Executive coaching is here to stay…Retaining the services of an executive coach or mentor represents what I believe to be the ultimate business advantage available to professionals. With the numerous studies that have been authored which provide ample data affirming the extraordinary results that can be achieved through utilizing an executive coach I’m always amazed at the number of professionals who don’t yet have a coach on retainer. In today’s blog post I’ll examine the reasons why I believe all (yes I said all) executives and entrepreneurs should have a coach or mentor.
Executives who rise to the C-suite do so largely based upon their ability to consistently make sound decisions. However while it may take years of solid decision making to reach the boardroom it often times only takes one bad decision to fall from the ivory tower. The reality is that in today’s competitive business world an executive is only as good as his/her last decision, or their ability to stay ahead of contemporaries and competitors.
For all the things that Thomas Jefferson was known and revered for, the belief that he was most passionate about was the principle that led him to found the University of Virginia…He believed that learning is a life long endeavor whose flame should not be extinguished until a persons last breath had been drawn.
Regrettably, as sound as the Jeffersonian principle of continuing education is, it too often runs contrary to how most executives manage their careers. Most successful executives make heavy investments in building their skill sets, knowledge base and subject matter expertise early in their careers only to make minimal investments in their professional development when they reach the C-suite. It is however at the C-suite level that an executive must be on top of his/her game as they have the broadest sphere of influence, the largest ability to impact a business and they also now have the most at risk…It is now that they should make the heaviest investment in refining their game because it is at the executive level that increased performance will pay the biggest dividends.
The only thing senior executives and entrepreneurs can count on is that their performance is constantly being evaluated by virtually everyone in the value chain. Combine that with the fact the performance standards and expectations are constantly being raised and it is no wonder that executives are seeking to leverage productivity through the use of outside experts in the form of professional coaches and mentors.
In addition to my other duties at N2growth I also maintain an active personal coaching practice. My coaching clients are some of today’s leading executives and entrepreneurs. For most of these professionals the decision to retain my services was driven by one of two distinct motivations. Some of my clients had a defensive motive in that they wanted to protect what they had worked so hard to achieve while others had an offensive motive in that they were looking to take their companies or careers to the next level…Regardless of which camp they fell into these were already very successful people who recognized that its lonely at the top and that they could not afford to keep operating in a vacuum. I actually have a few clients where I am just one member of a coaching team that is on call to deliver real time advice and assistance when the need arises.
Think of any goal that you could set for yourself, or any standard that you could benchmark yourself against and you’ll find an intrinsic flaw…the problem is that you only know what you know and you don’t know what you don’t know. No world-class athlete makes it to the top of their game without a coach so why should you or your executives try to perfect your game in the vacuum of isolation. Who do you turn to for advice and direction? Are you operating in a bubble and making decisions in a relative vacuum? Do you know what you don’t know?
The following questions represent a few things to consider when evaluating a potential coach:
Who’s paying the coach? It is my recommendation that you personally retain the coach. You want someone whom you can trust implicitly and whose loyalty is pledged to you and you alone. If the coach is being paid for by the company or its investors then while you might still receive good advice, the coach’s loyalty will reside with someone other than you.
Is your coach qualified? Remember that the coaching industry is full of practitioners that paid a few hundred dollars for a professional designation, but yet have little or no real experience. Make sure that your coach not only possesses a track record, but that their skill sets and competencies are relevant to your needs.
Does your coach have references? The best indicator of a coach’s ability to help you will be based on how he has helped others…No successful clients equals a coach that should be avoided.
What does the coach charge for his/her services? Remember, you get what you pay for…If your coach is only charging a few hundred dollars a month then that is likely representative of the caliber of advice you’ll receive. If your total annual compensation is well into the six figures then you can afford (actually you can’t not afford) to retain the services of a tier-one coach.
If you would like to discuss how coaching can benefit you or your executives feel free to contact me.