Elizabeth R. Becker, LCSW
September, 2008

What Executive Coaches Do and When to Seek One!

I am often asked to explain what a coach does and how somebody can benefit from having an executive coach. Coaching is for anyone who wants to get better, by doing better at whatever it is they do ---- building a business, leading a team, enhancing their professional performance, or managing multiple roles and responsibilities in life! Coaching is for anyone who wants to reach their full potential or take their career to the next level of excellence. Coaching is for anyone who is going through a significant transformation and wants support in moving forward or in a new direction. Why is coaching helpful? For one simple reason: most of us can not accurately see ourselves and we rarely receive feedback that is supportive or helpful!

The universal human condition that includes the grind of daily living (and the stress it produces!), coupled with old or stuck response patterns, prevents most of us from accurately understanding how we think and engage with others. It is easy to get stuck doing the same old things because that is what we understand and know, even if we see that it does not work! In frustration, we often blame 'the system' or others, failing to recognize that we are in an old response pattern! When we do get feedback it is often critical, angry, and not helpful; or we don't know how to create positive change based upon feedback.

Coaching is a transformational process that helps you perceive and behave differently! It is true: "If your want to change the world, you must first change yourself" ( M. Gandi) If you want to change yourself, you must first change your mind! A coach is an objective thought-partner and supportive observer who:

• provides powerful, effective feedback and then helps you grow from the information! (productive feedback!)
• helps clarify personal goals and values, and then helps you align your choices and decisions with those values.
• helps you to build or strengthen personal and professional relationships.
• identifies areas for growth and development, and then devises a strategy to accomplish them.
• supports and teaches specific skills essential to moving forward, or developing fresh new response patterns. e.g. communication skills, conflict management or negotiation skills, team building skills, etc.
• suggests or teaches new behaviors to support your goals and transformation.
• helps you change others by strategically changing your response to them! (the skilled art of persuasion and benevolent manipulation!)
• helps develop increased awareness of self and others.
holds you accountable to your commitments and goals.
• provides support and motivation.
• helps you identify obstacles to your goals.
teaches leadership skills to enhance overall performance.
• supports and encourages greater life balance.

Coaches are not therapists; they are pragmatic problem-solvers committed to working collaboratively in a partnership to help you reach your goals and be your best. They encourage pro-active behavior that is congruent with ones' character, integrity, and intentions. If you are not getting the feedback you would like, or feel that your career is not moving in the direction you would like, maybe it's time to consider an executive coach. After all, you take your healthcare issues to an MD, seek legal advice from an attorney, go to the dentist when you have a toothache, and take you car to a repair shop when it doesn't run properly! So why not seek a coach when the most important aspects of your life are not going the way you would like?
Pearl of Wisdom: Rather than simply make a 'to do' list for the day, ask yourself: 'Who will I be today?' Let your answer to that question determine what you will do! Character always drives action!

Question for Self-Reflection: Are your daily activities, actions, and interactions with others aligned with your greatest values and priorities? If not, what one step could you take to better align your actions with your values?

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