Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

Business Coaching and the Entrepreneur: A Well-Suited Association

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

Business Coaching and the Entrepreneur: A Well-Suited Association

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The ranks of business coaches has grown exponentially over the past two decades. Is coaching the most recent management consulting fad or does it offer long-term value to entrepreneurs? We believe that coaching is a consulting approach of significant, long-lasting benefit. Entrepreneurs are positive and actionoriented, they value independence and achievement, and they have a strong commitment to and identification with their ventures. This profile closely fits with the coaching model, which focuses on self-reflection, self-reliance, and high performance.

INTRODUCTION

Coaching has been an long-honored profession since the days of ancient Greece. This advanced civilization understood that unlocking one's full potential required the individualized attention of someone who understood the process of achieving success (Logan & King, 2001). To win the Olympic games, the Greeks employed coaches to turn their gifted athletes into champions. Coaches have remained an essential component of athletic competition to this day. Coaches are "demanding but supportive and inspirational. [They] work hard to bring the team along, insist on high standards and rigorous effort, but pass on all the knowledge that will help the athletes grow" (Bradford & Cohen, 1997, p. 61).

Within the last decade, the application of the sports coaching model to other human endeavors-viz., the development of business leaders and entrepreneurs-has gained popularity. The utilization of success coaches by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and by corporate icons like Bill Gates has led to a broader acceptance and use of coaches by the business community. Today an estimated 10,000 people describe themselves as professional coaches; this number is up from 2,000 in 1996 and is expected to exceed 50,000 within the next five years (Berglas, 2002). In 2000, it was estimated that 20% of U.S. small businesses employed coaches, up from 4% in 1996 (Martin, 2000); and business coaching is one of the fasting growing segments in coaching according to the president of the International Coach Federation (Bertagnoli, 2000).

What is business coaching? How does it differ from consulting, counseling and mentoring? How can it help entrepreneurs achieve success in more satisfying ways? This article addresses these and other issues. Our premise is that coaching is well suited for the entrepreneur because it matches his/her temperament, personality, and motivations.

THE NATURE OF COACHING

What Coaching Is

The International Coaching Federation (2002) defines coaching "as an ongoing partnership that helps clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance and enhance their quality of life." The International Coaching Federation (2002) explains further that "coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach's job is to provide support to enhance [what] the client already has."

Coaching is a form of consulting. Schein (2000) distinguishes among three different consultant roles: (1) the provider of expert information, (2) the diagnostician and prescriber of remedies, and (3) the process consultant whose focus is on helping the client to help himself or herself. Coaching is most similar to the third type category; coaches describe themselves as people who ask the tough, unasked questions rather than people who offer expert answers (Coleman, 2002). Coaching begins with the identification and clarification of the client's goals. It is followed by an assessment of the client's strength and weaknesses. The process then helps the client discover how they need to change in order to attain these goals (Byrd, 2001; Casteneira, 2002). …

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