For several years I served as an adviser to a new incubator program that attracted entrepreneurs from all around the Washington DC region. Over time, we watched which entrepreneurs became successful and which did not. The success factor was clear. Those who asked for and listened to advice from experts were high on the success ladder. Those who didn’t, struggled or failed. The evidence was so clear that we changed how we interviewed prospects during their required presentation.
During the presentation, one of us on the advisory board would offer up some advice to the prospects. Then we watched to gauge their coach-ability potential. The prospects got a nod of approval if they accepted our advice. Double points if they paused their presentation to take notes! Those who ignored or rejected our advice were not invited in to the program because their chances of success were slim.
Just like the beginning entrepreneur, every business executive should be coachable. The challenge for the executive is to find coaches/advisers whose advice is valued and appropriate. Business professionals at the start of their careers need different advice than do those who have achieved high levels of responsibility and accomplishment.
Most business owners know which resources they need to get started in business: financial, legal, marketing, technology, human, etc. As Ichak Adizes brilliantly describes in his book Corporate Lifecycles: How and Why Corporations Grow and Die and What To Do About It, every organization experiences profound changes in its lifecycle from infancy into a prime, stable organization.
“..what gets done in organizations is not what is expected but what is inspected, corrected and re-inspected until no more corrections are necessary. By the time the decision is obsolete, the situation has changed and you have to start all over again. As soon as you relax and feel in control, smile and start all over again. This is called continuous experiential learning from life, and those who feel they have graduated, should not try to manage.”
Changes in corporate growth bring new challenges for competent executives and business owners who will reach out for advisory resources every step of the way. I’ve worked with many high level leaders who were in dire need of an adviser who can provide guidance at that high level. Business and personal coaches do not come in a one-size-fits-all package. Selecting a coach who is the right fit can sometimes be a challenge in itself, however, every executive should be surrounded with advisers who offer guidance and wisdom appropriate for their level of achievement.
The challenges will change; the advisers will change. You shouldn’t go it alone.
Darcie Davis is president of Huddle Enterprises, which includes HuddleSessions.com and GamesandTeamBuilding.com. She creates innovative ways to get people connected to find cross-inspiration or to resolve problems.