5 Ways to Get Ahead as a Coach!

5 Ways to Get Ahead as a Coach!

Advice for Coaches

by Marshall Goldsmith

In a recent blog, I shared the “#1 greatest lesson for executive coaches” – to get over our own egos. To make the coaching about our clients, not about ourselves. If you took this advice to heart and are applying it, you are on your way to being a great coach!

There’s another piece of advice I have for you that is critical to being a successful executive coach. Get ready, this is going to sound a little harsh. Most of the executive coaches I meet are great coaches and horrible business people! They have no understanding of the business side of coaching. Additionally, they believe that because they are a good coach, clients will just come to them. This just isn’t so!

In order to have a successful and satisfying career in executive coaching, you’ve got to understand the business side of coaching (or you’ve got to partner with someone who does) and you’ve got to market yourself.

Below are five suggestions for you as you build your coaching business. Please post your comments, tips, and suggestions to this blog on my LinkedIn page. I would love to hear how you promote and manage your coaching business!

  1. Gain a thorough understanding of how the business runs. Take classes in business to help you further your knowledge. As I said, most of the coaches I meet are great coaches, but they lack general business knowledge. For instance, do you have a basic understanding of business terms like, revenue, cash flow, and profitability?

  2. Find the right reporting tools for your executive coaching business. These tools generate hard numbers, such as how many leads were brought in and how many of those leads were converted into clients.

  3. Find your own market niche. Work to develop a special competency that differentiates you from everyone else. Look for market needs that everyone else may not have considered. Ask yourself: What should be done that isn’t being done?

  4. Become a world expert. As intimidating as this sounds, achieving serious “world-class” expertise may not be as daunting as you might believe. If you pick a reasonably narrow area of specialization, focus on it, and learn as much as you can, you will start to accumulate immense knowledge within a few years. While you can never become the world authority on everything, you can definitely become a world authority on one thing.

  5. Build your own brand. Peter Drucker once told me that companies should be able to “put their mission statement on a T-shirt.” The same can be true for individual coaches. For example, my own mission is to be the world authority in helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting change in behavior. Your customers (or employers) will respect you more if you do not pretend to know everything about everything but instead have a unique brand.

Keep in mind that as the pool of talented executive coaches grows, it’s only going to get tougher out there. Make peace with this reality, learn the business side of coaching, market yourself, and your career as a coach is going to be a lot more successful!
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith was selected as the #1 Executive Coach in the World by GlobalGurus.org, and one of the 10 Most Influential Management Thinkers in the World by Thinkers50 in both 2011 and 2013. He was also selected as the World’s Most Influential Leadership Thinker in 2011. Marshall was the highest rated executive coach on the Thinkers50 List in both 2011 and 2013. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There was listed as a top ten business bestseller for 2013 by INC Magazine / 800 CEO Read (for the seventh consecutive year). Marshall’s exciting new research on engagement is published in his newest book Triggers (Crown, 2015).

Please order Triggers!

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Marshall Goldsmith On Triggers: Part 3

Finally just around the corner (May 19) is the publication of my new book Triggers! In this series of blogs, I’m very excited to share with you many of the ideas, research, and knowledge that have gone into creating this new work.

Pre-order now: http://www.triggersthebook.com

Do you think Triggers will change people’s lives?

The sole purpose of this book is to help you become the person you want to be, to help you change your life. In Triggers, I won’t tell you who you should want to be. I won’t judge you or tell you who should become.

I will tell you why we don’t become the people we want to be. And, I do this for the sole purpose of helping you become the person you want to be. For instance, I explore the Two Immutable Truths of Behavioral Change. These will stop change in its tracks!

How do triggers work?

Belief triggers stop behavioral change in its tracks. Even when the individual and societal benefits of changing a specific behavior are indisputable, we are geniuses at inventing reasons to avoid change. It is much easier, and more fun, to attack the strategy of the person who’s trying to help than to try to solve the problem.

We fall back on a set of beliefs that trigger denial, resistance. and ultimately self-delusion. They sabotage lasting change by canceling its possibility. We employ these beliefs as articles of faith to justify our inaction and then wish away the result. These are called belief triggers and a few of them (there are many!) include:

 ‘I have willpower and won’t give in to temptation.’

 ‘Today is a special day.’

 ‘At least I’m better than…’

The environment also triggers us. Most of us go through life unaware of how our environment shapes our behavior. When we experience “road rage” on a crowded freeway, it’s not because we’re sociopathic monsters. It’s because the temporary condition of being behind the wheel of a car, surrounded by rude, impatient drivers, triggers a change in our otherwise friendly demeanor. We’ve unwittingly placed ourselves in an environment of impatience, competitiveness, and hostility—and it alters us.

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Two Words that Will Kill Any Conversation

It doesn’t matter how friendly your tone is or how honey sweet you’re in a conversation and you start your sentences with one of these words (or both), the message to your recipient is “You are wrong.”

What are these conversation stopping words? They are “No” and “But.”

These words don’t say, “Let’s discuss this” or “I’d love to hear what you think about this” to people. They say, unequivocally, “You are wrong and I am right.” If your conversation companion is also dedicated to his need to win at any cost, you will have a potential battle on your hands. The result? Nothing more can happen that will be productive.

Are you interested in a little test to see how competitive your co-workers are? Try this. For one week, keep a scorecard of how many times each person uses “no” or “but” to start a sentence. You will be shocked at how frequently these words are used. And, if you drill a little deeper, you’ll see patterns emerge. For instance, some people use these words to gain power. You’ll see how much people resent it, consciously or not, and how it stifles rather than opens up discussions.

I use this technique with my clients. Practically without even thinking, I keep count of their use of these two little words. It’s such an important indicator! If the numbers pile up in an initial meeting with a client, I’ll interrupt him or her and say, “We’ve been talking for almost an hour now, and do you realize that you have responded 17 times with either no or but?” This is the moment when a serious talk about changing behavior begins.

If this is your interpersonal challenge, you can do this little test for yourself just as easily as you can to gauge your co-workers. Stop trying to defend your position and start monitoring how many times you begin remarks with “no” or “but.” Pay close attention to when you use these words in sentences. For example, “That’s true, but…” (Meaning: You don’t really think it’s true at all.) Another oldie but goodie is “Yes, but…” (Meaning: Prepare to be contradicted.)

Along with self-monitoring your behavior, you can also easily monetize the solution to this annoying behavior to help yourself stop. Ask a friend or colleague to charge you money every time you say, “no” or “but.” Once you appreciate how guilty you’ve been, maybe then you’ll begin to change your “winning” ways!

In the series of video blogs that accompany these articles, I’ve been interviewed by Nathan Lyons. Nathan is a high potential from Gen Y who sought my insights on a number of topics from my book Triggers with the critically important angle of “advice I might provide to the younger generations”. I’m excited to share this series of short interviews with you and of course I hope you enjoy my written thoughts on the topics as well!

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith was selected as the #1 Executive Coach in the World by GlobalGurus.org, and one of the 10 Most Influential Management Thinkers in the World by Thinkers50 in both 2011 and 2013. He was also selected as the World’s Most Influential Leadership Thinker in 2011. Marshall was the highest rated executive coach on the Thinkers50 List in both 2011 and 2013. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There was listed as a top ten business bestseller for 2013 by INC Magazine / 800 CEO Read (for the seventh consecutive year). Marshall’s exciting new research on engagement is published in his newest book Triggers (Crown, 2015).

Please order Triggers!

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