Having a coach was once a sign of weakness in business. But now it is like an athlete using a trainer as reported in the UK Financial Times, January 2020.
New Year is a busy time for Catherine Devitt. “People are thinking, ‘What next?’” she says. Grappling with such existential questions is a fundamental part of her working life, though she is not a religious minister. For the first week in January is when the chief executive of Meyler Campbell, a London-based executive coaching group, receives a surge in the number of inquiries from people requesting a coach.
After all, she says, the festive period is not just a chance to make merry but a rare opportunity to reflect on work, away from the distractions of meetings, bulging inboxes and the constant hum of chatter in open-plan offices.
The role of an executive coach is to help a client achieve professional and personal ambitions by honing their performance. Unlike a mentor, the relationship should be one of equals and involve regular meetings, either in person or by Skype.
Until only a few years ago, it might have been seen by many in the business world as a sign of weakness to be assisted by a coach — an indication that an executive had many challenges that needed to be overcome. But these days, it often indicates a serious corporate player, someone who is valued by their employer — much in the way an elite athlete is honed and sharpened by a personal trainer.
“The surge in executive coaching is also a result of the change in organisations, which have shifted from command-and-control management to flatter hierarchies, demanding greater entrepreneurialism, innovation and autonomy from its workers.”