Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why Do Executives Hire Coaches?

In today's Wall Street Journal Sarah Needleman addresses this question: Why, in the midst of an economic downturn, when everyone is cutting back, do executives hire coaches? Link here.

Happily enough, she uses a sports metaphor. Executives, as she says, are "in the game," and people who are in the game and who are good at the game know that they need help from the sidelines.

Executives hire coaches because they need a competitive edge. As one executive explained, when you have fewer client opportunities, you cannot approach a meeting casually. You have to work on your presentation and people skills.

When the world is awash in money you can get away with far more bad behavior than you can when money is tight and business is contracting.

As I have mentioned often enough on this blog, deals can be made or lost on the basis on what you might think of as minor details. I am not just talking about table manners at a lunch meeting or the courtesy involved in sending thank-you notes.

Sometimes even the way a question is worded will make or break a deal. The ancients used to call it the art of rhetoric. To my knowledge it is not taught in too many business schools.

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