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Sunday, 27 January 2013 06:43

It's Okay to Need a Coach, Part 1

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It's like a personal trainer for your career

It's funny:  We know that successful athletes rely on coaches (sometimes a whole team of them) in order to become good enough to compete at the Olympics - heck, many of us engage personal trainers or nutritionists in order to improve our physical health or bolster our motivation.  But when it comes to our professional health, we often reject - or don't even consider - engaging a coach to help us improve our performance at work.

personal trainer for your career

But here's the truth:  Ask anyone who's been really successful in their work lives and they'll tell you that, somewhere along the way, they asked for help.  Maybe they had a mentor to work closely with; maybe they hired a media trainer; maybe they went to Toastmasters to learn how to speak confidently in front of a group.  What none of them did was assume that they could reach the top all on their own.

So why don't more of us think of engaging a coach when we're ready to take the next step in our careers, or when we're concerned our career growth is stalling and don't know why?

Because we tend to think that asking for help with our professional performance means that we aren't working hard enough or smart enough; we see other people making it look easy and we think that if we just come in a little earlier or stay a little later, maybe we'll finally be recognized for the geniuses we really are.

Sure, working smarter and harder can make you stand out from the crowd.  But it's not enough.

For many people, the biggest barrier to the success they crave lies in the 'perception gap' - the gap between how they see themselves and how they are perceived by their colleagues and managers.  For example, a director-level employee may think s/he is overachieving because s/he has exceeded sales targets for the past 3 years in a row, and is understandably confused as to why a promotion hasn't yet been forthcoming; his/her managers, however, may be reluctant to grant the promotion because they have concerns over the director's ability to manage a larger team effectively.

This is where engaging a professional coach can make a big difference.  The right coach can:

  1. Help identify perception gaps, and offer solutions on how those gaps might be closed
  2. Provide more objective (and possibly honest) feedback than a person might get from a direct report, co-worker, or even a manager
  3. Offer a sounding board - don't underestimate the value of having someone with whom to talk through some of your career goals, concerns and frustrations
  4. Offer suggestions around books to read, exercises to do, and professional development opportunities which can either provide new skills, new perspectives or new horizons
  5. Help you understand whether your current job will in fact provide you with the career path you really want - or whether you need to make a move

And remember:  Just like no one had to know you hired a golf pro to help you brush up before the big corporate tournament, no one has to know you hired a coach to help you be a superstar at work!


Read 5109 times Last modified on Thursday, 14 February 2013 05:01

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Beth Banks Cohn, PhD, founder and president of ADRA Change Architects, is dedicated to helping you and your organization reach your full business potential…
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