From Brendan Moore:
This first question is the question I get all the time, and it also serves to explain how I approach career/executive coaching, so “two birds with one stone” is the premise at work here:
Q. What is career/executive coaching? How is that different from life coaching?
A. There are many similarities between life coaching and career/executive coaching. The important difference between life coaching and career/executive coaching is one of focus. Career/Executive coaching, as compared to life coaching, has the added expectation of a business stake being intrinsic to the relationship and outcomes, and the goal of better business performance as one of the results of coaching.
The career/executive coaching process is not just about the executive. The leader has a responsibility to the shareholders, the people working under him and to the organization itself. If the person being coached is not an executive, but say, a middle manager who wishes to become a C-Level executive, his or her shareholders are more likely to be a spouse, children, etc. These people have an interest and a stake in that manager’s success at work, and it’s important to them that he or she realizes their full earning power and achieves a reasonable level of happiness and contentment in his/her job. As a staff member becomes a manager, and a manager becomes an executive, their responsibilities to others expand, the number of “others” expands, and so does the level of interest those other stakeholders have in that executive’s success or failure.
Generally, executive coaching is focused on specific measurable outcomes that impact the manager/executive/business.
Additionally, it is my personal point of view that the chances of successful career/executive coaching are inextricably bound up with the business experience of the coach himself (I’ll use the male gender pronoun here as I am now referring to myself in the text to follow). If you haven’t lived through the internecine and duplicitous political warfare that exists at some large corporations, then it’s very difficult to offer advice on same. Ditto for experience with the lumbering bureaucracy at those same types of companies. When I was an SVP of Marketing and Strategic Planning at AT&T, the company had 340,000 employees worldwide. I loved working at AT&T, but, boy, was it tough to get something new up and running. When I was at Citigroup as an SVP and a corporate director, they had over 235,000 employees and the company was infamous at that time for their bare-knuckle infighting in the C-Level suites.
On the other end of the spectrum, until you’ve worked at a startup (technology or otherwise), and funding is tight, and you’re worried about being able to make payroll next week, and BTW, the somewhat-erratic and impulsive founder wants you to hire his or her best friend from college, and you’re trying to figure out how to say “no” without putting your own job in jeopardy, well, then, it’s problematic for you to presume to give advice to someone else about what to do in those situations.
I have had thousands of people report up to me in a matrixed environment, and I’ve had as few as three people report to me. I’ve worked at some very large corporations, some mid-size companies, and many startups. I’ve worked for, and with, saints, jerks, sociopaths, geniuses, imbeciles, enemies, friends, sadists, technocrats, people with no social skills, people that had nothing going for them except social skills, malcontents, cheerleaders, pessimists, incompetents, sycophants, and on and on and on.
Through all of this, I’m proud to say that I’ve always done my best to lead, coach and mentor my direct reports, and I’ve also done my best to support my peers and the people I reported to through advice and counsel.
Thinking about getting another degree, but don’t know which one would produce the greatest return on the time and money you’re going to spend on it? I can help with that. Thinking about changing professions? I can help with that – the pros, the cons, the probable cost, the probable time, the likelihood of success, etc. Confused as to how best to interact with your new boss, whose management style is much different than the woman who was your boss for the last five years? I can help you with that. Are you managing a department with your own P&L for the very first time? I can help you with that. Are you managing a project and just feeling completely overwhelmed? I can help.
Or, maybe your needs are more basic at this moment; maybe you just need to get hired somewhere, and something’s wrong, because you just can’t seem to get anyone to pay attention to you, or, you’ve had a couple of phone interviews, but those didn’t go very well. Interview coaching is another service we offer within career coaching, and we do a lot of it.
So, that covers career/executive coaching, albeit in summary form.
Life coaching is really focused on the happiness and well-being of the individual. Work is merely one component of a meaningful life, and when work gets mentioned, it is usually brought up in terms of an acceptable work/life balance. Business and/or career objectives are secondary to the person’s overarching life goals. Life coaching is all about the individual, and that individual’s needs and desires. This isn’t what I do. No slight against those who provide life coaching services; I think it’s invaluable for many people, but I am an executive coach.
If you’re depressed, I can’t help you with that, unless, of course, the sole reason you’re depressed is because of your job. If you have life-long issues with your father, or your mother, I can’t help you with that, either. Unless, of course, your mother is the owner of the company where you work. Then I can help you navigate that from a career perspective. If you’re having trouble in your personal relationships, you’re insecure about your looks or your intellect, you hate your brother or your sister, you’re agoraphobic, etc., I am not your guy.
If you want career coaching, though, let’s talk as soon as you’re ready.