Executive Coaching For Entrepreneurs: Here's How You Can Differentiate Between Corporate Snake Oil And The Real Thing The right coach is an invaluable partner who will help you break through your limitations to achieve your business dreams.

By Kate King

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It seems like every person and their dog have an executive coach right now. Which prompts the question, is executive coaching the latest snake oil, an unwelcome over-spill from the corporate world? Or are you missing a trick, and coaching is a powerful tool for enabling entrepreneurs to achieve their business goals?

Founders are notorious for believing that they can handle everything on their own. Many of us set up businesses precisely because we like to be the one in charge. We shy away from corporate cultures, with their prescriptive human resources (HR) practices, in favor of a light touch approach.

And yet, the responsibility of running a business where the buck stops with us is a heavy weight to carry. There are some very personal consequences of this with which we are familiar (working all hours, losing balance and perspective, self-doubt, and stress), which, if ignored, can lead to burnout.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

As an entrepreneur, you have a great idea and a passion to bring it to the world. To translate your ideas into a successful business takes leadership- both of yourself, and of others. And this is not always something that entrepreneurs naturally excel at. Here are the top five areas that I see entrepreneurs struggle with- and how a coach can help them:

1. Leadership Leading and growing a business is ultimately about getting a team of people to successfully deliver your business at least as well as you would. This means you must be a leader, coach, and developer of teams. A coach can help you to spot where you're hanging on too tight and need to delegate, develop others and build a strong motivational team culture.

2. Decision-making Entrepreneurs must make tough decisions that impact their business's future success daily. A coach can help with analyzing options and consequences to come up with a courageous and well thought-out course of action.

3. Communication To run a successful business you need to be a great communicator who can bring people with you- whether that is your team, investors or customers. A coach can help you with your communication strategy and personal presence to have the right impact.

4. Time management Juggling priorities with too much to do and too little time is the constant refrain of the entrepreneur. A coach can help you prioritize to become more effective and productive, as well as providing accountability for staying on track.

5. Stress management Too many entrepreneurs end up stressed out, with no time for anything outside of the monster business they have created, and ultimately burnt out. A coach can help you to keep perspective and put in robust coping mechanisms to lead your business in a sustainable way.

All coaches will help you set goals for yourself and your business, and diagnose the challenges you face in leading your business to achieve them. They will assist you to prioritize action to focus on the things that will make the difference, and support you to implement these, consistently, and with accountability.

However, the best coaches are also skilled at helping you to up your inner game. They will work with you to shift your limiting beliefs and patterns to see things in a new way, making it easy to change how you lead, and improve the results you get. I call it transforming your inner game for real world results.

So, is it just expensive snake oil? Perhaps surprisingly, I would encourage a wary approach- there are some charlatans out there. Inexperienced coaches who have been leaders or founders themselves, and think that qualifies them to dish out advice willy-nilly, without the proper psychological training to coach people to make effective change.

So, do your research. Find a coach with credible training and experience, both of coaching and of your kind of business situation. Remember, you are one CEO in one business, but an experienced coach brings with them insight from coaching literally hundreds of CEOs in every imaginable business situation.

Also, trust your instincts. The right coach is an invaluable partner who will help you break through your limitations to achieve your business dreams- and it starts with chemistry. So, don't be afraid to ask for a chemistry call to test this out, and be convinced for yourself that this is an approach and an individual that will work for you.

After all, the responsibility rests with you.

Related: Fit For The Future: Wellfit CEO Dr. Dimitri Koutsoubakis Is Leading His UAE-Based Startup To Become The Region's Biggest Fitness Brand

Kate King

Founder, The Transformation Catalysts

Kate has been a master executive and team transformation coach practicing globally for 20+ years at C-suite level across industries. As founder of The Transformation Catalysts, her specialism is facilitating founder-led businesses to get aligned, and develop the leadership they need to create and scale successful, future-focused organisations.

As a team coach, Kate has worked with many executive teams and boards, and coupled with her own executive board experience, understands how to be successful in navigating team dynamics. For the last 16 years, Kate has also been on the Executive Coaching faculty at London Business School, working on leading change and leading businesses into the future programs.

She previously held corporate organization transformation roles, including HR Director and Head of Learning and Executive Development for companies such as Selfridges, TJX Corporation, and Sally Beauty Group. Her clients include Moet Hennessy, Louis Vuitton, Sephora, DFS, Guerlain, Burberry, investment company CEOs at Robeco and Legatum, and senior execs in companies including Phillip Morris, Nestle, Ericsson, Unilever & Kantar.

Kate’s method -"Success Accelerated"- combines an understanding of organization and team dynamics with the ability to facilitate impactful conversations for alignment, change, and accountability leading to the successful creation of business futures. Kate’s passion is helping leaders and teams to make the most of growth opportunities. Having clocked up over 20,000 hours coaching senior leaders and business founders, she has proven frameworks for accelerating success, and a lively, fresh and flexible approach.

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