Wherever you are on your career path, an executive coach awaits to unlock your potential. The key is knowing what they do (and what they don’t) and how to find a good one.
You should know up front that executive coaching focuses on job performance — not whether Daddy hugged you often enough.
“It is a very work-oriented process. We look at issues at a very high level and the extent to which those issues impact work,” says Sabrina Zook, president of Talent Development Strategies in Scarsdale. “If we uncover some deep-rooted issues, that’s when I will direct the individual to psychotherapy.”
Expect a coach to spend time assessing your personality traits, likes and dislikes, inherent assumptions, and professional tendencies, en route to heightened self-awareness. This will position you to make changes in your execution and help your strategy and problem-solving.
“Good executive coaching is grounded in science. I use a structured approach to establish what the client values and what their professional goals are. Through this understanding, I want them to feel more present and help them tap into their strengths,” says Larchmont coach Caren Osten.
Some coaches employ 360-degree interviews in which those on the organizational chart — above, below, and sideways — offer feedback. This may seem daunting, but it’s an excellent way to get a full picture.
“Coaching is about developing a solid framework to move forward. It is about getting clear on the lens you’re seeing things through and paying attention to your personal compass. When an individual is clear on their values, they can move forward,” says coach Laurie Hirsch Schulz from Tarrytown.
Like a jungle guide, an executive coach can help clear the way and help you understand the dangers that are out there, but don’t expect them to carry you on their backs.
For about the price of mediocre restaurant meal, you can get “certified” as a coach. There is no state or federal licensing, and there are no shortages of paper mills printing out official-sounding certs.
Instead, look for professional experience in the field, their career before coaching and the skills they’re trained in. Some top-notch universities, like Rutgers and NYU, have coaching curricula; choose those over on-line certification programs. Don’t be afraid to ask about an executive coach’s experience and training.
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