Magazine article Management Today

MT Business Lifeforms: The Executive Coach

Magazine article Management Today

MT Business Lifeforms: The Executive Coach

Article excerpt

You have to be a good listener in this business, and Michael Norris has the time.

Michael Norris is down in town for a couple of days, staying in one of the better rooms in one of London's better hotels. He'll be seeing three clients today: a senior exec in his mid-forties, a woman on the UK board of a US multinational, and a thirty-something fast-tracker who is seen by his company as destined for great things. The first client is new, so he'll spend the session getting to know him; with his second, he hopes to tackle her 'limiting beliefs'; and, as for the third, well, he's still trying to divine exactly what this chap's goals really are.

Norris suspects that they aren't aligned with those of his employer.

Norris is an executive coach. He believes most of us only skim the surface of our 'well of potential'. This troubles him, and - through working with people over a series of six one-to-one sessions - he hopes to help them release the hidden possibilities. Why does he do it? He trots out the line that, in all his time in business, he enjoyed nothing more than bringing people on and helping them develop their careers. Cynics might add that an hourly fee that would make a libel lawyer blush, coupled with an absence of any real responsibility for his actions, probably doesn't hurt either.

If pressed, Norris will cheerfully admit there's some truth to this. His years working with the cream of British business have taught him that a little knowing scepticism dispels the suspicion that you're a snake-oil peddler. Plus, he'll give those unsatisfied after two sessions their money back. But if he's not some new-age kook, what is he?

Well, he can walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Before his reincarnation as a coach, he ran a couple of highly successful companies and sat on the board of others. Coaching grew out of discussions with a therapist friend. Norris decided that business needed therapy too. He left his post, studied psychology and, with the friend, set up Within Business, a mentoring consultancy that now employs eight coaches and has helped tap the latent potential of executives working for a host of household names.

As Norris points out, it's not like what he does is exactly new. …

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