No executive coach is an island
Several years into my career, when I was already sought after by managers from many of the top companies in the industry, I began to realize that success has a price - even given the executive coaching rates I was being paid. As my practice increased, so did the variety of critical incidents and dilemmas I had to help my clients navigate. Dedicated to provide my clients with the best coaching possible, I knew that I myself needed guidance. There’s the old expression “The shoemaker’s children go barefoot.” Well, at the time, I was the shoemaker herself going barefoot.
How many of you have felt “barefoot” - mired in a dilemma, an unanswered question, uncertainty - yearning for guidance? And the irony is that experts, such as ourselves, are generally hesitant to consult with others professionally. After all, if we’re the experts, why do we need help? And if we do, maybe we’re not as professional as we thought.
Luckily, when I realized that I needed help, I swallowed my pride and called Sandra, a well-respected colleague. When I told Sandra that I wanted her to be my mentor, she thought I was kidding.
“You’re one of the top executive coaches I know with some of the highest executive coaching rates. What could I possibly do to help you?” she responded.
I told her, “Thanks so much for the compliment, Sandra, but because I intend to remain professional, I know that I need a mentor.”
“Yes, I see what you mean, Etika. I myself did call you on several occasions to get your take on some of my own sessions with clients,” she recalled.
“And you were pleased to get a fresh perspective, right?” I’d convinced her.
“I tell you what,” I said. “Let’s keep this informal. When I feel I need a sounding board or a different way of tackling an issue, I’ll call you. If you can speak, great. If not, we’ll set a phone appointment for when it’s convenient for you. A deal?”
Sandra answered, “A deal. But as long as I can do the same!”
We had made a pact to keep each other as professional as possible.
As the years passed, other executive coaches joined our little group, where we created a space to discuss our clients, strategies, and challenges. And there’s no doubt that this group prevented me from becoming worn out both emotionally and physically. I would even go as far as to say that in our profession, tapping into different perspectives is not a luxury - it’s a must.
With social media today, communicating with other executive coaches is as easy as opening Facebook and joining a group. This is an excellent way to gain different perspectives and share dilemmas.
However, if you want to ensure you’re developing, it’s important to go beyond Facebook groups. For example, there are well-researched online courses developed by professionals that can help expand your horizons and thus your practice. With so much variety, it’s important that you choose which one fits your niche and the way you prefer to work.
And if you don’t yet have a well-defined niche, then a good online course is a very effective way to help you specialize in some very lucrative areas.
Whichever you choose, an expert around the corner or the empowerment of online learning, no executive coach is an island. When you finally embrace this, it will work for you and lead you to success.
And always remember:
Great managers are made. Not born.
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