Getting Your Game On - Page 1

Oct 19, 2004

David Southgate

In the eyes of their superiors and teams, IT leaders must be infallible, with little room for doubt, error, or hesitation.

Yet IT executives may not always be as comfortable or confident as they would like (or seem) to be when facing new challenges. And the higher one climbs in an organization, the fewer people IT executives have to turn to for leadership strategies or management ideas.

To shore up confidence and move quickly and decisively, an IT executive may decide to solicit assistance from a specific kind of external management consultant, the executive coach.

Coaches can help executives track a course for building short- and long-term value within an organization, provide tips on evaluating staff, and be a sounding board for managerial challenges; really anything that will help an executive perform better on the job.

Do I Need a Coach?

While executive coaches aren't cut out for teaching IT leaders bona fide managerial skills, such as the ins and outs of budgeting and strategic planning, there are particular situations for which a coach may be appropriate.

IT executives facing any of the following situations might consider looking for a coach:

  • If you are new to the organization or the job and you want to chart a course for success for the first 100 days.
  • If you find yourself treading in uncharted waters following a re-organization.
  • If you see a particularly difficult set of circumstances, sinking employee moral for instance, and want a fresh take at turning things around.
  • If you are concerned about job performance and want strategies for improvement.
  • Take Glenn Schentag, an executive coach in Vancouver, British Columbia and a former vice president of IT at Voyus Canada, for example.

    In the late 1990s he sought out a coach for some career guidance. In the process, he told his coach he had distaste for the human resource/administrative aspects of his job. But he quickly learned with the help of his coach that he was actually very good at the human side of technology management. He just lacked confidence in his ability.

    "Truth of the matter was that I loved HR once I established a confidence level in what I didn't like," said Schentag. The discovery eventually led Schentag to pursue coaching as a career.

    Not all coaches are created equal, though, so selecting the right coach can be as tricky as hiring a new key employee.

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