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When to Hire An Executive Career Coach: One Leader’s Journey to Decide

The option to hire an executive career coach wasn’t even on my radar.  Until I unexpectedly became a team manager. Our prior manager had left the company on short notice, and we were in shock. More surprising was the news that I’d be taking her place. It was the first I’d heard of it. Until then, I’d been a writer, working alongside UX designers, researchers, and technologists at a large, multinational tech company. I enjoyed my role and wasn’t looking for a change. Life had other ideas.

I was parachuted into new territory, besieged by demanding obligations on all sides: deliver key initiatives, build morale, mediate conflicts, advocate for resources, liaise with senior leadership. So much for being an introvert.

Our team was relatively new, and still proving our value to the company. If we stopped delivering impactful work, we didn’t know what our fate would be. People were counting on me, and I wanted to fill the leadership gap. But I felt unprepared. As I thought about where to turn, my mind went in many directions.

If you’re also at a crossroads, and wondering what route to take, here are the options I considered, why I chose to hire an executive career coach, and how the results went way beyond my expectations.

Seeking a mentor

My first instinct was to find a mentor, someone who’d have words of wisdom for every challenge that crossed my path, someone who can help me develop the skills of a leader. With growing self-doubt, I craved immediate insights so I wouldn’t let anyone down as I navigated the steep learning curves ahead.

I wasn’t sure where to find this savior on short notice though. And I didn’t want to request too much of someone’s time. Sure, I could (and did) get help from other managers, and it was always useful. But what I really needed was ongoing, consistent, long-term support, beyond what a mentor could provide.

Going it alone, DIY-style

There’s no shortage of content on leadership and management. If you’re someone who likes to research, this is a tempting option. On the surface, it seems convenient to go at your own pace, picking and choosing where to focus.

The hitch? Diving into this bottomless well of information gets exhausting. Team culture, operations, planning, performance, feedback & coaching, hiring, and on and on. Some of it wasn’t applicable right away…but surely it would be in the future! Keeping track of it all became another item on my already long to-do list.

In the meantime, I was still on my own, trying to apply theoretical best practices to the messiness of everyday life. I was gaining knowledge, but not clarity.

Searching for community

After trying to learn on my own, I swerved back to wanting personal support. Live classes seemed like a promising route, so I researched relevant courses that offered expert guidance along with a community of peers.

Still, I hesitated. I wondered if the curriculum would be tailored enough to the crises I was dealing with in-the-moment, and if the timing would fit into my schedule. Plus, there was a concern in the back of my mind that I couldn’t put my finger on yet.

Understanding the benefit of executive career coaching (after first dismissing it)

When I first thought about the option to hire an executive career coach, it didn’t seem to match my objective. In my state of overwhelm, I was hoping for quick relief from crises-of-the-week, not deeper introspection that would entail a slower path.

And yet, as I met prospective coaches, they asked questions that prompted me to reassess what I was searching for. I realized I’d been defining success through other people’s expectations (or at least, what I assumed them to be). In that lofty vision, I was guiding the team toward a North Star, smashing our goals, and dialing up our positive impact.

Missing from that vision was the question: “what do I want, for myself?” None of the solutions I’d looked at so far felt right because I was trying to solve the wrong problem. That’s when I made the decision to hire an executive career coach, so I could untangle the threads.

Although the leap to manager life wasn’t planned, I could be intentional about how I approached it and what came next. That meant slowing down rather than rushing full speed ahead in a reactive state. I couldn’t plot my route before I knew where I was going. If that resonates with you too, I’d recommend pausing to reconsider what questions you might be missing.

Getting started & building confidence

Amy was highly recommended by a former coach I’d worked with. In our first call, she asked perceptive questions, identified the most pressing issues, and outlined a path forward. She was also the one person who read between the lines of my leadership request. This filled me with a sense of relief and clarity. It was a process I could commit to because it took into account needs I hadn’t yet articulated, even to myself.

After I signed up, we got to work. Whatever I was trying to solve, Amy provided fresh ideas and feedback that shifted my perspective. With each challenge, things got easier to handle. I learned to play to my strengths and define my own style, without comparing myself to others.

Going deeper & looking inward

What started as leadership coaching transitioned into much more. Amy saw that the goals I’d put forward didn’t reflect my true needs. With her prompting, new questions surfaced: What was meaningful to me? Was I on the right path to get there?

As I developed more control over my schedule, space opened up for deeper reflection. Through exercises and activities, Amy guided me to investigate new possibilities, counter limiting beliefs, and distinguish a “yes” from a “no.” It wasn’t easy. Along the way, I got stuck in dead ends. Multiple times. But Amy was my secret weapon. At each impasse, she asked probing questions that expanded my horizon and led me past resistance.

Breakthrough

Today I’m in a much different place. Unexpected answers arrived once I ventured beyond my perceived limits. It’s not what I imagined when I embarked on a quest for advice. I’m grateful that in addition to building leadership skills, we explored the richer path of unknowns. For the first time in ages, I’ve chosen my next direction, rather than letting others decide for me, and I’m excited for what’s next. Amy gave me the courage to make big changes I never would have considered before I met her.

Could an executive career coach help you?

If you’re a leader who’s feeling stuck, I’d highly recommend working with executive career coach Amy Sanchez. You’ll grow in ways you can’t yet envision and emerge with wisdom, confidence, and a plan.

Bravely written by Sara T., Former Head of Global UX Studio at a large, multinational tech company


Want to learn more about what an executive career coach does? Click here.

If you’re ready to make lasting changes that will positively impact your life and career, then apply for a call today to see if Amy Sanchez is the right executive career coach for you.

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