Executive coaching is an increasingly popular method that organizations use to build the professional capabilities and leadership skills of their employees.

In the past, there was some skepticisim about coaching, because people assumed that it was remedial in nature. Why should someone get a coach unless he or she had some kind of deficiency?

However, since several CEOs, including the leaders of Dell Computer, Pfizer and Charles Schwab, have gone public with the fact that they had been coached, and had benefited from coaching, there is now a much more positive spin on coaching.

If your boss asks you to get coaching, it is helpful to understand what the basic process of coaching is. The first thing to clarify is what the goals of the coaching are, and what the logistics will be.

It is also important to clarify the degree and kind of confidentiality in the coaching, and I recommend that coaches not only insist on confidentiality, but also avoid the role of evaluator, messenger or advocate. 

Coaching can actually be harmful rather than helpful if coaches' roles are not specified, or if coaches do not have the necessary knowledge or preparation to assist a client.

The coaching process coaching begins with an assessment of your strengths and development needs, and can include "360 degree feedback" and/or personality tests. You then work with the coach to develop and implement a plan for building on your strengths and addressing your development areas.

Executive coaching should be seen as a positive thing—your organization believes enough in your talents and abilities to make an investment in helping you improve your game. By working with you to help you clarify your goals and think creatively about how to go about achieving them, an executive coach can help you accelerate your career development.

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