Interview with Mr Miles Kierson, Management Consultant & Executive Coach

1)    Tell us something about your book “The Transformational Power of Executive Team Alignment”
I wrote the book a few years ago because, for one thing, prospective clients were asking me if there was anything written about what I do, and there wasn’t, so I wrote it. It is not a how-to book; rather, it is a “why-to” and “what’s-it-like”, and kind of an eye-opener. The other reason I wrote it is that the executive team alignment process is an amazing process that delivers something really special to clients (what one CEO told me is that every CEO wants it): it transforms what has been really just a group of people into a powerful team that is driving the fulfillment of the future of the business; it is the only way you can get a team aligned – that is, committed to pulling in the same direction – with the capability of sustaining alignment; it delivers or re-confirms a compelling vision which the team is committed to fulfilling; everybody knows the part they play; the team knows at least from a high level what is required to get on track to fulfillment and stay on track; and each person on the team is committed to each other’s success. So if it really delivers that, what senior executive wouldn’t want it? And it does really deliver that.

2)    What services does Kierson Consulting offer to its clients?
Every organization is somewhere and aspires to be somewhere else. They want to be more successful, or to be more stable, or to have more market share, or to be more profitable. They are #2 and want to be #1. They want to break through an invisible barrier; a ceiling that they’ve had on revenues, for example. What KiersonConsulting does is to help them get from where they are to where they aspire to be. We do the foundation work – executive team alignment, which includes having them be clear about the biggest possibility they can swallow that can be the vision of the company – and then the implementation of it. Very few people have been on the journey as much as I have, the journey from a company being in one place and then a few years down the road being in another place, one that they aspired to. And of course, that’s an ongoing process, so we make sure they have taken it on that a core competence of theirs is going to be their ability as a company to envision where they are going, solidify the foundation for success, and then have the wherewithal to be masters of implementation. So, in addition to executive team alignment, we do executive and management coaching, leadership development, something we call “Mastery of Execution”, and engaging the organization.

3)    Tell us about your approach to strategic implementation.
As I’ve said, first create the foundation: have your executive team clear and committed and able to stay the course, understand how you are going to get to where you are going, have the metrics in place so you can track you progress and correct as needed. Then, it’s all about focus. How do you set it up so that you keep yourselves and your employees focused on doing a great job at their part in the fulfillment of the strategy. That includes understanding what it takes to get better and better at something, how to set targets that require innovation to be successful, and how to track your results in a meaningful way. Many if not most of the people in companies do not know how to “hold people accountable” in a way that empowers them and doesn’t destroy them. I’ve been in so meetings where teams are tracking progress, and if somebody seems to be on the right track, meeting their targets, they say, “good job”. If they are not, the best they know how to do quite often is to get angry and beat those people up who are not being successful. It’s crazy, if you think about it.

4)    Share your most memorable experience as a consultant.
There are so many. There are the little things, like as an indirect result of someone you are coaching, someone quits smoking. And then the big successes, being there with a client who was successful at something that they took on some time ago and they first thought it was not going to be possible. Once I had a new client that I coached, and we had set up a program of six months of coaching, but he got what he wanted out of it in one month, and it was something that was huge for his company and that had been a big problem for years. I think maybe the most memorable was after six months of working with a fairly big company, three thousand employees, the CEO got a call from a bigger company in their industry who ended up offering them so much more than they thought they could get, and so they couldn’t refuse. Fourteen of their executives, ages from 38 – 60, retired as a result of the sale, and the company achieved its five year vision in less than a year. And the CEO said to me, “This wouldn’t have happened without the work that you and your team did for us.”

5)    Tell us about your novel ‘Seven Provocations’. How has spirituality impacted your personal and professional lives?
I’m going to answer the second part of the question first. Spirituality doesn’t just effect my personal and professional life, it is the ground on which they stand. I spend time every single day – I haven’t missed a day in two years, and I’ve been doing it in some version or another most of my life – in what I call my “morning reflection”. I read, pray, meditate, and write. It is my time with God alone. I am not who I thought I was (which relates to one of the provocations in the novel). I am here to serve, and I am completely committed to serving my family and serving my clients, and anybody else. In business, I found myself in a place where what I know how to do, to help companies get from here to there, is the biggest service I can do for a client. I’m very good at it and I love doing it, but honestly, if I discovered that I could serve better doing something else – say, laying bricks – I’d go do that. I also like to think I bring my full self wherever I go, and that whether people know it or not, they are positively affected by whatever tiny bit of light emanates from me.
Seven Provocations started as an idea I had for something I’d like to express, a way to share awakening with anybody who can read a novel. I wanted it to be light and fun, to tell a story that was engaging for readers, and also provoked some thinking and some looking that could be very enlightening for them, at any level. A guy, Mike, who is down-and-out, just quit his job, recently divorced, mostly friendless, wanders the streets of Chicago and then comes upon an inconspicuous bar in an unfamiliar neighborhood. In a conversation with the bartender, he says he could “use a little magic” in his life, and the bartender tells him that if he is interested in magic, he should come see Merle, a mysterious cowboy who comes into bar every Wednesday night, has a couple of beers, and leaves. It is rumored that Merle is some kind of magician. Mike now has a little hope, some meaning: waiting until Wednesday to go see Merle. When he does, Merle tells him he will give him a provocation a week until he is done with seven of them, and the first one is “The world is not what you think it is.” And so begins Mike’s magical, mystical ride, as magic begins to enfold in his life from that moment on.

6)    Tell us about your coaching services as ‘The Awakening Executive’
I’ve been coaching for a long time, but until about five years ago, it was within the context of a consulting engagement. Now, I take on a few executives who for one reason or another, believe they might benefit from having a coach. I typically give them a free session, which is for me to get to know them and them to get to know me, and for each of us to decide if we are the right match for each other. I know I am not for everybody. There are two basic directions from which I can relate to people I coach: what I call the outer route and the inner route. The outer route is me bringing my years of consulting experience to bear; the inner route is me coming from my own inner place of wisdom and exploring issues with them from the perspective of this person creating his or her own reality. I look for people who are open to a good blend. I tell them the outer route is the hard route, the inner route is the easier one, but to get value from the inner route you have to be willing to let go of everything you think you know. I say “be willing” because it doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t going to be challenges. Then, I work with them to help them find peace, which may be in the form of being a better leader, or more successful, but in the end is all about peace.

7)    You obtained an MA in Spiritual Psychology, a very rare educational qualification. Tell us in brief about the  key learning.
I don’t really know if I can pinpoint key learnings from any one outer source. I received my MA from The University of Santa Monica, which has a very unique program which is very transformational in itself. I enjoyed it and I know I got a lot out of it, including a lot of techniques that I could apply to my consulting and coaching work, but more than that I think a re-energized commitment to God first. I used to just say I had an MA in Psychology, but then I decided I would put it on my bio that is was spiritual psychology, and if some people were turned off by it, so be it. I do quite often get the question about it though, and it gives me a chance to be open about being “spiritually-oriented”.
Brief Profile
Miles Kierson is a writer, a management consultant, and an executive coach, whose novel, Seven Provocations, was recently published and getting rave reviews. He has been consulting and coaching for over thirty years, and has worked with many different industries big and small. He is a world-class practitioner of executive team alignment, and has trained hundreds of consultants in the process he uses with his clients. Miles lives in New Jersey with his wife and cat.

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