1 1 1 1

Are you really
promotion material?

Fill in this short survey to find out:

  • 1. Have you requested a promotion in the last year?
  • 2. Have you ever been rejected for a promotion?
  • 3. Have you ever been offered a promotion?
  • 4. Has a co-worker at the same level ever been promoted instead of you?
  • 5. Has there ever been a position you applied for and didn’t get?
  • 6. Are you hesitant about asking for a promotion for fear of your boss’s response?
  • 7. Have you ever left an organization because you were passed up for promotion there?
  • 8. Do you know if your work environment values you and your work?
  • 9. Do you think that you deserve a promotion?
  • 10. Do you promote your work and yourself at work?
Get your results directly to your email:
** Please answer all questions **

Should executive coaches turn down clients?

“What’s bothering you, Marlene?” 

As I watched her playing around with her curry, I understood that my friend and coaching colleague wasn’t up to eating, even though we were having lunch at her favorite Indian restaurant.


“I think I have to turn down a client and I really feel guilty,” she answered as she continued to shift her curry from side to side. She hadn’t even touched her wine, either.

 “So if you’re feeling so guilty, why not consider taking them on?” I probed.


“You know the story, Etika. We’ll have two or three sessions and then I’ll begin wishing I hadn’t accepted them, even at generous executive coaching rates” she answered.

“Then it actually looks like you’re smart for turning them down. So why is it bothering you so much?” I asked.


“Well, without getting into too much detail, this time it’s the CEO of a very high profile hi-tech company, with promising executive coaching rates.

“Impressive!” I commented.


“Yes, but if I tell you about our first meeting, you’ll understand where I’m coming from,” Marlene said.

“I’m all ears.”


“Well,” Marlene began. “It started off with the way she spoke to me on the phone. Something in her very cold tone told me that I shouldn’t move things forward. But I did,” Marlene lamented. “I guess it was because she’s so high profile.”

“Fair enough. Been there. Done that,” I admitted.


“So, we set up a meeting at her office the next day. Without even a minute of small talk, she sat me down in front of her desk and complained to me that her team doesn’t get along with her,” Marlene recounted.

“Well, from the sound of how she spoke to you, I’m not that surprised,” I interjected.


“Indeed. But then she told me that the reason she wants to hire me is to  force the team to cooperate with her!”


“Force? That’s a pretty strange way of doing things,” I said surprisingly.


“Wait, Etika, here’s the best part,” Marlene continued. “In the same breath, she asserted that she doesn’t see herself as part of the problem and that she won’t be involved in the coaching process.”

“Pretty low in the self-awareness department, I’d say,” I answered.


“And,” Marlene added. “At the end of the process, she wants a report of which employees I was able to change and who needs to be fired.”

“Is this person for real?” I asked flabbergasted.


“One hundred percent,” Marlene answered. “And she even tried to sweeten the deal by saying that if I succeed, I’ll have a lot more work at her company.”

“So you were tempted?” I asked.


“I don’t know if I was tempted or confused,” Marlene admitted. “I think that I wasn’t really sure how to respond, so I began asking her a few questions about her relationship with her team, what she expects, etc. All of it quickly confirmed my suspicion that she was just looking for someone to create an army of robots.”


“Sounds like an accurate diagnosis,” I commented.


“And so I pretty much instantly realized that this wasn’t the kind of coaching work I could or wanted to do,” Marlene concluded.

“I wholeheartedly concur,” I responded. “So why are you upset?”


“Well, the minute I realized this, I became overridden with guilt - professional, business, and even personal guilt,” Marlene said. “So I didn’t tell her ‘no’. In fact, our meeting ended with the CEO instructing her personal assistant to set up a series of meetings between the team members and me. But as I said, I don’t feel that I can go through with it. Yet the guilt is still there.”


“I get it, and I understand where you’re coming from, because, as I said, I’ve been there,” I answered. “So let me tell you a little bit about how I deal with occasional guilt.” 

“Yes, Etika, please do,” Marlene urged.


“First off,” I began. “Whenever any guilty feelings begin to appear, I try to nip them in the bud.” 

“Makes sense. But how?” Marlene asked.


“By always developing and maintaining my self-awareness, both as a professional and as a person,” I explained. “The better we know ourselves - what’s right for us, what’s not right for us, who we can help, and who we can’t, the better our lives will be.”


“I’m not sure I’m following you,” Marlene admitted.


“You see, Marlene, the sharper our awareness is, the easier it is to make the right choices, whether they are professional or personal. And when we’re sure our choices are the right ones, we don’t feel guilty about them,” I explained.

“So are you saying that you can just turn down a client and not think twice about it?” Marlene asked.


“You bet. In fact, I’ll even feel good about it,” I answered.


“Because you’ve made it very clear to yourself by staying in tune with your self-awareness,” Marlene interjected.

“Exactly,” I said.


“So I’ve got some serious work to do with my self-awareness,” Marlene concluded. “Etika, would you mind meeting with me a couple of times to mentor me on raising my self-awareness?”


“You don’t even need to ask,” I answered. “I was just going to suggest we meet next week for lunch. But this time, I want to see you enjoy your food!”


“You know, I’m already feeling better,” Marlene said. “And I have a suspicion that as soon as I call a certain CEO, my appetite will return.”


I raised my glass of wine and proposed a toast, “to not feeling guilty”.



And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.

Download file

get your weekly free blog update

100% privacy, I will never spam you.




How a coach can help clients move from #2 to #1

What seems to be the dream of every number two in an organization with regard to corporate development career path? To become number one, of course. But becoming number one is much farther than a hop, skip, and a jump.

Mark had spent the last eleven years in two different VP positions - always with one eye on his target: president, the natural pinnacle of a corporate development career path. And with the company’s recognition of his outstanding record, Mark was always sure that his target was well within reach. 


But there’s recognition...and there’s recognition. Sure, Mark was constantly praised for his performance and results, but the proof of the pudding never came in the form of a promotion to president. 

I met Mark one evening at my office. He quickly explained to me that seeing me was not his idea:


“It’s my wife, Kathy. She’s really been on my case the last couple of years. She can’t seem to get her head around the fact that I work until 8:00 pm most evenings, let alone Saturdays, and I still haven’t been promoted to president.”

I continued to listen.



“But to tell you honestly, Etika,” he admitted. “How can an executive coach really help me? No disrespect to you, of course, but I’m the only one that knows what’s happening at my company. I don’t think that any psychological theories will really be of any help.”


I invited Mark to sit down and he hesitantly followed my lead. He continued:

“Believe me, Etika, if you could help me get Kathy off my back, I would be grateful, but isn’t this a tall order for someone like you?”


“I like your candidness, Mark,” I answered. First let’s set some ground rules. You can say anything you want to me, even if you think it might be hurtful.”

“And guess what, Mark, I continued. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe I can’t help you. It’s happened before.”


Mark seemed slightly shocked by my response. After all, what kind of executive coach says they might not be able to help their client? But his face seemed to relax and he became more open.


“Look, Etika, I don’t have anything against executive coaches or other consultants. I even have some subordinates who’ve gotten a lot out of coaching sessions. I just think that it would be sort of mission impossible to help someone with my experience. How could you possibly know what I’m going through?”


“I respect what you’re saying,” I answered. “But let me ask you a question.”

“Sure,” Mark said.


“When a couple sees a therapist because they’re considering a divorce, do you think that in order for the therapist to treat the couple, the therapist needs to have personally experienced a divorce?” I asked.

Mark cracked a slight smile, showing me that he understood my point.


“You don’t have to answer, I can read your face,” I offered. “So Mark, if a therapist doesn’t have to have experienced divorce to treat a couple with marital issues, why do you think that an executive coach needs to have been a CEO?”

I continued, “Why don’t we think of these professionals as being competent in helping others navigate their own experiences, rather than as dispensers of marital or managerial advice?”


“Why is this so important?” Mark asked.

“Because I want you to really believe, Mark, that an executive coach can help you achieve your career aspirations,” I answered. 


“Of course, you don’t have to be convinced right away,” I conceded. “But if you’re already here, I’d like for you to at least leave here with some insight as to why you aren’t open to getting any help.”


Mark smiled cooperatively. “Etika, as I told you before, I’ve been a heck of a VP the last eleven years. I honestly don’t think there’s anything that I can do to get myself promoted. It’s just not the right time now for the company.”


“I understand your point, Mark,” I answered. “But would you say that being number two is the same as being number one?”

“To tell you the truth,” Mark answered. “I used to think it was, but lately I’ve realized that the two positions are very similar in terms of day-to-day, but oceans apart when it comes to responsibility.”


I then asked, “Can you try to imagine situations in which number two does an excellent job but can never be number one?”


Mark responded, “Well, theoretically, yes, I suppose, but you’ve got to understand that this is not my situation.”


I smiled.


“Why are you smiling, Etika?” Mark asked.

“Because you really believe in what you’re saying,” I answered. “You see yourself as ready to be number one, yet eleven years have elapsed and you still aren’t there.”


“If you don’t mind, Mark,” I asked. “Let’s explore why you think that getting help from a coach won’t work.”

“Sure,” Mark responded. “First of all, no one else has my experience, so what could they possibly add?”


“And second, I know that I’m ready to be number one; it’s just a matter of the right timing.”


“And when I come to think of it, Etika, I came to you today because of these two points, but thanks to you, it’s really just the second one.”

“Glad I could be of help, Mark,” I offered.


“Can I ask you something, Etika?” Mark asked.

“Of course,” I responded.


“Judging from our conversation so far, do you think I need help?” Mark asked.

“Well, Mark,” I answered. “As I see it, that’s really not the important question here. What’s important is that we can only help people who think they need help - and are willing to receive it.”


“And regarding what you’ve expressed today, I’m sure everything is well-founded, as it’s based on your personal experiences and circumstances, so I really can’t argue with any of it.”

“But I’m not going to let you leave here empty-handed,” I said. “I’d like you to consider a few things.”


“I’m all ears,” Mark said.

“When someone is stuck in a certain way of thinking, on one hand, it’s good because it shows determination. But on the other hand, it prevents us from seeing the whole picture. We only see a slice of it.”

“Yes, I can see that,” Mark said.


“And regarding the question of the right timing, I agree with you, but then you’ve given up any control over your own fate. I would encourage you to look for something you can do, rather than just wait for the right time,” I advised.

“That is something to think about, Etika,” Mark said.


“And from my experience, Mark, success blinds us, and then we realize too late that we’ve missed out on some very important things, which are often important changes.”


“Wow, I’ve never thought of success as something that could be so dangerous,” Mark said.


I got up and shook Mark’s hand. 



"Mark, I really enjoyed meeting you today. I hope you’ve left with something to think about for your future.”

“I certainly did, Etika,” Mark answered. He pulled out his phone. “Can we schedule our next meeting, let’s say, for Wednesday?”


“I’d love to work with you, Mark,” I answered. “But let’s give you some time to think about why you’ve changed your mind about executive coaching. When you’ve gathered some insight, give me a call and we’ll schedule our next meeting.”

“Will do,” Mark answered.


And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

Download file

get your weekly free blog update

100% privacy, I will never spam you.




How hybrid coaching can yield results for your clients

For those of you reading about my meetings with Jennifer for the first time, here’s a short recap: Jennifer is a successful executive coach whom I mentored for several years. Recently, one of her major clients replaced her workshop with a digital course, rattling Jennifer’s confidence and prospects about the future of face-to-face coaching, which she felt would ultimately affect her executive coaching rates. In the last two posts, Jennifer and Etika met at a coffee shop, where they began to explore the advantages digital tools can provide to their coaching practices. 


After my last meeting with Jennifer, I received a notice about a digital learning fair taking place at the beginning of next month. Thinking that this would be a great opportunity to introduce Jennifer to digital learning tools, and hopefully allay her fear of reduced executive coaching rates, I forwarded the invitation to her and wrote her a note inviting her for coffee at the conference center at the end of the day.

After a truly stimulating fair, with all kinds of innovative digital tools being presented and demonstrated by dozens of firms, I sat down in the break area and waited for Jennifer.


“Etika!” she shouted. “There you are. What an amazing day! I can’t believe all of the awesome innovations I’ve seen today. So many ideas. Such brilliance.”


I smiled. “I’m so happy you enjoyed the fair today, Jennifer.” I gave her a hug.

“I’m blown away, Etika. Now I’m starting to understand what you’ve been getting at all along,” said Jennifer. “Etika, you told me at our last meeting that you’ve also been developing something, right?”

I answered, “Well, it’s actually all developed...and in use. But it took me over five years until I felt I’d gotten it right.”


“Five years?” Jennifer was amazed. 

“And add to that the 35 years of experience and knowledge it’s based on,” Etika added. “But now it’s being successfully used by managers all over the world.”

Jennifer said, “Enough suspense, Etika. Tell me about it!”


“With pleasure,” I answered. “But first, do you remember what I said are the two main advantages of digital learning tools?”

“I certainly do,” Jennifer quickly responded. “I’m still a good student. The first is that because of the anytime/anywhere delivery, digital tools allow us to help many more clients, especially those who might be too busy for face-to-face coaching.”


“You really are a good student,” I said. “Go on.”

“And the second one,” she said, “Is that we can offer a wider range of solutions, therefore ensuring that clients receive customized service.”

“Bravo!” I congratulated. “Well, these two principles guided me in my development of the Executive Mirror Program.”

“The Executive Mirror Program?” Jennifer repeated. “Tell me more.”


“The Executive Mirror Program, or EMP for short.” I continued, “It’s an online course for managers who are stuck in their career. They feel as if they are never going to get promoted and have begun losing hope.”

“From my practice,” Jennifer said, “I’ve noticed that this is a huge niche and it keeps growing.”


“No doubt.” I explained, “It seems that with hypercompetitiveness, more managers are fighting for their careers than in the past. In fact, 70% of managers these days define themselves as stuck to some degree.” 

“That’s a huge number, Etika,” Jennifer responded. “So there’s your first principle, helping as many managers as possible - wherever they are.”


“Bingo,” I answered. “With so many stuck managers, all of the face-to-face hours in the world wouldn’t be able to help them all. That’s why the self-paced online EMP is a perfect solution for them.”

“It certainly is. And what about your second principle, Etika,” asked Jennifer.

“You mean customized learning, I assume. Well, thanks to sophisticated algorithms, the EMP is actually dynamically tailored for each and every client. No cookie-cutter programs,” I proudly stated.


“So as a coach, you can actually provide a highly-customized solution to each of your clients,” Jennifer added.

“Yes,” I said. “Something that would’ve been impossible without digital tools.”

“But what about the personal touch, Etika?” Jennifer asked. “Aren’t there managers out there who still want to talk to a live coach.”


“Of course, Jennifer,” I agreed. “And that’s why the EMP can be seamlessly combined with face-to-face coaching. In the digital learning world, we call this hybrid coaching.”

“I see,” Jennifer answered. “A hybrid between online and face-to-face.”

“Indeed,” I said. “And that’s why I’ve developed a certification course for coaches who’d like to integrate the EMP into a hybrid coaching program.”

“That’s really forward-thinking, Etika,” Jennifer said. “So the EMP can also be used as part of a live coaching program.”

“That’s right. Maximum flexibility in delivering a tailored experience,” I said. “This is a major advantage that digital learning tools can offer us.”


I added, “And don’t forget, Jennifer. Our clients are already experiencing 24/7 learning online, whether it’s checking out a series of YouTubes on a subject or taking a full university course.”

“So you’re saying our clients will come to expect digital learning tools?” Jennifer asked.

“No doubt,” I answered. “And if we want to remain at the forefront of our field, as you’ve done so far, Jennifer, we’ve got to meet their expectations.”

“Etika, I think that I now really understand where you’re coming from,” Jennifer said. “It’s amazing that you had the foresight to predict all of this five years ago. I feel like such a dinosaur.”

“Nonsense, Jennifer,” I answered. “Like our clients, we avoid change, so sometimes we don’t let ourselves see what’s really happening around us.”

“Well, you’ve certainly opened my eyes, Etika,” Jennifer admitted.


“I’m glad, Jennifer. That’s what being your mentor has always been about,” I responded.

“So when do I get to check out your EMP, Etika,” Jennifer asked.

“Why don’t you come by my office tomorrow at 9, Jennifer,” I offered. “I’ll show you a full demo. I’m sure you’ll find it both innovative and fascinating.”

“I’m sure of that, Etika. Looking forward,” Jennifer said.


With that, we got up, hugged as usual, and left the conference center, both of us contemplating our bright future with the help of digital learning tools. 


 And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.

Download file

get your weekly free blog update

100% privacy, I will never spam you.




How executives can benefit from online coaching tools

For those who haven’t had a chance to read my first post about Jennifer, I’ll recap: Jennifer, a star executive coach whom I supervised came to me one day very upset. She’d just found out that a company she ran leadership seminars for had “replaced” her with an online program, one of the new career advancement solutions.


Jennifer and I discussed this over a cup of coffee, in which I told her my point-of-view: Online coaching courses are a very big opportunity for coaches, as they’ll let us provide a larger number of career advancement solutions to a wider audience. This piqued Jennifer’s curiosity and we decided to meet again. 


Yesterday afternoon, Jennifer walked into the coffee shop around the corner from my office with a smile on her face, a much different expression than the one she’d worn the last time we met. After a little bit of catching up and ordering our usual lattes, Jennifer began:


“Etika, I have to admit that I left our last meeting a little confused. I had come in so angry and hurt by my client but left with a glimmer of hope. It took me the whole weekend to really sort out how I feel, but I want you to know that I’m all ears regarding how you see online coaching tools as a vehicle to grow my practice.”


I smiled, as I was really pleased that Jennifer had taken on my advice, especially since I knew the potential that online tools could add to her already successful business.  


“That’s what I like to hear,” I told Jennifer. “I’ve done a lot of research regarding online coaching tools and I want to share my main findings.”


Taking out a pen and notepad, Jennifer answered, “Ready when you are.”


“Great,” I answered.


“Here’s the headline: Online courses are not only going to increase in number but also develop in directions we’re not even aware of.”


“Got it,” Jennifer answered. “That sounds reasonable...like so many other technological developments.”


“It does,” I said, “But I want you to know how many coaches I’ve met who spend...no...waste valuable time discrediting online courses. What they don’t realize is that what they’re really doing is expressing fear.” 


Jennifer nodded her head in agreement, but asserted, “Well, they are justified in being afraid. Look what happened to me!”


“Fair enough,” I said. “But categorically rejecting every online solution only because it’s online is ridiculous. Like everything, there are many different levels of quality.”


“I see what you’re, saying, Etika,” Jennifer said. “And it doesn’t put the coach in a very good light either, I suppose.”


“Precisely,” I said. “So rather than viewing online courses as the enemy and spending time putting them down, better to see how we can begin to accept them as real players in our industry.”


“OK,” Jennifer followed.


I continued, “Once we accept them as players, we can stop being afraid and start seeing the kinds of opportunities they’ll present to us.”


“Like what?” Jennifer asked.


 “Well,  the biggest one I’ve identified so far, Jennifer, is how online tools can help us, as coaches, provide the best solution possible for our clients.”


“Yes, I remember your saying something about this the last time we met,” recalled Jennifer.


“Good memory! Now, try to think about how many times your clients have cancelled or put off meetings because they said they didn’t have enough time.”


“Ugh. More than I’d like to think about. It always gets me so upset when I have to rejuggle my calendar,” Jennifer lamented.


“Tell me about it,” I said. “It always begins with a big apology and then spins into three or four emails until we finally figure out when to meet...not to mention the loss in income.”


“You said it,” agreed Jennifer.


I continued, “But think about these busy managers, always under pressure. You know as well as I do that they really don’t control their own schedules.”


Jennifer reflected, “Yes, it’s not really their fault, is it.”


“That’s right. They sincerely want our help. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have taken the trouble to engage us in the first place,” I said. “Yet, circumstances seem to prevent them from keeping their appointments.”


“And what really happens,” Jennifer interrupted, “is that we stop caring as well. I mean, there’s a limit to how much we can chase our clients.”


“Exactly my point, Jennifer,” I responded. “That’s why I think that online tools offer us such a significant opportunity. Rather than chasing our clients, as you so rightly put it, we can actually provide them with solutions that suit their hectic schedules.”


“I agree, Etika, but from our point of view, aren’t we just handing over our business to online course providers?” Jennifer wondered.


“Not at all, Jennifer,” I responded. “Our job actually becomes more critical, as we will be the ones identifying the best online solutions for the managers. Don’t forget, if managers are too busy to come to meetings, they certainly won’t have the time to search for and try out online courses. That’s where we come in, equipped with our professional perspective.”


“So our role as executive coach actually expands,” Jennifer said.


“Yes, it does. In fact, not only will we be advising clients regarding online tools but also will be seen as much more professional, as we’ll be offering a much wider variety of solutions that we could in the past,” I answered.


Jennifer seemed to understand my point. “And as you always say, Etika, our business is to help as many people as possible to improve their lives.”


“Right on, Jennifer,” I responded. “And that’s why I think that partnering with online tools will provide us with a bright future.”


I looked at my watch, “Jennifer, I’m really sorry, but I’m due back at my office in 15 minutes. How about we meet again next week to take this further?”


“It’s a date,” Jennifer said, smiling as we got up to leave.


Join Etika and Jennifer next time as Etika reveals an important development she’s been working on.



And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.


Download file

get your weekly free blog update

100% privacy, I will never spam you.




Why clients might need online coaching tools

“We’ve got to talk. My career is going down the drain.”

This is how a call began from Jennifer, one of my most successful coaching supervisees. Jennifer is at the top of her field in leadership development with clients from all over the region.


“Of course, Jennifer. Anything you want, you know that,” I responded. “But can you tell me what you mean?”

She explained, “One of my most loyal clients has just cancelled two leadership development seminars for next quarter. Instead, they’re going to have the managers do an online course. My career is doomed and so are my executive coaching rates, Etika. Do you have time to meet me this afternoon?”


Naturally, I obliged and arranged to meet with Jennifer at a coffee shop around the corner from my office.

After a long hug, we sat down and ordered our coffee.


“Etika, what kind of future can I expect if I’m going to be replaced by online courses?” Jennifer asked. “I mean, it’s not enough that there’s so much competition among us coaches, especially with executive coaching rates. Now, we’ve all got online courses to contend with.”


“I hear you, Jennifer, but let’s not forget one of the lessons we learned back in Marketing 101: competition is good. Of course, back in school, we wouldn’t have imagined that a computer would be our competition, but that’s the way things have turned out.”


Jennifer looked at me and said, “Just remind me why competition is good again, Etika.”


“Because it raises awareness of a need. Until recently, career coaching was just for the highly-paid executives who had physical access to a coach. Now, with a variety of technology and platforms, coaching is enjoyed by clients at many more levels of the hierarchy all over the world. Just think how much this has made our profession a real possibility for more people,” I answered.


Jennifer thought for a minute and responded, “But how is this going to help me? Etika, I’ve just had two cancellations. How many others are lurking around the corner?”


“First, Jennifer, if I can suggest, try to stop being afraid of online courses. Just like we tell our clients, change is inevitable. As far as I can see, online courses are going to increase and become an important player in the coaching landscape. It’s time to embrace them, not reject them,” I answered.  


“But how can I embrace something that’s eating into my income,” Jennifer asked.


“By finding ways for these online courses to become part of our practice and not in its place. The courses can make us much more professional, as they’ll allow us to offer our clients highly-specialized coaching solutions that were inaccessible in the past. If we do things right, the courses will help us actually increase business,” I responded.


Jennifer started to look interested. “I like what you’re getting at, Etika. Do you have any good ideas to get started?”

I answered, “I have a few brewing and would love to discuss them with you. It’s just that I have another appointment and need to run back to my office.”


Jennifer finally cracked her first smile since we had sat down. We decided to meet two days later, same time, same place. We paid for the coffee and walked out into the sunny afternoon.  
In future posts, learn how taking advantage of online tools can help professionalize your coaching practice and help more people.


And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.

Download file

get your weekly free blog update

100% privacy, I will never spam you.




How can executive coaches establish their unique niche?

With so many executive coaches in the market, establishing your own niche is crucial for your practice for two main reasons: 


1. It allows you to build your own brand, thus becoming the go-to executive coach for specific issues and paving your corporate development career path.

2. It helps your clients understand exactly what they can expect from working with you, thus increasing chances of success.


In a bid to grow quickly, many coaches end up accepting a wide variety of clients - but with varying degrees of success. How successful you are with specific clients  should be a first indication of the types of clients that you should focus on along your corporate development career path. Don’t be a  “hit and miss” coach, or at least limit this to your early days of practice.


Instead, you should always have one central question in mind when looking to establish a niche:  What are my roots, my beliefs? This will help solidify who you are as a coach and where you are headed.


When I started out as an executive coach, my colleagues in marketing asked me what my strategy was. I gave them a simple response: “to answer questions.” I wasn’t trying to be clever or minimalistic - these were, and still are, the roots of my desire to be an executive coach. 


A little bit about my roots. As a kid, I didn’t have it easy  - growing up at a time when different learning styles weren’t known about or recognized. As a result, I was labeled as lazy by both my teachers and my parents. I literally struggled all through school and later on in higher education. As a result, my passion has always been to help others avoid the kind of suffering I endured. And this passion was so strong that it naturally led me to my career as an executive coach, where I began helping managers avoid unnecessary suffering on their way up the career ladder.


By identifying with their hardships, I was able to teach them that they have the necessary innate potential to succeed - something that I was forced to teach myself after so many difficult years. So knowing where you’ve come from - what your roots are and how they’ve shaped your beliefs - is essential in establishing your own niche.


I highly recommend that you think deeply about this question yourself. I guarantee you’ll discover the connection between your roots, your beliefs, and who would most benefit from your help as an executive coach. Be sure to review this question periodically, especially in times of difficulty or uncertainty.

Once you are wholeheartedly connected to your roots, maintaining your niche will come naturally. You’ll stay focused on your niche, ignoring the “shiny and new” trends that can sidetrack you towards unproductive directions. Most importantly, you’ll believe in yourself as the best executive coach available for the niche you’ve dedicated yourself to.


And your dedication will pay off. Your clients will know what to expect from you, as who you are, what you offer, and how you offer it will be well-known. This will increase client satisfaction, as you will be delivering exactly what they expect. Client satisfaction will result in valuable referral business. Your clients will be your very own dedicated brand ambassadors, leading to even more growth. 


But remember that establishing your own niche isn’t just about your clients. It’s about first looking deep.


And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.

Download file

get your weekly free blog update

100% privacy, I will never spam you.




Should senior level managers consult with leadership coaches?

When I welcomed Mark, the CEO of a very successful hi-tech company into my office, I could see that he was less than enthusiastic to see me. 


As he sat down, he told me that he had come to me because his good friend Tim, another top hi-tech CEO, had hounded him so much that he finally agreed. I smiled to Mark and told him that Tim had pleaded with me as well to squeeze him in, as Mark was what he described as an urgent case. 


But after 35 years of practice, this scenario wasn’t new to me. Most successful CEOs are pretty sure they don’t have much to learn from leadership coaches like me - especially professional development goals for managers. 


“Well, Mark, now that we’ve both kept our promises to Tim, we can end things now and part as friends,” I said. I had decided to put the ball in Mark’s court.


Mark was completely taken off guard and even looked embarrassed. We remained silent for a few moments and then he began to speak.
“It’s not just a saying that it’s lonely at the top,” he uttered. 


“Everything is great when the company is running well. My employees are keen to share the credit for our successes, and of course, I’m more than happy to do so. But when things go wrong, it gets very cold and lonely,” he admitted. 


Mark told me that he had confided in Tim about a week ago, when he’d returned from a board meeting, completely disillusioned. His company had turned out very good quarterly results, yet the board had hoped for larger growth. 


Mark had explained that because of recent trade conflicts, it was taking longer than expected to produce certain components in Asia. As a result, there had been a delay in sales. 


“But the board wouldn’t accept this explanation,” he upsettingly said. 

“They were only interested in seeing a steeper growth graph.”


He continued: “And with all due respect, Etika, I’m really not sure what this has to do with you or how you can help...unless you can recommend some other factories.”


I told Mark that in terms of factories, he’d have to consult with someone else, but regarding his bigger question, every CEO needs and should engage in leadership coaching to promote professional development goals for managers like himself. 

“Mark, let me ask you a question. In the last month or so, how many times have you made a tough decision based on your experience, even your gut feelings?” I asked.


Mark gave a wry smile and answered, “Countless times, of course. That’s what’s expected of me - to use both my experience and intuition. That’s why things generally run pretty smoothly.”


“No doubt in my mind, Mark,” I replied. “By the way, do you have any idea what percentage of our decisions comes from habit versus actual processing,” I asked.

Mark shook his head.


“Research shows that about 40% of our daily decisions are automatic, while we only really think through the other 60%,” I said.

“Honestly, I didn’t know that,” Mark replied with interest. “Is this good or bad? Should I be doing something else?” he asked.


“Great question,” I said. “The good part of acting automatically 40% of the time is that it allows us to decide things quickly, thus increasing efficiency and saving us time,” I answered. 


“I see,” said Mark.


But then I continued: “The downside is that sometimes we react inappropriately to certain situations we think we’ve seen before.


As experienced managers, we’re expected to think quickly on our feet. This sometimes comes at the expense of taking the time to analyze the situation and think things through.”

“Right, I can relate to that,” Mark admitted. “I’ve shot from the hip a few times - regretting it later.”

“Exactly,” I said with a smile. “Of course, automatic reactions are great for efficiency, but sometimes they need to be restrained. Such restraint allows you to stop and consider if your instincts should be acted upon for a particular situation. This is similar to counting to ten before reacting when you’re angry.”


“I see what you mean,” Mark said.


“And once you do learn to stop and think, you’ll find that you’ll actually develop and add new and improved automatic reactions to your repertoire, rather than sort of recycling yourself” I added.   


“Right,” Mark said interestingly.


“As I see things, this is the secret to real growth in managers...the ability to evolve even at the most senior levels,” I commented. “And this is also the place where many CEOs like yourself are lacking, which leads to the “lonely at the top” feeling you mentioned earlier,” I added.


“That makes some sense,” Mark said.


“But you have to want to grow, Mark, and that means regularly meeting with a leadership coach,” I asserted. 


Inside, I wasn’t sure whether Mark was convinced. I told him that our time was up and that if he wanted guidance in growing even further, I would be happy to take him on. 


Mark was a bit surprised by my abrupt ending, but again, I felt that putting the ball back in his court was the right thing to do.


Based on my experience, CEOs either exhaust themselves out and find another career or carry on trying to grow. It’ll be interesting to see what Mark decides to do.


 And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.. 

Download file

get your weekly free blog update

100% privacy, I will never spam you.




How do I know if my coaching practice is successful?

This is probably one of the most asked questions among professional coaches.

I’ll tell you right away that there’s really no clear answer regarding how to measure success at work in our industry. And the reason is that it leads to so many other important questions: What kinds of metrics should I use? How do you define success? Who decides how to measure success at work? When should I measure?

I think you see how complicated such a simple question can become. But as professionals striving to improve, it’s still important to at least attempt at answering it - so that you know where you stand in the market. 


To help, I’ll share with you four metrics I’ve developed with my coaches over the years:


- Number of clients who want to work with you

- Your hourly rate

- Client satisfaction surveys from your corporate customers

- How selective you can be when taking on new business


Naturally, this is not an exhaustive list and you might not agree with some of the items. Again, I am sharing the big four that have proven over the years to be a pretty good indicator of a successful coaching practice.


In addition to these metrics, it’s important to listen to your clients. For example, if you often hear the following, your practice is probably quite healthy:


“I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“You really helped my friend.”

“You were warmly recommended.”


So you’re probably thinking: Why do I need the other metrics if my client has already told me how good I am? 

It’s very simple. Your client can shower you with a lot of praise, but if they aren’t active partners in their journey, then it’s going to reflect poorly on your practice as a whole. 


This brings me to another issue, which is related to #4 above. If, at any stage during intake or working with your client, you feel that your client isn’t cooperating, you need to bring this up as swiftly as possible. 


There’s nothing worse in a coach-client relationship than a sinking ship on which you’re both aboard. Such a situation will leave your client frustrated and your coaching practice with a bad name.


So obviously, the best thing to do is to filter out any potential sinking ship scenarios during the intake process.

Here’s how to do it:


1.    Understand your client’s expectations and consider whether they are indeed attainable.


2.    Define the requirements for reaching the client’s goals (e.g., time, resources).


3.    Explain the coaching process as realistically as possible, emphasizing that there’s no such thing as a “magic pill” -  any meaningful change is going to take time and patience.


4.    Ensure that the client is adequately motivated to do what needs to be done.


If you’re satisfied with this process, you have the makings of a productive coach-client relationship.


In a world that promises just about anything you can think of instantly - where everyone is chasing the newest and the shiniest - we must remain professional. Maintaining an honest relationship with your clients is the true secret to running a successful coaching practice.


And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

Download file

get your weekly free blog update

100% privacy, I will never spam you.




No executive coach is an island

Several years into my career, when I was already sought after by managers from many of the top companies in the industry, I began to realize that success has a price - even given the executive coaching rates I was being paid. As my practice increased, so did the variety of critical incidents and dilemmas I had to help my clients navigate. Dedicated to provide my clients with the best coaching possible, I knew that I myself needed guidance. There’s the old expression “The shoemaker’s children go barefoot.” Well, at the time, I was the shoemaker herself going barefoot.


How many of you have felt “barefoot” - mired in a dilemma, an unanswered question, uncertainty - yearning for guidance? And the irony is that experts, such as ourselves, are generally hesitant to consult with others professionally. After all, if we’re the experts, why do we need help? And if we do, maybe we’re not as professional as we thought.


Luckily, when I realized that I needed help, I swallowed my pride and called Sandra, a well-respected colleague. When I told Sandra that I wanted her to be my mentor, she thought I was kidding.


 “You’re one of the top executive coaches I know with some of the highest executive coaching rates. What could I possibly do to help you?” she responded.

I told her, “Thanks so much for the compliment, Sandra, but because I intend to remain professional, I know that I need a mentor.”

“Yes, I see what you mean, Etika. I myself did call you on several occasions to get your take on some of my own sessions with clients,” she recalled.

“And you were pleased to get a fresh perspective, right?” I’d convinced her.

“I tell you what,” I said. “Let’s keep this informal. When I feel I need a sounding board or a different way of tackling an issue, I’ll call you. If you can speak, great. If not, we’ll set a phone appointment for when it’s convenient for you. A deal?”

Sandra answered, “A deal. But as long as I can do the same!”


We had made a pact to keep each other as professional as possible. 

As the years passed, other executive coaches joined our little group, where we created a space to discuss our clients, strategies, and challenges. And there’s no doubt that this group prevented me from becoming worn out both emotionally and physically. I would even go as far as to say that in our profession, tapping into different perspectives is not a luxury - it’s a must.
With social media today, communicating with other executive coaches is as easy as opening Facebook and joining a group. This is an excellent way to gain different perspectives and share dilemmas. 


However, if you want to ensure you’re developing, it’s important to go beyond Facebook groups. For example, there are well-researched online courses developed by professionals that can help expand your horizons and thus your practice. With so much variety, it’s important that you choose which one fits your niche and the way you prefer to work. 


And if you don’t yet have a well-defined niche, then a good online course is a very effective way to help you specialize in some very lucrative areas. 


Whichever you choose, an expert around the corner or the empowerment of online learning, no executive coach is an island. When you finally embrace this, it will work for you and lead you to success.


And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

Download file

get your weekly free blog update

100% privacy, I will never spam you.




Cookie-cutter Solutions Don't Work

Climbing the stairs up to Etika’s office, Melanie was trying to figure out why a successful marketing manager like herself needed coaching. Her results so far in her career had been spectacular. She thought, “Am I not a dream player? Why am I being sent to coaching - and why is my boss hinting that my career depends on it?”


When her boss had mentioned coaching in the past, she used to laugh to herself, thinking he couldn’t be serious. Melanie wasn’t about to waste valuable time sitting around with a coach who didn’t understand her job. She did, though, take her boss seriously. One Friday, she stopped by a local bookstore to pick up a few best sellers in career advancement solutions. “After all, these multi-million dollar authors must know a thing or two,” she reasoned. “All I need to do is emulate their successful behavior.”


Rushing home, Melanie spent the weekend absorbing book after book, followed by binge listening to dozens of podcast episodes of various career advancement solutions. She meticulously noted the qualities and behaviors of successful managers. Starting the following Monday, she tried her best to implement everything she’d learned. She was going to make this work.


But surprisingly, Melanie’s manager felt differently. He acknowledged her recent, concerted effort to improve, but insisted that without coaching, Melanie would have no future. 


So here she was, about to meet her coach for the first time. Confused, Melanie finally reached the top of the stairs and knocked on the door to Etika’s office. The door opened and Etika warmly greeted Melanie, offering her a seat. After a bit of small talk, Melanie proudly told Etika about all of the self-learning she had been engaged with recently. 


She reached in her bag and took out a handwritten list of 100 habits of the world’s top managers that she had compiled over the last month. And she told Etika that she’d been making every effort to follow this list to the letter. 


However, Melanie disappointingly admitted that her boss had not seen any improvement in her performance.

Etika, of course, wasn’t surprised. She’d coached many “Melanies” during her four decade career - very ambitious managers looking for the “magic formula” for success.


Etika explained to Melanie that it’s nearly impossible to assume someone else’s habits in a bid to improve. “Unfortunately,” Etika lamented, “This is exactly what many management books and podcasts ask us to do.” 

Melanie was confused. “But if you don’t emulate a successful role model, how can you improve?” she argued. 

“By NOT emulating,” Etika emphasized. “Instead, you need to concentrate on minimizing the particular habits that are keeping you, personally, from growing, so that you can nurture your potential.”

“Habits? Potential?” Melanie was confused.


Etika gave her the example of a manager who prioritizes a company’s procedures over the bottom line. While sticking to procedures might be important, if it lead to a loss in the company’s income, then the procedures should be changed. 

But a manager who is procedure-oriented might not realize this, especially if they haven’t let their innate sense of prioritizing the bottom line develop. 

By concentrating on procedures, they’ve been neglecting other ways of thinking that are important for becoming a well-rounded manager. And without “giving room” to alternative ways, managers remain stuck.

“Melanie, I don’t know which of your hidden habits haven’t had a chance to develop, but what I do know is that they’re inside you, ready to be grown and nurtured,” Etika explained. “And no cookie-cutter management guide is going to help you with that,” she continued.


Melanie looked down to consider Etika’s words and then faced her, responding, “OK, Etika, you’ve convinced me to part with my checklist. I’m ready to discover my potential. Let’s get started.”


How can you discover your innate potential? How will doing so help increase your performance?


And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

Download file

get your weekly free blog update

100% privacy, I will never spam you.