Steve Buisson, Founder and CEO of Executive Balance, contributes extensive technical and leadership skills to large, mid-sized, and emerging enterprises. As an experienced Chief Risk Officer, he brings experienced insight and a balanced perspective to complex financial risk challenges. He has been at it for quite a while — successfully managing complex risk frameworks for top-tier banks for over two decades.
After acquiring industry-related expertise and establishing himself as a trusted authority in risk management, he devoted the latter part of his corporate career to leadership development and building high-performance teams across the organization.
His recent experience as a Business Unit Chief Risk Officer through the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic provided him with invaluable insight into crisis management. As a seasoned executive in the Financial Services industry, he offers a wide variety of experiences that can be of immediate value to your organization.
Through empathetic-based listening and engagement, he strives to draw out the best performance of the individual and the team. As a driver, he is an organizational leader and his specialty is helping teams achieve their potential. He has a strong foundation in a value-based approach and believes an inclusive, diversified approach yields optimal results.
His approach with Executive clients is very similar. Through deep reflective evaluation, his focus is on polishing leadership skills, suggesting course-correcting behavior, building high-performing teams, and improving culture and organizational health.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Transition to coaching
- About Executive Balance
- The typical executive coaching time commitment
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:02] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Coach the Coach radio brought to you by the Business RadioX Ambassador Program, the no cost business development strategy for coaches who want to spend more time serving local business clients and less time selling them. Go to brxambassador.com To learn more. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:33] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Coach the Coach Radio, and this is going to be a fun one today on the show, we have Steve Buisson with executive balance. Welcome, Steve.
Steve Buisson: [00:00:44] Thank you, Lee. Good to be here.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:45] Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about executive balance. How are you serving, folks?
Steve Buisson: [00:00:52] Well, I think a of executive balance really is two pronged. I do executive leadership and coaching, but I also do business more financial services, risk consulting as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:05] So what’s your back story? How did you get into this line of work?
Steve Buisson: [00:01:09] Well, I spent most of my career probably 30, 30 plus years as a financial services risk manager. My last couple of years I was a chief risk officer for a top 10 U.S. bank for a couple of their business units, business units and decided I was at a crossroads. I felt I had peaked where I wanted to be professionally. I attained all my goals and I really enjoyed what I was doing, but I knew there was something more and that kind of led me to taking a period of discernment and trying to figure out what I was going to do next. And I had this strong gravity, the strong pull towards servicing, and that led me over to coaching and consulting and forming executive balance.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:57] Now, as we get kind of deeper into your practice, can you just educate folks about like what does a chief risk officer do, right?
Steve Buisson: [00:02:06] So in a financial services perspective, the chief risk officer is responsible for all the different risk types. And at that level, you’re really the key intermediary between the board of directors and executive management and the actual business unit CEOs. So for instance, my last couple of roles were CEO of a mortgage company and CEO of our insurance company and financial services companies as well. So it was really being that liaison, helping them understand what their risks were, helping them, you know, be able to identify their own risks and then communicating that back and then really installing a systematic approach across the whole organization to how we think and deal about risk so we can roll it all the way up to the board of directors.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:55] Now is risk like how is risk defined? Is that like a cybersecurity risk? Is it a risk? If we merge with this company, there’s going to be a risk like to me in that world. The risk can come at you in a lot of different places, right?
Steve Buisson: [00:03:10] And that’s probably the biggest challenge is risk comes in so many different flavors from the examples you gave. M&a is a great example of strategic risk. I was very heavily involved with that for a while. Reputation risk, you know, if if any of my firms ended up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, I wasn’t doing my job. So that was my good litmus test is keep us out of the papers from a reputation perspective. But then there’s the basics that people might think of as operational risk that things might go wrong, which is cybersecurity and data. And then there’s credit that’s that’s very important to a banking organization. And this is a whole bunch of others like market risk and liquidity risk, technology risk, legal risk. So there’s a whole bunch of flavors, but we still want the same approach. We want people thinking about what are your risks today? What are your risks tomorrow? How severe, then, can we categorize them and you bring it all together in a dashboard and you have conversations about it?
Lee Kantor: [00:04:07] Now, when you got into coaching, was it just natural to just stay kind of in the financial industries and just, you know, now I’m doing risk for these other companies rather than the one company that I was doing.
Steve Buisson: [00:04:20] So from a consulting perspective, first. That’s that’s the natural Segway. So my skills are still very sharp. So I’ve started supporting financial institutions that could be banks, but it could also be, you know, investment bankers, insurance companies a whole wide growth there in terms of giving my expertize back to them. I’ve been through it with large banks. There’s many, many, many small, midsized banks that I’m targeting on a regional basis where I can help them anticipate what’s coming ahead of them. The coaching side is a completely different story there.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:58] Now, the coaching side, so you’re not targeting executives at those same institutions like you’re you’re coaching, I would guess could go broader because, you know, your background is such that, you know, business is business. Those those are kind of universal challenges.
Steve Buisson: [00:05:15] Right, so you’re correct, though, that I am targeting financial executives, that makes the most sense. I think that’s what differentiates me from other executive coaches out there is I’ve actually been an executive. I was a very successful executive, like I said, for many, many years. So I understand what they’re going through. But when we coach from a leadership and executive level, we’re coaching the person, we’re coaching the WHO. And we’re helping them really as their partners. So a coaching agreement arrangement is really a partnership between the executive and myself through to help them get unstuck from whatever’s, whatever’s ailing them or whatever issues they have or whatever challenges they have. And and that applies both professionally and personally as well. So, you know, I can really coach anybody on anything at any time based on this intensive coach training school I just went through with a company called Ipek, and it’s been a wonderful experience.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:20] Now, when you’re working with the executive, is it something the executives raise in their hand and saying, Hey Steve, I need some help? Or is it something the board of directors is coming in and go, Steve, fix Mary over there?
Steve Buisson: [00:06:34] Yeah, it’s most often the executive self-identifying and saying, you know, I just can’t seem to get over this hurdle. There’s something, whatever it is again, professionally, it could be dealing with their staff. It could be dealing with their bosses or the board. Really, it’s it’s either self-identified or it could be executive management saying, you know, we really you’re an up and coming person. We need you to have a coach as a partner to help you have a deeper understanding of who you are and what might be holding you back. And that’s really what coaching is at its core. It’s again helping a person through challenging and empowering questions self-identify what’s really going on inside, and they might have these limiting beliefs that are really not true and that could be formed internally or externally. It could come from their upbringing or just the way they feel about themselves. Or it could be society pushing down on a person and saying, you’re not good enough because you’re a woman, you’re not good enough. And it’s it’s breaking through these, these false assumptions or these false limiting beliefs and helping them understand what could be what is possible. And it’s really moving them on to this next level of thinking or this next level of energy, which allows them to progress.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:00] Now in your career, I’m sure when you started out, coaching was like almost like an exclusive club of only the highest of the high highest levels got coaching. Are you seeing it kind of drilled down to maybe lower levels as people see the impact that a person working with a coach can achieve?
Steve Buisson: [00:08:23] Right. So, you know, traditionally coaching, especially at the executive level, like I’m targeting executive management, C-suite type folks like myself, that coaching was reserved for them, but companies were finding that it was extremely successful and they’re rolling it down to senior management and then even middle management and the up and comers. So as you think about folks targeted early in their career, they’re learning the technical aspects through on the job training and that sort of thing. And there might be learning leadership skills from going to leadership skill schools, but it’s really the coaching which helps them overcome those obstacles where they might be reaching a ceiling that’s not really there. It’s a, you know, a self-perceived feeling where they just can’t get out of their own way. So it’s a matter of sitting down with them, having these exploratory conversations and really peeling back and helping them realize what might be holding them back and being able to progress forward.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:25] Now, in your career, sure, you had an opportunity to work with mentors that you have an opportunity to work with the coach.
Steve Buisson: [00:09:33] You know, I personally did not have a coach as I was going through my career, it really wasn’t in vogue back then, so much. I did a lot of mentoring myself. I really enjoyed that aspect. I helped start some mentoring programs and some of the firms I was with. And then was my last, my last job. I was very active in mentoring and that was one of the things I was pulling me towards coaching. You know, I was I really enjoyed giving back and helping folks. So taking the opportunity to find a way that I can give back was very important to me as I decided to found my company and name it.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:13] Now, speaking of naming it, those words you chose were probably not accidental. It was probably a lot of thought that went into it. But can you share why you decided to call the practice executive balance?
Steve Buisson: [00:10:24] Yeah. So, you know, it was really balancing from a number of different perspectives. For me personally, it was finding a balance in my life. I knew that when I was getting ready to move on to the second chapter, after working 30 years plus and grinding out 60 hour weeks, it was time to give back. And I decided I wanted to give back in three ways. I wanted to give back one day a week, one day work, week weekday to my wife and my family, which I’m doing one day a week to my community, which is very important to me. I’ve always been very involved in nonprofit boards and volunteering and that sort of thing. And then how can I give back to my profession? And I thought coaching was a great way and consulting too. It’s a way of giving back my skills back to the profession and helping those through my experiences. There’s one key differentiation and we think about coaching. Coaching is not mentoring. Mentoring is more offering to a person what you would do from your own experience. More of I’ve been there. This is what I did. Coaching is not counseling. Coaching is not friendship. And coaching is not like professional sports coaching. Coaching gets back to this partnership based on my experience. How can I help you discover your path to get forward from whatever’s holding you back?
Lee Kantor: [00:11:59] Now in your work, are you finding your point of entry with a firm is through consulting and then kind of evolves into coaching? Or does it start a coaching and involved in the consulting?
Steve Buisson: [00:12:10] I found that it’s both ways. So often, you know, you’re consulting with a firm and you may be consulting one on one with an executive. And there’s, you know, in consulting world, you’re being paid for a project, you’re being paid to deliver an outcome, whether it be an opinion or a report or produce something. And in doing so, you’re also helping that executive evaluate what else is going on there. And quite often you might find the problem is not necessarily operations and process, but it might be people. And sometimes it might be a leader who is being held back for some reason is not really working efficiently with the team. That’s where coaching could come in and really help tap into that and unlock that person to be more effective in what they do.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:01] Now, when you kind of left the corporate world and started your own practice, you decided to get go through a program. What’s prevented you or why did you choose that route rather than just kind of the the steeves laws of what I’ve learned in 30 years in business?
Steve Buisson: [00:13:22] Yeah, yeah. And you know, there’s nothing holding people back from doing that, and people are very good at it. Sometimes folks just say, I’m going to be a coach one day and then boom, they just start. I knew inside of me, I was very good vertically within an organization and good at what I did. It was from a technical perspective. I started my career way back as a as a bond trader, and I was very technical and quantitative and what I did and I worked my way up into leadership roles. But there was no guarantee that being successful as an executive, I would necessarily be successful as an executive coach. So I decided several, I guess, almost a year ago that I needed to acquire those skills. And the best way to acquire those skills was just to go back to a school pick, one that’s accredited and go back and get those skills. And that’s been a great decision for me. It’s sure it’s an investment in time and money, but it’s really taught me the necessary techniques to earn that credibility because a lot of you know, a lot of the business that I plan on continuing to get has been through referrals. And as you start collecting customers clients and they’re very pleased with the work you’re doing, they’re going to tell folks as well. So, you know, establishing that trust, building that relationship, earning that credibility leads to more clients and more opportunities to help people.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:46] So now walk me through what engagement or coaching engagement looks like. What is the typical pain that this executive is having? Like you use the word stuck earlier? Is this something like what are some symptoms of being stuck?
Steve Buisson: [00:14:59] Right. So you might often being in the corporate world. I’ve seen it many times you’ve got an up and coming person who’s just kind of the chosen one and doors are opening for them and they’re taking advantage of opportunities that are excellent at what they do. But suddenly they get tapped out. You know, the capped out, I guess, be a better way of saying that they’ve run into these self-imposed walls. So what a typical coaching engagement would be is somebody would contact me and I say, OK, well, let’s let’s have an introductory meeting. I’ll give you a complimentary session first. And that’s step one towards really explaining what coaching is about. Some of what we’ve talked about and then building the relationship, building the trust and then when they understand what I can do to help them as their partner. It’s a matter of showing them. So I’ll give a complimentary session and walk them through, you know, maybe just 15, 20 minutes of what a coaching session might look like and stop and say, What did you think is coaching right for you? And I’ll tell you what league nine times out of 10, they’re like, Yes, this is what I need. You can recognize from the skills that I bring to the table and you know, the connection we make, usually because it’s from shared experiences that they’re ready to go at that point. And then once the engagement starts, it’s typically six months or so a six month engagement. That’s the way we do it. And some are shorter, some are longer and some just ante up and want to keep going. So it varies across the board. But it’s really using that first meeting or to to make sure we have the chemistry and it’s OK if you don’t have the chemistry and we part ways. You know, I want to make sure that the client is getting something out of it. I mean, it is all about, like I said before, all about the client and helping them get unlocked or unstuck from whatever’s holding them back.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:56] Now is it something that they’ll begin to see and feel results in a month, a week, one session a year?
Steve Buisson: [00:17:06] Yeah, I mean, often often it’s the first session and then every session after that, we go in there and I challenge the client to bring forth whatever issue they want to talk about. And together we we unlock what’s holding them back and then formulate a game plan and give them homework to do things to work on. And it’s really their own action plan I helped them develop. And typically, you know, meetings we meet two or three times a month. It’s not every week. And from that, they have their homework and they come back and they say, You know, how did you do? What are you? What are you learning about yourself? And it’s it’s amazing the progress as they move along and apply what they’ve self discovered. So back to your question, the the the impact can be immediate depending upon the client, or sometimes it takes a little bit longer and quite often it’s not just one thing. So it does take a couple of months to get through different types of issues that may be related.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:08] Now I know you’ve only been doing this a relatively short time compared to the rest of your career, but do you have any incidents that have happened so far that you can share that it’s been a success story where you can share maybe the before, you know, the pain they were having and then what the conversation looked like with you? And then the outcome.
Steve Buisson: [00:18:28] I can give you typical examples. Nothing from any particular clients that I’ve gone through just from a confidential right.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:35] I wouldn’t want you to. Yeah, I just just kind of the lessons rather than the individual anecdote.
Steve Buisson: [00:18:43] Right? So you know what a typical lesson might be is first, there’s the discovery of the AHA moment, and it’s as I mentioned before, it’s typically some limiting belief or assumption that existed with this person deep down inside. And it’s the realization that this doesn’t have to hold you back. It doesn’t have to hold you down. And then from that, it’s. You know, championing them to find their own solution together, we get the solution and then they walk out of that meeting full of confidence. Of course. Of course I can do this. I’ve got this. I’ve always had it inside of me and I’ve seen that transformation from some of our clients. And then when you check back in a couple of weeks later, it’s like, how did it go? Oh, I, Steve, I can’t tell you how happy I’ve been. You know, I’ve been working on this and it’s just been super. So granted, it’s not all ponies and rainbows, but for the most part, you get these aha moments and you just build on that.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:49] And then do you find that even the most successful executive still has kind of some blind spots or some maybe some areas where they just don’t have the confidence that, like an outsider might think they would?
Steve Buisson: [00:20:08] It’s amazing every executive and now this is self-serving statement, but really every executive needs a coach because nobody’s perfect and nobody’s got it all figured out. Some are much better than others, but it’s really helping them get to their core. And if they haven’t done this self-discovery at some point in their career, which quite often they haven’t, which is what is your why? Why are you doing what you’re doing? What brings you to do this every day? And it’s that moment of self-discovery quite often, which really sets the stage and starts paving the road for even better path forward. And this is even for successful executives.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:49] Now your background has been in risk. What would you say to the executive who hasn’t gotten a coach yet? What? What is the risk of not having a coach in your mind?
Steve Buisson: [00:21:02] The biggest risk is probably UN fulfillment, you know, not reaching your potential. And I can’t think of anything that’s that’s sadder for a successful executive that says, you know, you can do better. Let’s take let’s let’s take this opportunity to work together as successful or disappointing as your career has been so far. You absolutely can take it to the next level. No doubt in my mind.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:30] Well, Steve, congratulations on all the success. If somebody wants to learn more about your practice, maybe get on your calendar. Is there a website?
Steve Buisson: [00:21:39] Absolutely. Executive Balance LLC. Feel free to visit me on the website. You can. There’s certain buttons you can click to get in touch with me. I’ll say I’ll reply to your email or you can get directly on my calendar, so I try and make it as easy as possible. Got my contact information in there as well. Or if you don’t feel comfortable clicking on buttons, give me a call. It’s on there as well. So it’s hopefully I’ve made it pretty, pretty straightforward to track me down.
Lee Kantor: [00:22:08] Well, thank you again for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you excellently.
Steve Buisson: [00:22:14] Thanks for the time. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you.
Lee Kantor: [00:22:16] All right, this Lee Kantor. We’ll see you next time on Coach the Coach radio.