When Shelley Pierce Stronczer left a large, national law firm to start her own enterprise, she knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Yes, she was gaining autonomy, but she was also losing access to the innumerable resources available at the corporate behemoth.
“The challenge was to provide employers the kind of quality legal services they received from me while I was at the large firm,” she says. Or, to put it more succinctly, “to make more out of less.”
To do that, Stronczer enlisted the help of an executive coach.
“I have a long-standing client who has used an executive coach for years, and I was impressed with the results that, that client got,” she says. “I wanted to achieve those results in my own new business ... so I sought out executive coaching.”
Executive coaches are facilitators who work with senior-level executives to foster growth and development. Although the duration of training varies depending on the client, most coaches spend six months helping executives become more self-aware and implement constructive habits into their daily management practices.
Before you turn inward to analyze your own behavior, though, Stronczer says you should first turn outward to vet potential coaching candidates.
“When you look for an executive coach, you’re going to need to look for someone who’s got experience, not only as an executive coach but also in the world,” she says. “My executive coach had experience in law firms and in corporations.
That’s really valuable in an executive coach someone who can understand your structure and those folks who you’re trying to serve.”
You should also determine what you want out of the experience before going into it. Stronczer, for example, wanted to better identify her strengths and the strengths of her fellow attorneys to run a more efficient firm.
It wasn’t simply her way or the highway, though. When you first begin working with your coach, she says, you must also discuss what the process can actually do for you. Goals that were unrealistic when you began may evolve into more realistic goals as you and your coach identify your strengths and weakness as an executive.
Once your goals are set, coaches will typically spend the first three months helping you become more aware of your communication style, learning style and strengths through regular correspondence. During the last three months, sessions become far less frequent as you begin to apply what you’ve learned.
To make the most out of the experience no matter what stage of the training process you’re in, Stronczer says to make it a priority.
“You’ve got to be committed,” she says. “If you just spend a little session with your coach and you say, ‘I’m done for the week on that,’ it’s not going to help. You’ve got to exercise it.”
At the same time, the experience should never become overwhelming. The process doesn’t require a huge extracurricular commitment of time, Stronczer says. Instead, it’s something you incorporate into your daily routine and thus is “surprisingly not as much outof-pocket time as you’d think.”
When it’s all said and done, executive coaching is less a measure of time and more a measure of progress. By diligently implementing the lessons you’ve learned, the benefits you reap should far exceed the hours you sacrifice.
“Through coaching, I’ve been more effective at understanding my strengths and how my staff and I can both effectively interact with each other to provide that kind of quality legal advice and litigation defense to our clients in the way they deserve and want,” Stronczer says.
“It really doesn’t matter what your industry is. Executive coaching is very valuable tool to give you the advantage to be the best at whatever you are.”
HOW TO REACH: Pierce Stronczer Law LLC, (440) 526-2211 or www.discoverpslaw.com
In order to succeed, a relationship with an executive coach must be built on trust.
So when Shelley Pierce Stronczer, founding member, Pierce Stronczer Law LLC, was looking for someone to guide her experience, she turned to Vivian Kist, chief learning officer and senior executive coach at Baker & Daboll LLC, an executive coaching firm.
This was not the first time the pair had teamed up; they had worked together years ago at another firm and had already established a healthy rapport.
Not everyone will be fortunate enough to have that established relationship to draw on. So to help choose the coach that best complements you and your goals, Kist says you need to speak with a number of candidates and not just settle on the first option you come across.
To find an executive coach who meets your needs:
- Look for experience. “The coach should have had some experience or expertise in supporting and helping others,” Kist says.
- Make sure the potential coach understands your goals. “There should be some discussion around what you’re trying to achieve,” Kist says. “Does the coach appear to understand that to a level that you feel you can work with them?”
- Go with your gut. “The third thing is just really a personality connection,” she says. “When we interview people, usually they and we know fairly quickly I’d say within the first half hour of talking to them whether this is really going to work or not.”
HOW TO REACH: Baker & Daboll LLC, (513) 339-1007 or www.bakerdaboll.com