Career Column: Coached to Success

The author of the best-selling book "Take Yourself to the Top: The Secrets of America's #1 Career Coach" offers coaching advice for IT professionals.


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"To coach or not to coach?", that is the question. The answer from this coach's perspective is yes, but I am biased. Let's explore how it might be valuable to you, the IT professional, to engage in a coaching relationship.

If hiring a personal trainer would be the answer to your fitness goals, imagine how a personal coach could be the answer to your personal and professional desires. What are your complaints? What do you really long to do? What would you like to be recognized for that you are not being recognized for? What perceived shortcomings are keeping you from what you want to accomplish? These are the questions a coach can help you answer.

Having a trained professional devoted to your success with whom you speak once a week in an environment of non-judgment, support and confidentiality can help you gain clarity, focus, direction and skill faster than doing it on your own. All you need to have to make it work is a willingness to face the obstacles that stop you and an extra half hour a week to be listened to fully.

Tim was a client from IT in a big company. He had become a dumping ground for all the problems in the department. He always felt behind the eight ball and worked around the clock never seeming to catch up before the next assignment was thrown at him. When it got bad enough, he reached for the phone and hired me as his coach. He wanted to get a handle on his task and time management.

What was disguised as a time management problem was really a communication skill issue. Tim was not communicating his limits and training the people around him on how to work with him so he became overburdened and ultimately ineffective. As we worked on his ability to communicate effectively, he succeeded in slowing the stream of work that came his way. With his newfound ability to manage his workload, he gained clarity that revealed his true desires in terms of his professional ambitions. He wanted to have his voice heard in other departments. He saw IT-based solutions for many of the companies issues, but especially in marketing.

Over the course of the next six months, Tim made a major impact on the marketing strategy for the company, had succeeded in breaking out of the box his IT identity had held him and has since been made part of the entrepreneurial training program designed to invest in the future achievers of the company.

Now, Tim's aspirations may not be yours, but have you given much thought lately to what your aspirations are? Do you have a plan to get there? Would you like some help in figuring it out?

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Let me share with you some tips on how to choose the right coach for you.

  • Rapport is most important --You should feel comfortable with this person and look forward to talking to them every week.
  • Credentials --Be sure your coach has had training as a coach. Having years of psychology or consulting credentials doesn't necessarily mean someone is trained or skilled as a coach.
  • Past Successes --Having the same industry background to you is not essential, but do look for past successes with people in your situation.

    The key to making coaching work for you is being willing to make it work. Paying for the gym does not get you results if you don't go. Coaching can't work if you don't do the work. "To coach or not to coach?" What is your answer?

    Laura Berman Fortgang is the author of Living Your Best Life, the best-selling Take Yourself to the Top: The Secrets of America's #1 Career Coach, , and president of LBF*InterCoach, Inc. , a career coaching company based in Montclair, NJ.

    Editor's note: This column first appeared on CIN, an internet.com site for IT executives.

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