Just as high-performing athletes have personal performance coaches, senior IT leaders can hire an executive coach to raise their leadership skills to the next level. These executive coaches - unlike a mentor or boss - can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses, provide feedback and help you tweak your performance. Typically, IT professionals haven't engaged such services at the same pace as other senior managers, say coaches, CIOs and other corporate leaders. But that is changing as tech executives and their companies see that IT can gain as much from coaching as the CEO or other senior leaders. In fact, IT professionals may even benefit more, particularly those who rise through the ranks on the strength of their technical expertise rather than their management experience.
Like their counterparts in other professions, IT leaders hire executive coaches under a variety of circumstances. Some receive coaches as part of executive compensation packages that come standard to all leaders at certain levels of the company. Others are assigned coaches individually -- either as rising stars who are being groomed for promotion or as struggling managers who need help in specific areas of performance. Finally, some people decide on their own to work with a coach as a way of investing in their career. Though companies most often pay for the service, some professionals do pay out of their own pockets for various reasons. They may work for companies with financial difficulties where such expenses are just not possible. Others may want their coaching arrangement to remain private or may be at a less senior level where the company has decided not to cover the cost.
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