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Author: Melinda Sherwood. Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on March 22, 2000. All rights reserved.

Executive Coaching

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

(February 21).

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, an instructor at the Learning

Studio on Route 1, is promoting her new book, "Succeeding in the

Workplace," which she co-authored with Brendan Tobin, at

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

her life."

For those seeking a personal career change, Race suggests asking this

simple question: What brings you joy?

— Melinda Sherwood


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