I’m the first to admit that I am not a natural athlete, and do not have the skill nor mental capacity to run a marathon. Every day, in discussions with those I work with I hear talk of ‘going the distance ’ the ‘need to get moving’ and ‘stepping ahead’. These conversations are nothing to do with exercising or sport, they are about career aspirations. Some of the people I work with have career trajectories clearly focussed on getting to ‘C level’ positions, be that CEO, CIO, CFO or any Executive level role. This desire to succeed is admirable and one I feel should be encouraged. Others who have reached this level and are often looking for their next opportunity – and in so many situations, this next step can be challenging and will sometimes take a clever strategy to achieve.
I also speak with people who haven’t made it to their ultimate position and who now doubt themselves and question whether they have the resilience and drive to make it to the top.
Let’s face it not everyone can get to the tip of the career hierarchy. It’s not possible for everyone. However, if you haven’t reached the level you feel you should be at, or if you feel you’re not being considered for roles you believe you could excel in, don’t give up – perhaps it’s time to investigate career coaching.
Using the sporting analogy once again – if you want to run a marathon an athletic coach can help. The first thing they will do is check that you are actually able to run the marathon. In your career this would mean you need to make sure you actually want the responsibility and pressure of a ‘C level’ or senior position and have the necessary skills and attributes to be successful.
An athletic coach will then set up a training plan for you. In your career this would mean you would plan out the type of experience you want to get & skills you want to acquire. The athletic training plan would have a variety of exercises to work every part of your body. In your career that would mean behaving in new ways and gaining the appropriate experience or qualifications to improve your prospects of success.
So what else can a career coach do for you? They may be able to help you identify ‘derailing’ behaviour that’s holding you back. They may also help you identify hidden talents or skills that will help you move forward. They can also act as a sounding board and challenge your thinking.
Many of us have at least 40 years from when we start working until we retire. That’s a long time! Whilst I’ve never actually run a marathon, I do know that to make it to the finish you need to pace yourself. Similarly, your career is not always a sprint, sometimes it’s a marathon and to help you reach the finish line, you may need the services of a great coach.
Here are my 5 top tips on finding and utilising the services of a career coach:
- Do some research, ensure the career coach you choose has had success working with someone like you before.
- Ensure your coach has appropriate qualifications.
- Don’t sign up to a long coaching block or program. Try a couple of coaching sessions first to ensure you are receiving benefit.
- If you don’t feel like you’re getting results, don’t be afraid to find another coach.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even superstar athletes have coaches.
Written by June Parker, June is an ICF, and CDAA accredited career and executive coach.