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Author: Melinda Sherwood. Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on March 22, 2000. All rights reserved.
Hear that someone is an "executive coach" and
you might imagine them cheering on executives at a board meeting,
providing moral support to the salesperson who makes 50 cold calls
in a row, or requiring entrepreneurs to write a review of the life
story of Warren Buffet.
In fact, executive coaches do none of those rah-rah things. But what
is known as professional or executive coaching is a blossoming industry.
The four-year-old International Coach Federation has increased eightfold
in two years, and there are roughly 10,000 practicing coaches according
to some estimates. Coaches are gaining such a presence within major
American companies that Fortune magazine did a story on this phenomenon
In the Princeton area there are nearly 20 people calling themselves
executive coaches who do everything from holding training workshops
on diversity to teaching managers how to increase productivity to
helping people hone in on their dream job. In addition the newly published
U.S. 1 Business Directory lists more than 100 management consultants
and another dozen career counselors, whose services often include
those of a coach.
One of the coaches, Susan Race
Studio on Route 1, is promoting her new book, "Succeeding in the
Workplace," which she co-authored with Brendan Tobin
Barnes and Noble at MarketFair on Tuesday, March 28, at 7 p.m. The
event is free. Call 609-897-9250.
A resident of Yardley, Pennsylvania, Race teaches "Become Career
Savvy," and "How to Write, Publish, & Sell a Book" at
the Learning Studio, and considers her specialty to be helping people
find the right career path. "I work with people on developing
a more perfect life for themselves," she says. "I don’t believe
that the schools prepare us for what is to come in the workplace,
and too many students go out there with false expectations." Parents
who hold white collar jobs tend to put great pressure on their children
to succeed, adds Race, which can be counter-productive "I think
it’s our society that drives status," she says, "and what
happens is that all the people who have a desire to do manual labor
or work with a service organization take a different path because
they think it would be more successful."
With a BS in psychology and education from University of Massachusetts,
Class of 1973, and an MS in human behavior and development from Drexel,
Race started out teaching home economics. When her "tires were
flattened, handbag stolen, and safety threatened," however, she
decided to leave teaching, and moved over to human resources. She
has worked for such companies as Ceramco in Burlington, which produces
and sells porcelains for bridge and crown work.
"When I was in human resources I always heard how employees who
were on the front line always felt that management didn’t hear or
care about them, and that’s usually because of the way management
communicates with employees," she says. "I see myself as the
link between the new employee population and business employers. Employees
need to understand what business is about and not feel that everything
is directed at them personally, so they can understand how to find
their role in it and think about how they can contribute."
As a personal coach and training facilitator, one aspect of Race’s
profession is organizational development. She is certified to give
the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the behavioral assessment tool that
many companies use to understand the work style of their employees,
and is currently working with the Mercer County Alternative High School
and Human Resources Development Institute in Trenton.
Problems that arise in many of today’s businesses have a lot to do
with the pace of change and generational conflict, says Race. "Unfortunately,
there’s a perception among babyboomer management that the younger
generation is lazy, uncaring, and uncommitted," she says, "that
they change jobs easily on a whim, and they’ll whine about conditions
instead of offering solutions to make them better. I contend that
if managers and teachers would apply coaching principles they would
help students to find their own answers and offer better suggestions.
If you read a magazine like Fast Company, you see it’s younger employees
who are making great contributions to business and our society."
Race also works with professionals who want to make a career change.
"I’m working with a woman right now who will be leaving her job
because she had a dream of producing a radio show that promotes peace.
I asked her, `What’s stopping you?’ and that one question changed
For those seeking a personal career change, Race suggests asking this
simple question: What brings you joy?
— Melinda Sherwood
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