Oct 092008

Dr. Earl R. Smith II

In my coaching practice, I continually help clients undertake and master challenges that they never thought they would be able to. That experience is one of primary reasons that I engage in executive and leadership coaching. Now it seems that the rest of the world is really catching on to the benefits that coaching can bring to a rising executive – and aspiring leader. It is gratifying to read web articles, newspapers, entrepreneur magazines that focus on the rapidly growing profession of executive and leadership coaching.

With the rapid growth and competition, that faces entrepreneurs these days, you might be thinking of hiring a coach to help you kick you career into a higher gear. What you need to realize is that your competition has probably already hired a coach and you are being left behind – you are losing ground. The wise entrepreneur benefits greatly from hiring an executive coach to deal with the pressures of rampant growth and change. In my experience, most entrepreneurs understand the edge that they gain through a coaching relationship – particularly when their coach has already accomplished multiple times what they are attempting for the first or second time.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story on Sept.5, 2000 with this headline “MORE ENTREPRENEURS TAKE HELP OF EXECUTIVE COACHES”. The author, Eleena de Lisser, writes that successful business coaching has gone beyond the sole province of rising stars of the Fortune 500 companies. More and more entrepreneurs are turning to an executive coach for help and support. Information they lend helps to focus them and make them more effective in navigating the choppy seas of an unpredictable business world. Especially when dealing with international businesses and the ever changing high tech world of information and technology. She begins highlighting the outcome of a survey of CEOs, 32% of the entrepreneurs report that their own ability in management or executive leadership of their business could be what hinders the growth of their company during the next 12 months. This is a significant change – as just seven years ago, only 10% reported this concern. Some entrepreneurs interviewed for the article believe that hiring an executive coach has given them an edge over the competition.

For instance, Alec Hudnut, CEO of Quisic, Inc., an Internet company in L.Z\A. has led his company’s growth from 15 to 350 employees. He gleefully admits that having his executive coach around is what has helped him discover the necessary changes in his leadership style. His coach was a confidant with whom he tested ideas and get the necessary insight and feedback on how to communicate his ideas better with his staff and lead change effectively. The coach helped him figure out how to delegate responsibility and focus on fewer business areas. Finding the happy equilibrium of personal management and delegation to your staff is one of the hardest skills an entrepreneur has to learn on his own.

In addition, it’s not just the entrepreneurs that are benefiting. In Madison, Wisconsin, USA press has finally bought a ticket to ride this new train of success of the business coaching trend. WSJ (that stands for, Wisconsin State Journal) ran an article on Sunday, Sept.10, 2000 with the headline, “More coaches turning up in workplace”. Christina Hange Kukuk of Knight Ridder Newspapers describes a scenario of a disappointed and under-performing employee, a recent victim of the Peter Principle. After seeking out advice of a business coach, they helped her discover the source of her unhappiness at work. The employee came to realize she enjoyed her former job, and although it cost her financially, she voluntarily demoted herself. Eager to retain top talent, companies are turning to coaching to increase productivity and morale. One of the many roles of a successful coach is being able to ask those hard questions and being able to challenge the employee. Allowing them to refocus his or her perspective, improve performance and make decisions is key to making effective changes. With companies already as lean and mean as they are going to get, great organizations are realizing they need to invest in developing their talent to keep these remaining people happy and productive.

© Dr. Earl R. Smith II

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