Q&A with the career coach
Cliff Montgomery: Job Hunting and Career Planning
“Q&A with the career coach” is a series of articles featuring questions from readers and answers from 42-year human resource veteran and career coach Cliff Montgomery. Future questions can be submitted to him at his address below:
Q: Like many of your clients, I’m sure, I currently work for a person who I consider a poor manager. I am looking for a new job, but I don’t want to make this mistake again. In your experience, what kinds of things distinguish a good manager from a poor one?
A: Well, to begin with, I can tell you you’re not alone. Poor leadership is the primary reason most people leave jobs and a major reason underlying job dissatisfaction. In my 42-year career, spanning numerous companies, locations and roles, I can truthfully say that I’ve had only four of what I would call good leaders. What made them good? First, and foremost, they thought more about their direct reports than they did themselves and focused on their career growth and development.
Many leaders today are concerned only with themselves and what their employees can do to make them look good. Second, when results were good, good leaders gave the team the credit for what went well and merchandised us “up the chain” either verbally or in print. Lastly, and in my mind, most importantly, when things did not go well, they took personal responsibility for what had occurred, and rather than look for someone to blame, they looked at it as an opportunity for coaching and improvement.
Q: You describe yourself as a “coach.” What’s the difference between a “coach” and a “consultant”? What does a coach really do?
A: The major difference is that people primarily go to consultants because they specialize in a specific subject and, therefore, play the role of “expert” in the relationship. Coaching is quite different ... you have the answers to the direction you want for your career, and the coach’s goal is to use targeted questions to draw out those answers.
You should also know what a coach is not. They are not therapists who typically focus on the past and why things happened. They’re not like family or friends who, while well meaning, normally focus on their own agendas. True coaching is done by a certified professional coach and accomplished in a very unique way. Coaches provide their clients unqualified regard and help them to be the very best they can be. They inspire and champion you and help you come from a place of confidence. Coaches help you to break through what’s holding you back and challenge you to focus time and energy on what goals you want to achieve, as well as hold you accountable. Coaching is solution focused, a partnership, that allows you to design a plan based exclusively on your own agenda.
Send your questions to Clifford E. Montgomery, executive and career coach in New Hope. He can be reached at 215-862-5553 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is montgomerycareercoaching.com.
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