This interview with Dr. Manuelle Charbonneau, an Executive Coach with AIIR Consulting, was conducted and condensed by Candice Henderson.
Q: Where are you from?
I was born and raised in France, and lived in North Africa and Canada for some time as well. I emigrated to the US when I was 26.
How has your background influenced your professional career?
I think that growing up as an expatriate, and then working internationally, has made me acutely aware of how dramatically different various cultures are. It has made me passionate about helping people work "across boundaries," whether the boundaries are between marketing and operations, between a leader and her direct reports, or between the European division and the American division of a global company. I have always been interested in the question of bridging gaps and influencing others.
What inspired you to become a coach?
My passion has always been to work at the intersection of business, psychology, and intercultural issues, and coaching really allows you to do that in ways very few other types of consulting can.
When you first started out in your work as a coach, what was one of your biggest mistakes, and what did you learn from it?
I think I was not as aligned as I am now with the business, my coach's boss, HR, and the other stakeholders surrounding my individual client. These days, my efforts are highly coordinated to provide the best ROI for my clients and for their companies, while respecting boundaries and confidentiality, of course!
What are your strengths?
Brainy expert, yet pragmatic and down to earth.
Pushy, yet warm and supportive.
How do you leverage your strengths in your coaching work?
I don't settle for superficial pop-psychology trends, so my work is based on intelligent, evidence-based solutions. But at the same time, I'm not a professor; so I am very clear on the concrete business outcomes we need to achieve through the coaching engagement. I think clients feel this balancing act of openness and relentless accountability. They also know I'm all about them and their success.
How do you practice what you preach as a coach?
At some fundamental level, executive coaching is about helping others realize their full leadership potential. As a leader myself, I am always learning, growing, and adapting to the environment and becoming the best I can be. I don't easily settle for a mediocre version of myself, but I am also compassionate with my own journey and appreciative of the learning process along the way.
How has your coaching practice evolved over the years?
With years of experience and mastery comes an ability to zero in quickly on high leverage items. I think that happens to anyone who has been doing anything for a long time - you just get sharper and more precise, while paradoxically being more relaxed and enjoying yourself and others more!
What advice do you have for clients in maximizing the success of their coaching engagements?
Chose a person who is as smart or smarter than you are and feels like the right fit for you. There are lots of smart people out there, but it will be disheartening if you are very bright, for example, to work with a coach who is just above average. You and your company are investing time and money into coaching, and you will get much better results with a coach that is a great match. It makes a huge difference.
Each month, Candice Henderson talks with members of the AIIR Global Coaching Alliance about the unique challenges of being a leader and coach.