Such was the case for Deborah Coleman, who took the helm of Merix Corp., a maker of advanced electronics, in 1994. So intent on self-improvement that she printed her weaknesses on flash cards, Coleman hired a helper, whom she started calling “coach.”
The label stuck. Her newly ordained coach, Kay Stepp, excelled at helping leaders find their blind spots, i.e. becoming more aware of their own behavior. Many, Stepp says, become extremely skilled at understanding their markets, products and companies … but not themselves.
At the time, Coleman’s numbers were dropping and her board was critical. She had an assistant print her e-mail and admitted to being a technophobe. What’s more, she became aware that she lost her temper too much, hid in her office and tended to meet with people individually when she should have brought in a group. Coaching helped her curb those habits.
“You have to be open to understanding your limitations,” she says. “If you are, a coach can make much more of a difference than an MBA.”
Bottom line: Now that the initial craze for executive coaches has waned, you can find a seasoned coach more easily. Visit Coach University at www.coachu.com or the International Coaching Federation at www.coachfederation.org.
—Adapted from “The Zero-Defect CEO,” Joshua Hyatt, www.inc.com, Grunar + Jahr USA Publishing.
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