This week, I’ll be profiling, and answering, what it takes to become a Career/Executive Coach.
What is your current profession:
I am a career and executive coach; as a career coach, I assist individuals who are looking to make improvements in their career, either through finding a new job or a promotion. This could entail helping them to identify their skills, strengths, values, and developing job search strategies, as well as interviewing skills. Often, this also can include helping individuals who want to start their own business. As an executive coach, I work with mid- and senior managers with their performance, which can include communication skills, decision making or negotiating, and just being better leaders overall. Helping them manage the stress of leading and helping them deal with difficult situations are also focus areas.
What led you into this career/profession?
There were several roads I had to take to get to where I am today. I used to be in a mid-level leadership position, and oversaw a particular program where I had to be out with vendors. I was required to have meetings with them, where they basically ‘cornered’ me at one of them and questioned why I was not doing what I did for them and be on my own (they had better insights than I did at that time). I had never thought of working for myself but it really got me thinking. I found the field of coaching and signed up to take courses to become certified; I was also pursuing my doctoral degree. I did a lot of research on the field, wrote up a business plan, and set up a target date that I would leave my job and open my company. I completed my coaching certification and graduate with my Ph. D. close to each other, which was a nice complement.I left my job on a Friday and opened my business on the following Monday, which was 10 years ago this April.
What appealed to you?
I was attracted to this field because it meets my need to help others, but I like the fact that there are many ways to provide coaching, so you reach can be wider in helping more people to live the lives they desire, while earning unlimited income.
What did it take to get into this position?
I took a coaching course, which was six months long. As part of the program, you have to both give and get coaching; once I completed these I earned my certification. I had to determine the niche area to focus on – since I teach a career management course at a university, focusing on careers was an easy choice. Focusing on executive coaching, which entails behaviors, was also easy as I have a social work background and my experience in leadership positions are nice complements. I also teach courses to MBA students, such as organizational development (OB), leadership, change management and a few others, so the knowledge and research I’ve done help in both areas.
What is the best part of your day?
Coaching clients and seeing transformations is exhilarating. Helping people to uncover their skills and realize they have the power to make changes in their lives is very rewarding. I love helping individuals uncover their big ideas and make them a reality. I also would say that the connections I get to make, through networking and association meetings, and even through social media, we as well as having the opportunity to speak and write also make up great days. There are just so many opportunities that make my days successful.
What is the worst part of your day?
Building a business can be hard, as there is marketing that needs to be done, making phone calls, keeping control of finances, etc. These can be outsources but I still need to oversee them. Working with a difficult client can also be very challenging. As I teach also, working to find the balance between that and my business dealings can be frustrating and result in long hours.
What is the average salary and perks of the job?
This is hard to answer, as coaches make their own pricing structure, and it also can depend on which part of the country, or the world, you are from. According to Sherpa Coaching, the average hourly rate for executive coaches can be up to $300; business coaches – $150, and life coaches at $100/hr, but you can charge an amount you feel is comfortable and that you deserve. If a coach offers a program, they can price as little or high as they want. Coaching offers the option to create multiple streams of income and deliver through multiple mediums. There is much written out there on this, such as through the International Coach Federation (ICF) or Sherpa Coaching websites.
How would someone get started in this business?
While it is not necessary to have a certification to be a coach, I would highly recommend enrolling in a coaching school, or taking a program, as you will learn the basics of human behavior and motivation, how to move people through transformation, and how to ask compelling questions to enable a client to get their answers for themselves (which is the premise of coaching). Writing a business and marketing plan will set the tone for a coaching business; you would also need to register your name with your State, and get a business license (all of which are usually under $100). You can set up a website and get business cards, but these are not necessities to finding clients and being successful. I’d suggest looking at your own experiences or background to align with the area of coaching you prefer, such as health, life, business and the like; if you have something you’ve overcome, such as a divorce or losing weight, are good ways to help others overcome them, as well. Once you are set up, I’d recommend finding 100 people to coach, either for free or a fee, to hone your skills. I’d also recommend getting a coach, who can help as you grow and develop your business.
What words of advice and/or recommendations would you give to someone thinking of this profession as a career?
I would tell them to run into this profession, as the possibilities are unlimited. Go to a coaching school to learn how to coach, take some marketing classes, and put yourself out there. Hone your skills to be the best. Don’t worry about what others think or set your bar according to others; be firm in your abilities and surround yourself with others who will support and lift you up. Get yourself a coach who can guide and support you, and hold you accountable to achieve your goals. Don’t be afraid – face any fears you may have and embrace changes you may need to make. Focus on finding your ‘tribe’, or the people who need you, and you will have more happiness and opportunities than you thought possible.