As a senior executive, how do you continue to increase your business knowledge and skills base? How do you keep up with the latest developments in your industry? You are doubtless aware of how vitally important the acquisition of knowledge is, but how do you find the time to do it?
In order to keep up with business and industry developments, coaching and training courses are essential, whether for seasoned practitioners or up and coming new executives. Our fast-moving business environment, courtesy of the Internet and modern communication systems, means that most senior executives find it essential to continue taking part in training or study.
Coaching is now an established executive training tool. Many executives find that at intermediate levels they are told they must seek further training in order to climb further up the executive ladder. But how can a senior executive find the time to pursue this? They already have an overflowing diary and a day that sometimes seems endless. This lack of time is a huge hurdle to overcome, particularly when trying to bring an executive and a coach together.
It is essential that executives do their homework before hiring a coach. Because coaching nearly always means that personal details of lifestyles, values and ethics will arise in conversation, communication must be based on confidentiality and trust. This is vital, as coaching sessions will never otherwise reach their full potential. It is also up to the client to ensure that their coach understands his or her role in the organisation and what their position entails. The level of communication must be respectful, easy and unforced while remaining highly confidential.
On the other hand, the executive needs to be aware of the coach’s qualifications, real world experience and particular field of expertise. Former clients should be contacted in order to verify these claims; LinkedIn is an excellent avenue for client testimonials. Make the coach aware whether they were selected specifically by the client, or whether they were recommended by the client’s organisation.
Once the coach has been selected, the first thing to do is to make a time to meet regularly. Coaches have to be flexible in allocating time and make allowances for the inevitable emergencies that will disrupt the client’s calendar. A realistic coaching organisation will understand that executives lack large blocks of time that can be allocated for coaching and should be able to find different ways of getting coach and client together.
In order to find that small opening in the executive’s busy day, the coach could go to the executive’s office (not generally recommended), or, if a more neutral environment is needed, they could meet in a quiet cafe or some other location that suits both people.
However you choose to arrange your coaching sessions, the object is to continue to develop and grow. If you are to be of continuing value to your organisation and ensure you are marked for future advancement, on-going coaching, learning and career development is crucial.
In fact, unless you are continually updating your knowledge and skills, it is unlikely that you will win senior positions in your preferred area. With increased responsibilities comes the need to have access to the latest information, whether it be changes in business practices and regulations, technology updates or new means of communication that affect business. You simply have no choice if you wish to advance. Get professional coaching.
Jon Michail is Group CEO of Image Group International, an award winning author and recognised as Australasia’s No 1 image coach. Image Group International supports executives, entrepreneurs and their organisations to become iconic and monetised leadership brands.
He is a regular commentator in international media organsations ABC, CNN, NBC, Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Success, The Financial Review and Vogue.