Talented people often hold themselves back in their careers. They make too many assumptions about what they think can and can’t happen.

Whether they are your employees or friends, they will benefit from the good coaching you can offer. After you have learned the direction that someone wants to take, here’s what you can do to help him or her get there.

  • Hold a big vision for the person.

Tell the person what you want for him or her.  Hold out a big vision of what’s possible.  Ask, “Have you thought about [a big leap] to get there?”

For example, Kathy worried that she didn’t have the necessary line management experience for a top executive job in her field. In reality, she had proven her leadership skills many times with challenging projects that required bringing diverse people together. She had the experience. In fact, she had served as the acting top executive for her organization for nearly a year.

So, I told Kathy that I wanted her to have a top executive position. I asked, “Have you thought about applying for one now rather than waiting to acquire more experience? If you found an organization with strong middle managers, you could add your leadership skills and enjoy your dream job now.” The big vision encouraged Kathy and expanded her horizons.

  • Invite action.

With a big vision in mind for the person you are coaching, invite action toward fulfilling it.  Most people need a nudge to take flight and really soar. Don’t tell the person what to do, but do offer a concrete choice to consider. For example, “I’d like to invite you to consider [whatever action seems appropriate].” Always leave the choice up to the person who you are coaching, “What do you feel is right to do?” Don’t become attached to your own suggestions.

I recall years ago that my business coach encouraged me to go for the top prospect in my market. I felt some anxiety about presenting to a demanding Fortune 50 business. He said, “You’ve been making great presentations to businesses large and small. Go for this one. Think of it like walking on a two by four. You can do it when it’s on the ground. Now, you just need to do the same thing when it’s twenty feet in the air. The skills are the same. Only your perception of risk has changed.” He was right. The presentation was a big success. I’m thankful that he invited me to act.

  • Build a dream team.

One of the reasons people don’t rise to the full heights of their potential is that they don’t have the shoulders of others to support them. Guide the person you are coaching to identify and connect with people who can help them to succeed.

What expertise is needed? What networks of people can provide it? Help them get warm introductions to potential “dream team” members. With some thought, you’ll probably identify someone who can help them get a connection with top experts in the field.

Coaching employees to advance or friends to develop their careers is a gift. With a few steps, you will expand their horizons and help them realize their hopes.  Enjoy doing it.


Don Maruska is a business coach and author of  “How Great Decisions Get Made—10 Easy Steps for Reaching Agreement on Even the Toughest Issues.”  His “Business Success” column runs every other Tuesday.  He can be reached at his office in Morro Bay 772-4667 or by e-mail at don@dev.donmaruska.com.


Copyright © 2004 Don Maruska