When to Get  a Professional or Executive Coach

When to Get a Professional or Executive Coach

These days, and in some circles, the notion of working with a professional or executive coach is as ubiquitous as working with a personal fitness trainer or having a therapist. There are a couple of key reasons for this: the pace of changing technology is disrupting jobs and careers faster than ever before and on-the-job training for leaders and aspiring leaders appears to be non-existent. Now, more than ever before, young professionals are finding themselves in management-level jobs—without the experience or skills to manage others—and yet, are required to perform as successful managers and leaders. They need to find ways to ramp up people management and leadership skills rapidly if they are not to lose valuable employees

For those unfamiliar with the concept of professional or executive coaching, here is a brief article on what coaches do and what to expect from a coach. This article further explains what to expect on the journey of working with a coach and offers things to consider about why you might want to work with one. 

What is Professional or Executive Coaching?

First of all, it’s very important to understand that a professional or executive coach is not a therapist, and is very different from a mentor, advisor or a consultant. Briefly summarizing an earlier, detailed post on this topic, titled, Do You Need a Therapist, Mentor, Consultant or Professional Coach?, here is the difference:

  • A therapist tends to work on the past, as well as family-of-origin issues and emotional disorders. 
  • An advisor or consultant is someone who has an expertise in a particular area and they tell you step-by step how to implement their plan. 
  • A coach supports you in creating a new present and future with specific objectives and outcomes. A coach might address the past with their client simply for reference or understanding, but the focus is on moving towards meeting client-defined objectives.

The Right Time to Work with a Professional or Executive Coach

People often work with a coach when they’ve found themselves at a stuck place in their lives, or when they notice patterns in their career or life that they want to change. Working with a coach is also supportive during big life transitions.

when to get a professional coach

When big change happens in someone’s life and where new skills are required, it is not uncommon for doubt, uncertainty, and even low-level anxiety to enter one’s thoughts. The bigger the changes, the more the potential for getting overwhelmed by the change.

It is true that most of us are creatures of habit. We like familiar, predictable, stable, controllable circumstances and transitions can be unsettling for anyone.

It’s in these situations where working with a coach can be helpful and supportive. A coach has the skill set to help you untangle the spaghetti of conflicting and stressful thoughts in your mind so you can get clear on your wants, needs, and desires are and so that you can, create an action plan for success, and then implement the plan to the results you desire.

Here are some situations where you might consider hiring a coach: 

  • I want to become a director at my company but I can’t seem to get there.
  • I have a role that requires public speaking and I’m terrified of public speaking.
  • I just took on a management level role and I have the sense that I don’t deserve it. This very well could be a case of imposter syndrome. You are not alone in feeling this; a 2020 KPMG study of 750 women executives in the U.S. found that a shocking 75% of them had experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their career. And, very interestingly, the same study found that ​​over 70% of the “executive women looked to the advice of a mentor or trusted advisor when doubting their abilities to take on new roles.”
  • I want to make a career change and I don’t feel comfortable articulating why I’d be good in this new role.
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Oftentimes, a company will hire a professional or executive coach to work with one of their leaders to help them develop in areas where they have blind spots. 

For example:

  • She’s a great leader but tends to manage up and doesn’t build feelings of good will with her peers.
  • He’s moving into a strategic role and can’t seem to let go of the day-to-day, tactical work.
  • She is brilliant in her role but always needs to be right. It’s causing discord with her direct reports.

 A coach essentially helps their clients determine their vision, strategy, action plan, and then supports them in realizing their objectives. 

Look for Action-Oriented Support from Your Coach

Oftentimes, professional or excecutive coaches will require clients to do homework. This homework could include: journal writing, taking a class or reading specific material that will be supportive in the client’s  growth and development.

It is very important to know that a coach doesn’t tell their clients what to do. They guide their clients towards their own wisdom and encourage the client to investigate their own thoughts and creative solutions.

Here is a great example of action-oriented coaching by Charles Vivier, one of the MMS NorCal coaches. (This excerpt is taken from a testimonial provided by an executive coached by Charles Vivier):

In each session we’d decide at the beginning what I wanted to accomplish and then we’d do it. There was a level of accountability and immediate action that I’d never had in any other setting. “OK, you want to do XYZ. How does it feel right now? Do you want to practice saying what you need to say? If you are ready, should you schedule the meeting or make a call right now? When will you be able to do what’s next? Do you want to set a date in your calendar when you will do it or have it done.” Most of the time I’d just do the thing immediately.

Set Objectives with Your Coach

Unlike therapy, most people work with a coach for a specific period of time. Objectives for coaching are usually set at the beginning of a coaching engagement and once those objectives are met, the coaching relationship is complete. It’s important to note that development happens in biological time and change doesn’t happen overnight. 

While each coach and how they manage their coaching engagements are different, I tend to work with my clients for a period of six months to a year.

Professional and Executive Coaching Modalities

Some coaches are hired because of their professional background and expertise. In these cases, along with asking open-ended questions, they bring some modalities that might be of support to their clients. 

As an example, a coach may be an experienced yoga teacher and practitioner and can help you design a grounding routine as a part of your coaching. This can help you reduce your stress and frustration levels, be present, silence your mind, and relax you so you can have a more impactful coaching session. A coach with a mindfulness practice can take you through a visioning process to help identify goals. 

Coaches who have been athletes and continue a practice of vigorous exercise can help you connect your mind and body through high-intensity or low-intensity moves. Using both mind and body, you can tap into feelings, into stress, release tension, uncover what’s holding you back in a completely different way. 

Sometimes, we may believe there is no problem, and doing yoga or other body techniques (for example, breathwork or qigong) can open the mind to a different reality. Some coaches even use horses to help clients face their fears and process emotions.

The key to hiring your own coach is to trust your intuition when hiring someone. Read about their backgrounds and see if their life and professional experience resonates with you. Most coaches will offer a Chemistry Session for no-charge so the two of you can get to know one another and decide if it’s a fit.  

Check out the MMS NorCal Coaching Collective which offers a variety of trained, professional, executive, relationship, and life coaches with many modalities, skills, and passions. You may find the right coach for you in the collective! 

How to Listen, So Your Body Will Talk

How to Listen, So Your Body Will Talk

In all cultures, literature and language is full of phrases that describe the link between the body and our emotions. We talk about butterflies in our stomach before stepping out on stage, feeling a pit in our stomach on hearing bad news, faces turning red with embarrassment, hearts pounding with excitement, hearts breaking and hearts heavy with sorrow. We describe feeling a shiver going down our spine, getting cold feet, choking with resentment, having gut reactions, shouldering responsibilities, jaws clenching in anger, and more. 

It’s not uncommon for my clients to complain about body aches and pains in their sessions with me; a tight throat or jaw when they are around certain people; occasional chest pains when they think of something stressful; a pit in their stomach when they are speaking in public. My clients are aware of what their pain could be related to, but they can’t seem to relieve the discomfort, despite this understanding.

It’s clear that our bodies are screaming for attention but how do we listen to the messages our bodies are sending to us? More importantly, how can we calm our bodies down?

There’s actually a self-help skill you can learn and practice that can help you tremendously: the power of listening to what your body is saying. 

Professor Eugence Gandlin and the Power of Focusing

Here’s the background: In the early 1960s, Professor Eugene Gendlin did research on successful outcomes from therapy. A key finding was those who could sense into their bodies and get out of their heads, experienced relief from their problems. And in contrast, just analyzing, complaining, or explaining away problems wasn’t proven to be nearly as helpful as listening to the body.

power of focusing

Gendlin developed a tool which he called Focusing. The concept is that you talk to your body as if it’s another human being who has thoughts and feelings that it wants to express.

During the course of building this tool and his research, he discovered that it works as a self-help skill, even outside of therapy; or, of course with coaching

Once you learn how to listen to your body, you can use it at any time, in a variety of situations.

This blog post summaries some of the tips and suggestions from the book, The Power of Focusing – A Practical Guide to Emotional Self-Healing authored by Ann Weiser Cornell, Ph.D.

Getting Started on Learning How to Listen to Your Body

Here is the first exercise to start on this journey to listen to your body.

  • Set aside 10-15 minutes to practice, several times a week.
  • Find a comfortable, quiet place, away from distractions or interruptions.
  • Have a piece of paper ready to jot down your thoughts, emotions, and feelings that come up.
  • Sit quietly, with eyes open or closed and ask yourself: Which way today? (Something will come up. Trust that the first thing that comes up actually wants your attention.)
  • Sense into your body.
    • Sit quietly, with eyes open or closed and ask yourself: Which way today? Something will come up. Trust that the first thing that comes up actually wants your attention.
    • See where your attention goes. Does it go to your chest? Do you notice that your breath is shallow or held? Does it go to your stomach? Just notice and make note of it. For example, your body might say, My shoulders are tense and hunched up to my ears!
  • Ask yourself:
    • What in my body wants my awareness now? I’m saying hello to what’s here. How am I about that issue? 
  • Describe the feeling:
    • Ask yourself, I’m trying to find a way to describe what’s here. Is it Jittery? Tight? Hot? Empty? Is there a color? What shade of color? What’s the texture? Once you dive deep into the feeling, you might feel that the sensation gets stronger or dissipates.
    • Take notes on how you are feeling. For example, you could write that your shoulders feel hot, and the texture is like steel wool, it’s a dark grey blob that spreads across your back from one shoulder to another.
  • Stop the session; You can go deeper next time.
    • Before you end, say to yourself – I’m checking back in with my body. Is it okay to stop today?

Trust that your body will give you the right messages if you are patient and listen carefully.

Deeper Listening to Your Body

To go deeper at your next session: repeat the steps in the above exercise and ask yourself the following questions.

Ask yourself:

  • Is it okay to just be with this right now? I’m sitting with it, with interested curiosity. I’m sensing how it feels from its point of view. I’m asking if it has an emotional quality. For example: My shoulders are angry. I’m asking: What gets it so tight, hot, anxious… For example: I get so angry when I have a lot of responsibility. It feels like I’m holding up the world….Like Atlas. It’s too much to handle!
  • I’m asking my body to show me how ‘all OK’ would feel. For example: All okay would feel good. Maybe I shouldn’t take on too much. Now, take a breath and release the pressure. Relax the shoulders. You aren’t holding up the world. Take one thing at a time. Be compassionate and patient with yourself. It’s all okay now.

Thank your Body:

  • I’m asking my body if it is OK to stop soon. I’m saying: I’ll be back. I’m thanking my body and the part that has been with me.

By Focusing, when you pay attention to your body, the body feels heard. When you listen deeply to it’s messages, acknowledge the feelings and explore how all OK feels, you allow those emotions to release and there is a sense of completion.

This sense of relief, relaxation and satisfaction – this special experience, this feeling of well-being – is called the Felt Shift. During this time, everything in your mind/body, your whole being, is shifting, rearranging itself to accommodate the new understanding you have received.

I’ve used this process with my clients and with a little practice, I’ve witnessed their entire worlds crack open, once they get to know themselves this way. Long forgotten memories come into focus, they experience a heightened sense of awareness and most importantly, they are able to dissolve the angst and anxiety that they’ve been carrying around for years.

Working with a Professional or Life Coach

As you practice listening to your body, you may also consider working with a professional or life coach.

Today, coaches use different modalities in working with their clients. You could work with a coach who uses breathing techniques or a coach who helps you build a vigorous exercise routine to connect mind and body. You could work with a coach who uses horses or one who uses visualization.

Depending on your preferences, you could work with a coach to build a custom coaching program for yourself that could help you tap into your feelings and uncover what’s holding you back in a completely different way.

Do check out the MMS NorCal Coaching Collective which brings together professional and executive coaches with many modalities, skills, and passions.  

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Why Coaches Need International Coaching Federation Credentials

Why Coaches Need International Coaching Federation Credentials

The demand for coaching has been increasing rapidly not just in the United States but all over the world. As per an article, Three Trends that will Shape the Future of Coaching,” published by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the “estimated market size of the coaching industry in the U.S. was $15 billion USD” in 2019 with an average growth rate of 6.7% per year. One of the key changes that are resulting from this demand is the need to have trained and credentialed coaches to assure quality assurance.
  

Are You a Professional Coach Without Credentials?

Keep in mind that people can call themselves a coach but without training and credentials, they are not actually coaching; they are acting as a mentor or advisor or consultant.

Learning the coaching method is a journey in personal development. As you learn the method, you will be bringing your own topics and objectives to the training to work through. Learning the coaching method brings you closer to yourself and closer to others.

Professional Coach Training

The MMS Northern California, the Approved Coach Specific Training Hours (ACSTH) Coach Training is a three-month transformational certification program for people who are looking for the quickest and most transformational way to become a certified professional coach.

This program trains you to get an ICF Accreditation with an ACSTH. The 60 hours of coach training includes two, three-day weekends and six, two-hour webinar sessions. The purpose of the MMS Coach Training is to support you to:

  • Become an MMS /ICF certified coach;
  • Grow exponentially in awareness and interpersonal skills;
  • Learn coaching skills to apply to your career,
  • Commit to living life as a coach.   

This 60-hour ICF Credentialed ACSTH coach training is delivered by ICF-credentialed/MMS trained coaches who have been trained by Dr Cherie Carter-Scott. This training will prepare you to get accredited by ICF. You will see live demonstrations of coaching daily and will practice your skills with peers as well as receive immediate feedback from coaches leading the training. As required by the ICF, five feedback sessions are included.

The training is held in Marin County in Northern California, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco. 

Contact the MMS NorCal Institute to learn more!

How a 40 Billion Dollar Global Company Launched an Internal Professional Coaching Program

How a 40 Billion Dollar Global Company Launched an Internal Professional Coaching Program

 

The MMS Institute has been partnering with Fortune 500 Companies for over 40 years to deliver Leadership Workshops, as well as Coach Trainings. While some companies work with outside resources for their Executive Coaching; this multi-billion-dollar, worldwide organization decided to train their leaders in the MMS Coaching Methodology so that they could build an internal Coaching Program and offer Coaching to an expanded group of employees and managers, at a lower cost. If you are considering a coaching program for your employees and need to make a business case with your leadership, here are two useful reads:

We sat down with this client’s Leadership Development Manager to understand how they launched this program and why they chose MMS to partner with them to develop selected employees as internal coaches.

MMS: What prompted you to start an internal coaching program for the company?

Company: When I started at the company 4 years ago: I felt it was really a good company that had values I connected with. I knew they utilized external organizations for executive coaching and I felt they were missing opportunities to offer our employees the experience of coaching who were not at the executive level.  Manager’s aren’t always good at Coaching and Coaching is the support that a lot of employees need.

I was talking about Coaching all the time and eventually, it became the “perfect storm.”

My company connected with an external partner to redesign their Performance Management process which aligned well with Coaching. Coaching is pivotal and impactful, and it makes the new performance management process work.

MMS: How did you go about piloting the project? 

Client: I had this feeling in the back of my mind, “Build it and they will come.”

I also had some fears and I wanted to be sure it would be successful, so I thought, “how can I strategically launch this and do it in a way that shows value?”

I decided to write a business plan. I decided to think backwards. I thought about the desired end-results and then I figured out how to get there.

We started out by training 10 global people from Asia, UK, the US on the MMS Coaching Methodology. The 10 individuals were within the Leadership Development Organization that I’m a part of. We got managers to nominate their staff that they thought would be good Coaches and there were people coming to me saying they wanted the Coach Training and they wanted to be a part of the Pilot.

Then, once these 10 people were trained; we decided to offer Coaching to a specific group within the company:

  1. The first program was with entry level managers and within that, we talked about
    • the value of coaching
    • developing teams
    • developing people
  1. The second program we launched was leadership development for high potentials and the individuals inside the    program had a coach to help them understand their assessments
  1. Next, we expanded that process to allow each participant the opportunity to connect with a coach to develop goals and a plan 

MMS: And? What was the result of this pilot? 

Client: Once everyone worked with a coach for a full quarter, we conducted a survey to get their feedback on how their experience was. Everyone gave us incredibly positive feedback… and that’s how we were able to move the pilot to offer coaching to a larger group. 

MMS: How did you socialize the opportunity to be internally Coached?

Client: We launched a Coaching Portal where employees can log in, review coaches bios, as well as their photos and sign up to get coached. The portal explains what the Coaching experience is like and links them up to an internal MMS Trained Coach. We now have certified over 30 coaches globally. This is a small number to support a global company of over 40,000. To ensure that we do not over-promise and under-deliver, we continue to strategically offer coaching to individuals within the various leadership programs.   Additionally, we do not turn away any coachee that connects with a coach via the coaching portal.

MMS: How many employees do you plan on training in the MMS Coaching Methodology?

Client:   The vision is to have all of HR, Entry-Level Managers and Executive Level Individuals trained in the MMS Coaching methodology as well.

We are taking all HR Staff (Leaders, Generalists and HR Operations) through a 3-day MMS Coaching Skills Workshop. We teach them how to have those crucial conversations utilizing the MMS Coaching methodology. We plan on offering at least two coach training certifications per year.

MMS: Why do you find this valuable to your organization overall?

Client: The behaviors that we are teaching our leaders is going to help drive the strategy of the organization; it will ultimately drive the strategy of business under the culture of coaching.

MMS: Why did you choose to partner with MMS to train your internal people on how to Coach? 

Client: I met Dr Cherie Carter-Scott, the founder of MMS through another contact, at a different organization. We instantly connected. I was looking for someone to help me build out our leader’s values and shift the organization’s culture. I brought Cherie on board and what I appreciated and valued about working with MMS was their willingness to develop a program that aligned with the organization’s values and not just providing, “a product off the shelf.” Working with MMS has always been about customizing it to work for the organization. I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of people but when she came along, it was the right fit.

MMS: What unexpected results have you seen, as a result of training your people to Coach?     

Client: The development of relationships amongst individuals; how people have elevated each other. The Coaches are really coming together and supporting one another. This work helps people be feel safe to experience being open and vulnerable. I’ve watched people who were stiff, really open up. I wasn’t expecting that. It has been a positive and surprising result.

MMS: What unexpected results have you seen from the coaching program on those being coached?  

Client: I’m surprised about their willingness to talk about real stuff. Everyone who has been coached internally has felt that the coaching relationship was able to meet or exceed their goals that were set.

 

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