career coach

The Overture – What makes a good career coach?

The Overture

Welcome to Second Acts Coach blog. Since this is my first blog and my theme and passion is setting the stage for your next act in life, I will start with the overture. Overture of course has two meanings; one is a prelude to a performance and the other an act, offer, or proposal that indicates a willingness to open a relationship. I use the theme “overture” to encompass both definitions in explaining the role of a career coach.

Every great musical performance starts with an overture. Of course, the overture is led by a conductor. There is a great lecture given by the renowned conductor, Itay Talgam, for the prestigious TED lecture series, in which he uses the metaphor of “great conductor” and how it relates to great leadership. After watching the very entertaining clip on YouTube…

I believe the metaphor can be extended from “great conductor” to “great coach”.

According to Talgam, great conductors understand there are many stories to be told during a magnificent musical piece. The orchestra, the audience, the composer all have stories that need to be synthesized into the performance. The conductor’s job is to give them space to tell their own story. An over controlling conductor, one with his baton firmly held and face tightly drawn, stifles all creativity and growth. The great ones let the music happen by itself. When the musicians’ asked Karajan, the esteemed conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic when they should start playing, he responded, “When you can’t stand it anymore!” Illustrious conductors establish partnerships and take the exhilarating roller coaster ride together, creating a process of joy and growth. The maestro, Leonard Bernstein, actually conducted with no baton, only smiles and head shakes. He trusted his partners to accomplish the task and with acknowledgement and pride enabled his orchestra to soar.

A great coach should take her lead from Talgam’s great conductors. She establishes a partnership with her client. She takes great joy in watching the client grow and take risks. The process is such that the client’s story can be heard. She understands that the client is ready for their second act, “When they can’t stand it anymore.” She partners with the client on the ride, enjoying the process and assisting with the content. She acts as a guide, transformative, yet the client hardly knows she exists. In the end, with support and structure, just like the maestro, the coach and the client make beautiful music together.

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