What Are the Benefits of Working with an Executive Coach?

What Are the Benefits of Working with an Executive Coach?

Hiring an executive coach is a valuable and substantial investment in your professional future. But before you get started, you may have questions. Let us answer the most pressing one: what are the benefits?

There are a number of advantages to expect while working under the guidance of an executive coach, whether you are an individual executive or an organization seeking to improve your company talent. An executive coach like myself will work with you to establish a clear vision of your goals and help you implement an action plan to reach them.

If you are an individual seeking a promotion, higher compensation or improved leadership skills, working with a seasoned executive coach can help you become confident and productive in your approach. Here are just some of the personal results you may expect:

  • More effective leadership and communication skills
  • Boosted career planning, development and advancement
  • A positive approach towards office politics
  • Improved people management skills
  • Enhanced decision-making for you and the company
  • New approaches to managing that build upon your current strengths and style

If you are an HR or C-Suite executive in need of support or are looking to develop a valuable contributor to your business, seeking the assistance of an executive coach can pay off by creating the following affects:

  • Reduced employee turnover
  • New leaders thriving in larger roles
  • Enhanced communication skills
  • Control over recurring workplace challenges

A customized and comprehensive executive coaching program tailored to the growth of an individual will strengthen the core of your organization and improving client relationships.

The professional expertise of an executive coach can help you, as an individual, gain back control of your career and land that promotion you’ve been working toward. As a business leader, it can help you to mold your executive staff and improve company impact and productivity.

Having a partner to keep you on track to your goals is critical during this phase. Of all the benefits you may reap from the process of working with an executive coach, the most important is that you will develop an insight to the hidden potential of yourself or your business, and there’s no stopping how far that can take you.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

 

 

How to Respectfully Disagree With Your Boss

Disagreeing With Your Boss

Have I considered this issue from every perspective?

Every workplace holds a myriad of personalities and work styles, so it’s not implausible to find yourself disagreeing with your employer from time to time.

Your distain can run the gamut of opposing a new plan to contesting a written warning you received, but no matter the issue, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach the situation. If you take certain things into consideration, you can turn the uncomfortable conversation into a constructive one.

Before you speak up, ask yourself these questions.

Have I considered this issue from every perspective?

Before verbalizing your thoughts, take the time to put yourself in the shoes of others that will also be impacted. If your qualm is about an assignment or unrealistic expectations set upon your team, consider how others may feel too. Most importantly, try to understand why your boss has asked for this in the first place. While you still may not agree it’s in the best interest of the company or employee morale, your boss might show some appreciation if you treat his or her concerns as reasonable ones.

Is this the right time and place?

You’ll want to make sure you address the challenges you’re facing privately and in-person. Avoid typing your frustrations in an email, as that is not the most effective way to get your message across. When you set up your meeting, ensure you have the adequate time and space needed; a time and place where you don’t expect any interruptions.

How can I turn this around into a positive and productive conversation?

Hopefully when your boss comes to you with concerns about your choices or work performance, he or she makes sure to let you know that aside from needing improvement in a particular area, you are doing a great job. Return the favor by ensuring your disagreement is delivered in a positive light. Avoid being accusatory or using negative vocabulary. Instead of merely batting down your boss’ ideas, be sure to prepare your own suggestions for solutions as a possible replacement strategy.

Don’t be discouraged if your boss doesn’t go for your suggestions. If you’ve handled yourself professionally and respectfully, you will close that meeting having left your mark. Remember that speaking up can actually improve your relationship with your boss and help your career.

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Do you want to improve the relationship with your boss? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and manage up, across and down more effectively.

 

The Dos and Don’ts of Overcoming Career Anxiety

Executive Coaching

DON’T choose a job just for the paycheck

Career anxiety can come in many shapes and sizes but all can leave a poisonous impact on your day to day. Are you unhappy at work despite a great paycheck? Or a lackluster paycheck? Are you feeling unmotivated and unconfident?  Stressed about layoffs and minimal opportunities? Here are a few starter points to embrace or avoid when trying to conquer your nerves, self-doubt and career-induced fret.

DON’T choose a job just for the paycheck
While this is easier said than done in rough economic times, it is still crucial to your overall productivity to commit to a job that is rewarding, has room for advancement and, in general, makes you excited. While getting offered any job is a happy relief, make sure the one you accept is the right one for you.

DON’T sell yourself short
Asking for the big raise or a worthy starting salary is difficult but we can offer negotiating tips that will help. Not only is proper compensation important to alleviating your stress, but so is the right level of responsibility. Being under-qualified for a job means your skills are not being put to good use and this can become frustrating. Choose your opportunities wisely.

DON’T let social media scare you away
In these times the internet is hard to avoid. When looking for a new job, social media can give you a direct line to your competition but don’t be intimidated by those who may seem more experienced. Instead, take the readily-available information and learn from it, which can mold you into the perfect candidate.  The generational divide in social media is withering away and it’s a more powerful tool than ever before; use it to your advantage.

Now that you know what to avoid in effort to overcome your career anxiety, here are some things to embrace.

DO take the time to find your passion
Deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life isn’t easy at the start of your career. But just because you’ve made that choice once doesn’t mean it was the right one. Passion is a necessary key to successful career and while it can be a challenge to find your most desirous path, the payoff is immense. Finding the right career for you could be make-or-break for overcoming your anxiety.

DO choose confidence over self-importance
Your career anxiety may stem from a lack of confidence, but before you start attempting to build some, it’s important to know the differences here.  Confidence exudes through listening, showing respect for the time of others and being open to new ideas. Self-importance exudes by controlling conversation, disregarding the necessary roles of others and believing new ideas are worthless compared to your own knowledge. A business cannot thrive on one person’s ego so proceed with caution.

DO hone your skills
So maybe the problem isn’t that you haven’t found your passion but it’s that you have and you’re still anxious. Both online and in nearby communities you can find educational courses in your field. Taking some time out of your personal life to brush up on your knowledge could make all the difference. You might also learn a thing or two about the newer generation’s approach to your craft which, mixed with your existing knowledge and experience, can make you a dynamite candidate for any position you desire.

Career anxiety can be overwhelming but it takes a series of small steps to get to a point of ease. If you take the time to find your passions, embrace the tools at your disposal and learn your true value, you can land a successful career in which you are happy and well-rewarded.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives. Also offering Corporate Coaching for Organizations

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Never Accept the First Salary Offer

Executive Coaching

Why Accepting the First Salary Offer is Never a Good Idea

 

One of the key issues I tackle in my executive coaching work is helping clients negotiate the salary, bonus and perks they want in a new job.

What always surprises me is the anxiety that clients display in trying to come up with the salary number to request.

The anxiety is often coupled with feelings of gratitude (wow, they offered me a job!) or, I don’t want to appear greedy (they won’t think I’m a team player if I ask for a lot plus they already said they have a limited budget).

Have these thoughts entered your mind in dealing with the salary issue?

I bet they have.

I’d like to offer my point of view.

Sheryl Sandburg, the COO of Facebook, and the author of the new and controversial book “Lean In,” suggests that women need to step up and learn to negotiate salaries that reflect what they are truly worth.

However, my experience in coaching executives proves that
asking for what you are worth is not only a women’s issue; men
also lack adequate negotiating skills.

Here are two recent examples:

A client came to me because he was about to accept a new job with a government agency. He was going back to the public sector after working in a large private corporation for several years.

The potential new boss said they were limited by the salaries of their current employees. During our session the client told me that offers were tied to salary grades (hard numbers) and sign-on bonuses were unheard of in government.

However, the client had progressed a long way in experience and value since his prior government service and needed to factor that
into his new ask.

I pressed him to request a salary matching his current compensation. My client negotiated over several weeks with his potential new boss.

The upshot was that they not only matched his current salary, which was a big ask, but they also gave him a sign-on bonus!

What does this prove?

Always ask for what you deserve. If the new employer really wants you they will “find” the money, government or not.

A second example was a client who was consulting for a growing entertainment company. They offered her a full-time position and she
was struggling to figure out what salary to request. She wanted to match the salary of her last full-time job but was reluctant to request
that because the employer said they had a “limited budget.”

After our discussion, she requested 10K more than her last salary. The company initially countered with a lower offer. She persisted and inquired if they could do better. They not only came back with the 10K she asked but agreed to an early performance review.

My client knew she had superior skills for the job and she had proven her value. Her negotiating position was strong.

Not every potential candidate has a strong bargaining position going into a salary negotiation. However, be aware that most employer’s use the phrase, “we have a limited budget” as a negotiating ploy to apply pressure to the candidate to accept a lower offer.

The lesson here is:

Don’t buy into the “limited budget” tactic.

At a minimum, always say you need time to think over the first offer. This will give you breathing room to develop your negotiating
strategy.

Consider this: negotiating is a skill all employers value and they will be watching and impressed by how you handle this first negotiating test.

Learning to recognize and successfully navigate the methods employers use in salary negotiations will strengthen your resolve
never to accept the first offer.

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Do you need guidance in negotiating your new salary? Working with an executive coach can make all the difference. Also offering Corporate Coaching for Organizations

Achieve Goals with Conversations That Count

achieve goals, achieving goalsIn my executive coaching work, I’m often asked how I help people reach the next level and achieve their goals.

My simple response to that question is —

Make your conversations count.

Every conversation.

How flattered would you feel if an acquaintance you met once remembered not only your name but also details about what you said?

My guess is you’d feel flattered and impressed that your words were remembered.  It’s a good feeling that you can create with your contacts if you stay in the present moment.

Achieving your goals necessitates interacting with other people — securing information or budgets, seeking guidance, brainstorming or making requests for connections with other people who might be helpful.

So, how do you make your conversations count?

Here are tips for having a dialogue that’s not soon forgotten:

  • Focus  — All your energy, attention and eye contact on the other person.  Shake hands with a firm grip and a genuine smile on your face and in your eyes. Listen intently so you recall details. Crystallize the key points in your mind and take notes afterwards. Then refer back to the comments, stories and suggestions the next time you connect.
  • Relax —People are attracted to those who are tranquil and calm.  No matter the type of person you are speaking with — approach them as an equal and be yourself.   They will want to be around you because you radiate confidence and are comfortable in your skin.
  • Prepare — You know the questions you want to ask, or you should.  That’s a no-brainer.  Beyond your questions, your prep work should consist of research that will show you care enough to know more than their name and title.  Prepare one or two specific comments that would spark a dialogue.
  • Why are you speaking?  — Ask yourself that question before you say anything.  Are you truly listening and responding in the moment to what the other person is saying?  Are you even present? Or are you wrapped up with what you are going to say next, so you can sound impressive?  Too many of us are afraid of appearing stupid or insecure so we compensate by uttering words that have nothing to do with the topic at hand, or say too much.  It’s much wiser to listen more, learn, and respond succinctly.   Your words will have greater impact, and will be more meaningful, if you distill the information you share.
  • Expect Good Outcomes — Assume positive intent about people and situations.  The tone of your voice and your choice of words will directly reflect your mental outlook. People gravitate towards upbeat and outgoing individuals, thus compounding the reason to stash away any negative thoughts.
  • Offer Your Help — Don’t wait until you send a follow-up email or card.  Before the conversation ends, offer your assistance.  If you’ve done your prep work, you might even offer help on a current project that is important to your contact.


You can achieve your goals if you upgrade the quality of your conversations.  Charismatic people know this, and use the power of focus to draw people into their circle of influence by making everyone feel heard and respected.

Here’s a short and helpful article on having better conversations in the February issue of Fast Company.  Read it here: http://www.fastcompany.com/3004491/how-toyes-and-your-way-better-banter

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Are you planning the steps to achieve your goals?  That’s where I can help.  Visit my executive coaching services page!

The 5 Critical Conversations to Have With Your New Boss

five critical conversations to have with your new bossYou’ve recently started a new job. You definitely feel like the new kid on the block – everyone is watching to see if you’ll succeed, if they can trust you, are you a pushover, etc.

There’s a mountain of work to be done and meetings to be scheduled. It’s difficult to know where to begin.

A word of advice: Begin with your new boss.

At the start of a new job, there’s no more important relationship to establish and nurture early on than the one with your boss.

Your first instinct may be to jump into the juggernaut of projects and tasks awaiting you. Fight that instinct. Otherwise you run the risk of getting overwhelmed immediately and will lose the chance to set direction and goals based upon your boss’s needs.

It’s your responsibility to reach out to your boss, to find out what you need to know and make the relationship work. Don’t expect your boss to reach out to you.

There are 5 critical conversations you need to have with your new boss. These conversations can be thought of as a dialogue that continues over several meetings.

The 5 conversations are:

1. Where does the business stand? Does your boss see this as a turnaround situation, a start-up, a re-organization, or is the goal to sustain success? Do you see this the same way your boss does? Discuss the challenges your business situation presents and the resources that are available.

2. What are your boss’s goals/vision? The most important question to pose to your boss is: How can I help you be successful? Pay attention to your boss’s priorities and aim for early wins in those areas.

3. How will your boss define your success? How will your success be defined in the short and medium term? How often will you receive feedback on your performance? If you feel the performance expectations are unrealistic, you will need to negotiate those parameters in future discussions.

4. What is your boss’s preferred method of communication? How does your boss want to receive communications from you— in person, in writing, quick emails, voicemails? How often? What types of decision does your boss want to be consulted on, and what decisions can you make on your own? Your boss’s answers to these questions will give you insight into his/her management style.

5. What resources are available to you? What resources does your boss think are critical to your success? This may consist of additional staff, budget or the backing of your boss to push through needed initiatives. Ask the questions now before circumstances dictate the outcome.

The information and direction you gather from these early meetings will be invaluable to your success. Use your best powers of persuasion with your boss and cite the ROI that will be realized by investing time in early conversations.

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Looking for an on-boarding plan to be successful in your first 90 days in a new position? Check out my executive coaching services.

Confidence versus Egocentricity

Have you ever glazed over when someone talks too much?

Do you want to tell that person, “Oh, just shut-up. You’re boring me”?

Do you wonder if people perceive you the same way? As jabbering on, that is!

Ah, good questions… And ones that you need to answer before you open your mouth.

Confidence and feeling “in the groove” when you’re speaking is great.

Unless you forgot to check your ego at the door.

Or are ignoring your audience.

I just experienced such a situation.

I was asked to call someone as a favor. This person was interested in getting advice from me. (I’m an executive coach).

So, from my point of view, the person I was calling should have been sensitive about taking up my time.

Not the case.

I listened to this person for 20 minutes. I’m sure she thought she was giving me important background information.

Did I learn something?

Not much.

Did she check in with me to see if this much detail was necessary?

Was she sensitive about my time?

No and no.

This person was a senior, and well-paid, executive in her field.

It struck me that she was so accustomed to giving orders, her radar for reading people was non-existent. (Or she was so self-centered she didn’t care).

What I came away with was her need to talk to impress me.

In other words: her ego.

So, don’t confuse being confidence with being egocentric.

It’s always better to listen, rather than talk, when you first meet someone.

Further, your ego on display is not a plus under any circumstances.

Let your motto be: quiet confidence!

Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

When I work with clients, I often notice two distinct types of individuals.

The first group consists of self-reliant clients who are eager to make breakthroughs. They want to change how they approach their job search and/or career advancement. They know what they are currently doing is not netting them the results they want. They celebrate having new tools and practicing using new methods.

If you are in this self-reliant group you don’t need to read any further. You’re on the road to success and congratulations.

Now I get to the second group of clients. Those who repeat the same procedures and processes, then wonder why things aren’t happening.

If you have an inkling that you might be in this second category, read on. You need to take a sharp 180-degree turn and retool your thinking.

Which of these statements describe the way you operate?

  • Avoid trying anything new, whether it’s a new job search website, social networking program, taking a Toastmasters meeting or enrolling in a computer refresher course
  • Never whole-heartedly give something a chance – says no, or that’s not for me, having given it only a “yes but” scrutiny
  • Makes excuses as to why things are not happening – the dog got sick, the house needed repairs, etc. as the justification for not moving ahead
  • Complain that things are not happening but take little or no action to get fresh results

So, do you recognize yourself…even a little bit?

When any of the above thought patterns arise, you don’t recognize them as self-defeating. They are so much a part of your modus operandi, your knee jerk reaction that you end up saying “no” before you even realize it. It’s an embedded cycle that’s hard to break.

That’s why it takes a leap of faith and discipline to move forward. Action outside your comfort zone is difficult, causing you to invoke one or another avoidance excuse. Making those all-important networking calls, for instance, gets deferred to another time. Or you have to have your car repaired, so you can’t possibly schedule a refresher computer class.

So, pick yourself up out of this victimhood mode, and realize that there is help at your fingertips. Most people want to help, especially those that care about you. And there’s a multitude of helpful avenues out there to pursue – online resources, in-person groups, professional coaches/counselors, family, friends, etc.

Having the courage to make a change can open new, better doors to opportunities you’d never have imagined before. Okay, so you may not hold the same title you did previously, or make as much money. On the plus side, you could experience a satisfaction that you never felt in your old career. One that provides you with a new sense of fulfillment that makes you welcome each day.

I’m reminded of a wonderful commencement speech that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University some years back. The points he chose to impart to the graduating class were: connect the dots and embrace change.

Connect the dots: Steve, who never graduated from college, and who dropped out during his first year, was unsure what he wanted to do. So he took courses that appealed to him. One of them was a calligraphy course that he fell in love with. Ten years later, as the creator of the first Macintosh computer, he was able to incorporate his love of type and fonts into the first computer model. That’s why Macintosh computers are renowned for excellent type and graphics, not to mention operational simplicity. A business model, once proven, that Microsoft copied.

Lesson learned: You can never anticipate how knowledge learned today can become an integral part of your future. You can’t connect the dots looking forward, but you can certainly connect them looking back. So take classes that interest you, try new experiences. Even if you don’t pursue that field as a living, they will enrich your knowledge and become part of what you can give the world.

Embrace change: Steve Jobs was fired after 10 years at Apple by the board of Directors. (Never does a good deed go unpunished). He was devastated and didn’t know what to do next. He realized he still loved computers and graphics and went onto create two new successful companies, NEXT and Pixar. The rest is history.

Lesson learned: When you have changed foisted upon you — i.e. a layoff, let it be the catalyst to search for what inspires you. Let that lead the way to your next career choice. As in Mr. Jobs’ case, it can put you on a new, an even more fulfilling, path.

Steve Jobs’ suggestions have a common thread: embracing change, and embarking on something new, puts happiness in your own hands. Repeating the same old same old is a dead end!

So, what are you waiting for? Take a deep breath and take the first step. You will be happy you did.

Dale Kurow, M.S., MCDP, is an author and a seasoned executive and career management coach with broad-based business experience. She has built her reputation by delivering just in time, reality based feedback and counseling to rising executives, helping them flourish at the next level.

Strutting Your Stuff

This month, I focus on another chapter of the new book, “The
5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers” by James Citrin and Richard Smith.

This chapter highlights the difference between direct vs. implied permission and strategies for both.

What’s this got to do with strutting your stuff? Everything.

One key to having an extraordinary career depends upon your getting the opportunity to show what you can do. If you’re never in a position to perform at your best or implement the innovative solutions that nobody else has thought of, you will be like the girl never asked to the dance.

In order to get the chance at a career-making project or job, you either need to be given permission (direct permission) or take it (implied permission). Here are selected strategies for both:

Direct Permission Strategies

  • Ask.
    Go ahead and speak with your boss or the powers that be and tell them what you want. Asking is the most obvious method, and sometimes the most effective.
  • Demonstrate Competency.
    Analyze the competencies that are required for the role you seek. Break the job into specific tasks, and then find ways to get experience in each of them. Speak with an incumbent in the job (outside your company), and get information about the specific skill sets that are required.
  • Strategic Mentoring.
    Find a mentor who will be your champion and to whom you can give back to as well. Getting your mentor’s expertise before negotiating for your desired goal can tip the scale in your favor.

Implied Permission Strategies

  • Start Over.
    When I was promoted out of a secretarial role at Charles of the Ritz, some managers continued to regard me as a secretary. Their reluctance to accept me as an equal made it difficult for me to gain their respect or do my job. This directly impacted my performance and my ability to grow in the company. It wasn’t until I changed jobs that I left the baggage of my secretarial title behind. Sometimes, you need to be somewhere new to get the recognition and responsibility you have earned.
  • Get Credentials.
    Additional education will often provide the imprimatur you need to advance to the next level. For example, an MBA, JD or CPA can be particularly effective early in your career. Consider getting an industry certification or enrolling in an executive education program if you are mid-career or beyond.
  • Barter.
    For example, find a colleague who has expertise in an area you’re interested in, but no time or impetus to use those skill sets. If you can provide the structure and drive to move a project forward, s/he could provide the knowledge. An example of this is when two people co-author a book.

Some words of caution: The absence of permission is not carte blanche to push ahead without forethought. You need to get prior buy-in for your ideas, or you could alienate your peers and jeopardize your success.

Enlist support among your colleagues, and gain the appropriate levels of direct and implied permission. That will enable you to have the backing you need when sailing into new territory.

Suggested Reading

The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers
by James M. Citrin and Richard A. Smith

Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win
by Michael Useem

Leadership Without Easy Answers
by Ronald Heifetz

Knowing Your Value

I recently attended a talk given by Richard Smith, the co-author of a new book, “The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers.” This book is selling like hotcakes, and I was curious to hear what the buzz was all about.

It turns out that the book’s authors have identified how exceptional executives achieve career success.

Their findings point to five factors:

  • understanding the value of you
  • practicing benevolent leadership
  • solving the permission paradox (direct versus implied permission)
  • the 20/80 principle of performance, and
  • finding the right fit

More on these factors in future newsletters.

I honed in on the first factor, “knowing your value,” which struck me as a no-brainer. But then, I realized there’s a lot more to it.

I wondered, how many of you know your own value in the workplace?

Your answer probably was a number, right? Like the aggregate of your salary, benefits and perks?

Not even close.

Consider the following when pondering your worth:

  • Your age.
    Are you in the beginning stages of your career, where employers will be investing in your potential for the future? In middle age, where you don’t need training and are functioning at your fullest capacity? Or older, where you offer stability and the full breadth of your considerable experience?
  • Market demand.
    Is your profession currently growing or in a consolidation mode? Remember the late 1990s when Internet mavens were in demand and could write their own tickets? Now, those folks are in the unenviable inverse position. If you are in an industry that’s not growing, consider translating your skills to another segment of your profession that would improve your worth.
  • Your career trajectory.
    Have you worked for the market leaders? How quickly have you moved up? What types of career-making projects have you been responsible for? What are the reputations of your past bosses?
  • Adding value.
    What have you done to continue learning and improving your skill sets? Can you point to specific learning experiences that exposed you to other leaders and added to your repertoire of tools?
  • Do your homework.
    Salaries vary according to location, years of experience, etc. Check out www.salary.com or befriend knowledgeable recruiters who have their finger on the pulse of your market.

Hey, knowing your value takes work.

But you’re worth it!

Suggested Reading

The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers
by James M. Citrin and Richard A. Smith

This book has been receiving rave reviews – it’s already in its third printing, and it’s just been published. The findings are backed by extensive research and interviews conducted by the authors. That’s a first. The 5 patterns, mentioned earlier in this newsletter, consolidate the behaviors, methods and mindset that have helped these supremely successful executives rise to the top of their profession. Simply stated, the 5 patterns offer a powerful formula for career advancement.