Executive Coaches Adapt to Changed Market

Article excerpt

In an economic climate and era that is producing more entrepreneurs and small-business owners, the role of another entrepreneurial effort is changing - the "executive coach."

Once the province of CEOs and high-level managers, executive coaching is being geared more toward those who are growing their own businesses. Executive coaches now find themselves helping the Web developer who knows his skills inside and out, but is lacking in customer service. Or the roofer who is adding crews and expanding his company but doesn't know how to manage people.

Executive coaches have already walked in an entrepreneur's shoes by launching their own ventures to help others; now they're expanding the way they pass along their knowledge.

Steve Laswell of Next Level Executive Coaching in Tulsa said entrepreneurs can be so busy growing their businesses that they don't make time for personal and professional development.

"A lot of entrepreneurs start out as technically savvy," he said. "But transitioning from the doer of the work to being a leader of an organization is sometimes a challenge. As an entrepreneur, you can be so busy that you don't make time to develop yourself. Your company's growth and development is so consuming that leaders grow to the level of their limitation. All of a sudden, they put a lid on their growth potential as a business. You have to start bringing on people and managing people and leading people, not just getting the work done."

Laswell has changed his services to serve more small-business owners. His one-on-one executive coaching is mostly done with higher- level executives in larger companies, which can afford the higher price point, he said. But he also is conducting group coaching that often includes several mid-level managers. While they don't get the one-on-one approach, they still receive the same information and another benefit: team building.

Laswell said he's considering another group coaching experience that would bring together a handful of small-business owners for a coaching session, with additional time for business networking and conversation.

"The challenge for some entrepreneurs, whether a solo or small operation, is that you may be working out of a home office or rented space," he said. …