Madelon Maupin Miles

President of Milestones, Inc.

By Marjorie F. Eddington

Categories: Business, Religion

Madelon Maupin Miles is President of Milestones, Inc., a Leadership Development Consulting Firm. During our interview, she shared how inspiration from the Bible has helped her help others in their careers, communicate the truth in ways others can understand, listen spiritually, and see individuals as God has made them.

How did you start working with Milestones, Inc.?
I had been managing an outplacement or career transition firm in Los Angeles, and about six months after my husband and I married, I decided to resign and join his coaching/training/consulting firm. The company was just three years old, and we have grown it substantially over the past eleven years.

What do you like about it?
We have the great privilege of coaching senior executives and their teams, which means we can impact a great deal of individuals in an organization. As well, there is tremendous variety and independence, both of which hold great appeal to me.

What is your role?
I'm one of the two primary consultants delivering the services of the company, as well as a spokesperson at various conferences in our field of executive coaching. About half of the time is spent with individuals and the other half with teams -- all to increase people's leadership and communication with each other and, frankly, to take out some of the angst of the workplace. We're often called in when teams are having a challenge working together. Our goal is to bring more harmony, as well as business effectiveness.

Is executive coaching the focus of Milestones?
Executive coaching is only one aspect of the company and is simply a delivery method, working one-on-one with individuals. What is at the heart of coaching is helping individuals understand that they really hold the answers to so many of their challenges. Coaching, as we practice it, is not coming in as consultants telling people what to do; rather, it is helping people unlock their own insight and talent. We also provide leadership development and training to help grow the next generation of leaders.

When or how are you hired?
We are hired by organizations when they see a need, such as a performance management issue (maybe an executive has a temper problem, or there's a huge turn-over of employees). Sometimes the need is for a specific skill or for the knowledge of how to navigate the politics of an organization. A board may hire us to work with the CEO; a CEO might want us to work with certain executives; a sales manager may hire us to work with the sales force or a specific individual. The majority of the time, we find that the problems stem from deeper issues, such as self-worth.

What kind of differences do you see in the people with whom you work?
They begin to treat others more respectfully and become more empathetic. They discover their own inherent leadership abilities: they find more courage to address issues that have been neglected, or find the humility to include others in their decision-making. While the assignments from the executives who hire us often begin with, "Can you help them do…" something, we really have the privilege of helping the individuals understand who they are at the core, not just what they do. We help them drop behaviors or patterns that no longer serve them, help them align with and live by their own values more consistently.

What obstacles do you face?
We have to build trust. These people didn't choose us, aren't sure who we are, and have insecurities. In some cases, we're being asked to work with individuals whose jobs are on the line. If they want to progress in the organization, they have to work with a coach. Other obstacles arise when we're working with teams to help them work together more effectively and harmoniously -- such as different ages, varying cultural and religious persuasions, different opinions. We work with people for six months, a year, sometimes even ten years with teams. It all depends on the need.

How has the Bible helped you in your work?
I'm always reaching out for inspiration, praying about these cases every single morning. I'll read the story of Joseph when he was in prison and see how he chose to work humbly with a pharaoh. This helps me, for I'm often working with people who seem to have large egos. Or, I'll do some research and look up different translations of specific verses from Psalms, for instance, to get a clearer concept of the true source of inspiration, or how to be, how to live. There's not an assignment I go on that I'm not listening for spiritual insight; I'm using the Bible the whole time. I'm studying a lot about Paul right now. Paul's life was spent in working with eclectic groups of Gentiles. He was constantly trying to say things in ways they could understand, always tailoring his letters to the specific congregation he was addressing. He used each situation to teach the people his theology -- who God is and who man is, the "new" man not the "old" man: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" (II Cor. 5:17). What stands out is that he says we are saved through grace not works, not the law which is all about works. Grace comes through God, freely given. People live through grace. The fact is that we all have what we need already, regardless of background, position, or current behavior.

Can you expand on your concept of what Paul means by grace?
To me, ultimate grace is that we are made in God's "image," that we are His reflection, made in His "likeness" (Gen. 1:26, 27) -- reflecting the intelligence, beauty, power, insight that are ours as the image of the Creator. Before his conversion, Paul spent his whole life thinking that we had to earn our oneness with God. Then, he realized that we are already His image. Our responsibility, then, is to wake up to this transforming truth of our being and live and act accordingly. Paul's blindness on the road to Damascus and his restored sight symbolize the turning away from old habits and patterns of thinking and allowing that spiritual light to transform consciousness (Acts 9).

How does this understanding of grace and the "new man" apply to your work?
I love that verse in Hebrews: "[L]et us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (12:1). I ask myself in business, "What am I really here for?" It's not the money or the prestige, but to run the straight race and, more than anything, to try to see in another person the image and likeness of God -- "the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:24). I try to look beyond and through people's particular behavioral styles, manners of treating others, or intellectual capacities and backgrounds as Jesus did.

Are there any particular stories of Jesus that help you in your work?
As I was reading Luke's story of how Jesus healed the woman who had the "infirmity" for eighteen years, I gained a new insight. When Jesus saw her, he said, "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity" (Luke 13:12). I realized he was speaking in the present tense, telling her that her present condition is free. I think that captures how I try to work in the business world. Each of us is "loosed" from whatever the "carnal" mind tries to say about us. Its arguments haven't really changed since Jesus' day. It's still trying to fool us into accepting obstinacy, fear, and ego. So, whether I'm working with individuals who have ADD, tempers, or insecurities, I'm trying to bear witness to the individuals God made, who already include and reflect complete calmness, peacefulness, etc.

Are there any specific examples you can share?
Last week I was with someone who is humanly brilliant. Many clients express such a remarkable sense of intelligence that it can be intimidating if you think IQ is the only playing field. As I listened to this person explain something, waves of insecurity flooded my thought: "What am I doing here? I have nothing to contribute!" But I knew I must listen to what God was saying instead. As a result, something quite unlike anything I might have deduced came to thought, and I shared it. It was a completely God-given, original solution, and he was very pleased. Figuring out how to talk with people in a language they'll understand is one of the things I love about this work. I'm usually with people who know very little about the Bible, but they care a great deal about their families, the truth, their companies. People express their native spiritual qualities in so many different ways.

What qualities do you need to be a consultant?
Spiritual listening, truth telling, and bearing witness to the truth! The core skill of what I do is to listen spiritually, and for me that's what everybody in the Bible was doing -- listening for what Mind, God, was telling them. In addition to being able to listen, you often need to express moral courage -- the ability to state the truth regardless of what others will then think of you. You have to be willing to look a person in the eyes and say, "This doesn't work; that behavior is inappropriate." The desire to please could make a coach's work ineffective. You can't be wedded to wanting someone to like you humanly. That makes you of no value. Nobody in the Bible worth his salt was motivated by being popular. Truth-telling is at the core. Rather than focus on the "old man," I try to bear witness to how God created each of us, which is the real truth about everyone.

About Madelon M. Miles

Madelon Maupin Miles, President of Milestones, Inc., is an experienced business executive with both a strong management and entrepreneurial background. Madelon's focus is to partner with an organization's leadership to develop individuals for increased performance and teamwork through executive coaching, facilitation and consulting. Work ranges from facilitation of strategic planning offsites to teambuilding, facilitation, executive coaching and training.

Madelon was General Manager, Senior Vice President of Lee Hecht Harrison's Los Angeles office, a national career transition firm specializing in organizational change. She assisted individuals from a broad array of industries, as well as worked with the leadership in dozens of Los Angeles area companies. Madelon joined Milestones, Inc. as President in 1995 to broaden her ability to impact leadership beyond career development issues. With extensive training in leadership development, assessment tools, facilitation, coaching, team building and communication, Madelon has worked with numerous organizations at executive and senior to mid-level management, including NBC/Universal Studios, Twentieth Century Fox, The J. Paul Getty Trust, DreamWorks, Toyota, Macerich, Hot Topic, E! Entertainment, Vendare, City National Bank, Idealab, Washington Mutual, Sony Pictures and many more.

Madelon's career started in newspaper publishing where she served as National Advertising Director for the world-renowned Christian Science Monitor. Later she assisted in the start-up of the San Jose Business Journal in 1981, was Publisher of Scripps Howard's San Francisco Business Journal, and later co-Founder and Publisher of Orange County Business Week, a weekly business newspaper for Orange County, California. With a deep interest in international business, Madelon co-founded an international publishing company based in Hong Kong that produced the China Phone Book for the People's Republic of China and later sold it to Dow Jones. 

Madelon is a Master Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation, as well as a founding board member of the Professional Coaches and Mentors Association, a national organization for Executive Coaches. She is certified in Performance Management Technologies from The University of Southern California; recipient of the "President's Award, 1997-1999," "Chairman's Club 2001-2003" and "Trainer of the Year 2001" from Target Training International. She is a frequent speaker at Coaching conferences, trade associations and companies.

She has a B.A. from Principia College, Illinois, in Religion and Biblical Studies with graduate work in Thessalonica, Greece, and has served as Cultural Historian for 7 years with Princess Cruises for tours of the Holy Land (Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Rhodes) and Mediterranean (Italy, Greece, Spain, Morocco, Gibraltar, France). Madelon has had a lifelong love of the Bible and periodically gives talks on a variety of subjects -- within the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and New Testament, as well as on the history of the English Bible -- for Bible conferences, churches, and non-profit groups. She is Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Adventure Unlimited, an international non-profit youth leadership development organization headquartered in Colorado, and enjoys living in Pacific Palisades, CA with her husband, Brett.