Brenda’s Blog

Challenge #12: “It’s lonely at the top – who can I turn to for an objective perspective?”

March 29, 2010

It’s just the sheer nature of the beast. At your level, everyone you turn to for advice has a hidden agenda. No matter how hard they may try, their perspectives cannot help but be “biased.” This includes your spouse, your children, your boss, your Board of Directors, your subordinates, and your peers. So, where can you go for an impartial viewpoint? Who can you turn to for a truly objective discussion?

Executive Coaching may be the answer. There is an unfortunate myth about Executive Coaching that it’s only about “fixing problems,” but nothing could be further from the truth! Coaching isn’t consulting, counseling, or therapy. It isn’t about regretting a past that can’t be changed. It’s about focusing on a future that can be changed. Executive Coaching helps leaders who are already successful achieve even more in the future.

The original definition of the word “coach” was a vehicle – usually horse-drawn – that took someone from one place to another. More and more executives are recognizing that this is what they can gain from an Executive Coach – a means of getting from where they are now to where they want to be. They understand that the skills which got them their current positions may not be enough to advance their careers or even keep them competitive at their present level.

Here are just a few of the top reasons that executives turn to coaching:

• Develop stronger leadership skills / core competencies.
• Transition successfully into a new position.
• Help high potential employees succeed.
• Reduce / better manage stress.
• Improve time management and work/life balance.
• Foster better self-coaching behaviors.
• Implement a new strategy, vision, or direction.
• Develop conflict management skills.
• Create a more positive workplace environment.
• Achieve greater overall business success.
• Find a truly objective sounding board for ideas and issues.

So, how do you find the best Executive Coach for you? First and foremost, do your research. Look for certified coaches at the website of the International Coach Federation (, and interview a few coaches until you find one who feels right. Ask to see training certificates and testimonials. Talk to past clients, if possible, and request a free trial session. A coach may be very talented, but the chemistry between you needs to be spot-on in order for you to achieve your goals.

Here are some questions you might ask an Executive Coach before you hire them:

• What types of people and situations have you worked with?
• What kind of results did you achieve?
• What is your coaching model and process?
• Where did you get your training?
• Is there anyone you would turn down as a client?
• How would you define the difference between therapy and coaching?
• What is your greatest strength as a coach?

Cost and Payout?

What does executive coaching cost? The range varies widely across the world, and depends upon the coach’s level of experience and track record. Harvard Business Review has reported that rates range from $300-$3,500 USD per hour. One thing you can do to keep costs down is ask for a volume discount if your company has multiple managers who need coaching.

Make sure you get a good return on your investment (ROI) when it comes to executive coaching. Two recent large-scale independent studies amongst thousands of executive coaching clients across the world said the return on their investment was anywhere from 600-700% of the cost of the initial investment. Nonetheless, take the time to quantify the results of hiring an executive coach. The costs of weak leaders in today’s marketplace are great, but the benefit of having strong leaders is priceless.

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