Executive Coaches are consultants. Even those who work for a firm remain consultants by nature. Many in fact refer to themselves as Leadership Consultants. Though we look to distinguish ourselves from others and make ourselves as marketable as we can to clients, there is something else we can do to help land business in the finals stages of the interview process, often referred to as the "beauty contest," when we are being directly compared to each other for proper fit and fee. There is a 3-step reflective exercise called the "3Ps," which when applied appropriately can help an individual consultant best articulate why he or she should be chosen for an assignment or coaching engagement.
The 3Ps refers to: 1) Purpose; 2) Perspective; and 3) Process. My Purpose as a coach is to provide my client with an objective lense and, through collaboration, identify goals and strategies to achive them while developing skills in reflective learning. I have come in contact with many other coaches around the globe and have been amazed by how many are not able to articulate what their own purpose is. I no longer say I am "surprised" by this, merely amazed. This field remains an unregulated, unlicensed industry so I do not think anyone should be surprised by what they find out there. On the one hand I can feel good about the advantages I have over them but still somewhat annoyed by their ability to bring down the credibility of a field I have personally spent 8 years in training. I have come across plenty of talented and incredibly gifted coaches who have articulated some brilliant Purpose statements. "To assist my clients in becoming life-long learners," is a particular favorite.
My Perspective refers to what lense I use when working as a coach. My upbringing, education, value system, religion, age, etc., all come into consideration to form my perspective. Unlike many of the executive coaches working in the U.S. today, I do not come from 20+ years experience in Human Resources or from a senior level career in business. I come from a background in Journalism and Communications. I earned a MA in Professional Development and Executive Coaching and have received training and certifications in numerous psychometric tools. I am a member of the American Psychologial Association and have studied psychology though I am not a licensed psychologist. Why do I mention this? Because I like potential clients to know that I follow the APA code of ethics. It is a differentiator.
My Process refers to my coaching model. I am often asked by the gatekeepers inside organizations like Pepsi as to what questions they should be asking coaches during the screening process in order to determine which coaches are for real and which coaches just hung a shingle yesterday. I tell them to ask one simple question: What is your coaching model? If they can answer this question without stumbling or fumbling for a reasonable response, then you can continue interviewing. Otherwise, why bother? Being able to clearly articulate a model means you have studied. It means you have done your homework and taken the time to connect the dots between your own particular style, approaches and preferences. How can we ask others to reflect, be self-aware, and be strategic when we have not taken the time to do this ourselves? The hardest advice to take in life is your own. As a coach or as a consultant in any field, you need to demonstrate what you ask others to do. I have attached my coaching model, "The Motivational Model," to my profile as a document. I encourage you to read it and would love to hear your feedback.
Consider using the exercise of the 3Ps to create or re-create your own elevator speech. What is your purpose as a consultant? What is your perspective or process? What are your differentiators? Coach or not, you must be able to articulate what differentiates you from other consultants. The better you can do that, the more chance you have of winning your own versions of the beauty contest.