Point of View

Kathleen Marron’s Point of View —

“My aim is to integrate my life and values with my work, and help others do the same. My point of view as an executive coach is to equip others to make a transformational difference, to approach work with the same joy as play, and approach play with the same purpose and dedication as work. Here are a few answers to questions clients frequently ask.”

Q: Why were you attracted to law, then to coaching?

A: People’s stories fascinate me. I have an insatiable curiosity for learning, and love solving a mystery or challenge. That’s what drew me to study sociology and organizational development initially, then to become a trial lawyer, and now an executive coach and entrepreneur. I can see connections between seemingly disconnected people. I love to identify patterns in behavior, individuals and groups. As a lawyer, I used those skills to detect a problem, find a solution, form a team and frame the client’s story to advocate for them. As a coach, I love to help clients discover their own unique strengths, re-frame obstacles, form a “dream team” (if needed) – all in order to write their own ending to their story, their vision. Because I have a passion for equipping men and women to lead together with power, persuasion and purpose, all these clients’ stories have some connection to the business world, to achieving results not only in their personal but also their professional lives.

Q: How does your background in teaching and law influence your work?

A: We all learn through the telling of stories in some fashion. As a teacher and advocate, I know that some learn best by visualizing or reading those stories or lessons, but others learn best by listening or by moving around. I realized I needed to flex my style to appeal to all types of learning – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic – for maximum influence and impact.

For example, as a former jazz musician and classical piano performer, I needed to practice, practice, practice until the scales became my own- until they flowed from my lips and my fingers without thinking. To be transformed into a true performer, however, I needed to not only see the notes, but to hear and feel them, so they no longer were mere notes on a page nor symbols I performed by rote.

As a lawyer and leader, I carried this lesson forward. I kept an easel and sketchpad in my office (I called it my “kitchen of the mind”). With clients, I would sketch their stories, inventions, histories, and challenges. In the courtroom, I physically would present the innovative products my clients invented, the major components of the cable system my client had constructed, the tape recording of the defamatory death threat. When I mentored young associates on marketing and client development, we would use that same sketchpad to capture their victories, challenges and connections so they could create their own Career Path and Plan. Throughout, I’ve used interactive video to help clients and colleagues learn.

In my coaching and workshops, I use a combination of these techniques to help clients learn and develop new practices. I have found that sustainable transformation only comes through deep learning, which happens more effectively using all the senses- through hearing, visualizing, writing, and performing.

Q: What are your major influences as a coach?

Hudson Institute Maps and concepts. My alma mater, the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara, teaches a more holistic approach to coaching, particularly in the areas of transition and renewal. These concepts, maps and training connect life to work. This approach takes into consideration all our roles, values, and generational differences (i.e. our current season of life.) I use these concepts throughout my executive coaching practice, and in our Planning for Change™ and Renewing Teams™ workshops. Click here for more information.

Emotional Intelligence: Over the past two decades, extensive research has been conducted confirming that emotional intelligence contributes to the bottom line by increasing productivity and profit, building trust in teams and organizations, and decreasing turnover and errors.  See www.eiconsortium.org. The Center for Creative Leadership’s research concludes that the primary causes of derailment in executives involve deficits in emotional competence.  As I explored this concept, of measuring one’s “EQ” as well as “IQ”, I discovered the depth of the research and literature which continues to explode and expand since the early 1990s.  Definitions of Emotional Intelligence (“EI”) abound and vary to a degree, but all seem to include the ability or capacity to notice, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self and others. Emotions without intelligence – and intelligence without emotion – are two extremes that reflect only part of a solution.  Emotional Intelligence is the head working with the heart.

As an executive coach, I became certified in the EQ Learning in Action instrument.  I chose this particular instrument because it focuses on three core capacities that I believe are central to resolving conflict and increasing influence as a leader: Self-Reflection, Self-Regulation, and Empathy.

Gender Alliance®: In the area of gender diversity, I developed a proprietary framework of four key areas of gender differences which I call a Gender Alliance® map or process.  Use of this model helps clients gain a deeper awareness of gender differences, and a more holistic framework to help them build gender-balanced organizations, teams, and leaders. In the area of executive coaching, we equip women and men (and their teams) to lead with more gender intelligent styles and skills in four key areas.

I created this Gender Alliance® framework based upon extensive research and study of the field of gender differences in leadership, communications, behavior and decision-making, as well as my own experiences as a leader, law partner, trial advocate, executive coach and mentor. Some key resources in this area include the diversity research of Catalyst, the White House Project Report, the ABA, and the MSBA Diversity Taskforces; the brain-based research of brain imaging specialists and neuro-scientists; and the behavior and styles research of social scientists and linguists.  Some of these resources are listed on the Blogs/Books page of this website.  We invite you to contact us for more information.

Polarity Management: As a mediator and advocate, I was naturally drawn to Dr. Barry Johnson’s insightful theories about Polarity Management. I am comfortable with ambiguity and tend to look at differences as polarities to manage rather than problems to solve. The key to success when facing a challenge, or resolving a conflict or dilemma, is to ask – is this a problem or a polarity? I have incorporated Dr. Barry Johnson’s theories into almost all areas of my work, especially the areas of leadership, communications, conflict management and gender diversity training. www.polaritymanagement.com.

Strengthsfinders 2.0 and SIMA: These are but two examples of some of the instruments I’ve used in eliciting insights on clients’ talents and strengths. My own top strengths all directed me to the career of executive coaching. They include: Learner, Input, Individualization (gifted “at figuring out how people who are different can work together”), Achiever, Connector, Activator (“can make things happen by turning thoughts into action”), Maximizer (“focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence, or seek to transform something strong into something superb”), Intellection, Relator, Communicator, Arranger (“can organize and figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity”), Strategic. For more detail on these instruments see www.strengthsfinder.com and www.simainternational.com.