Have you ever considered using an executive coach to help take your career to that next ladder rung? Have you ever dreamed of becoming an executive coach and impacting the lives of other professionals? May Busch was one of those dreamers, and she shares with us her story of how she entered the world of executive coaching and what you need to know before using or becoming a coach.
4word: Before we begin, tell us a little bit about yourself.
May: My husband and I live in England and have three wonderful daughters. I’m blessed with a wonderful and supportive family, and I get to do work I love every day. I am immensely grateful.
Aside from work and family, what I enjoy most is going to the gym (that’s my “happy place”), taking jazz dance and yoga classes, reading, and doing what a friend of mine calls “project cooking” (which means making a meal for a special occasion or situation – such as putting out a beautiful buffet spread for my film crew at my first photo shoot). I also enjoy playing the piano and look forward to resuming jazz piano lessons shortly.
In terms of the basics of my background: I grew up in New Jersey, studied Economics at Harvard, worked at Morgan Stanley as an analyst, and then got an MBA at Harvard Business School (I’m a classmate of Diane’s).
I then returned to Morgan Stanley as an Associate and worked my way up to Managing Director, having 8 different roles on 2 continents over 22 years. Most of that time was spent in front-line roles covering corporate clients before becoming COO for Europe.
In addition to my executive coaching and speaking business, I travel regularly to Arizona State University where I am an Executive in Residence in the Office of the President and Professor of Practice at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business.
At ASU, I am co-designing a Leadership Academy for faculty and research staff and chairing the Idea Enterprise, a program for bringing experienced business leaders to ASU to help turn its best ideas into forces for change in the world.
4word: What led you to make the shift from investment banking to leadership development?
May: When I chose to retire from my investment banking career in 2008 (just before markets got really bad), it was to seek what I called my “next era of meaningful work”.
After experimenting with several options, I finally realized that what I am meant to do is take all those valuable lessons I learned in my corporate career – mostly the hard way! – and use them to help other professionals succeed in their careers with less stress and suffering.
That’s why I am now an executive coach, motivational speaker, and advisor.
I’ve always been interested in people and what makes them tick, why some individuals and groups are more successful than others, and the role of leadership as a key part of that mix.
Also, I’ve seen what great leaders can contribute, as well as the tremendous harm that a bad leader can do at individual as well as organizational levels.
I want to do whatever I can to help people become better leaders and create the positive ripple effect that benefits society exponentially.
4word: Is there anything (good or bad) that you learned or experienced in your career that you make a point of sharing with developing leaders?
May: There are so many of them! But if I were to choose just one, it is this: You must keep learning, growing, and developing. And that means investing in yourself. I talk more about leadership and career success in the video below.
Being successful as a leader, and in your career overall, is an ongoing endeavor. You’re never “done”. This is best captured by Marshall Goldsmith in his book titled, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”. Become a student of yourself and your environment. When you get complacent, it’s the beginning of the end.
I remember skipping training sessions and networking events, because I was too busy doing “real work”. Looking back, that was usually short-sighted. I should have been continuing to invest in myself when I had the opportunity. And when I started thinking I knew it all, that was usually when I made the biggest mistakes – just like in my recent blog post on 5 Mistakes That Almost Sank Me!
4word: What are 3 things that all leaders should master in order to be successful?
May: To be the best leader you can be, it’s important to master the following three key areas:
1. Mastering your Self – bringing your best self to work more of the time so that you can feel more confident, attract energizing people who can propel your career forward, and have better relationships and more opportunities to advance.
2. Mastering Others – knowing the landscape so that you can have: greater clarity on how to navigate the politics, more control over your career, and more people who “have your back.”
3. Mastering Results – delivering results at the next level up by thinking bigger and more strategically, positioning yourself to create those bigger strategic results, and executing with confidence, clarity and courage.
These also correspond to the areas I talk about in the Career Mastery video series in the members-only site I reference below.
4word: Tell us about your recent offering to help people accelerate their career success.
May: I launched the Career Mastery™ members only site on November 5th as part of my goal of helping 1 million people accelerate their time to career success.
This is a private site that contains a variety of resources to provide corporate professionals with strategies, tools, and tips that they can put to use immediately to advance their careers. Among the resources are:
● 38 Career Mastery Tips – these are actionable tips that you can put to use right away to help turbocharge your career.
● Career Mastery Forum – a members only discussion area
● Bookshelf – recommended books, articles, and videos from my personal collection, along with my comments on why and how these are useful
● My online course on Mastering the S-Curve: 5 Key Skills You Need to Master for Career Success
● And additional resources such as monthly group Q&A calls, articles that go beyond my public blog posts, webinars, interviews with successful leaders, other online courses, and more.
4word: You have an exciting “career challenge” debuting in January. Tell us more about it and how our readers can take part.
May: In early January, I will be releasing my best actionable tips and tools to help people raise their game and advance their career in 2015. I call this the Career Mastery Challenge, and it’s a powerful way to start off the new year and pave the way for even greater career success. And it’s free of charge.
As for how you can take part, it’s simple – just click on this link to the 30-Day Career Mastery Challenge to sign up.
Then, starting in mid-January, you’ll receive a free Career Mastery Tip from me by email every other weekday through mid-February. So that’s 12 Tips to action over a four-week period. Plus, I respond directly to participants’ questions and feedback.
The Career Mastery Tips are designed to be directly useful in helping you master your career (rather than having it master you!) and are based around the 12 roles that you need to play in a successful career, including you as a: Brand, Communicator, Strategist, Risk-Taker, Creator of Time and Energy, and Confidence Builder, to name a few.
I suggest that you consider inviting a friend, a colleague or even a group to join up too – that way you can support each other in taking action on the Tips. Last year, a particularly innovative participant signed up along with one of her new team members as a way to help the new person integrate into the organization – they used the Tips as a regular discussion point.
But the most important thing is to just sign up for this free Challenge so you can get your new year off to a great start!
4word: Do you have any advice for someone who might be thinking about pursuing executive coaching, either for themselves or as a career?
May: If you’re thinking of working with an executive coach, it makes sense to get clear on the following three points:
1. Know what you want to get out of coaching – the coach can act as an impartial thinking and accountability partner, hold up a mirror and challenge you, and provide frameworks and tools to help you overcome obstacles and advance. However, it’s up to you to identify the goals you want to achieve and provide clarity on what success would look like at the end of your work together.
2. Be prepared to do the work – the main purpose of working with a coach is to help you advance toward a goal you are committed to achieving. Inevitably, that means change and growth. And that means taking the time to reflect, experiment, and do the work that helps you change and grow - not just during sessions but also in between.
3. Choose the right coach for you – this is a very personal decision. You and your coach both need to feel you can work together effectively. After taking into account their areas of expertise and experience, it’s really about the chemistry between you that matters. No two coaches are the same, just as no two clients are the same.
If you’re interested in pursuing executive coaching as a career, then I highly recommend getting proper training through an accredited program. Even though I had been mentoring and informally “coaching” colleagues for years, I found the formal training (which I got at The Meyler Campbell Business Coaching Programme in the UK) to be invaluable.
Not only did I learn how to be a proper professional coach, I also became part of an alumni network that has served me extremely well. The business of coaching can be a solitary endeavor, and if you’re an extrovert like me, it’s important to build out your network.
Do you think your career could benefit from an executive coach? May’s encouragement and tips for not only getting the most out of your time with an executive coach but also mastering your career should serve as an inspiration to you to keep persevering in your professional journey.
Which of May’s tips will help you the most in your professional journey?
May Busch is an executive coach, speaker, and advisor who helps leaders accelerate their time to success. She works with senior management of corporations and professional services firms through workshops, keynotes, consulting, and executive coaching.
Prior to this, May enjoyed a 24-year career at Morgan Stanley, most recently as COO for Europe. May is also Senior Advisor and Executive in Residence in the Office of the President and Professor of Practice at W.P. Carey School of Business, at ASU (Arizona State University).
May's mission is to help 1 million people accelerate their time to career success. Find out more at MayBusch.com and CareerMastery.com