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Taking care of number one

Your career Personal development

It will soon be time for New Year resolutions and Helen Drake talks about how personal coaching can help in achieving that frequentlyheard vow: 'This year I'll do better'.

With 2003 fast approaching, it is a time when traditionally we re-evaluate where we are personally and professionally. We turn our attention to setting new goals and challenges.

Research carried out among Yale University graduates tracked a group over a 20 year period. Interestingly, 3% of students were worth more in terms of wealth than the other 97% and also enjoyed better health and relationships.

Only one thing fully explained the 3:97% split. It wasn't about parental wealth, degree subjects or the choice of career. The difference was that only 3% of graduates had set clear goals and had committed them to paper.

Moreover, many were working with a coach to constantly refine their goals and support them in achieving what they wanted.

So, what do you want for 2003 and the years ahead? What would make it a great year for you personally and professionally? Only you will know that.

And goals come in different magnitudes - what might seem huge to one person may seem small to someone else. It all depends on where you are starting from. And, frequently the end result is not where the goal began.

For example, I often have clients who come to me because they have been on every training course around and are still not getting the results they want.

This is particularly the case with business development - they have learned all there is to know and yet their results still improve only marginally. But one client was able to secure more than £2M in fee income within six months and has won every contract he has bid for since.

Perhaps the place to start is to identify what is important, what works and then know how to repeat it. It sounds easy, and it can be. What we think and believe is ultimately what determines our success.

Many factors influence corporate success. What is clear is that the rate of organisational and personal change is now very high. There are fewer people to do the same amount of work.

Organisations need innovative ways to work and grow their businesses. There is less time for staff development. Collaboration, rather than command and control and hierarchy, is now seen as more productive, which means all staff need excellent interpersonal skills and increased flexibility. Work is becoming more outcome oriented, people are expected to take more and more responsibility. All these changes mean staff are often expected to do more in less time.

People often talk about wanting to be more productive, to produce better business results, to be a more powerful presenter, or an even more effective leader. Or I have just been made a director - now what, how do I behave, where to next?

Wherever we sit in the corporate ladder, we all at times face challenges and look to others to challenge and support us. The first question to ask yourself is;

'what will having this or doing that get you?' Setting goals is one thing, making them compelling and having the follow through motivation, commitment and support is something quite different. This is where a coach facilitating your learning and development and holding you accountable for agreed actions, significantly accelerates your development, often enabling you to reach beyond what you thought possible.

Coaching brings a powerful partnership that provides structure, challenge, accountability, feedback and support. It takes an 'inside out' approach to professional performance and development. It is not 'the way things are' that affects performance and achievement, but the way you are as a person.

So coaches work with their clients to help them access more of their own internal resources to help set and achieve goals - whatever they are. They help you to identify where you are and where you want to be and then to take action. It is the focus on action and results which so often leads to significantly improved confidence, self-belief, and productivity and profitability.

Benefits people gain from coaching range from 'it gives me time to work on me and on my business, rather than in my business' to 'it's put the juice back into me'.

Other pluses include increased personal effectiveness, to a sense of greater influence, greater clarity and leveraging of personal strengths, increased motivation, and having a sounding board on which to develop and articulate ideas. When subordinates are asked what changes they noticed in their bosses, they report better communication and relationships and increased flexibility. Think this makes a difference to the bottom line? - you bet it does!

INFOPLUS Helen Drake can be reached at Tel: (020) 8995.2864 or email helen@pointtaken. com.

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