“Don’t mistake activity for achievement.”
– John Wooden
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It’s rare to find a leader in any field who doesn’t rely on a coach for candid feedback, reassurance and advice. Professional athletes, entertainers, CEOs, and others at the top of their game often employ multiple coaches to stay fit and focused.
In a similar manner, coaches can help individual professionals focus on their business development opportunities and challenges, and use their expertise, experience and reputation to attract new work. Unlike group training, individual coaching sessions offer the flexibility and confidentiality to explore many options.
Keys to a successful coaching experience:
The Right Coach
- There are many excellent coaches working with professionals today. Identifying the right coach for your particular situation is the first, and most important, step in the process.
Focused Coaching Sessions
By their nature, coaching sessions are unique in content, but not necessarily in format. Sessions work best when they follow a simple, predictable agenda – completed prior to the session. Here’s a good working example:
- Review past and current business development activities (the “to do” list);
- Add information about – or changes to – each business development situation;
- Explore new opportunities; and
- Agree on actions to be taken prior to the next session.
While all but a few professional service firms recognize that coaching improves individual performance, there can be roadblocks to success. The most common include:
- Lack of enthusiasm for coaching. Coaching ONLY works if the participants are genuinely interested/excited about the process. Remedial coaching for business development rarely (if ever) works.
- Heavy workload. If participants are too busy to focus any time on business development in a meaningful way, coaching sessions will only serve to frustrate.
- Politics – Sometimes issues related to origination credit and compensation can defeat business development incentives and enthusiasm.
We suggest on three, simple success measures:
- Results (credit for new work attributable directly or indirectly to coaching sessions);
- Changes in business development effort (activities by category – firm specific);
- Subjective measure of value to participants.
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