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My coaches

The work that I'm privileged to do today, I could never have achieved without the contributions of my formal and informal coaches. No doubt about it. My coaches have influenced me in important ways and made me into who I am today.
  • At the beginning of my career, I must mention Steve Harrison first. I hadn't turned 30 yet, and I was barely able to prove myself since I had just started. I had good chemistry with Steve, having met him once in the USA. At that time he was the president of Lee Hecht Harrison, an American consulting firm, on the verge of building a global footprint. He trusted me to create and launch the Dutch business for LHH in the late ‘90's. Steve took a personal risk with my appointment by letting me and my team represent his firm in the Netherlands. With that trust, I was able to start from scratch as an intrapreneur.
  • As a manager I have always had a great deal of respect for the people who reported to me, but did not shy away from difficult discussions. Colleagues like Peter Eijndhoven never walked away from not-so-easy conversations. I'm thankful to have worked with these people. I've found there is a special dynamic that, as soon as you're in a management position, fewer people will debate with you.
  • For almost 10 years, I’ve worked with my business partner and my good friend, Herman van Herterijck. I have learned so much from him when it comes to integrating my strategic business experience in guiding the personal effectiveness of business leaders and their management teams. Herman is always an example for me when it comes to behaving: hard on the matter, soft on the people.
  • Since the creation of tèn company back in 2009, we have worked closely with Marshall Goldsmith and his network. The way Marshall shares his knowledge is valuable to so many people. He hits the right tone when he says: You became successful by behaving in this way, but if you want to go to the next level, you will have to change. More of the same behavior will never get you there.
My coaches have brought me so much. My advice is to make sure that you surround yourself with a small group of people who can serve as your sounding board. Especially cherish the people who disagree with you and voice it in a constructive way. Feedback is a gift — not only for yourself — but the impact of your decisions is even larger when you're leading an organization.

As you grow in your career, perhaps the biggest danger is that you get less and less feedback. It is obvious that you have to be critical in deciding whom to choose as an advisor. As a business leader, learning to receive feedback is perhaps as important as giving feedback. This is not always easy because in your leadership role, you're expected to be giving more than receiving.

Your technical skills become less important as your career progresses. Instead, your behavior becomes more and more important. Your coaches can be transformational in the process.

So, who gives you advice? Asked and unasked? Remember: None of us has all the answers.

Do you have experiences with coaches that you want to share with the network? Please join the conversation in the space below.

Hope this helps.

Paul Donkers

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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