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Graduate Student Series: Why Not Seek Out And Hire An Executive Coach?

My Story

I’m a coach and I’m not sure I would have hired a coach when I left graduate school. First, there weren’t any coaches back then. I was fortunate; however, to have a great manager who spent a tremendous amount of time training and mentoring me in sales so I could make the transition from a scientific background to technical sales. Most companies these days don’t want to invest that kind of time. Or the manager doesn’t have the skills or inclination to coach a new employee. I hope every graduate has as positive an experience as I had with my first manager, yet I know that it is relatively rare to find great managers in most organizations. I don’t think I’ve ever had as good a manager/coach since my first job in sales.

As I think back to the start my first post graduate corporate position I can relate to many people who are completing their graduate degrees now. If you’ve invested a lot of time, energy and money on school, it isn’t initially particularly exciting to consider further investment in a coach. I certainly would not have wanted to hear (particularly if I was getting an MBA) that relatively few graduate degree programs truly prepare students for quickly developing key relationships and making a high impact in corporate world. And, if post graduate training is academic research based, the transition road may be particularly fraught with frustration as the corporate profit model is very different from the often paternalistic model of management followed in academia.

The other reason I probably would not have hired a coach was that I had no idea how powerful and beneficial coaching could be in a corporate setting. I guess I’m supposed to promote that there is a benefit, because I am a coach. That said, if WI Badgers coach, Bret Bielema, said that coaches are a valuable part of the game, everyone would believe him. It’s a given at the UW that a coach can help football players play a better game faster than if the person tried to gain the skills individually. People at the top of their game invest in sports coaches to hone their skills for a reason. Coaches can observe what behaviors work and which behaviors do not and help a player tweak behaviors so they bring out their strongest talents and have the most impact in the least amount of time.

Why It’s Important

Considering corporate life is a team sport, if you are serious about quickly building a sustainable career, having a coach may be more than worth the investment. In the corporate world people are constantly judged on behavior and whether he/she is perceived as not only productive but likeable. Corporations want “performance” and performance depends on how well groups of people work together to achieve a common goal. Some sports team or graduate school skills translate to corporate life and some do not. I’ve known a lot of highly trained, skilled and talented professionals who remained unrecognized in organizations and/or immediately alienated others because of his or her lack of awareness about how to effectively work in a corporate setting.

People skills are everything and building trust and lasting relationships are essential for leaders who want to massively influence and move up the corporate ladder. Why not enter the corporate arena with the help of someone who knows how the game is played to coach you on how to leverage all of your training and increase your chance of winning right out of the gate?

While I did fairly well moving up from sales through product manager to an executive position in marketing, I now realize that a coach would have helped me increase my level of influence with peers and managers as well as to negotiate more easily through the pain of the conflicts that normally occur along the professional path. Even more important, a coach would have helped me live a more balanced life along the way. I was pretty burnt out by the time I joined the personal development path and transitioned to become a coach so I could help others have a smoother path than I did. The goal is to have faster and more effective results, less time invested, and less wear and tear. And finally, quickly discover the secrets that most people need to know for building influence, getting recognized and ultimately rewarded appropriately for the effort invested.

Seek Out Opportunity!

A business/executive coach with experience in business can help you put yourself on the fast track for high impact by leveraging your strengths from day one of a new position. This includes powerful tips for building relationships and influencing key players who will be making decisions about your future. In the next blog I’ll cover some of the most powerful “starting out tips”.

Most coaches offer a 30 minute complimentary demonstration session of what coaching can help you achieve. It’s a great opportunity to take one out for a test drive. If you would like a copy of the top 10 questions for interviewing a life or executive coach email me at at cvillars at biotactics dot com.

I wish you the best establishing a great career where you can make a positive contribution and brings you enjoyment for many years to come.

About Blogger  Cay Villars

Cay Villars LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/cayvillars

Cay shares her experiences in her In Business Magazine Free Minds at Work blog  http://www.ibmadison.com/Blogger/Free-Minds-At-Work

Cay is a facilitator, executive coach, and management consultant with over 20 years of marketing, sales, and business development experience in leading Life Sciences technology companies, including Amersham (now GE Healthcare), Becton Dickinson, and Promega.   Her expertise is in facilitating sustainable behavioral change.  She facilitates executives and executive teams to inspire, focus, and align high-yield behaviors to increase engagement, revenues, and profitability.   She developed her expertise in setting minds free and changing behavior from over 15 years  coaching individuals from all walks of life, from CEOs to inmates, with over 7 years as a volunteer coach and leadership trainer for those incarcerated in Wisconsin prisons.   

Her dynamic and interactive presentations and facilitated programs include Strategic and Operations Planning & Engagement, Standards of Professional Excellence (behavioral competencies), Coaching to the Gift (Elegant, high impact, transformational feedback), Free Minds at Work Conversations (conflict free conversations), Language of Leadership (beliefs and language patterns that engage results), CEO/Executive Leadership Retreats,  Free Minds at Work, and Break through Mental Barriers (Martial arts style board break).   She is a leadership Trainer for Robbins Research International.  She facilitates a PeerSpective CEO roundtable and the High tech Senior HR Manager’s Best Practice Roundtable. 

She shares her experience.

MABC Profile: http://tinyurl.com/77walm3

Comments

  1. Great post, Cay! It’s too bad that graduate students not only do not avail themselves of the services of a career coach (or coaches), but even the people who are there to coach them (i.e., graduate advisors) do not always do their job. Looking back, I believe I would’ve done far better in my last job had I had someone to confer with. Luckily, I did receive some useful advice and help from unofficial coaches who had been with my company or worked in it for decades. I am truly indebted to those folks, including Pamela Minzloff.

    • Hi Halina!

      Thanks for your kind comments. I’m so glad you found someone to help you. I agree, Pam was great!

      Cay

  2. Thanks for sharing this advice on getting an executive coach! I agree that they are a great way to help ensure your success in the business world. Like you said, an executive coach has experience in competitive businesses and can help make sure that you make the right moves. As long as the coach you hire has experience in your type of business, you should benefit from the training!

    • No problem. I’ll just reiterate the fact that working with Cay was beneficial and I definitely see the advantage of hiring an executive coach. I highly recommend it in order to give you a new perspective, leverage your strengths (in a way you might not have originally thought), and help you achieve your goals 🙂

  3. CAY PLEASE I AM ASKED TO ” EXPLAIN HOW I WILL USE MY NETWORKING SKILLS TO INFLUENCE AND LEAD OTHERS AND HOW I WILL USE IT IN FUTURE”. PLEASE HOW DO I PRESENT MY ANSWER TO SUCH A QUESTION. I AM ANTICIPATING YOUR FAVOURABLE REPLY. THANKS

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