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The Challenges Facing Contemporary Professional Coaches and Their Clients

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Serving as an organizational coach, I met over lunch recently with a client who has just moved into a position of leadership in his high tech corporation. Robert is now Vice President of Human Resource Development, having previously served as director of his corporation’s “Leadership Academy.” Robert must now learn about HR policy formation, compensation, employee assistance programs, employee recruitment and retention –even how to organize the annual summer picnic for his organization! This is a steep learning curve for Robert. While he is excited about the challenges inherent in this expanded role, Robert is also concerned about the sense of over-whelm in his work life. He met with me to help him design and initiate a new high potential program—but our luncheon turned into a wide-ranging and often profound conversation.

I had a similar meeting in the office of a chief executive officer in a major health care system in the United States. Susan was confronting profound changes in American health care during the second decade of this Century. None of the old rules still applied and her own role as a leader in her organization is changing. She has to balance off the commitment to quality and affordable health care with the economics of the health care marketplace.  Like Robert, Susan is facing a steep learning curve and my coaching with Susan has to do with the nature and dynamics of this learning curve, rather than the content of the learning that needs to take place. Susan is much older than Robert and has faced many more challenges in her life than Robert –yet both of these leaders are anxious about their current situation.

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