IT careers: Do you need an executive coach?
CEOs have long used executive coaches to take their leadership to the next level. Now IT pros are following suit.
Computerworld - IT director Karriem Shakoor noticed a trend among high-performing athletes: They all had personal performance coaches. It made him wonder: Should he get a coach to up his professional game?
His own boss supported the idea, and his research showed that many CEOs hire executive coaches. So Shakoor, who has worked in IT since 1991, hired a coach to help him take his leadership skills to the next level.
"I felt that in order for me to really assess my strengths and weaknesses, I had to engage with a coach who could step back to observe me, provide feedback and then help me tweak my performance," says Shakoor, who, as the senior director of IT shared services at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, manages eight direct reports and just over 300 full-time employees.
Shakoor started meeting with coach John Baldoni in 2009 for scheduled face-to-face meetings, interspersed with phone calls to discuss additional topics as they arose. A coach, he says, is different from a mentor or a boss. "What he really is, is a person who has an understanding of my strengths and weaknesses and how they translate into my style as a leader."
The initial goal was for Shakoor to improve his executive presence and executive style. Even though a six-month assessment showed he had indeed improved in those areas, based on feedback from company executives, Shakoor continues to meet with Baldoni for an hour every month or two as he aims to earn a CIO position in the future.
Shakoor can't point to any one work situation where coaching helped him score rather than strike out; rather, it's his overall ability to assess and successfully navigate various management challenges that's improved. "As an executive in a very fast-paced, demanding field, I view myself as an athlete, and having a coach who keeps me well-tuned as a corporate athlete has been a great benefit," he says.
Could a coach do the same for you?
Typically, IT professionals haven't engaged such services at the same pace as other senior managers, say coaches, CIOs and other corporate leaders. But that is changing as tech executives -- and their companies -- see that IT can gain as much from coaching as the others in the C suite. In fact, IT leaders may even benefit more, particularly those who rise through the ranks on the strength of their technical expertise rather than their management experience.
The good news: As CIO demand for coaching services increases, they're able to engage coaches who have experience in either IT management or coaching IT leaders, further bringing value to the service, says Suzanne Fairlie, the founder and president of national executive staffing firm ProSearch in Ambler, Pa., who frequently recommends coaching to CIOs.
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity...
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users? All IT Careers White Papers | Webcasts
Our 28th annual survey results show which IT skills are in high demand and which are cooling off. Also, see how your salary stacks up to peers' with our Smart Salary Tool.