The Dos and Don’ts of Coaching: Key Lessons I Learned as an Executive Coach

  • Elisabet Engellau
Part of the INSEAD Business Press book series (IBP)


Early on in my professional activity as an executive coach, I was contacted by the VP Human Resources of a large US retail company. This company had just acquired a family firm in the apparel business, located in France, and had hired a French professional manager with vast experience in the luxury goods industry to become the new CEO. Until very recently the business had been run by two brothers (the major shareholders) in a very patriarchal way. The VP HR told me that she was keen for the new CEO to help the family business make a seamless transition to professional management. She was concerned that this transition process should go well, so had suggested to the CEO (whom I will call David) that he should engage an executive coach to help him with the transition during his first six months in the job. She also felt that David needed help to adjust his leadership style to the new situation, expressing her worry about the fit of his rather “French” autocratic style with the more participative, democratic culture advocated by the new owners. She added that the head office was going through a period of turmoil as the old CEO was close to retirement and a race was taking place to select his successor. The VP explained that she had been given my name by an acquaintance in the USA who felt that I would be the right person to handle the assignment. I remember how flattered I was by that: I was relatively new to coaching. This assignment would be my most important challenge.


Family Firm Marketing Manager Senior Executive Head Office Coaching Session 
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© Elisabet Engellau 2016

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  • Elisabet Engellau

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