The question, “what do you do?” has become a bit of a challenge to answer, at least in the short-sentence form that is expected in most social settings. This is because I made a decision in August to resign from a nearly 19-year career with a great Fortune 1000 company and take a sabbatical year to work as an executive coach for nonprofit organizations. Perhaps a bit more explaining is in order.
In 1993, I started with Sigma-Aldrich, answering phones in the Technical Services department. I still can hear the phone ring and my conditioned answer, “Hello, this is Kevin Krosley with Sigma Technical Service, how may I help you?” Fifty calls a day, five days a week, for nearly two years. I’m sure I spoke to about 10,000 customers.
Sigma was great for giving opportunities and I was eager for the next challenge. The result was a series of two-year assignments including: Director of Quality Control, VP or R&D, Corporate Director of M&A, VP of Operations (Packaging and QC), Team Member or Leader on five corporate strategic plans, head of global process improvement efforts, and creator and head of the company’s New Ventures Group. What a wonderful experience it was.
In every role, the most enjoyable aspect for me was partnering with colleagues for the purpose of their personal and professional growth–what is now referred to as “executive coaching.”
Now, let’s mix in three major influences that contributed to the decision to take a break from corporate life. The first is Charles Colson and the Centurion Program. In the one year program, Colson led me through the four questions that every worldview must answer — Where did we come from? What went wrong? What can be done about it? and How now shall we live? That last question brought into focus my desire to live a life of purpose and meaning.
The second influence is John Maxwell and his writing and teaching on leadership. Maxwell says that “everything rises and falls on leadership.” I began believing this eighteen years ago when I read my first Maxwell book – Developing the Leader Within You. I believe it more now with the benefit of having experienced some great leaders, some not so great leaders and the impact that each had on their organizations. Maxwell’s influence in my life expanded last year when I completed certification as a coach, trainer and speaker with the John Maxwell company.
The third major influence in recent years has come in the form of work with a number of nonprofit agencies. I have been inspired by the selfless leadership of a number of executive directors and their teams — out to change the world, often at great personal expense.
What do I do? Well, for this year, I am an executive coach serving nonprofit leaders with the sole purpose of helping them change the world. I am so grateful for the experiences and opportunities of my past. I’m even more thankful for this chance to serve in the present.