Kelly KinnebrewKelly Kinnebrew joined CCL’s coaching practice about a year ago, after taking time off from her consulting career to earn a Ph.D. in psychological counseling. She specializes in coaching senior leadership through major transitions and in helping multinational organizations navigate the complexities of cultural blending.

Career before CCL. Kelly has held a range of change-management and executive coaching roles, mostly with consultancies, including Oracle Consulting, Right Management and Andersen Consulting. She also was a key account manager with Consulting Psychologists Press, a leading assessment developer and publisher.

Current role. Kelly works directly with executives in long-term coaching engagements. In addition, she manages client coaching engagements as part of a larger executive development strategy. Kelly delivers CCL’s Coaching for Greater Effectiveness, Coaching for Human Resource Professionals and Assessment Certification Workshop programs. Her experience with multinational organizations and cross-cultural coaching is factored into her approach to coaching and custom work with clients.

Coaching perspective. Part of Kelly’s role is to educate clients about what coaching is and what coaching isn’t. She finds that coaching is most effective when development needs are targeted and specific; where coaching is in support of other leadership development efforts in an organization; and in organizations where the behaviors that are valued and rewarded are clearly articulated as part of the culture. Targeted coaching is especially useful to prepare senior executives for the next step.

Cross-cultural expertise. Kelly has been an executive coach and management consultant for organizations that partner, merge and work closely with companies in different countries and cultures. Her dissertation focused on the role of values in multinational organizations.

“I am fascinated by the human dynamic of how different people from different cultures work together,” Kelly says. “It’s exciting when an organization merges and acquires somebody else in their space and they recognize that one of the reasons why they are doing it is to absorb the values of that other organization.”

“For example, a US company may have hired a lot of people with an entrepreneurial, individualist mindset. To expand into China, they need to understand how to be a collectivist culture. They know they need people who are not quite as entrepreneurial to maintain and sustain their business goals. So, they go find that company or hire those people. But then, predictably, they push against those values in practice,” Kelly continues.

“Part of what I’ve done is to help recognize those things, to look at the cultural pieces that are getting in the way of a great working relationship. If we can do this successfully it will take care of a lot of other things later.”

Current reading list. Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization by Robert Kegan. “Influential for CCL’s thinking about change leadership.

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kanaman. “Kanaman is a sociologist who won the Pulitzer in economics. Thinking, Fast and Slow has a lot of psychology packaged in a way that helps us understand why we do what we do. He also links psychology to economic and leadership decisions. Just a fascinating read.

A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness, by Nassir Ghaemi. “The author argues that Lincoln and Kennedy and others suffered from mental illness which, in part, made them the excellent leaders that they were.”

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