Issue 48

UTD Coaching News

Executive Coaching

    by Cynthia Pike-Fuentes

My interest in executive coaching developed during nearly two decades as a senior-level consultant, creating executive communications and employee engagement programs for a blue-chip roster of companies including Exelon Corporation, Allstate, Advocate Health Care, Arthur Andersen, Grainger Corporation and Whirlpool Corporation. During this time I became increasingly aware of the direct correlation between highly engaged senior leadership and the success of employee engagement programs. I found that companies with the most engaged and financially productive employees are – almost without exception – led by highly engaged executive teams that share similar values and “walk the talk.”

Why I believe in executive coaching

One of the key learnings I have taken away from my years of experience in the corporate world is that so many companies, large and small, promote high performing individuals into positions of leadership without the training and guidance needed to help them grow into their new roles. In the Harvard Business Review article “Leadership Run Amok – The Destructive Potential of Overachievers,” authors Scott W. Spreier, Mary H. Fontaine and Ruth L. Malloy profile executives whose command and control or passive-aggressive management style can ultimately undermine their leadership and erode organizational performance. Individual executive coaching can support these leaders, giving them the tools they need to manage transition and discover new dimensions in their leadership style.

The power of individual executive coaching can benefit successful professionals who want to make the leap from good to great in their professional and personal lives, including those who:
• Have been promoted to a stretch assignment that requires action outside their comfort zone
• Are coping with the stress of balancing career and a fulfilling personal life
• Want to clarify goals and exceed results in their chosen careers
• Seek to improve relationships with leaders, team members or clients
• Want to learn to motivate employees without falling back on command and control or passive aggressive leadership styles
• Are interested in improving their executive communication skills
• Want to develop an action plan for career advancement

Studies have demonstrated that the most admired, financially successful companies are those with the most highly engaged employees. I believe that individual executive coaching can produce leaders who fully understand that their greatest resource is their human resource.

Why I chose The University of Texas at Dallas

My undergraduate degree is in psychology and I had often thought over the years that I would eventually pursue a master’s degree in the field. I was most interested in the practical application of organizational psychology, and after learning more about the coaching profession and the positive and powerful impact it could have on the corporate world, I began searching for academic programs. After researching through the International Coach Federation, I quickly decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Organizational Behavior and Executive Coaching through the Graduate School of Management at The University of Texas at Dallas. The program held everything I wanted to pursue – the theoretical study of organizational behavior, the practical application of and training for executive coaching, and the prestige of receiving my master’s degree from one of the most well-respected business schools in the country.

The Executive Coaching program at The University of Texas at Dallas has been a perfect complement to my undergraduate psychology degree and my years of executive-level corporate experience. The program is a unique combination of theory and practice that I know will serve me well as an executive coach. I am challenged by the academic rigor of the coursework and encouraged by the practical experience with hands-on coaching and business development.

Cynthia Pike-Fuentes is an executive coach in private practice in the Chicago area, and a full-time faculty member at Columbia College Chicago, where she teaches courses including Employee Engagement and Marketing Yourself. She specializes in working with organizations to grow their leaders, and helping individual executives successfully grow and manage change in their personal and professional lives. Cynthia has completed graduate studies in Organizational Behavior and Executive Coaching through the Naveen Jindal School of Management at The University of Texas – Dallas. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Marketing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; with additional studies in coaching through the Coaches’ Training Institute. To learn more about how Cynthia can help your organization grow your leaders, call 847-530-3752 or e-mail her at


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