Michael Shapiro


722 Sherman Avenue, #1
Evanston, IL 60202
© 2006-2016 Dynamic Management Solutions, Inc.


Is it Management Consulting or Executive Coaching?

2. Coaching is tailored to the individual
Good executive coaches don't offer off-the-shelf solutions, Shapiro asserts.

“Each client offers a unique combination of personality, situation, challenges and needs,” Shapiro says. “Taken in sum, these factors provide the road map for the coaching agenda. My goal is to help clients achieve their goals.”

“Some clients respond well to direct questioning and a directive approach,” Shapiro explains. “They prefer a pragmatic structure such as: ‘This is what you need to do.’ Other clients prefer arriving at their own conclusions and require a different approach. I base my coaching style on my clients' style of learning as well as the situation. There's no right or wrong way to learn something. Each person learns in a slightly different way. During the assessment phase of our relationship, we discuss the client's learning style and what kind of coaching style works best.”

3. Coaching is goal-oriented
“Coaching isn't about fixing what is broken,” Shapiro says. “It's about enhancing something that already works. Successful people are motivated by goals.”

Goals drive the executive coaching relationship, he says.

“We always have a goal to address,” Shapiro says. “Depending on the situation, it may be the company's goal or the individual's. If I'm hired by a company to work with employees, we’re working together with a focus on the company’s goals. In that case, we work to align the person's skills and strengths to achieve the organization's goals.”

However, many executives come to Shapiro themselves to work on their individual goals.

“Many business leaders come to me to work on a variety of business-related 'soft' skills,” Shapiro says. “These can range from leadership styles to communication skills. Leaders may find that the entrepreneurial skill-set that helped them launch their company several years ago doesn't work as well now that the company is larger and more diverse. Companies have a life cycle just as people do, and leaders need to cultivate different skills at different stages.”

No matter which goals he's working on with clients, Shapiro's first step is to ask five basic questions:
• Why is the executive there?
• What does the executive want to accomplish or what does the company want the executive to accomplish?
• What is the time frame to accomplish the goal?
• What resources does the executive or the company have to accomplish the goal?
• Does the executive have the commitment to accomplish the goal?

“Based on the answers to these questions, the client and I negotiate our working contract,” Shapiro says. “In an organization, maybe the client has been asked to resolve some difficulties working with a colleague, a peer, a supervisor, an employee or even the executive's own business partner. Whatever we discuss in executive coaching, we've got a specific goal to address.”

Because executive coaching is about improving skills, Shapiro finds that many companies offer coaching only to their top-tier employees.

“Offering top professionals the opportunity to work with an executive coach is proof that the company wants to invest in their potential in the organization,” Shapiro says. “Five or ten years ago, that concept was revolutionary. Today, it can be something of a status symbol and often comes as part of the benefits package for senior positions.”

4. Coaching helps executives discover their potential
“Desire is not the only component needed for success,” Shapiro says. “If it was, I could compete at the Olympics. In combination with desire, successful executives need potential. What I do is help people gain a clearer understanding and awareness of their potential and how that potential is related to their goals.”

Shapiro also believes that an executive coach can act as a trusted advisor.

“My approach is client-centered,” he notes. “The executive coaching relationship is not about what I need or want. It's about what the client wants. Many busy executives and entrepreneurs use me as a sounding board because I'm someone without a vested interest. In many cases, employees, family members or business partners are not impartial where the business is concerned. My interest is in my client's success.”

5. Coaching can facilitate change
If the client is open to it, Shapiro says, coaching can facilitate change.
“Coaching provides a fertile environment for change to occur,” Shapiro notes. “There's no guarantee that change will happen exactly as initially envisioned, but the coaching relationship provides all of the right conditions. Coaching is not about changing people against their will.”

He likens the coaching process to gardening.

“What I try to do is plant seeds and fertilize them,” he says. “Sometimes things grow and sometimes they don't. What I provide is a nurturing environment unencumbered by the complications of the workplace including the perceptions of bosses, employees, colleagues and the company itself. I'm invested in helping my clients be successful. In this safe place, we can identify a specific area or situation that the client wants to improve. Then together we create a strategy to achieve success.”

“For example,” Shapiro says, “a client may say, ‘my employees tell me that I'm way too critical. There is a much higher turnover in my department than in the rest of the company. In particular, I've had to rehire one position four times in the last year. Is it something that I'm doing?’”

“That situation involves a combination of communication style, management style and hiring decisions,” he says. “The client and I would discuss the executive's role in the situation and how he or she could act differently to change the outcome with employees. In addition, we might look at the particular position that has been replaced so often. Is there a problem with the job itself? Is the job description accurate? Frequently, this kind of issue requires exploring a number of factors to discover the root of the problem.”

6. Coaching can help people looking for a new job or considering a career change

According to Shapiro, executive coaching can help people find a new direction or a new job.
“It can happen anytime,” Shapiro asserts. “A successful executive wakes up one morning and says, ‘I hate going to work.’ Sometimes, it’s an out-of-balance piece in the work/life balance. Other times, the person needs to change jobs or careers. What I do is help each person discover what he or she really wants to do. It's like peeling back the layers of an onion. Piece by piece, we find out what is really going on.”

In addition, Shapiro says, executive coaching can help those who are on a job search.

“As with those seeking a new career, I work with clients who are looking for a job. We work together to discover the ideal job and then develop an action plan to find that job. We may also work on resume construction, mock interviews and strategies for salary negotiation, depending on what the client needs. Again, my goal is to help my clients be successful.”

While all the results are not yet in, several recent studies have suggested a worthwhile return on investment for executive coaching in the workplace. Depending on the report, the returns can be as little as 5 to 1 or as much as 22 to 1. Those are tangible results to the bottom line. In the less tangible category, coached executives report better relationships with their employees and co-workers, less stress and increased job satisfaction.

In the years to come, the research will undoubtedly increase. However, the rewards already look rather promising. The question may no longer be “Do I need an executive coach?” but “When should I consult an executive coach?” And no better time to take action than the present.