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Do You Need an Executive Coach?    Do you have a special competitive edge in your career? Smart executives and professionals have a trusted advisor who can help them navigate the ins and outs of personal and professional life so they can keep stress low and burnout at bay. An executive coach can raise executive awareness and assist in devising peak performance strategies to create invaluable career velocity and momentum. Read this article to learn the 16 reasons executives and professionals make executive coaches an integral part of their success team.    1790 words.
The Mental Game Coach, Peak Performance Playbook

Do You Need An Executive Coach?

Use This Secret Weapon to Help Enhance
Your Career, Your Business and Your Life

Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California

It has forever been a major advantage in any sport to have a good coach. Other fields too. Musicians have instructors. Artists have mentors. Writers have editors. Graduate students have master professors. People who wish to grow in any endeavor seek the wisdom, perspective and guidance of an accomplished coach.

However, no one can teach you anything. Ultimately, only you can take information from a teacher or coach and transform it into your personal power. Savvy executives take personal responsibility for their own learning and devise strategies and systems that put information into action.

Why Do Executives Choose to Work With a Coach?

No executive reaches the heights of organizational life all alone. While it is often lonely once at the top, many people help the executive rise to that rarefied atmosphere. Almost every high-performing executive has had a mentor, a confidant or a coach to challenge them, help them ease past inevitable obstacles, act as a sounding board and be an impartial collaborator in decision-making. Here are sixteen reasons executives who desire to be peak performers give for why they seek the services of an executive coach.

1. An Over-Arching Willingness to Grow as a Person. If you are reading this article it means you want to grow as a human being. This desire is manifested by your seeking experiences that help you improve personally. The advancing, successful executive realizes that to rise in any career, personal growth is a must. Executives want 10 years of experience, not the first year's experience ten times. A coach accelerates the learning curve and sharpens sensibilities in a more acute manner than can an individual working alone.

2. To Build a Comprehensive Mental Toolkit. Smart executives realize they are more than their job, more than a boss, more than an organizational person. They have lives outside the office. To develop the tools and processes that catapult one towards a life of intentional design, savvy executives align themselves with someone who can help take them there. A coach can assist the executive in expanding the personal assets and capabilities so growth is accelerated.

3. To Be Able to Benefit from Mistakes. Peak performers respect mistakes and use them to learn. Poor performers tie themselves up with negative emotion after every mistake. When we view any mistake as failure, our self-destructive emotions mask the valuable feedback around every mistake. The aware executive welcomes all feedback. A coach is one of the important secret tools used by executives to assist them in learning from all levels of experience.

4. To Develop a High Degree of Self-Awareness. Self-awareness is not about what should be-it is about what is. The smart executive places a high priority on becoming self-aware and realizes that self-knowledge can be about the past or present. Self-awareness is the master skill. A coach uses experiential and reflective processes to increase the awareness of the executive, so that experience is useful.

5. To Deconstruct Personal Experiences. Peak performers use self-reflection to deconstruct their experiences. They know that the unexamined life fleets by out of control. Only by reviewing personal experience do we gain some degree of awareness over what we have done and over who we are. The ambitious executive embraces this process so new realities and realizations can be consciously created out of that. A coach knows how to encourage and access that self-reflective process so the executive can bring that valuable information to daily use.

6. To Identify Pertinent Learning Goals. The ability to sharply define appropriate developmental goals is paramount for the forward-looking executive. A coach is invaluable in identifying leveraged learning objectives that can make significant, important differences to the executive and to the organization. Once goals and objectives are set forth, learning takes on a new zest and life and enhances the executive's day-to-day world. A coach serves as a partner to advance personal and organizational executive agendas.

7. To Identify and Recruit Available Assets to Meet Strategic Goals. Every executive brings unique talents to the organizational table. Many executives do not completely understand how to leverage their strengths and minimize their weaknesses to full effect. A coach helps the executive understand what personal and organizational assets exist that can be recruited and brought to bear on organizational priorities. Amazing things begin to happen when there is an alignment of the executive's personal asset inventory as it directly impacts on the organization's most important initiatives.

8. To Maintain Balance of Professional and Personal Goals. Life balance coaching sounds like a luxury that retired executives finally give in to after their productive years are at an end. In reality, the most vibrant and forward-thinking executives embrace a holistic, comprehensive examination and structuring of their coaching to include every facet of their lives. This umbrella approach results in a synergistic enhancement of their business life. This also staves off brownout, burnout, and addictive tendencies to which many high-performing executives fall victim. A coach can help maintain proper balance.

9. To Transfer Learned Skills Into a Self-Coaching System. There is an old saying in sport. "An athlete who can perform to potential with a coach, in a practice is good. An athlete who can perform to potential with a coach, in a game is excellent. An athlete who can perform to potential in a game, without a coach, is great." An executive needs to be nimble, to be able to change direction, to be self-aware, to be able to self-coach, and to do so accurately. A coach can instill those abilities so the executive gains confidence and sureness under fire.

10. To Identify and Overcome Personal, Internal Obstacles to Strategic Goals. Some executives are unable to see, or may not want to see, their blind spots. Everyone has one. Not seeing this liability places any executive on rocky footing. Leadership vision becomes suspect, followers lose faith, colleagues begin to talk, and executive effectiveness is degraded. One of a coach's major gifts to his clients is the illumination of the executive blind spot and the amelioration of its damaging effects. Many executives have thanked their coaches for this vital and often career-saving insight that allows sure-footed circumnavigation around the whitewaters in the executive suite.

11. To Maintain Balance of Linear Personal Qualities With Asymmetric Personal Qualities. The familiar Mental Model of left brain (analytical, orderly, organized, mathematical) and right brain (creative, performing, intuitive, spontaneous) qualities, while not exact, affords a helpful model to use in describing what a successful executive needs to operate optimally. Frozen, locked in, linear, narrow capabilities take one only so far in organizational life. Open, creative, non-traditional, asymmetric, changing capabilities form a nimble basis for continual expansion of personal boundaries and potentialities. A coach co-manages that balance of the two sides of the executive personality.

12. To Balance The Demands of Task Orientation With People Orientation. Most hard-charging executives are outcome-oriented, as they should be. Some leaders who have the motto "Ready! Fire! Aim!" miss the mark. These executives need a balance of people skills as well as get-the-job-done skills. A coach can help set a proper balance between the two. The optimally-performing leader embraces an appropriate balance of operational focus with people focus to move forward with speed and humanity.

13. To Transfer Learned Coaching Session Tools to Sessions With Colleagues. A coaching conversation is a dialogue of wisdom that enhances a person's abilities in numerous areas. Insights arise, new ways of speaking are created, different viewpoints emerge, and an overall sense of helpful solution-focused discussion is developed. This new reality can then be transferred to collaborations with colleagues and anyone else in the organization. A coach models and facilitates executive coaching session tools for the executive to expand behavioral vistas.

14. To Cultivate Application of Insight and Intuition. There is a saying in sports, even at the highest levels. An athlete "does not say as he does or does as he says". What does this mean? For many elite athletes, they perform at those rarefied levels due to years of training and then execute in competition mindlessly, with little or no conscious awareness. They may not be able to explain what they do or how they perform it so well. So it often is with executives. They rise to the organizational heights and to get to the next level, they need to develop higher personal awareness so they can control their present situation better and deliberately design their futures for optimal results.

15. To Sharpen Reflective Abilities in Practical Applications. Many executives are on such a fast track that they rarely take time to sit, review, plan and then set in motion optimal systems that drive organizational performance. Quiet time is required for effective strategic analysis and enhanced performance initiatives, for both the organization and the executive. A coach not only provides structured exploration into those areas, but acts as a brainstorming partner and sounding board to facilitate that journey.

16. To Develop a Career and Life Game Plan. Executives with vision know that strategic thinking paves the way to success. Busy executives make the time to review and plan for the outcomes they desire. Executive coaching provides structured time for that process to occur on a regular basis. It provides a collaborative partner dedicated to the executive's well-being, with no biases or agendas that others inevitably have from within the organization. This confidential neutrality is possibly the most powerful tool the executive coach possesses. It is something the executive often values above all else.

Be Clear and Open in Your Desire to Work With a Coach

Whatever reasons you decide are the ones for working with a coach, be clear in your motivations for engaging a coach, yet be open to new potentials once the coaching process is underway. Executives often are surprised by what new directions emerge as the coaching process progresses. I have found myself altering my role strictly as a coach, and also evolving into a speech-writer, consultant and course developer, once I understand my client's situation with more clarity.

That perhaps is one of your coach's greatest assets to you--that once the coach goes inside your head, your heart and your organization, the levels of understanding deepen to a level where greater levels of support, insight and creative value can be provided.

Your Next Steps

Remember that coaching is a process, one that evolves over time. The reasons you hire a coach may not be the ones you have to retain the coach. Enjoy the process and allow the beneficial aspects of coaching to resonate throughout your entire being.

This next helpful article explains why iNLP Center Life Coach Certification students want to become an executive coach or business coach. The article is written by Hope Bundrant. Hope is the director and co-founder of the iNLP Center in Temecula, California. She has a BFA from the California State University of Fullerton and has completed postgraduate education at Harvard Business School. Hope is happily married to Mike Bundrant and manages their circus of teenage monkeys. If you have questions, please contact her at hope@inlpcenter.org.


Copyright © 2011- Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports. He is also the Founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association (www.mentalgamecoaching.com), an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.

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