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Coaching is a customized one-to-one business that usually either focuses on the development of executives or helps individuals discover their career aptitudes. Coaches may use standardized tests or inventories such as DISC or Myers-Briggs to assess personality or determine general career aptitude or may develop their own proprietary tools. In any case, coaching usually begins with some type of assessment inventory to establish an understanding of the individual's personality profile and or fitness for a variety of careers. Executive coaches usually perform 360 degree interviews (above - parallel - and below) with others to gain a clearer understanding of the evolving issues or untapped opportunities the person being coached is dealing with. Results are shared with the person being coached and together with the coach a plan of action is developed to lead the individual to a more successful career or working relationship with others.

Building a successful coaching business

The only real barrier to entering the executive coaching business is a successful track record in business. This usually means that the coach will have at least 20-25 years experience in business or similar tenure teaching business at a major university. Coaches typically enjoy giving advice, have exceptional interpersonal skills, and firm mental models of successful behaviors in a wide variety of situations. Coaches should be up-to-date on the latest best selling books in their field not only to be aware of how other coaches deal with situations and personalities but to be able to defend why they are or are not using specific techniques that the person being coached knows about.

Getting started in the coaching business is usually a word-of-mouth process involving letting friends and past business associates know that you are in the business. Developing a new assessment tool or a unique approach can help. Initial engagements may be offered a little or no charge to gain experience and develop a group of satisfied clients who will later recommend the coach to others. A website might bring in the occasional client but word-of-mouth referrals will make up the vast majority of your coaching business. Some have found success by writing and publishing a book that helps individuals coach or assess themselves. This can lead to speaking engagements (paid or unpaid) that further enhance the coach's credibility.


Coaching Organization Members - Carter McNamara's page on developing a coaching business. Site contains lots of good advice and links.

International Association of Coaches - Offers a certification program for coaches.

Some who do it well:

being@work - Detroit, Michigan - Company offers carrier guidance counseling as well as executive coaching.

SpectraComm - Dallas, Texas - offers "Coach for Success" program to help employees produce desired results faster as well as Leadership Coaching.

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