It all started when Gary Wang, CEO of MindSpan, approached me three months before my retirement from Honeywell. MindSpan is the first executive coaching platform in China, and Gary was a former colleague when we worked together at DuPont in 2005. He explained to me what an executive coach is and why he thought I had the right qualities and empathy to become one.
At first, I was skeptical. But after speaking with friends and colleagues, I realized that becoming an executive coach would allow me to leverage my 30+ years of professional experience while simultaneously learning new coaching skills. It was an opportunity to help younger leaders elevate their leadership behavior and achieve more in their careers while contributing to society.
However, I knew that I needed the right training to become an effective coach. Gary recommended Transformational Executive Coach Certification conducted by Dr. Chérie Carter-Scott and Michael Pomije, both Master Certified coaches. I signed up and discovered that program taught me the coaching process, essential coaching competencies from the International Coaching Federation (ICF), as well as coaching skills, models, and tools.
However, what really made the training impactful were the live coaching demos by Dr. Chérie, Michael, and my classmates. Watching them in action and receiving feedback on the coaching demo sessions opened my eyes to the power of coaching. Another valuable lessons I learned was that coaching is not about giving advice or solving problems for the client. Instead, it is about helping the client find their own solutions and empowering them to make choices and decisions that align with their values and goals.
After completing the training in September 2021, I began taking steps to build my coaching career. I spent a lot of time crafting a compelling bio with a clear value proposition of myself. Then, I reached out to various executive coaching platforms, including MindSpan
After a month, I realized that simply reaching out to platforms wasn’t enough. The key was getting the salespeople to know me and what I had to offer. So, I started having 1-on-1 coffee meetings with salespeople from various platforms. The goal was to have them think of me and then recommend me as one of the 2-3 candidates submitted for a chemistry session with potential clients.
When I was invited to conduct a chemistry session, I prepared thoroughly by researching the potential clients, their company on LinkedIn, and the company website. During the chemistry session, I focused on my active listening and being authentic while clearly articulating why I believed I could be helpful to the client and their challenges. I believe a warm and personable demeanor is ideal to establish a connection.
I’ve found that the keys to success in chemistry sessions are: being present, authentic, and clear in my communication. It’s also essential to listen very closely to the client’s challenges to fully understand their perspective.
Since starting my coaching journey in May 2021, I have made significant progress; I even obtained the ICF ACC certification within a year. While the reality has exceeded all of my expectations, it has been an incredible experience to date. During the TECC program, one of my practice coaching sessions focused on how to start a coaching career, and ironically, I now find myself living what I focused on in my session.
Most importantly, I’ve been able to make a real impact on the lives and careers of my clients. Seeing them overcome their challenges and grow as leaders is so very rewarding. Some of my clients have even received promotions and advanced in their careers, which is incredibly gratifying.
Reflecting on my journey, I realize that if I had started my executive coaching journey earlier in my career, I would have become an even greater leader. And that’s the message I want to share with you – don’t wait until retirement to pursue your passion. Whether you’re just starting out or looking for a change, don’t be afraid to take a chance and pursue a totally new career path. With hard work, determination, and the right training, you too can become an exceptional leader and achieve success in any field
In conclusion, becoming an executive coach has been a remarkable journey, and I am grateful for the unexpected opportunity that led me down this fulfilling and rewarding career path. It has taught me that I will always remain open to new possibilities, even if they seem unlikely at first. With the right mindset, preparation, and training, anyone can succeed in a new career path and achieve extraordinary dreams.
So, take that first step today, and explore the possibilities that await you. Embrace the unexpected and be open to new opportunities. Remember that success is within reach, and it’s never too late to pursue your passion and become the best version of yourself.
Michael Lee, ACC