Mentor. Guru. Sage. Teacher. Throughout time people have sought the counsel and advice of wise men and women in order to make better decisions and achieve their goals. Today, in business, music, athletics, acting -- across all disciplines -- people are using coaches to move them from where they are to where they want to be.

"Coach" has a unique root in the Hungarian language. Some of the best carriages in Europe were made by the KOCS Company in northeastern Hungary. A KOCS was the finest carriage there was to convey a person from one place to another.

The actual term "coach" is derived from 19th century university slang. It is the concept of a student being conveyed through an exam by a tutor, as if riding in a carriage, transporting him or her to a successful outcome.

Coaching is not limited to those at the top of their game. In a professional setting it is more and more common to see individuals at every level working with coaches to improve their performance and make quantum leaps in achieving their career objectives.

Today in business, the Coach's job is to bring the individual or team to victory, however that is defined for the person or group -- increased revenues, more effectiveness, better decision making, skillful communication.

In the context of professional development, a Coach helps you assess where you are now, reviews your stated outcomes and works with you to build the necessary skills to achieve the success you want. I'll give you an example of how coaching helped one of my clients.

Duane had been in Real Estate for four years. He was doing OK, but something was missing. He served his customers well, but was not getting referrals and could not seem to crack the market of properties over $150,000. Duane's enthusiasm was waning and stress was affecting his family life.

Duane realized what he had been doing was not getting the results he wanted, so although it felt like a financial stretch, he hired a coach. Coaching is not a quick fix. Results start to show up right away, but for long-term changes, it can take time to integrate new strategies.

In three months, Duane's commissions doubled. In six months, he had listings in the $500,000 range and one for $1.2 million. He started singing with his Barber Shoppe Quartet again, and people were constantly commenting on his bright smile and energy level. He was working out, having fun, and loving his life. My role was to help him connect deeply to his passion to serve his clients, to identify what he wanted, and assist him to take the steps to get there. He learned to acknowledge and market his talents shamelessly, resulting in more sales and more referrals.

The Coach's job is to be the vehicle for helping the client clarify their goals and keep them on the road to creating the life they want.

Each of us is at different stages in our life, professionally and personally. There is no one formula or easy answer to achieve success. That's why it's important to find the right coach for your unique situation.

Tiger Woods uses coaches; Elvis Stoiko has six or seven coaches; I understand even Matthew Barrett, former Chairman and CEO of the Bank of Montreal and now Chief Executive of Barclays Bank, uses a coach. You get the picture.

Following are just a few areas in which a coach might help you in your business:

1. To increase your ability to leverage you time. The Executive Coach works to double (at a minimum) your leverage and effectiveness.

2. To improve the way you come across. Character, communication skills, and listening abilities are more vital today as customers and employees expect more polish, sophistication and subtlety.

3. To foster discussion about your ideas that may still be in the inkling stage. Most executives don't take enough time for this type of creativity, nor do they have the right "listening partner." Coaching provides an environment for your ideas and concerns to be respected and expanded.

4. To expand upon, clarify and clearly put into words, your Vision for your company and your life. An appropriate vision naturally keeps you, your customers and employees focused.

5. To get an outsider's opinion from someone (the coach) who has no vested interest in the outcome of the situation. The Executive Coach is usually the only person in an executive's rolodex whose only priority is the executive's success. (Every executive also needs a special person to complain to, vent, and with whom to talk things out.)

6. To point out what you can't, won't or don't see. The Executive Coach has an ethical obligation to point out what he/she sees: blind spots, areas to develop, and opportunities.

Where could a coach help you in your professional development? Anywhere you are not getting the results you want: business development, employee relations, communication skills, marketing, etc. A good Coach with whom you have an honest and open relationship helps you create the success you desire.

(c) 2000, Robert Knowlton

Author's Bio: 

Robert Knowlton is an Executive Coach.

Coaching in leadership development, advanced communications skills, and realizing your personal and corporate purpose and vision. Find out if you are ready for a coach. Visit his web site at or call 888.434.2555.

Subscribe to my free e-newsletter, ON PURPOSE to get coaching tips and strategies for living a success-full and meaningful life. Visit my web site at: or send an email to

Options Success Coaching and Training