“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” – Benjamin Disraeli
Hiring a coach is a smart move if you’re seeking meaningful direction or advancement in your career. Coaches can be instrumental in helping their clients build on their strengths, overcome weaknesses, avoid blind spots and develop finesse in advancing their careers. Recognizing the value of a coach requires emotional maturity and humility. Few can honestly say that they made it to the top of their field without some kind of a mentor. The question you should ask yourself isn’t whether or not a coach can be useful but rather, how do I choose a coach that will boost my chances for success? Many of the most talented and successful athletes, entertainers, motivational speakers, politicians and executives attribute their rise to great heights to having an effective coach.
Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman and CEO of Google, helped grow the company from a Silicon Valley startup to a global leader in technology. In a recent interview with CNN Money, Schmidt said the best advice he ever got was that I should have a coach. He admitted that initially he resented the advice, because after all, “I was a CEO. I was pretty experienced. Why should I need a coach? Am I doing something wrong? His argument was, How could a coach advise me if I’m the best person in the world at this? But that’s not what a good coach does. A coach doesn’t have to play the sport as well as you do. They have to watch you and get YOU to be your best. A coach is somebody who looks at something with another set of eyes, describes it to you in (her) words, and discusses how to approach the problem.”
Career Coaches come with a variety of educational backgrounds, credentials and certifications but there is still no formal rating system to help consumers identify an effective coach. Finding a coach you can trust and who can help you with gaining perspective requires some research. Word of mouth is one way to find a good coach. Another way to gain insight about a coach’s abilities is to read their articles and career blogs to see if their content is filled with meaningful advice that resonates with you. While a conventional advertisement gives you the basic credentials and a brief description of their services, the articles coaches write provide a clearer indication of the substance they could offer and the depth of their expertise on career trends and strategies.
Marketers describe this form of advertising as “Content Marketing” and it’s used more frequently today as a means for businesses to reach consumers and provide them with useful, free information as a means of showcasing their value. Career Coaches are beginning to brand themselves by writing blogs on topics relating to career management.
Choosing a coach
Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing a coach: Is the coach articulate, persuasive, well informed about industry trends and well versed in training clients for interviews? Can your coach assist you in finding multiple opportunities that suit your skills and interests? Does your coach understand the mindset of hiring managers? Will your Coach be able to assist you in tailoring your resume and your cover letter to explain why you’re the right fit for a specific job? Will your coach be capable of training you to communicate your message in a compelling, authentic way?
It’s also important that your coach present you with a variety of resources that will address your specific concerns and needs. The astute coach should give you feedback about your strengths and also help you see yourself in a realistic light without diminishing your esteem. In short, if you relate to the messages and topics a coach writes about, you will probably relate to their coaching style.
Once you establish a rapport with a coach, seek out their opinion on areas you improvement. Don’t be afraid of criticism. It will help you to concentrate in the areas which you need improvement. A good coach can identify blind spots that inhibit us from making great decisions.
The blind spots
Aviv Shahar, Founder of Aviv Consulting
is an international consultant, coach, author and featured speaker. He has extensive experience coaching executives and helping leaders improve their effectiveness, strategic thinking and collaboration. Aviv wrote an insightful essay detailing a variety of common blind spots that can inhibit people from making objective, clear, unbiased decisions. He identifies different blind spots:
- “The Bias Blindness If you are a human you have biases and preferences. The point is to become aware and get to know your biases. If you don’t, they control you and prevent you from seeing the full picture and from making optimal decisions.
- The Reaction Blindness Reacting is not choosing. You have the capacity to consider options and to choose how to respond. “Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.”
- The “Why” Blindness Purpose outlines direction and defines criteria against which all decisions can be measured. Being unclear on your overarching purpose — your “Why” — can leave you rudderless and without a compass.
- The Objectives blindness Clarify your desired outcome and what success looks like. A decision is a choice among alternatives. If you are not clear about the “What” (objective) it’s difficult to choose among the options.
- The Musts/Wants Blindness Musts are deal breakers. Wants are nice to have. Beware of confusing “wants” for “musts.” In matters of importance and in large purchasing decisions like buying a home, define first the musts and then order the wants by weight of importance.”
I agree with Aviv’s assertions about the importance of knowing your blind spots and the value of finding a mentor who can help you to see them clearly. An expert coach can provide you with a new perspective so you can see your blind spots and avoid costly mistakes from poorly thought out decisions. It’s wise to find someone you trust to bounce off questions about your choices and your strategy for achieving your goals. A successful professional coach can help you identify and work through your blind spots to set you on a direct path towards achieving your goals.