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Do You Need a Coach?Click here for more on mentoring and coaching.
As people seek better lives for themselves, either personally or professionally, or both, they're more likely to find outside help to get them there: a professional coach.

With coaching all around, we wouldn't blame you for wondering, Is it time for me to get a coach? Here are some FAQs with answers before you jump into a coaching relationship:

1. Who are these people?

There are an estimated 20,000 coaches around the globe. You can check out some personal and business coaching websites at the Coach to Coach Network at Although coaching certificates are good things to look for, the most important credential a coach needs is your trust to help you get to that place of self-awareness.

2. What kind of coach is right for me?

Executive coaches, who typically work with executives in large firms and business owners in small companies, are brought in as (mostly) agenda-free surrogate mentors. That's become especially important in this mobile age when it's rare to find a lifelong veteran available to offer support and guidance.

Click for personal coaching information. Click for personal coaching information.Click for information on Coach John Agno.

Life coaches, on the other hand, are brought in to help people reorder their life to get to where they want to be. Making hard choices about what's important and paying attention to your intentions requires being listened to by a supportive, brainstorming and independent viewpoint.

3. Who needs a coach?

People seek out coaches for an infinite variety of reasons, but there are two typical coachees: people navigating some significant transition in their life or career and those who have some inkling that their leadership style or personality is holding them back.

FORTUNE magazine reported that one reader said, "I went into the coaching experience kicking and screaming, at the insistence of my then-boss. And what an eye-opener it turned out to be. I won't even go into the grim details of bad management habits I had unthinkingly developed in my 14-year career up to that point--but I will say that since I was 'cured' by 12 weeks of pretty intense coaching, I've been promoted three times."

4. What does coaching cost?

Executive coaching engagements typically cost upward of $10,000 per person over a set period of time and include a few face-to-face meetings followed by email and telephone discussions. To help develop executives internally, rather than look for outsiders, companies are often more happy to foot the bill to fix dysfunctional leaders. For the return on investment (ROI) of executive coaching, click here.

Some enterprising fast-trackers can and do shell out for their own advancement. As the price slides downward, though, the buyer should beware.

5. What should you expect?

Coaching is not a substitute for therapy and it's not business strategy. The clients do the heavy lifting. The coach guides the person being coached by asking the right questions. The client has to figure out what behavior needs to change and how best to change it.

6. Does coaching work?

People seeking coaching are self-selecting, so the answer is yes. However, it is best to maintain a guarded edge during the coach selection process to make a good match between what you want out of the coaching experience and the person who can guide you throughout the coaching process. For why many small business owners resist being coached, click here.

Source: Are You Being Coached? FAST COMPANY, February 2005

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The Business Case: Why do 40% of new leaders fail?

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Most executives think it is important to "go it alone" due to their belief in the myth of individualism; they hold tightly to the idea that everyone succeeds or fails on the basis of individual efforts and abilities. This assumption is so powerful that when an alternative view is suggested (that success depends on our relationships with others as much as it does on us) the usual reaction is denial. Denial of the role of relationships in the executive's success preserves the self-enhancing illusion that we are masters of our own fates and, therefore, deserving of all the credit for our successes.

The myth of individualism can negatively affect our chances for success. Consider that four out of ten newly promoted managers and executives fail within 18 months of starting new jobs, according to research by Manchester, Inc, a leadership development firm in Bala Cynwyd, PA. "Failing" includes being terminated for performance, performing significantly below expectations or voluntarily resigning from the new position. When newly recruited, the following types of executives experienced the highest failure rates within the first 18 months: senior-level executives (39%), sales executives (30%), marketing executives (25%), and operations executives (23%).

Here are the major reasons for failure in the new job:

They fail to establish a cultural fit……………......................75%

They fail to build teamwork with staff and peers…...........…52%

They are unclear about what their bosses expect….............33%

They don't have the required internal political savvy…..........25%

There's no process to assimilate executives into the firm…...22%

Two out of every five new CEOs fail in the first 18 months (HBR, January 2005).

During the second half of 1999, when statistics began to be compiled, nearly 270 chief executives were forced to leave their companies or simply resigned, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the Chicago-based outplacement firm that follows employment issues. Since then, the pace has quickened--in 2004, 663 chief executives departed and turnover doubled to 1,322 in 2005, according to the firm.

CEOs are now lasting just 7.6 years in office on a global average, down from 9.5 years in 1995, according to consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

Leaders often fail for a few common reasons: due to unclear or outsized expectations, a failure to build partnerships with key stakeholders, a failure to learn the company, industry or the job itself fast enough, a failure to determine the process for gaining commitments from direct reports and a failure to recognize and manage the impact of change on people.

John G. Self of JohnGSelf Associates, Inc., an executive search firm in Dallas, TX, said, "When I first read L. Kevin Kelley’s comments in the Financial Times – that 40 percent of 20,000 executives that Heidrick & Struggles placed quit, were fired or forced out in 18 months – [I] was astounded. As a recruiter, I have never had that kind of failure rate. But I have since read other studies and apparently, between the poor recruiting processes and the refusal of executives to reach out for help, Heidrick’s experience is apparently an industry average."

Executive onboarding coaching of the newly recruited or promoted executive can turnaround this high rate of failure.

New job. New employer. And new headaches when staffers resist your new approaches.

More Americans will soon confront this challenge. How can you champion enough change to justify your hiring -- without rocking the boat so much that you endanger your latest gig?

Failure to strike the right balance often derails newcomers. "They push too hard, too fast and do it in a nondiplomatic way," says Ben Dattner, a New York industrial psychologist. Yet few corporate orientation programs help recruits "work through what's the best approach to get up to speed in the new job," reports Michael Watkins, a Harvard associate professor of business administration and author of the new book, "The First 90 Days."

It's up to you to manage your early days well, navigate a different business culture and win support for your game plan. For starters, make sure you understand what kind of workplace you joined. A troubled enterprise is more likely to welcome radical fixes than a successful one.

Freshly hired executives increasingly turn to an outside "onboarding" coach. Such services can be costly. The coaching division of recruiters Korn/Ferry International typically charges a company about $10,000 to counsel a newcomer for six weeks.

Make a pitch during the courtship for your potential employer to cover some assimilation coaching. Describe it as evidence of your commitment to get up and running fast, recommends Marti Smye, the division's president.

Alternatively, pay for the advice yourself. Judi Glova coughed up $500 for four assimilation sessions with executive coach Paula Robb during her first month last summer as a public-affairs director of Roche Pharmaceuticals in Nutley, N.J. "It gave me the confidence to feel I at least had the first steps" needed for acceptance, the 36-year-old manager remembers.

Ms. Glova learned to identify players with the power to block her ideas, for example. She spent extra time getting acquainted with them before their meetings and deliberately sat beside them during lunch. Today, those colleagues help with her requests.

Source: Managing Your Career by Joann S. Lublin, The Wall Street Journal, Nov 25, 2003

Our Intentions:

To help people really know themselves and their life's work,
pay attention to their intentions, get to where they want to be,
greater self-awareness, be on purpose, develop their leadership skills
and embrace a sense of well-being.

Click here for information on Coach John Agno.

Every Executive Can Use Some Guidance

Despite years of experience making complicated, far-reaching decisions, top-level managers can use some guidance when they find themselves in new situations where little, if anything, is familiar. Because as many as 40 percent of new leaders fail in their new roles to meet an organization's expectations, purchasing executive insurance in the form of "onboarding" or assimilation coaching helps a company ensure that an important investment pays off. Onboarding involves an intense, protracted period of coaching that's designed to help a new employee--often a senior-level executive or manager--not only adjust to a new environment, but establish a set of priorities.

As an executive and business coach, John Agno often receives an email request or telephone message from a failure-bound executive that goes something like this, "I am caught in the middle of a political firestorm at work. Can you help me?" In most cases, he can help them survive through immediate damage control while they personally discover the reasons for the crossfire. However, coaching can be more productive if the relationship begins when the executive is first recruited or promoted.

Onboarding helps the executive more quickly adapt to the employer's culture, create rapport with his or her immediate team and find productive ways to achieve necessary goals. The Wall Street Journal reported that assimilation coaches are helping newly hired executives to manage the transition from the first day. "It's a result of the job market," says Bernadette Kenny, an executive vice president at Lee Hecht Harrison, an outplacement-counseling firm in Woodcliff Lake, NJ. "More organizations are making senior leadership changes and bringing in talent from the outside. So these people have to be effective as quickly as possible."

Some onboarding coaches begin to advise executives before they start their new role. They help the executive clarify expectations, develop an action plan and assess potential black holes. For most senior-level people, assimilation coaching is paid for by their employer and usually costs around $25,000.

Since the myth of individualism continues to drive most executives, they don't know that help is available to grow into a new job. They fail to realize that a coaching relationship would help them become productive quickly in their new positions.

Many executives fear that their subordinates will learn how inadequate they feel in their new jobs. Many are looking for help managing in today's faster, cheaper, better global economy. Although hiding vulnerabilities is hardly new, this concern has been exacerbated by a new fear of either becoming obsolete or technology-driven toast in a world of business transformation. "I've never seen businesspeople have to fake it more," says B. Joseph White, past business school dean and interim president of University of Michigan.

Today, new managers don't have to fake it when they have access to an executive or business coach who helps them achieve increased awareness, purpose, competencies and well being. Executive development and the creation of productive relationships start by achieving clarity. Clarity begins when the executive is directly connected to a coach.

Do you have the time and resources to invest in a coach?

The practical realities of your current situation may not allow for a coach. After all, a coach can be expensive -- anywhere from $200 an hour to over $12,000 a day -- and if your company isn't willing to pay for it, you may not want to bear the expense yourself. Click here for some personal coaching costs and monthly plan options. Click here for leadership books like, "You're in Charge--Now What?" to prepare you for your onboarding experience.

How do you know when you're ready to hire a coach?
Here is a list of questions to help you decide:

  • Do you know what it is you don't know?
  • Is there a gap between where you are and where you'd like to be?
  • Do you have clear professional goals?
  • Are you willing to focus on the present?
  • Are you interested in developing yourself?
  • Are you about to make a critical decision pertaining to your life or career?
  • Are you ambitious?
  • Are you getting the message from those around you that you need to make some changes?
  • Are you willing to work extremely hard?
  • Do you have time and resources to invest in your future?

If the answer to most of these questions is "yes," then it's probably time to start seeking the services of a professional coach.

Executive Coaching Worries

Women and Leadership.

Of 462 executives who were asked, "What characteristics are needed to be an effective leader today?" 56 percent ranked ethical behavior as an important characteristic, followed by sound judgment (51%) and being adaptable/flexible (47%).

When asked, "What are the biggest challenges to implementing executive coaching in your organization?" 56 percent of 220 human resource professionals polled said the lack of HR inclusion in decisions was the biggest hurdle. Other responses included, time constraints due to business demands (39%), management unaware of coaching's value (20%) and a perception that coaching is punitive (8%).

If your employer hires an executive coach to polish your prowess should you celebrate or worry that you're considered damaged goods?

Executive coaches often are brought in to help a star player navigate a new role or advance faster inside a company. Other businesses, however, hire a coach to fix a manager's flaws, such as poor interpersonal skills.

Whatever the reason, be smart and maximize the career benefits of having a coach. Outright resistance or passive aggressiveness are bad ideas. Coaches cost a lot of money and using this personal development resource wisely is in your best interest. Getting an outside point of view can help you become clearer on who you are and what you need to do to get to where you want to be.

Sources: American Management Association, DBM. The Wall Street Journal

What interests you in becoming a more
effective leader?

Call 734.426.2000 (US Eastern Time Zone) or email for a free consultation regarding your leadership development. 

Click here for information on Coach John Agno. Click here to ask a question by email message. Click here for mentoring and coaching.

Learn more about John Agno, certified executive & business coach.

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