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10 ways to know you need an executive coach

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More business leaders today are turning to executive coaches to help them become:

  • more personally fulfilled with their contributions
  • more effective with direct reports, peers and other executives
  • better able to coach their team members
  • more flexible in challenging situations

Susan C. Gatton, a Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX-based executive coach, has worked with a many leaders and she says that if you answer "yes" to any of the following ten situations, you are a likely candidate for executive coaching:

  1. I need an objective sounding board.
  2. I know some things are not working as well as they should. I don't know what to do to change the situation.
  3. I want to go to the next level. I'm ready. Why am I not being promoted?
  4. Work has taken over my life. How do I make my family a priority?
  5. I may be over my head with these new responsibilities.
  6. My 360 degree feedback had several surprises.
  7. I've never interacted with the Board of Directors before. I don't know what to expect.
  8. I need more visibility and don't know how to get it.
  9. I avoid social situations. I don't do well with the small talk.
  10. I have a strong feeling I am not hearing the whole story from my direct reports.

Executive coaching programs often take six months to one year to complete and include both in-person and via phone conversations and meetings. You can use a coach in your area or from another state (you'll likely use video conferencing or web conferencing for your "in-person" meetings).

In a recent interview, Gatton explained why building relationships is important to help someone to become a better leader. She said, "The higher you go in an organization the more crucial building relationships becomes. The picture is bigger at the top and the focus shifts from what is good for a team or department to what is beneficial for the company. Leaders need to collaborate with their peers to remove obstacles for their team and to get buy in for what the company needs to be successful."

"At times," she continued, "leaders want to implement an initiative that affects a multitude of functional areas. Without strategic alliances, it will be a no-win undertaking. Individuals will become territorial--creating an adversarial situation."

During Gatton's nearly 30 years in business, she's found several areas that continuously surface for leaders to become more effective or for potential leaders to shorten the learning curve as they climb up the ladder. She said those include:

  • A thorough understanding of the company's financial picture
  • A broad perspective of the business from a variety of hands-on experiences
  • Highly effective interpersonal communications skills
  • Exceptional presentation and public speaking skills
  • Extraordinary ability to lead


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