Once you’ve decided to make use of an IT Architecture coach, one of the first things they will do is establish where you are and where you want to be in 5 or 10 years time. To help them do this they’ll create a written plan which you both will refer to throughout your time together.
What do you want to do with your life?
Before you set off on any journey it’s a good idea to know where you’re going. Your coach will sit down with you and help you understand your goals and put them in priority for you. It may be that you want to spend more time with your family or you want to do more work as a consultant, maybe you want a career change and move more into project management.
It doesn’t matter what you want, discuss it with your coach. I advise being as outlandish as possible. If you want to run your own consulting business employing hundreds of staff, then tell them so. If they don’t know what you want, they can’t help you achieve it.
How do you develop a strategy for doing it?
Well first of all ask yourself, what will it take to achieve your goals? Do you need more money, are there areas you need to work on like people management. Once you’re aware of the tools you need to complete the tasks at hand it will be much easier to move forward.
Your IT Architecture coach will work with you to establish where you’re weak and where you’re strong. So don’t hold anything back, thinking about your weaknesses is never a comfortable feeling never mind discussing them with someone else. But its so important, so swallow your pride and go into as much details as possible. Your coach can’t help you if they don’t know what’s wrong.
Establish what matters to you most?
If your young free and single then right now your career is probably the most important thing for you. You’ve worked hard through university to attain your degree running up huge debts in the process and now you just want to get on and earn some money.
But as you get older your priorities can change. Once you get married and have children you realise that work isn’t so important after all. Now you’ll want to spend less time at work and more time at home.
So when you develop your 5 or 10 year plan your coach should work with you to help you understand how life’s priorities can change. Whilst now you may be happy to put in 60 hour weeks and commute to the office, in the future you may want to do more work from home to spend more time with your family. So it’s a good idea to write down what you want from your personal life as well as your professional life, so that you and your coach can work together to achieve a happy work life balance.
Coaching was first used successfully in the world of sport and its benefits are now being realised in the business world. The use of a coach can not only help you realise a career goal, it can also improve your personal life.
The benefits for you and your organisation can be plentiful. Therefore it’s important to dismiss the myths that surround this profession and establish essential objectives for you and your potential coach to follow.
Coaching is Not Only There to Help You, but to Help Others
Invest a few minutes each day coaching different members of your team. The coaching you receive from your coach is then filtered down throughout your organization.
Practicing coaching builds on the communication and soft skills needed to become a successful leader.
The investment in IT Architecture coaching develops strength in depth which in turn leads to a more robust organisation.
You Have the Questions, They Have the Answers
All organizations have questions which need to be answered. Not all organizations have the resources to answer these questions effectively.
Being there to answer your questions is one of the most important services a coach can provide.
Taking the time to build up a professional relationship with your coach will reap huge rewards for both you and your organization. The things you learn can be passed down to more junior members of your team, helping them to work more efficiently. This in turn helps you complete projects on time and within budget. Something many IT professionals fail to do.
Once you’ve had a few coaching sessions, you’ll start to feel the benefit in the form of increased confidence and operating in a more structured way. Where once you were running around from one meeting to the next, not able to fully complete the work you were hired to do. Now you have more time to complete the task in hand properly and professionally.
Now all you need to do is find a suitable coach. On a professional level an IT Architecture coach should not only be skilled in coaching but also hugely experienced within the world of IT. As we all know IT has a language all of its own, your IT Architecture coach should be able to fully understand the problems you are facing every single day.
Here are eight more reasons why an enterprise architecture mentor and coach guide peak performance as an IT architect. You need grace under pressure. You live a demanding life as an IT architect and a wide variety of interpersonal skills are needed. Architects who grasp these skills the best are on the fast lane to the top. Your coach helps you learn how to quickly change direction, how to think on your feet, and how to be nimble and quick so you can confidently make decisions under pressure without second-guessing all the time. Recognize and defeat your flaws. Everybody has blind spots and if you refuse to recognize them you put yourself at the risk of failure. Leadership depends on a high degree of self-awareness and the IT architect who has an intense sense of self is head and shoulders above other people.
Your coach can build up your self-awareness so that your effectiveness is not degraded by deficiencies. Shrink linear thinking and extend asymmetrical thinking. As we know, the left brain is orderly and mathematical and the right brain is creative and intuitive. Good organizational abilities need linear thinking at a high level.
Asymmetric and creative thinking is also essential and a trained IT architecture coach can help you mix both sides of your personality for best effect. Outcome oriented versus people focused. You are no longer a technician and the skills that used to get the job done now need to be mixed with people skills. This creates the correct balance between operational success and the individual skills which drive every organization. Ability to transfer new skills which have just been learned. A well-coached IT architect knows how to impart new wisdom to others for better collaboration which leads to greater success within the whole business structure. An intuition which is highly developed. Peak performers in all fields can’t always explain how they got to the top or why their skills transcend their peers.
IT architects are no different. Your enterprise coach will help you cultivate a more highly developed intuition so that you can develop the understanding and control needed to create a better future. Here’s an interesting question. When was the last time you sat in silence and reviewed the past year or even the past day? Peak performance requires quiet time to reflect on success and mistakes and to analyze performance initiatives and goals. Your coach helps in these areas, and acts as a sounding board so you get there faster.
Greater success through strategic thinking. Coaching gives you the time to discuss short and long-term goals and objectives inside a collegiate atmosphere. Remember your coach is dedicated to your well-being. The neutrality of a coach who is also a confidante is one of the most powerful tools available to a busy IT architect. Despite the abilities of your coach, you as an IT architect must be open to the process and very clear in your motivations regarding the assistance of a coach. One of the biggest benefits of coaching is the opportunity to reassess your intentions, organizational skills and thoughts. This expands your potential to get measurable improvement not just during the coaching process but throughout your career as an IT Architect.
Here are eight good reasons why you should hire a coach so you can achieve peak performance as an IT Architect. Personal growth. A coach can help you speed up your natural learning curve in ways you can’t do alone. An understanding of work life balance. IT architects are people. You have challenges and a life away from the office. Coaching helps you align non-work goals and create a system which helps achieve success in all areas so that personal and professional growth occurs. Learn from mistakes. Mistakes are really small successes, because they teach us what doesn’t work and this helps us get closer to our goals. Coaching can help you overcome the negative and destructive emotions which mistakes can cause, through the use of constructive feedback. Become more self-aware.
Self-awareness is a high priority for IT architects because it helps with your interpersonal skills. In fact executive coaches call this a master skill. In other words it is one of the primary skills you need to have and a coach can guide you so you learn it fast. Create better self reflection. The ability to examine the past and present to create a positive impact on the future is a conscious process. A trained coach encourages self reflection so you can achieve peak performance on a daily basis. Define correct development goals. Forward thinking IT architects look for learning objectives that are enjoyable so they can live a better life and achieve professional success. A good coach will work closely with you to blend professional and personal agendas so that you can advance leadership and self-fulfillment abilities. Build on strengths and minimize weakness.
Everyone is an individual with unique talents skills and flaws. Figuring out how to leverage these strengths is a challenge. Your coach will teach you how to bring your strengths and assets to bear on daily priorities, both at a personal and organizational level. When your strengths are aligned with the goals, the results are immediately measurable. Personal and professional balance. Holding a holistic view of success is crucial for peak performance. Your coach can teach you how to create a balance of life and work. In this way you will avoid stress-related illness, inferior performance and burnout.
IT architecture coaching is the only type of program available that offers development specific to you as an individual which incorporates your unique needs, specifically defined and measurable objectives and outcomes, and quantifiable behavioral change with business impact which can be assessed. Because the business environment is like a pressure cooker, you need a lot more than the usual skills if you want leadership, and results. Make no mistake, an IT architect is a leader and they need to have cultural understanding of the environment in which they are working, technical abilities, operational skills, mental and emotional intelligence, a certain sophistication, a leadership mentality, the ability to work well with others, and an ever wider variety of other cross cultural and business savvy skills. IT architecture coaching will bridge the gap for IT architects who are interested in creating and remaining prepared for the future.
Enterprise architecture training has evolved from the sports coaching model. Coaches help IT architects remove or reduce internal obstacles to their performance and this can unleash the natural abilities that are inherent without too much technical input from the coach. One of the easiest to understand the most often used coaching models is the GROW model. The GROW coaching model consists of four parts and they are Goals, Reality, Options, and Wrap up. Basically there are a specific group of questions that need to be answered by the person being coached and of course each stage has to be addressed in order, otherwise the model becomes confused (and so will the coach and the IT architect). So here are some questions which will get you started. What is your goal? What do you want or accomplish? In relation to IT architecture coaching this could include development of soft skills, a defined career path, a better focus, clearer milestones. What are you trying to do, how do you know this particular goal is worth achieving? How will you and your work coach know when you have achieved it? We now come to the Reality of the situation and an examination of what is really going on, as you see it.
Do you know if this perceived reality is accurate, and is it based on what’s happening now? Where do you find yourself at this time and have you tried any solutions? Did they work? Which ones did and which ones and didn’t? You then have to look at your Options. You have to find out what alternatives you have now and maybe what the other possibilities are in front of you. Do you have choices at this time? What has worked in similar situations before? Questioning available options is really good because it stretches your imagination. If constraints were taken away and you could really do what you want to do, what would you do? What else needs to be considered and who else apart from your enterprise architect mentor can help? In the Wrap-up we tackle the question – what are you willing to do? What can you do right now?
What’s going to get in the way and what will it cost you if you don’t take action now? Who needs to know and what support will you need in from home as well as the workplace? Are you likely to pursue the target that you’re aiming at and to what degree? And the most important question is what will it take to get you moving towards your goal? As you can see the GROW model is more of an asking situation than a telling situation. The idea is your coach asks you these questions and you provide the answers to yourself. They help you to think creatively and can elicit radical ideas particularly in the options and wrap-up stages. Your coach can also check your understanding of the questions and the answers and he can give you specific examples and illustrations. This is just a small sample of what can happen when you engage in enterprise architecture training and there are lots of other tools which coaches use to help you focus on and grow your career as an IT architect.
Have you ever tried watching five television sets at once where they are all on different channels? Figuring out what you need to know to create a successful IT architect role can present a similar challenge. This is where the services of an experienced IT architect career coach will be invaluable. A good coach will help steer through the maze of available training and experiential opportunities which are available to you as a new IT architect. Your coach is a trained professional who gives you expert guidance, support, and advice on how to focus so that you will achieve career success. Because your coach is an objective observer and listener who often sees situations more clearly than you can, they will give you a lot of very useful direction and feedback so that you can focus on what is important at any particular stage in your career.
Your IT architect coach will concentrate on where you are now and will help you develop the goals, plans and the action steps which are essential to success. The coach will challenge you to do your best, will work with you through hard times, will teach you how to focus and reach your goals, and celebrate the milestone as you achieve them. When you get coaching, you should get one or more of these outcomes; enhanced self-awareness and direction, increased management skills, clarity of career goals, and an overall improvement in your quality of life because you know where you are going and how to get there. You will know you are ready for coaching when it seems that you have too many options open to you and have no idea which one is the best to choose.
One of the best things about IT architecture coaching is that you will get to where you want to go much faster. Ask any IT architect who is successful how much faster they would have achieved their place if they had used a coach and mentor. Because of your new focus and clarity of thinking you will be less likely to make mistakes which will shift your career sideways rather than propel it forwards. Your new clarity of focus will help you to make better decisions and set better priorities. You will remove overwhelm and will learn to ask the right questions. When you achieve focus through the help of an IT architect career coach, you will be much better prepared for your IT architect role.
Do I want a mentor or a coach or a healthy combination of both?
Coaching and mentoring are not the same thing. Mentoring is a relationship between a more experienced person, the mentor, and a less experienced person, the student. Mentoring usually involves giving advice within a specific industry. An enterprise architecture mentor certainly has the industry experience but may not have the expertise to be a good coach. Unfortunately, an ordinary business coach will not have the specific experience in the IT industry, which is needed to coach you towards becoming a better IT architect. In fact the ideal IT architect coach will combine the role of coach and mentor so they will be more effective at what they for you. A smart enterprise architecture coach will teach you how to work with all stakeholders including leaders and in the trenches technical experts. The coach will guide you through the process of building a holistic viewpoint of the strategy, information, processes and information technology of the company.
Your coach’s role is to show you how to take this knowledge and ensure that information technology and the business are in complete alignment. Your enterprise architect coach will show you how the business mission, strategy and processes are linked to the IT strategy. Your coach will teach you how to document this and create multiple architectural models so the future or current needs of the business can be met. Your coach’s role is to help you develop the skills needed so that you can help the organization to become more efficient, effective, sustainable and adaptable. Because an enterprise architect operates across all facets of the business including computing, you must learn how to drive, approach and discover all information assets and processes throughout the business. You will learn that the goal is to create and implement architecture which supports an efficient and secure IT infrastructure. And it has to meet all the needs of the business. We can take the analogy as provided in Wikipedia to explain the differences between IT architects. An enterprise architect is like a city planner who provides roadmaps and regulations which manage growth and provide services to the citizens. First, the system architect inside this analogy plans one or more buildings.
The software architect is responsible for something similar to services such as heating their relation and air-conditioning inside the building. The infrastructure or technical architect is responsible for something similar to the plumbing, not only within the building but the water and sewerage infrastructure between the buildings or parts of the city. The enterprise architect like a city planner frames the citywide design and choreographs all the other activities into the larger plan. When seeking a mentor/coach to become an IT architect, be mindful of the types of experience which your coach has had in their professional life. After all if you wish to become an enterprise architect there will not be much value in having a coach whose main expertise has been software architecture. You need to cast your net wider.
A coach can help you speed up your natural learning curve in ways you can’t do alone. Successful IT architects are committed to never-ending personal and professional growth. They realize that when they graduate it’s only the beginning of the road, not the end. It seems that professional performers try so many things over the course of their life; their mental growth rate is staggering when compared to the average person. Most people avoid risk at any cost, and that can be seen within many corporations. The best people are always looking for opportunities and that is what the best IT architects do too. Although performers are willing to fail their way to success, you will discover that if you have the services of an experienced IT architecture coach and mentor you will shortcut the process substantially. Successful people believe that they cannot fail, that they can only learn and grow, and that having a coach is a valuable aid in that growth. Average performers try to go forward whilst avoiding pain at the same time.
Successful IT architects comfortably forge ahead with little or no concern about failure because they know they are in the hands of an expert coach and mentor. It seems that productive IT architects program themselves to get rid of their fear and move ahead. Most people are so afraid of failure that they only attempt goals they know they can reach. One of the best feelings you get when you are undergoing personal growth is that it just doesn’t stem from your successes, but also from the growth process that occurs along the way. One of the best things about personal growth in your journey towards becoming a great IT architect is the actual fun you can have in what you do. Most people see high achievers as self-disciplined, self-sacrificing and “success with achievement at all costs” machines.
If you have a close look at what drives those people fun is one of the things that stands out. Does Sir Richard Branson come to mind? Successful IT architects possibly have more fun in work than any other group and this stems from the attainment of personal growth as they make their way from an IT junior through to becoming a successful enterprise architect. When coached correctly, an IT architects career path will encompass their natural talents, abilities, but most of all, their passions. There is pure fun, excitement, enjoyment and even exhilaration in the work of a successful IT architect who has a great enterprise architecture mentor.
The IT architect is a communication hub between company management, end users, systems developers and other stakeholders. If an architect fails to communicate clearly, it can mean a conceptual breakdown further down the line if talking to developers, elevated costs and animosity if dealing with project managers or even project cancellation when talking to upper management. As a senior technical person you already know how to problem solve and translate ideas into working systems and code. Because you are an Architect working with teams, you now have to solve a few more problems which have nothing technical about them. One major barrier to cross is delivering your ideas to others clearly when you deliver a formal presentation – your “presentation” skills.
There are different Foch for each type of presentation but the principles are the same. Presentation skills start with what you need to tell and who the audience is. It includes the way you create your slides (e.g. telling a story vs. bullet points) and goes into how you present, your stance, your interaction with the audience, voice modulation etc. If you don’t present confidently you will not sell the message for change you are trying to convey, so strong belief in what you are doing is a must too. Are presentation skills enough to get your message across the line and create influence? Not really, because explaining yourself clearly is only the start. Dialog with the other stakeholders is also key, so you can reach an agreement that you are right, or negotiate middle ground somewhere or acknowledge your errors and then move forward. So another key component of communication is negotiation skills.
Negotiation skills let you defuse a situation that can deteriorate into a school yard scrap shouting at each other (ever seen grown men do that?) and instead create a collaborative common problem solving experience. To have a successful collaborative relationship inside an organization you must remember it is ongoing. To create an atmosphere of give and take for the common good all parties must trust each other. All parties to the negotiations must be prepared to work together as collaborators rather than pushing their own agendas. Your communication has to be open and accurate, because if it isn’t the collaboration becomes a competition. After all, as an IT architect, you want to communicate so you can establish working relationships and keep them working smoothly. Your coach can help you develop these skills, because you need them if you are going to do your job effectively.
Conflict has become such a part of our daily routine as an IT architect, that we barely notice it. In the majority of cases we can have conflicts of interest with dozens sometimes hundreds of people during a normal working day. In fact a lot of our social behavior involves dealing with conflict unconsciously. When the stakes are high or the problem is more puzzling or arousing than usual, we then become aware of a conflict and struggle consciously with how to handle it. Usually at these times you are quite happy to being coached to learn and apply conflict management techniques, because it is useful to learn to recognize and use better conflict resolution methods in all the conflicts of interest that you encounter. Conflicts are everywhere.
If you consider all the requests and instructions you receive during the normal work-day, you will tend to treat most of those as routine. However there is a hidden influence of conflict at work. In fact, if you ask people whether there is conflict in their workplace they usually say no. If you carefully observe somebody working for an hour or so, you will probably unearth a broad range of conflicts and here are some examples.
* Office equipment competition such as printers and copiers.
* An argument with somebody about who is responsible for a problem.
* Co-worker disagreement about when or how to do a task.
* Resentment towards superiors because of criticism over problems.
* Requests to superiors about performance measures or working conditions.
* Debating in meetings about how to plan projects.
* Customer requests for rapid delivery when it isn’t feasible.
* Customer complaints about the quality of service.
* Unannounced price increases by suppliers when their goods or services already seen too expensive. The key concept here is that in all of the examples above these are actually conflicts, because there are two or more parties with differing goals or needs involved. Generally speaking these types of differences are swept under the carpet because people do not like to engage in arguments at work. Employees cover up dissatisfaction or superiors may pull rank so that conflict is avoided. Good negotiating techniques can be used to resolve these types of conflicts politely. There is etiquette to negotiation which makes it possible to turn messy or unpleasant conflicts into what seems like a game.
The key to mastering conflict situations is learning how to play each of the different negotiating contests. In your IT architect role you will need these skills because in the end you are building something new and generally people do not like change. Negotiation training with your IT architecture coach, particularly training which focuses on building trust and cooperative conflict resolution will help you learn to take advantage of conflict. Using these skills creates a more innovative workforce and can turn overlooked problems into business opportunities.