FROM THE WABC PRESIDENT / CEO
What the World Needs Now... (Part 3 of 4)
By Wendy Johnson

In the previous two articles of this four-part series, I highlighted the increasing worldwide influence of business and the impact of globalization on current and future business practices. 

In this issue, I address the role of Business Coaching in response to those forces. Although these issues are not entirely new--surely many Westerners were a bit disheveled when trade routes were opened to the East centuries ago--what's important to understand is the pace of these advancements and the impact they have on individuals. 

So, how can a business coach make a difference?

  • Business coaches facilitate strategic thinking. Business coaching is the strategic arm in a three-pronged business support system, along with outside legal and financial advisors. Businesses and individuals in today's competitive marketplace have little margin for error in decision making. This fast-paced environment increases the necessity for strategic thinking to keep individuals and organizations moving into the future with focus and precision.
     
  • Business coaches encourage critical thinking. Leaders who engage business coaches use them as sounding boards as well as "personal business partners." Business coaches differ from consultants in that their purpose is not to "fix" a particular issue in which they have specific expertise, but rather to engage the individuals within the organization and facilitate sustainable solutions that impact the whole business.
     
  • Business coaches listen and ask powerful questions. Professional protocol often inhibits individuals within an organization from challenging or "bouncing ideas" off one another, especially in a direct reporting structure. CEOs and senior executives expect ideas to be presented when they're "complete," not "in progress." Yet direct reports have few resources to help them develop ideas, particularly in a competitive work environment. Likewise, direct reports expect CEOs and senior executives to provide direction and solutions, rather than to vacillate or "think out loud." Because business coaches have no vested interest other than their clients' success, they provide a safe and professional environment for individuals to develop, plan, and polish their ideas.
     
  • Business coaches facilitate change. One generation ago, it was common for an employee to stay with one employer for an entire career. It was also common for businesses to have a steady, loyal customer base, and for businesses in turn to stay loyal and committed to dependable vendors. Today, however, none of those norms are true. Employees change frequently. Customer loyalty is rarely exclusive. Vendors are asked to submit new contracts each year to simply maintain their current client base. Business coaches work with individuals and teams to manage the impact of constant and rapid change.
     
  • Business coaches help assimilate information. Progressive theorists suggest that we are moving out of the information age and into the knowledge age, where the emphasis will not simply be on how much information one has, but on how well that information is assimilated. Business coaches help individuals stay focused on their values and goals so that they can rapidly filter information and act on what is in alignment with their overall objectives.
     
  • Business coaches promote balance. Businesses cannot be resilient if their people are not resilient. Human resource and organizational development professionals have documented well the impact of personal development on professional productivity. Business coaches work with individuals to identify personal values, purpose, and future goals, and then motivate them to integrate those into their professional lives. In a rapidly changing environment, people often put personal needs on hold "until they get through this bump"; however, rapid change means frequent bumps. Individuals not consciously managing their personal growth become resentful, frustrated, and unproductive.

I remember a commercial a few years ago that so accurately depicts the needs of individuals in our fast-paced era of business globalization. The commercial was one in which a driver pulled up to a service window and ordered "more time." In an environment where people are pushed to perform consistently at peak levels, under constant change and intense competition, business coaching in essence gives you "more time."

 
Wendy Johnson, MA, CEC, CMC is the full-time president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC). Johnson's vision is a business coach working with every business, organization and government. Learn more about WABC at http://www.wabccoaches.com. Wendy may be reached by email at presceo@wabccoaches.com.

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