Executive coaching isn’t just for the C-suite

How coaching can support career goals at all levels.

By Belinda Gates, Compass Enterprise, Louisville, Ky. March 18, 2014

If you are an engineer or technical professional who has the desire to make career advancement happen rather than sitting back and waiting for someone to notice you, then these tips are for you.

Let me share with you the story of one of my coaching clients, an engineer at a mid-size consulting engineering firm who was challenged with the desire to either advance within his current firm or seek a management opportunity at a different firm. This engineer felt that his career was stagnant and wanted to advance, but he didn’t understand what was holding him back and wasn’t sure how to make change happen. Many companies hire internal and external coaches to work with employees, but in this case, this engineer sought me out on his own.

Through coaching, he was able to define his goals and develop his own action plan to achieve them. Together, we determined ways that he can develop the skills and management behaviors to facilitate his next career move. He is now more confident with his career goals and can visualize a clearer path for advancing his career.

Engineers and technical professionals sometimes reach a point in their career where they feel stagnant. They are positioned well in a good job, but it’s just not moving forward as fast as they would like and a feeling of restlessness sets in. It’s sometimes hard to define what causes the dissatisfaction and frustration, but once it sets in, it is a condition that, left unaddressed, can impede success. Further, ambitious engineers seek management and ownership positions within their firms, but are often stuck without a plan to get there.

That’s where executive coaching comes in. You may have heard about your boss or other business owners and managers working with an executive coach. The term “executive” may make you think this type of coaching is only for senior management within the organization, but, that’s far from the truth. Coaching is beneficial for anyone who wants to achieve their goals, improve their career and personal life, find success, and be happy. Many professionals at all levels in their career seek out coaching, especially when they do not have a mentor or other resource to help guide their career. Wherever you are on the career ladder, challenging yourself, striving to be your absolute best, and achieving balance between your professional and personal life are key ingredients to a successful career. Why settle for anything less?

So, what are the first steps in taking charge of your career path?

  • Define what success means to you. That’s a big task, but it can be fun and rewarding to create a picture of your ideal future.
  • Set attainable goals and develop a roadmap to get you there. Working with a coach is key to the process because there are many factors that go into the successful development and implementation of the plan.

Here are a few examples of the areas that are explored when working with a coach:

  • What is your motivation for moving up to the next level?
  • What traits and qualifications are required of you to perform at the next level?
  • What do you need to do to develop those traits and qualifications?
  • What will it do for you once you have achieved the next level?
  • How can you leverage yourself within the company so that you’ll be recognized for advancement?

How do you determine if working with a coach will support your journey to success?

  • You are unsure of the process and need assistance with the development and execution of a plan.
  • You would like to improve your performance in areas such as communication skills, management style, leadership aptitude, or other interpersonal skills.
  • You don’t have anyone within your organization that can work with you confidentially.
  • You would like to talk with a successful professional who has likely walked in your shoes.

These are areas that can be explored through working with a professional executive coach. It’s a process that provides clarity to your goals and a plan, constructed by you, that allows you to achieve them. Coaching is not a benefit reserved only for management. It is, however, reserved for those who want to improve and aren’t afraid to do the work necessary to make it happen.

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Executive coaching has become a desirable and recognized process for managing change and achieving success. It is accessible because it is very effectively done over the phone at a convenient time. And, it’s more affordable than most people realize. Individuals and companies consider it an investment that returns the cost many times over. It’s effective for one-on-one sessions, groups of people who have similar objectives, and teams who want optimum results.

Coaching can be done on a short-term basis such as 3 to 6 months, but it usually grows into longer engagements once the client benefits from the process and recognizes the value of coaching for continuous improvement. For more information, visit www.coachfederation.org.

Belinda Gates is the owner of Compass Enterprise and provides professional and executive coaching for the engineering, architectural, and construction markets. Previously, she was an owner of Luckett & Farley Architects and Engineers in Louisville, Ky., where she provided marketing, business development, client management, leadership development, and strategic planning expertise for 17 years.