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The Value of an Executive Coach

The Value of an Executive Coach

When I mention coaching to my executive clients, many quickly brush off the idea, saying they don't need a coach, they know who they are, they know their strengths and they understand their value in the market. All they need is assistance in accelerating their job search. Then, I ask a few questions, and their attitude shifts from "I don't need a coach" to "When can we schedule a coaching session?"

Here's why:

  • Coaches offer new perspectives, ideas and career paths to explore. As a senior executive, you probably consider yourself knowledgeable about business, market trends and executive opportunities. However, the dramatic changes in the employment market are difficult to keep pace with, and career coaches specialize in knowing what is happening, both today and in the near future. They can explain the market to you with insights about how changes will impact your career and the best strategies to optimize your positioning.

  • Coaches give you energy, drive and determination. Job searches can be extremely frustrating. You know you're perfect for a position but don't get an interview. You were promised the EVP position with a high tech firm as soon as they received funding, but no money has been forthcoming. It is easy to feel like you have no control over your professional destiny. Coaches help you overcome those negative feelings and reenergize your search campaign.

  • Coaches make you accountable. When you've promised to make 15 networking calls by the end of the week, do you really want to have to call your coach and tell him or her you didn't make the calls? By making yourself accountable to another, you'll find instant motivation.

  • Coaches can help you determine your real market worth. The higher a position's level, the more sophisticated your compensation structure will be. Many coaches are experts in compensation negotiations; a coach can help untangle the complexity of proposed offers and sharpen your negotiating skills.

  • Coaches can be your confidantes. You can tell your career coach anything. You can share the real reasons your last position didn't work out, and your coach will help you shape a positive explanation for your job search. You can share your uncertainties about your professional goals, and your coach will offer you practical solutions. You can discuss the pressures you are feeling, and your coach will help you release your anxiety. It's like having your own career therapist.

  • Coaches are valuable resources for lifelong career management. Although many coaches specialize in job searches, just as many offer lifelong career coaching services. These relationships can be quite valuable, providing you with long-term career support and direction, a proactive plan for career management and a competitive advantage in the executive market.

Not every executive needs a coach. However, a coach can be a tremendously motivating force that will propel your career -- and your paycheck -- to new levels of success. When shopping, speak to at least three to five coaches. It is critical you find someone who you can trust, who you believe is knowledgeable about your industry and profession, and who comes well-referred. Hourly fees vary widely, from $50 to $500, but most charge between $100 and $200 an hour. Other coaches charge a flat fee for a specified period of coaching.

Here's a coaching tip, just one of the many tricks a career coach can share with you:

You've interviewed several times for a position that is ideal for you. The only problem is the compensation. Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. Title the left side "Pros" and the right "Cons." Fill the left side with short phrases about why the position is perfect for you and why you're perfect for the position. On the right side, simply write, "compensation." During your next meeting, pull the sheet out under the pretense you've been seriously considering the opportunity. When your interviewer sees how perfect the match is, you'll most likely receive an immediate increase in compensation without having to mention it.

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