A Case for Coaching: My Journey
Imagine: it’s your first day at a new job as a senior executive. You meet your new boss at 7:30 a.m., are taken to your new office, provided a laptop and login credentials, and told to make yourself at home. Your boss will return at the end of the week. As you settle in, you realize you do not know anyone in the department and you discover you have a team member in another country reporting to you that you were not told about.
Like other leaders, I landed the job because of my knowledge and expertise, but those attributes didn’t always prepare me for my new roles. As I look back over my career, I moved into new roles every 1-2 years. Over the course of 30+ years, I’ve held approximately 15 different roles – each one posing different challenges that I had to overcome, often without a clear map for success.
When I became a Senior Manager, I knew I needed a better plan and hired my first coach. My manager didn’t know it at the time, but I felt a coach was critical for my success and that of my team as I was tasked with leading a Leadership Development function for an organization of over 80k employees in North America that required me to identify development opportunities for leaders in the organization and to coach those leaders through career transitions.
My coach proved invaluable to me, helping me navigate my own journey when I felt uncertain about the decisions I was making, unclear of the expectations the organization had for me, and as though I were alone in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language or understand the customs or culture. With the help of my coach, I gained confidence through my transitions and began having a greater impact on both the leaders I supported and my own team. Many of the leaders I supported had deep technical expertise but little experience leading people at a senior level or large global teams. I took those leaders through a process with their teams to quickly get them aligned and moving their strategies forward. Over the course of five years, I spent 20% of my time with over 200 senior leaders helping them successfully navigate the first six months in their new roles.
During this time, I felt it important to pursue formal credentials. The first step in this journey involved becoming a certified facilitator by InsideOut Development for their GROW Coaching process in 2012. After teaching the program, I decided I wanted to become a certified coach. I went to the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) in 2014 and completed an intense 9-month training program. Upon completion of the program, I earned my Certified Professional Coach (CPC) credentials. In July 2020, I received my Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credentials from the International Coaching Federation.
After spending time coaching leaders in large organizations, I found myself working in the startup world for a successful entrepreneur. He warned me that once I got the taste of entrepreneurship I would not want to go back to corporate life. When I began considering my next success, his words struck me. In January 2019 I started Talent Activators so that I could use my knowledge and experience to help organizations and leaders taking on new roles navigate the onboarding process so that they’re able to step confidently into their next success.
Research from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) estimates that 50% to 70% of executives fail within 18 months of taking on a role, regardless of whether they were an external hire or promoted from within. If you don’t want to find yourself failing in your new role, grab one of my complimentary Career Activation Sessions where together we’ll get clear about your career goals, uncover what might be standing in your way, and create a proven plan to enjoy the career you’ve always wanted.
Source: Why Most New Executives Fail — And Four Things Companies Can Do About It, Mike Ettore. Forbes Coaches Council, March 13, 2020