Why Get an Executive Coach

I was recently invited to speak on the topic, “Why Get an Executive Coach Anyway?” Everyone seems to be doing it so the professional group hosting the event was thinking maybe they should consider it too.

That begs the question, why exactly is executive coaching so popular now? The answer is straight-forward: because it’s a brawl out there!

The landscape of work has not just changed; it has convulsed, repeatedly during the last few decades. The cycle of innovation so compressed, long-term work arrangements are not practical anymore. 

The great social contract between the organization and its employees has expired. The company as parent is DEAD. People don’t need companies to generate income, and companies don’t need full time, permanent employees to get the work done.

“The Job” as a structure is obsolete. Now it’s about the work you do and your value proposition. 

So exactly who is in charge of your career? Hint: it’s not someone else. It’s YOU. 

Twenty years ago, Tom Peters published the seminal article “The Brand Called You” in Fast Company magazine. He argued that every worker is now her own brand and if you want to get ahead, or be doing work that thrills you, you have to stand out. The idea of managing your own marketing campaign is more relevant today than ever.

You yourself have to know what you do best, and how to explain that to the right people. No one else is going to do it for you. So can coaching help with that?

Only if you get the right coach. There seem to be as many approaches to coaching as there are professionals calling themselves coaches. Coaching is now used to repackage all manner of services. HR professionals often label services previously known as organizational development as coaching. Search professionals are now called career coaches. Traditional consultants are now strategy coaches. Where to start? 

Know what you want. The most important thing if you are considering a coach is this: what are you trying to accomplish for yourself? What are you hoping an experience like coaching is going to do for you? Talk about specific outcomes. If those are not yet clear to you, tell the coach to help you identify them. An accomplished coach will ask you good and compelling questions.

Who coaches to those outcomes? Ask around and search online. Determine if the coach does the work that’s in line with the results you want. What does the take away look like? Are you in it for a plan you can execute on your own or do you also want someone to hold you accountable for implementing it?  

Chemistry matters. Can you trust this person? I tell people we are going to spend a lot of time together behind a closed door. I may do the work that’s on point with the outcome you are looking for, but we must also trust each other and feel comfortable with the relationship. Spend time with the coach up front to figure this out, preferably in a sit down conversation. If face-to-face is not possible, video conferencing is the next best thing. 

Check references. Make sure the coach has them. What can the coach’s clients tell you about the results they realized and what it was like to work with her? Third party input is the most useful information you can get.

The right coach brings expertise you don’t have time to develop yourself. My clients want to spend their time on the solution rather than on figuring out how to make it happen. And this is The Age of Action. The people who are trying stuff as fast as they can are the ones most often hitting upon the success they want.   


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