In preparation of the biggest mass exit in the U.S. work force (78 million Baby Boomers started leaving our employment last year) boomer executives and other business leaders have the challenge of selecting and developing organizational leaders. They may not understand what makes a leader or what the job entails. They can easily focus on the wrong people for the wrong reasons.
Many fail to recognize that developing other executives is a major part of every leader’s job—and they tend to start the process far too late. They underestimate what it will take for a leader to develop the capabilities to take a complex organization into a future fraught with rapid and destabilizing change.
We leadership coaches can help boards of directors and HR executives sort this leadership development challenge out...to allow for the creation of a tailor-made succession plan for developing leaders within the organization. We also may be called upon to coach boomer professionals through career obstacles and other changes boomers now face: whether looking to get a promotion, strengthen your presence in the boardroom or figure out your next or second career move. "A lot of people are evaluating where they are, where they've been and where they're going," says Andrew Susskind who specializes in coaching baby boomers through career transitions.
Here are six coaching tips to get the coaching relationship off to a good start:
Pick the right coach for you. People usually find the right coach via personal recommendations from friends or associates or by searching online. Ask the coach if he or she has a history of coaching people to successful outcomes that are similar to your biggest challenge. Do an Internet search of the coach's name to learn more about the expertise of the coach.
Talk it out. Have a telephone or face-to-face conversation with the prospective coach to determine if you could easily work with this person and get to where you want to be. Establishing your time commitment and adjusting your schedule from the outset makes the coaching process more manageable.
Get into it. To executives immersed in bottom-line analysis and measurable productivity, talking to a coach about life's lofty ambitions and what's holding you back at work can seem frivolous. But those boomer executives who get the most out of the coaching engagement, engage the most in it.
Manage expectations. It's important to communicate exactly what you expect from the coaching relationship. Get specific about what you expect from your coach and your career.
Clean out your closet. Bring out all your trump cards for the coach to see. Be ready, willing and able to take some self-assessments to really get to know yourself better and how you project your presence to others. It's part of the coach's job to help you become more aware of your assets and where you may have a tendency to shoot yourself in the foot. It's also time to drag the skeletons out of your closet, and any flaws or mistakes that keep repeating in your life or work that hold you back. Working with your coach can help you overcome the challenges that get in the way of achieving what want to achieve.
Locate your supporters. Find people in your life both personally and professionally who would champion your cause through a coaching process. If your boss isn't the type to get on board with executive coaching, you may not want to be open about having a personal coach. However, some organizations may be supportive of your coaching endeavor and could even be open to paying for the coaching services.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2008