Coaching: It's Not Just For Athletes Anymore!

The good news is that business coaches won't send you to the locker room.

This new breed of coach is fueling the newfound energy in today's business world, helping workers reclaim control of their time, balance personal fulfillment with professional goals, and become more productive.

In stressed out corporate America organizations are lean and today's managers have little time to motivate, train or develop people. The expectation is on employees to succeed, but they are left to their own devices on how to make that happen. While this may seem heartless, it has given rise to a "cottage industry" of coaching. These coaches are often what stand between successful, productive individuals and frustrated, stressed-out and eventually burnt-out employees. Coaching helps managers take the leap to accomplish what they are expected to but have never been trained to do.

The idea of a business coach is not brand new. In fact, top executives have long made use of consultants as a sounding board for ideas, and for guidance. But now, it's not just the top executives that are seeking this counsel. It's workers at all levels of the corporate ladder. Workers are looking outside their company for the mentoring and guidance that they need to succeed.

Coaches wear a lot of different hats: consultant, teacher, manager and more. Personal business coaches serve to guide people to reexamine their goals and values. Owners, leaders, managers and individuals looking to improve their performance and make better decisions, both personally and professionally are turning to coaches.

About to be downsized? Passed over for a promotion? Looking to have an advantage that can save you from being cut and allow you to climb the ladder? Coaches help people get through the huge changes in the way corporate America works and the constant transitions in the workplace, from corporate downsizing to restructuring. For many, the time has come to take personal responsibility for their own growth and development.

A personal business coach is a listener -- someone who hears dreams and goals without judgment. The coach is an experienced outside source to brainstorm with and can encourage clients to become better at what they do, make transitions to new roles, cope with the fierce pace of change, balance their work and personal lives, try a new career, start their own business, reduce stress or surround themselves with supportive people.

A good coach can transform a business and personal life. It's as powerful as that! The coach and the client put a plan into action, with assignments and suggestions as well as plenty of encouragement. The clients who achieve the best results are often those who are frustrated and unhappy enough to make a change and have the commitment to trying different ways of behavior as well as those who are hungry to learn and understand the power of being a continual learner.

When it comes to coaching, three things are very important: goals, commitment and a mood of openness and exploration. People succeed when they have someone they talk to on a regular basis to check on their progress and see how they're doing. Sure, there may be disappointments, but the coach is there to be positive and supportive and review the progress to identify steps to keep the client on the path toward the goal.

Many people find a coach through a referral, from a friend or a colleague who has found had a successful experience. But the field of coaching is wide open and there is not much consensus about what kind of business experience or academic credentials qualifies someone to be an executive coach. Currently, coaches are not licensed and have no required credentials. The choice of a coach, most often made from word of mouth, is a personal choice and when the match is right the end results can be dramatic. Things to ask for are the coach's experience in producing results for people in similar situations, references and writings.

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