BUSINESS PLANS

What Kind of Coach Do You Need?

Coaches will tell you they're as unique as snowflakes. Maybe that's so, but it's also helpful--and pretty easy--to boil them down into four distinct personality types. The challenge is to find the one who best suits your own sensibilities and goals.
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  1. The Best Friend
  2. The promise:
    Best friends provide a shoulder to cry on, listen to your gripes, help you put things in context, and work with you to create strategies for change.

    The reason to hire one:
    You're overwhelmed with your workload and constantly struggling to catch up. You have trouble negotiating interpersonal relationships with staff and often feel isolated from your employees and executive team.

    Watch out for:
    Letting yourself off the hook. A best friend may help you find more excuses than solutions, so if you walk away from coaching sessions always feeling that you're perfect and your problems are everyone else's fault, you probably need to think about finding a new coach who will do a better job of holding you accountable.

  3. The Guru
  4. The promise:
    More than an expert on running a business, the guru is a quasi-spiritual entity with an overarching philosophy on management, leadership, and self-actualization. In some cases, he or she will be armed with books, videos, and seminars they'll encourage you to buy into.

    The reason to hire one:
    You're fine with technical and financial matters, but need a purpose, a motivation to do the difficult things, as well as a psychological framework for making decisions.

    Watch out for:
    Drinking the Kool-Aid. It's easy to get caught up in the cult of personality that most gurus cultivate. Keep your bearings, retain your skepticism, take away what's valuable, and ignore the rest.

  5. The Number Cruncher
  6. The promise:
    Number crunchers go deep into your business, performing quantitative analyses, putting processes under a microscope, and working with you to create by-the-numbers metrics to measure performance and achieve your goals.

    The reason to hire one:
    Interpersonal issues aren't the problem; understanding the nuts and bolts of running your business is. Matters like finance and accounting lead to panic attacks.

    Watch out for:
    Becoming an emotionless drone. Not every challenge can be boiled down to a number. Make sure you use the number cruncher in matters where metrics are helpful and don't apply spreadsheet lessons to the softer side of managing.

  7. The Drill Instructor
  8. The promise:
    A drill instructor will correct your bad habits by getting in your face, establishing strict schedules, and forcing you to stick to them. Expect lots of tough, tough love. Many are former military personnel and athletes.

    The reason to hire one:
    You have goals and objectives, but lack motivation and have trouble sticking to timetables and following through.

    Watch out for:
    Rebellion. Believe it or not, many entrepreneurs really don't like being bossed around--even when they need it and they're paying someone to do it. If you find yourself acting up in ways that would make your teenager proud, either come clean with the drill instructor and get over it or look for a coach that will take a less hard-core approach.

Last updated: Apr 1, 2006




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