Oct 182008

Dr. Earl R. Smith II

In the sporting world, the role and value of a good coach is seldom overlooked. In sports, athletes and teams receive motivation from the coach. The coach helps them hone and enhance skills, provides motivation, and refines their performance. A good coach aims to bring out the best in each individual. He also focuses on the evolution of the team as a unit. This enables the team to congeal as a whole, working unit. After all a team, that works together as one, wins games. This analogy translates perfectly to the business world with the owner of a company and his team that works well together to increase sales and be more efficient.

Entrepreneurial coaching is at its finest when it concentrates on addressing an individuals professional development issues, and when it assists on a challenging project or working roles. For example if an executive meets a challenge finding organizing and managing a team effectively, then concentrating on his scheduling skills alone will not help. A coach will identify the range of challenges that go onto making up this one and organize a coaching program to develop the necessary skills. The effort will focus on professional as well as personal improvement and leadership development.

The client in league with an experienced and professional coach works to define coaching focus. The objective of the program is to hone and shape the client’s skills and understanding to achieve full potential. That focus will determine the client’s ability to contribute to the team and company. In the high-pressure business world of today, coaching is necessary for Chairmen, board members, CEOs, and rising stars. It helps them improve quickly, respond to, overcome new challenges, and grow both as a person and as an executive.

Coaching is most effective when the client can focus openly and honestly on the issues. These can be ‘perception problems’ obstructing personal performance. Other issues can arise from a lack of personal knowledge, behaviors or skills that are sensitive subjects. Some are challenges that are best worked on in a more private setting. Others can be better addressed within a group setting. Always remember, the improvement of these skills will lead to progress and long-term improvement. Coaching is about improvement.

Within the first few meetings with a coach, a list of the client’s objectives, the degree of the existing knowledge base and the proper motivational program is determined. I do this by organizing an assessment program that draws data from both the client and their context. Work continues until the progress is made and the improvements are reliably deployed. We sometimes accomplish this in a few session. Other times, it takes an expended program. Results are what matters – the time needed is determined by the client’s ability to learn and change.

My coaching programs weave the personal and professional into one effort. Over the years, I have learned that many professional challenges have their roots in personal tendencies. Some of our sessions may focus on how to present a particular idea for a meeting or how to best present the information to a client or board meeting. Others may focus on the tendencies of the client to respond inappropriately or unproductively in situations. Still others may focus on the gaining of knowledge or skills that are important to their role in the company. A ‘holistic’ approach – I coach the whole person rather than just the professional – assures that change will be more than just superficial.

Many of my coaching engagements are followed by ‘as needed’ sessions. Perhaps a client feels a need to revisit challenges or boost their skills. When it becomes this kind of a relationship, my coaching has helped the client progress – but has also helped them get on a learning path that will lead them to further growth and a brighter future. These are the best engagements – the change has been basic and the client is now awake to possibilities beyond our initial focus.

© Dr. Earl R. Smith II


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