is to reveal the right principle, process and position that will empower them to pursue not only a good plan, but a God-centered plan.”
“Unlike a management consultant, an executive coach does not come in and fix the problem for you, then leave. A coach partners with you to elicit how to resolve issues and achieve your goals. And they stay with you through the process,” says Amy Watson, a spokesperson for the ICF.
The “1998 ICF Survey of Coaching Clients,” the first survey of its kind, found that almost all clients seeking coaching are professionals, with 82% having college degrees and an annual average income of $63,000. Most sought the counsel of a coach for help with time management (80.5%), career guidance (74.3%) or business advice (73.8%). The top five benefits for most clients were: a higher level of self-awareness (67.6%), smarter goal setting (62.4%), a more balanced life (60.5%), reduced stress levels (57.1%) and more self-confidence (52.4%).
While African Americans are part of the growing trend toward using coaches, participation has been relatively low, according to Josie M. Lindsay, CEO of Bell & Lindsay Inc., a leading executive and organizational development training firm in Macedonia, Ohio. “Although I have a large corporate practice, less than 5% of that practice includes requests to coach African American executives,” says Lindsay.
The reasons African Americans don’t seek or aren’t chosen by corporations for coaching are unclear. Lack of familiarity with the process may be part of it. “I was aware that coaching existed, but when I heard ‘executive coaching,’ I thought it was reserved only for vice presidents or CEOs,” says Gaile Dry-Burton, training manager for Loral Skynet, the satellite communications company in Bedminster, New Jersey, and a client of Bell & Lindsay.
African Americans may be reluctant to seek support and direction for professional goals outside their inner circle of family, friends, colleagues and the church. Most likely the reason is that African Americans still must cope with the prejudiced belief that their performance will be inferior because of their race. “I had reservations about making myself vulnerable to my white peers because I felt I needed to do superior work and didn’t feel safe sharing my shortcomings,” admits Dry-Burton. Still, many other professionals-black and white-who have had coaching are reticent about discussing their experiences for fear they’ll be stigmatized for needing professional help and yet others feel that coaching is a private affair and prefer anonymity. Whatever the reason, African Americans who often have few mentors and role models in corporate America are underutilizing a service that could make a difference in their career and business success.
COACHING BLACK EXECUTIVES
When Dry-Burton’s job description expanded to managing a $2 million-plus budget, she realized she needed to increase her understanding of how her company puts
budgets together and the politics in her company. Rather than taking courses, Dry-Burton sold her company’s human resource director on the idea of coaching. She observed that because of the time constraints of the job, coaching was a faster and more efficient