Executive career coaching is not cheap. It is, however, an investment in your career. If it is done well, it provides excellent returns on your investment. These returns include career engagement and job satisfaction (a.k.a. happiness and how you spend your life) and career progression (a.k.a. promotions and salary increases). Executives often spend considerable sums of money on their MBAs and higher education, on leadership training and on memberships to professional associations. Yet they spend very little on their own career management.
Why this is so remains somewhat of a mystery to me. Perhaps the career coaching industry is perceived as something only high school leavers and university graduates need. Perhaps many career counselors lack the corporate experience and credibility to effectively coach senior executives. Maybe it is simply that the majority of individuals tend to ignore their own career management and expect their organisation to do it for them (despite company wide training and development policies which encourage them to manage their own!). Maybe overworked and stressed executives get sweaty palms at the thought of anything else being added to their ‘to do’ list, even if it would ultimately benefit them. Or perhaps it is because executives are unclear on what an executive career coach can do for them and how to benefit from the experience.
What Do Executives Use An Executive Career Coach For?
Executives may use career coaching to assist them to:
- Develop their own professional brand outside of their current role and organisation. Executive career coaches with individuals who are highly skilled in their area of expertise and yet have no wider industry reputation. We know that for job or financial security, this reputation needs to be developed. Often, executives have been with one organisation for many years. They have poor external networks due to resting on their laurels with career development. They have not proactively managed their own personal brand. They don’t know where to start.
- Market themselves to find a new opportunity; either inside or outside of their current employer. We work with individuals to identify what their next move should be. We hone in on their strengths, talents and transferable skills. We then evaluate their options and advise them on how to best position themselves for future opportunities.
- Identify career barriers and blockers which prevent them from progressing in their career. We work with executives who are frustrated that they have been passed over for promotion or have been, demoted (often through restructuring).
How Does Executive Career Coaching Differ From Career Counseling?
Executive career coaching differs from regular career coaching. Executives are a client group that are often well-educated, intelligent and highly experienced in many aspects of work life and industry. They don’t need structured “cookie cutter” programs. They need tailored one-on-one support that gets to the heart of their particular problem or coaching goal. Their time is precious and they need someone who can quickly identify what the coaching goal is and get them there.
At Let’s Talk Career, we are well-placed to work with executives. All our coaches come from corporate HR backgrounds. They bring pragmatic, real life experience about organisational and team dynamics, career management, leadership and office politics to the table.
Getting The Most Out Of Executive Career Coaching
Here is our advice:
1/. Know Your Career Coaching Goal
Take some time to be very clear on what you want to achieve with your Executive Career Coach. Before you commence, you should be able to answer the question – “What does a successful career coaching program look like to me?” or “What does coaching success look like to me?” Every individual will have a different answer to this question. It is important you are clear on your career coaching goal upfront where possible,
2/. Be Prepared To Be 100% Honest
In the corporate world, people raise barriers and display protective behaviours. You need to commence work with your coach to remove these. To get the most out of an executive career coaching experience, it is critical that you develop a relationship of trust and respect. You should be able to talk to your Executive Career Coach about how you feel – your fears, concerns, hopes, dreams and frustrations. For an Executive Career Coach to add value, they need your whole story (like a jigsaw of parts). This assists them to piece together what is really happening in your career i.e. what the key issues and focal areas are (and ways to address them).
3/. Do Your Homework
Your Executive Career Coach will give you homework. You may be unsure about the value of this homework or where it will lead you. It will appear simple but it might turn out to be more difficult than you anticipate. Trust both your coach the process. Like everything in life, you get out what you put in. You will need to put in! Executives are often efficient delegators and prioritisers but when it comes to their own career coaching – they actually have to do the work to get the benefit. It’s nothing your EA, wife or husband can do and generally it’s not something that can be done five minutes before your next meeting!
4/. Be Prepared To Be Annoyed
Yes, you read this correctly! There will be times when your Executive Career Coach will annoy the hell out of you. They will tell you they disagree with you. They will hold you accountable. They will speak truths you may not want to hear (and may have heard from others before). Know, however, that your Executive Career Coach will also have your best interests at heart. Everything they do is deigned to push you closer to your career coaching goal.
That, my friends, is the name of the game.
If you are interested in discussing how executive career coaching can assist you, contact us today to discuss your needs.
We would be delighted for you to reproduce our articles, as long as they remain intact and contain the author’s details as follows: ‘Kris Reynolds is Managing Partner at Let’s Talk Career (www.letstalkcareer.com) in Australia. Kris can be contacted on 1800 284 255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.