CIO Sue Schade on the value of executive coaching

Seeking help and coaching can be difficult, but doing so can ultimately improve one's effectiveness as a leader, suggests Sue Schade, interim CIO of Cleveland-based University Hospitals and founding advisor at Next Wave Health Advisors. Ms. Schade wrote on her blog of her decision to invest in an executive coach. While she wasn't completely sure she wanted to work with a coach, she writes that it ultimately was a strong career move.

Ms. Schade, formerly CIO of Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, wrote that it can be unsettling to decide to work with a coach, and she herself felt moments of doubt regarding whether executive coaching would be helpful.

"I told myself, 'Sure there are things on my performance evaluation I could work on, but mostly I'm fine and don't need any help; after all, no one is perfect,'" she wrote. "And I also told myself, 'Ok, I admit I could use some help but how much do I really have to expose, and what will people think if they know I'm using a coach?'"

But she wrote many of those concerns were laid to rest once she began working with her coach. A good coach, she wrote, helps an individual critically look at one's self, one's relationships and how one comes across to others, all of which can help shape and inform a leadership style.

Organizations may provide coaches to work with employees as part of leadership development programs, but for those that don't, Ms. Schade wrote that leaders who seek coaching should have conversations with management to develop a plan. An organization may cover the cost of coaching, or leaders could offer to share the cost, sending a signal that one is serious about professional develop, according to Ms. Schade.

"Working with a professional coach needs to be considered as an investment in you," Ms. Schade wrote.

"Just like your gym membership and the time you spend working out is an investment in you, so too is your professional development," she wrote.

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