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Some People May Think Executive Coaching is a Puzzle… Olivier Eyraud Has it Solved

written byOlivier Eyraudon 12/10/2011

Coach Interview with Olivier Eyraud

Name: Olivier Eyraud
Practice Area: Executive and Organizational Coaching / Paris, France

A Tangram is a Chinese dissection puzzle game consisting of seven geometric pieces, called tans, which can be put together in different ways to create an almost infinite number of larger shapes.

To Olivier Eyraud, it’s symbolic of Executive Coaching, “You don’t need to break the pieces to create the shape you want. Everyone already has all the elements they need to succeed; they may just need a hand seeing and using those elements in a different way.”

Born and bred in France, Olivier, who has a Ph.D. in Pharmacy and a Master’s Degree in Administration, believes coaching, consulting, and mentoring is a way of using the distinct capabilities of individuals to take themselves and their businesses to new heights.

Eight years ago he left the world of medicine and marketing and launched Tangram Management. He and his associates act as consultants and mentors assisting executives in building better organizations. They also provide individual and group coaching, as well as human resources management training.

Olivier turned to coaching when he started consulting. He used to approach companies from the outside in by working to improve their internal politics and procedures but he soon noticed his suggestions and tools had limited staying power. It was when he began to try triggering something within his clients’ imaginations and minds, encouraging them towards change in that way, that he started to see lasting results. “That was the first spark, the first step towards my coach training. I started to see that people, and thereby organizations, became much more effective when they determined what the best approaches and solutions were for them.”

Interestingly, sometimes clients aren’t that eager to make those decisions and commitments. Instead, they keep looking for the external solutions. In Olivier's words: “You can make your clients dependent on your advice and solutions and you’ll always have business but the better way to operate is to teach your clients how to come up with their own solutions.”

This “Teach a Man to Fish” attitude is behind Tangram Management’s success. “Everyday companies will face unexpected situations, and if they don’t have the training they won’t know how to deal with it. They will forever be dependent upon someone else telling them what to do.”

When he originally discovered that spark of interest and success with coaching, Olivier completed formal coach training in France but this past summer he decided to expand on his techniques by taking Erickson’s Summer Intensive in Vancouver, BC. “What I was looking for was a really great comprehensive package where I could review my practices, refresh my existing skills, and receive new structure.”

Being a native Francophone he is very fond of Anglo-Saxon culture and also wanted to meet with people from all over the globe; he accomplished both goals. “I expected good training but I was very impressed with the quality. My trainers were excellent and I found the community of participants very diverse and interesting.”

Since the summer intensive, he has taken on three new coaching clients, and already, he has noticed a difference in his approach. “It’s much more logical, organized, and focused on the goal and that allows me to work so much quicker. I can save time now because my lines of questioning are better; my coaching has become efficient. In one word I would say I now coach ‘properly’.”

Olivier also learned the value of separating coaching from consulting and mentoring. He will still use coaching elements that help his clients take responsibility for their actions but now he can, if necessary, also give them the gift of consulting advice and suggestions…but only after the coaching session is complete. “They can both be present but not at the same time in the same space. I maintain that separation.”

In addition to all this, he also discovered a good deal about himself; his strengths and where he needed improvement. “I discovered I’m rather a good listener but I had to develop my powerful questioning more. I could better understand the behaviors and impulses that drive my life and I took the chance to realign my actions and intentions.” Realizing that you have to be living an inspiring life if you want to inspire others was a huge breakthrough.

Along with all of his other skills, Olivier can now take that puzzle solution back to his corporate clients: You can help others take all of the perfect pieces within themselves to create something new but remember…you have to take your own medicine!