“Where Art Thou?” Leveraging Biblical Context & Storytelling in Executive Coaching

Episode #1062: In this episode of the Arete Coach Podcast, Dr. Norbert Izsák, a Master Certified Coach (MCC), Mentor Coach, and Founding Member of the PTF Coach Academy, sheds light on how he incorporates Christian and biblical theology into his coaching, his work as a mentor to other executive coaches, the role of questions in the coaching relationship, and the development of coaches from Associate Certified Coach (ACC) to Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and Master Certified Coach (MCC) thereafter.



About Dr. Norbert Izsák

Dr. Norbert Izsák is a Master Certified Coach (MCC), Mentor Coach, Founding Director of the PTF Coach Academy ACTP EQA, ICF Credential Assessor, Executive Coach, Speaker, and Member of the ICF Hungary Accreditation Committee.


Dr. Norbert Izsák assesses the performance of American, British, French, and Hungarian coaches. He also coaches company executives for higher performance and better interpersonal skills, while also speaking in various national and international conferences including ICF Global and EMCC Hungary.


From 2002 to 2010, Dr. Izsák was a journalist and editor with HBG, a Hungarian news source, where he wrote over 700 articles on history, leadership, coaching, and management issues. Furthermore, Dr. Izsák has received his doctorate in philosophy, for which he graduated Summa Cum Laude, and a master’s degree in European history and leadership studies.


Key highlights


“Adam, where art thou?”

Timestamp 02:46


When asked how Christianity and coaching come together, Norbert shares that he believes “good coaching has some roots in biblical anthropology.” He uses an example from one of the first questions in the Bible, “Where art thou?” and explains that while God knew where Adam was, he still asked the question. Norbert explains that “it’s a self-realization and self-recognition.” He also shares how Jesus would ask questions and says, “If Almighty God does not have the courage to override people’s ambition and people’s aspiration, we as coaches shouldn’t do that.”


Coaching in Hungary

Timestamp 09:16


Norbert shares that coaching, from a Hungarian perspective, is “not very well defined.” Although there are definitions set in place by the ICF and EMCC, the Hungarian perspective of coaching is that “a coach is someone who says loudly very, very self-righteous things.” Currently, in Hungary, there is a small percentage of the population who are coaches, and the general public doesn’t have a good definition of what coaching is. Because of this, many executive coaches in Hungary do TV and media interviews explaining what coaching is. However, internationally, the coaching industry continues to grow and develop with a properly defined definition from the ICF and EMCC.


Coaching with affirmation

Timestamp 21:38


After being asked what aspects of the Christian perspective Norbert brings into his coaching, Norbert shares that while his coaching academy abides by the ICF standards of what coaching is, he also incorporates the “affirmation” of clients from the Christian perspective. Norbert explains that “it goes back to the Old Testament as well. Everything God has created, he saw it was good. So, we start with this affirmation when we dive into coaching that we want to affirm the good thing that is in our client that is in mankind.” In coaching, Norbert believes that coaches serve as cleaners of the channel between the client’s thinking, heart, and beliefs so that they can “find the right suitable answers for [their] own challenges in his own heart.”


From ACC, to PCC, to MCC

Timestamp 32:41


When mentoring executive coaches, Norbert has found that there are key differences between the way ACC, PCC, and MCC coaches coach. He has found that those early in their coaching careers will ask leading questions, give advice, or give training. Norbert explains that at the ACC level, executive coaches often “work through a process” or “model.” At the PCC level, coaches become “more professional and… start working with the client,” helping them with their thinking. Often, PCC coaches will use a list of questions. Lastly, at the MCC level, coaches have fully developed their coaching and continue to do so while partnering with their clients and helping them work through their challenges.


Thinking globally

Timestamp 39:07


According to Norbert, the innovation that is most needed currently for executive coaches is the ability to think globally and examine how their actions will interact with the broad environment around them and their clients. For example, Norbert shares that coaches should ask “how does my job with this particular team or with this particular company” produce benefits for the future? “How will this impact the economy globally?” By looking at the clients who executive coaches serve “holistically,” Norbert believes that executive coaches can provide better coaching that best suits their client’s needs.


Coaching with head, heart, and gut

Timestamp 51:28


Throughout his coaching experience, Norbert has learned the importance of working with an understanding of his own emotions. Norbert shares that he previously “approached coaching very cognitively” but that he “had to learn to be present with [his] heart and not only with the good emotions…” but also with his gut feelings. Today, Norbert has learned to use his emotions within his coaching with skill and in ways that are “beneficial for the whole of the process.”

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