...an executive coach is not like an athletic coach?
When you think of a coach, do you automatically think of sports? Most people imagine an energetic person pacing the sidelines of an athletic event, calling instructions to the players (and maybe occasionally yelling at the referees). That's not at all what an executive coach, business coach, or leadership coach does.
Consider the western stagecoaches you've seen in cowboy movies or on television. Better yet, think of one of those fancy high-society carriages you've seen in a turn-of-the-century movie--here's a rather simple one, for example. These coaches are a much better metaphor for a leadership coach. Let me explain.
Years ago, a coach was a method of transportation. You could walk, ride a horse, or step aboard an elegant, clean coach in your best attire. All three methods would get you from point A to point B, but the coach did it with less mess and much faster. That's what a skilled leadership coach does today for you and your company.
We assist you in moving from where you are to where you want to be with minimum mess and maximum speed. You still pick the destination; we just enhance your progress.
In his highly acclaimed book The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley offers these powerful words: "You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input, you will never be as good as you could be....Don't be deceived by measuring your leadership against what others are doing rather than against your God-given potential."
Coaches are trained to listen, to observe, and to adjust their approaches to fit each client's individual needs. We seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; we believe the client is naturally creative, resourceful, and capable. The coach's job is to provide support to expand the skills, resources, and creativity that you, the client, already possess.
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Is coaching cost-effective?
In the February 19, 2001 issue, in an article entitled “Executive Coaching—With Returns a CFO Could Love,” Fortune Magazine reported: “Asked for a conservative estimate of the monetary payoff from the coaching they got...managers described an average return of more than $100,000, or about six times what the coaching had cost their companies.”
How Does Coaching Compare with Other "Helping" Services?
Training is focused at providing an individual with new knowledge or skill. The agenda is usually fixed with some very explicitly defined desired outcomes. Organizations seek outside trainers either because the skill or knowledge is so specialized or because of an unusually competent process used in transferring the knowledge and skill. Training usually occurs in groups, but can also be delivered one-to-one.
Mentoring usually occurs as a career-oriented relationship between an older or more experienced person (the mentor) and a younger or less experienced individual (the protégé). Interactions usually focus on creating future behaviors of the protégé based on the experiences of the mentor. Success of mentoring relationships in the workplace has caused the concept to spread into schools and other developmental organizations.
Consulting is similar to mentoring, except that the relationship is usually short-lived, focused on resolving some specific problem, or maximizing some unique opportunity. The consultant is called in to assess the situation, then provide options or answers based on specialized knowledge or experience. The contracting organization or individual then chooses to accept, reject, or alter the proposed suggestions.
Counseling usually focuses on overcoming or bolstering some deficit or limitation. Some organizations have created programs of employee and family assistance for interpersonal difficulties or a lack of clarity or direction. I can testify to their value, as I have set up employee assistance programs in three different facilities, and I have used and encouraged others to use the counseling available through these arrangements.
Therapy typically deals with dysfunction, healing, or repairing a past pain, feeling, or issue. Therapists tend to disclose little, so there is a power differential with the client. Therapy for troubled individuals may be conducted in groups or privately and may be minimally invasive (perhaps indistinguishable from counseling) or extensive (even requiring medication or in extreme cases, hospitalization).
Coaching is a high form of customized learning. The coach creates an environment where clients are free to generate and explore options, dealing with their strengths and aspirations. The coach helps individuals move from where they are now to where they want to be, asking thought-provoking questions and evoking answers from the client’s own awareness and perceptions. A good coach deals with the client’s agenda, sees the client as capable, and assists the client with discipline, holding them accountable for following through on the actions to which they commit.