Forbes separates all professionals into four major categories: The Talented Expert, The Hidden Talent, The Incompetents, and The Incompetent Experts. Further, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) says that successful professionalism operates in triplicate as an ideology, as expert knowledge, and as a behavioural foundation. If you’re struggling in your professional career, you may know what your obstacles are and don’t know how to overcome them. Or you might feel that you don’t know where to start at all in refining your professional career. Maybe you feel like your annual professional review lacks constructive criticism and thus you suffer from repeatedly lacklustre ratings. Wherever you are in your professional career, a professional coach can help you determine where you want to go and how to get there. Based on Forbes’ list of professionals, here are four common obstacles a professional coach can help you overcome:
1. The Talented Expert
From the title alone you might be asking yourself, how is being a ‘Talented Expert’ an obstacle that needs to be overcome? A lot of what society teaches us about becoming a successful professional tends to focus on just expertise and talent. However, many well-performing professionals suffer from intense anxiety. In fact, a 2008 study found CEOs may have twice the risk of suffering from depression and anxiety than the general population. As TTUHSC notes, a truly successful professional has a well-balanced life. Those who appear wildly successful on the outside may be struggling mentally, and the trap of being perceived as the ‘Talented Expert’ is, “they may believe that revealing their vulnerability will cause everything – their success, their reputation, their relationships – to unravel.” Businesses are starting to see the necessity of mental health support for professionals. In fact, “the number of organisations offering stress management and mental wellbeing programmes to staff has doubled in the last five years.” It can be a lot of pressure to be considered successful. A professional coach can help you understand where your stressors are coming from and put goals and resources in place to help you nurture your mental health. Like small tune-ups help to keep a nice car running smooth, so too do mental health check-ups help to develop the well-rounded successful professional!
2. The Hidden Talent
Many moderately successful people fall into this category and yet it continues to be a frustrating middle-ground. The ‘Hidden Talent’ is incredibly competent as a professional, and flourishes when given opportunities to prove themselves. However, the ‘Hidden Talent’ struggles to promote themselves and seek those opportunities for themselves, often leading to them being overlooked in areas they might have found success in. There are two major ways of climbing out of this trap of hiding your talents. First, soberly assess what those talents are in the first place instead of waiting for an opportunity to bring out the best in you. GoodTherapy says, “The first step toward becoming more assertive is nurturing a realistic and respectful perspective on your value as a person.” Therefore, it is just as important to note what you do well as it is to note what you could improve in. Second, having a clear grasp of your value as a professional, you need to build your confidence to put yourself out there. Internal hires benefit a company in many ways, thus, many hiring managers are being encouraged to look for talent within. Putting yourself forward for promotions or more responsibility at work can be nerve-wracking but consider that your employer can’t know you’re ready for success until you show them! If you’ve assessed yourself and feel you don’t have the skills necessary to be promoted, remember that we never stop learning. Take the initiative to update your skills for the position you want, or even better communicate your efforts to your superiors and ask them what skills they might be able to help you develop. Then, a professional coach can help you as you work towards your goals. You have so much potential, you just have to let it shine!
3. The Incompetents
Forbes is a bit brutal with this labelling. The adage goes, “There are no stupid questions,” but a lot of failure in life makes us feel like we are stupid. Watching others be successful professionally, financially, and socially while we struggle in those areas leaves us feeling completely incompetent. The genius physicist, Albert Einstein, is quoted as saying, “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” There are hundreds of ways to build up one’s skill level to propel oneself forward in a professional setting. You are not held hostage in a job or station that makes you unhappy. A study in 2020 found a correlating feedback loop between one’s mindset and academic performance. The study notes a negative feedback loop (e.g. Believing you’ll fail and then failing) negatively impacts one’s motivation, but a positive feedback loop (e.g. Believing you’ll succeed and then succeeding) positively impacts one’s motivation. Maybe this sounds like obvious results, however, the report provides evidence that humans have the power to influence our own success. That is incredibly powerful and deserves to be harnessed. An ‘Incompetent’ is only incompetent if they choose to stay that way! Choosing to do the work to take positive and proactive steps in life helps in so many ways. In your professional life, it can be the difference between being successful and being stuck. A professional coach can help you set realistic and challenging goals that can literally change your life.
4. The Incompetent Experts
The Incompetent Experts are a funny category of professionals. These are the people who appear like experts and often are rewarded with promotions and responsibilities, but ultimately perform a lot of ‘fake-it-until-you-make-it’ and improvising techniques. In many ways, they often succeed because, as the above study confirms, believing in your ability to be successful is a powerful tool. However, they may struggle with a lot of fear of being out of their depth professionally or being ‘found out’ when clients dig deeper into their qualifications. The best way for an ‘Incompetent Expert’ to gain professional confidence, is to put in the actual work others believe you have done. Skating by on outside perception and good public speaking skills alone can only last for so long. Like the ‘Incompetents,’ look for opportunities to improve your skillsets and education. Imagine how far your professional success will propel you when it’s based on the foundation of genuine skill, talent, and your already firm grasp on charisma. A professional coach can help take you from faking it to actually making it.
Coaching for professional development is all about knowing where you’re starting and knowing where you want to go. Even the most outwardly successful person can get help from a professional coach to refine their professional life balance, and even the most outwardly unsuccessful person can utilise the expertise of a professional coach to create achievable goals towards success.