s perspectives and experiences and emotions and using that awareness to make appropriate decisions. Fifth, social skill: connecting with and relating to other people and facilitating desired behaviors.

You mention emotional intelligence a lot. What is it exactly and why is it important?
KELLNER: Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the theory first identified by two psychology professors, John D. Mayer of UNH and Peter Salovey of Yale, in 1990. They determined that people can develop intelligence about emotions, i.e. the ability to perceive emotions (both their own and others’), understand how emotions affect relationships, and manage emotions effectively.
Realizing that Emotional Intelligence would have a direct impact on business development and leadership training, Daniel Goleman (a psychology researcher from Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology) applied the concept to the corporate environment. That’s where those five tools of success come from.
In a 1998 article in The Harvard Business Review, “What Makes a Leader,” Daniel Goleman wrote:
“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”
I focus on acquiring and honing these tenets of Emotional Intelligence, helping clients develop the powerful traits of the most effective, well-rounded, and productive leaders.

Thank you so much for this informative discussion, Dr. Kellner. I am very encouraged by these Executive Coaching and Corporate Psychology services, and I look forward to seeing how they develop!

KELLNER: It was my sincere pleasure.