“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who had you see what you don’t want to see, so that you can be who you have always know you could be.” – Tom Landry
“Mary, your LinkedIn header says you are an IT coach and an advisor to IT leaders. What exactly do you do?”
As there is a distinction between a coach and an advisor, it is a very reasonable question to ask. I am hired by IT leaders to help them and their team navigate the challenges of their ever-changing world. Sometimes, I am wearing a coach’s hat and sometimes, I wear an advisor hat. Often, I need to move from one hat to the other fluidly.
For all intents and purposes, an advisor is a consultant. Advising is the primary role of a consultant. When asking a consultant for advice, you are asking for answers or solutions and action steps you should take to reach your desired outcomes. In my advisor role, I pull from my years of experience and acquired wisdom to provide you with a perspective to consider. Many times, this perspective will be in the form of a report, white paper, process flows, and always the ubiquitous PowerPoint deck. It is always your option to apply the advice or leave it. As you can see, it is my advice, my perspective – yours to adopt or ignore.
My coaching clients are typically IT leaders who have enjoyed a successful career, but may need a little help figuring out how to move forward. In coach-speak, there is a “gap” between where they are now and where they want to be.
Many times, your gap or barrier is resulting from a significant change such as a new role, an expanded role, a new leader, or it could be a business event such as a merger or business downturn. Coaches also assist career professionals who have forgotten how to “have a life” and no longer have work/life balance. In any event, you need help moving forward.
Coaching is a co-creative process. It is a partnership between you and me, with 100% of the coaching focused on your well-being. As a coach, we will work together over several months on an agreed upon time basis. In our coaching conversation I will offer feedback and together we will explore the strengths and weakness of your plans and goals while looking for opportunities to improve. At times, I may offer suggestions to spark your creative process, but the choices and decisions are always yours to make. I will use powerful questioning to help you uncover your answers and solutions. In the end, what you will have accomplished will be in line with your desires and goals and not what somebody else’s ideas may be about what is right for you.
You can expect me to always be non-judgmental and to maintain the ultimate level of confidentiality. I will help you to find your OWN answers to your barriers. In doing so, you will learn more about what is important to you in your career and maybe even your life. You will become more aware and responsible for your life going forward on many levels. Most importantly, you will be more likely to adopt the answers you discover because they will be YOUR answers. As your coach, I will stay with you as you implement your action plan and remind you of the other important aspects of your plan that you may otherwise forget and ignore, such as:
- Life/work balance
- Staying on track
- Other choices you can make
- Helping you through obstacles
- Keeping you focused and accountable
As an IT Executive and Leadership Coach and Advisor, I find the ability to move between the two roles with intent and purpose valuable to the relationship. I do this through asking permission when your needs call for me to don the other hat. For example, in a coaching conversation, my coaching clients will often ask me to give them advice. I do so by verbally acknowledging the advice. However, in a consulting engagement you may hear me say something like, “Let me put my coaching hat on so that we can unpack what might be going on here…”
With the increase in company downsizing and added pressures applied to many IT executives, their heads of IT functions, and the delivery teams under their leadership, the need for coaching has expanded beyond the executive office. The most scalable answer to the broader positive influence coaching can bring, is a team and group coaching engagement. Team and group coaching delivers the power of a coaching relationship to all levels of staff at an affordable price point.
In some respects, coaching is a form of consulting, in that coaches assist you to solve problems, reach goals, design action plans, and create the desired results. Unlike consultants, coaches also help you move away from the things that don’t work for you, toward things that are more in line with what you want and envision.
So, in a nutshell, advising entails telling you what to do and you doing it. Coaching supports and facilitates YOU choosing what is right for you in a way that assists you to achieve your goals. With advice, you do it somebody else’s way; with coaching, you do it your way. Neither are right or wrong. It is all about what works best for you at any one time of your life or circumstance.
I am here if you want to explore how your barriers might be lifted by coaching.
Until next time, have an effective week! To further this week’s conversation, schedule time with me and let’s talk!
Check it out: Architecting the Technical People Leader – a six-month based virtual learning opportunity for a small group of IT managers kicking off Feb 14, 2019. Limited seating is still available. Learn more
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