Without doubt, for me at least, the most rewarding moment in an executive coach’s day is when a client has a powerful realization and suddenly gains insights about how to be better. This can happen in one of two ways: 1. You ask some great open-ended questions (via what we call “inquiry”) so that the client has an insight on their own. 2. You make an observation and the client sees new possibilities. When this happens, the entire premise of executive coaching is realized. That is, you can have short, high-impact meetings with executives — without intrusive consulting projects — and generate incredible value. For instance, the other day I was working with a long-time client of mine to help him improve the performance of a new business unit. As I asked him questions, he realized that he was not holding his team accountable for the performance he wanted them to achieve. He immediately saw opportunities to engage his team more effectively and focus them on the activities that would generate the best results. Once he had this insight, I could see his entire demeanor change. He was more relaxed and confident. To borrow the old cliche, he seemed like a weight had been lifted. Similarly, I was coaching the owner of a million-dollar consulting firm about how to grow his firm and use his time more effectively. He shared his reluctance to pay any kind of commission to his contractor/consultants for bringing in additional clients. “This is my business, and frankly I don’t need more work. I just don’t see why my contractors should get anything when they are piggy backing off my intellectual property.” I suggested that perhaps he should think about his business 180 degrees differently. Rather than being stingy, what if he could generate lots of referrals through his own contractor/ consultants, and pay them handsomely for their contribution? That way he could grow his firm while his own people did more of the marketing work, and receive large additional revenues through leverage. To the reader, this observation may seem obvious, but for my client, his entire view of his company shifted. (Note that the person being coached is always the last to “get it” and that it is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback). “Wow,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about things backwards!” There’s no better feeling — for the client or for the executive coach.