Can professional coaching advance your career?

By Rochelle Garner, CIO |  Career

Dotlich himself coaches Bank of America's CIO, formerly CIO of NationsBank. Like
many executives at that rarified plane, Bank of America's CIO declined to comment. But
Dotlich would. When asked the question, "Why is the banking world's leading CIO working
with him?" His answer was straightforward: The better to cope. "The demands coming
their way tend to overwhelm CIOs," says Dotlich, previously executive vice president of
IT vendor Groupe Bull in Paris, and a certified psychologist focused on balancing the
demands of career and life. "For years, CIOs tried to get into the party and now they
are actually hosting the party. They have to look at the needs of the company three to
five years out. Keeping them on that agenda is what coaching is all about."

Choice Is Good

At least, it's what dotlich's brand of coaching is about. Oddly enough, the word
coaching has assumed an almost contradictory hodgepodge of meaning and
practices. "People mix up coaching, mentoring and consulting," says Rich Fettke,
president of Fettke Success Development Group, in Lafayette, Calif., and spokesman for
the International Coach Federation (ICF), the world's largest association of personal
and executive coaches. The differences? According to Fettke, a mentor has the same
business experience as the client. A consultant tells clients how to be more effective.
And a coach works with the client to reveal and build on his or her strengths, improve
performance and enhance quality of life. Today even psychotherapists, escaping the
vicissitudes of managed care providers, are calling themselves coaches.

"Coaches look at the business side and, at the same time, look to see whether
[clients] are working too many hours, examine their time-management effectiveness,
their fitness and their life relationships," says Fettke. "A coach can be skilled at
coaching, but not as experienced as an executive. As a coach, a big part of my job is
to be a resource -- to have an extensive database of people I can refer to, so that I
can call in a mentor when the client needs one."

Clearly, knowing what you want from a coach will determine what coach to hire. To
help potential clients make sense of the coaching mishmash, the ICF has begun a
credentials program. Anyone able to document 750 hours of coaching becomes a
professional certified coach. Those documenting 2,500 hours can be called a master
certified coach. So far, says Fettke, there are over 150 professional coaches and over
150 master coaches in the country.

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