What is a Leadership Coach Anyways?

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Since we embarked on starting Sounding Board, we’ve occasionally gotten this question as we’ve talked to people about what we’re trying to do. Given that we’re big believers in coaching and are building our entire business around delivering coaching to more people, we thought we should probably try and tackle this question early. 🙂

It’s a fair question – because a good coach can fulfill various roles.  In certain situations they can be a facilitator, a teacher, a mentor, a counselor or a trusted advisor. On a tangible level, they can help you with a range of skills, from public speaking and communication to time management or confidence building. My own coach helped me see myself in a whole new light and worked with me on everything from my posture and executive presence, to providing frameworks that helped me better understand the personalities of my colleagues and managers. All of this greatly increased my effectiveness in my interactions with my colleagues, team and boss. She was always there to encourage me when I was unsure of myself, and challenge me when I hadn’t given something enough thought. But a key point is that she never TOLD me what to do – she just helped me uncover those “answers” through our conversation and questions.

I think a primary benefit of working with a coach is a level of awareness that most people don’t come into naturally. Both self-awareness and awareness of others. Through that awareness and understanding you find yourself operating from a very different place – often one that is more empowered and authentic.

But back to the original question. What is executive or leadership coaching? If I had to put it simply, I would say that coaching is a deeply personalized approach to learning and self-improvement, with a goal or action oriented focus on developing professional skills and habits. However, the learnings can often be applied to all aspects of your life.  This graphic does a great job of showing how mentoring, consulting/training, therapy and coaching differ.

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Rein, Lorna. “What is Executive Coaching”, www.di.net/articles/what-is-executive-coaching/

Generally coaching focuses on an action-oriented approach – it’s not about looking back – it’s about pushing forward. This is why coaches work really well in the workplace – they can support you to identify, clarify and achieve your goals. For more info on coaching, the International Coach Federation has a helpful FAQ. We also really like this quick primer on what a coach is and when to work with one.

What has your coach really helped you with? Or what would you love for a coach to support you with? Reply in the comments below!

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Lori Mazan

Co-Founder & Chief Coaching Officer

Lori Mazan is the Co-Founder and Chief Coaching Officer of Sounding Board, the preeminent global leadership development enterprise platform changing the face of leadership development through innovative technology for leaders at all levels of an organization. Lori is a seasoned executive coach who has guided hundreds of corporate executives through 1:1 coaching focused on business outcomes and developing critical leadership skills. Client companies advanced by Lori’s expertise include Fortune titans such as Chevron and Sprint as well as high growth and public companies like Intellikine, and Tapjoy, plus 10XGenomics, which became a public company in 2019 while top executives worked with Lori and the Sounding Board team.
Lori has spent the last 25 years coaching C-Suite executives to leadership excellence. Many of those public and private company CEO’s expressed that they would have liked this caliber of coaching earlier in their careers. Inspired by these experiences, Lori joined with Christine to launch Sounding Board as a feedback-driven, cloud-based leadership coaching platform that could maintain best-in-class leadership coaching while lowering costs to make it affordable and scalable for leaders at every level of their careers.
Before founding Sounding Board, Lori received her Masters’ in Adult Educational Psychology/Counseling from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelors’ in Psychology from the University of Virginia. Lori is an educator and has spent over 10 years as a professor of social psychology and group dynamics while acting as the interim Dean of Students at Holy Names University, She is certified by the industry’s gold standard, the Coaches Training Institute, and is a founding member of the Genentech Preferred Network of Coaches. Sounding Board is one of <3% of sole female founded startups receiving venture funding. In 2019 Sounding Board was selected as 1 of 7 startups (out of 100+ applicants) as part of SAP’s HR tech cohort, a group that represents the rising stars of the next-gen HR ecosystem.

Christine Tao

Co-Founder & CEO Sounding Board, Inc.

Christine Tao is the co-founder & CEO at Sounding Board, a Silicon Valley startup redefining how organizations are developing their leaders. Her extraordinarily rapid career growth to executive management in the media, mobile and tech sectors of Silicon Valley became her inspiration for founding Sounding Board. As she began to manage larger teams and be responsible for growing revenues, it became clear that she needed a “sounding board” to coach her on the development of her leadership skills. That’s where her Sounding Board co-founder, Lori Mazan came on the scene. A seasoned executive coach focused on leadership development, Lori coached Christine on real-world leadership skills that had a direct impact on business outcomes. Based on her positive and impactful experience with leadership development, Christine was driven to make leadership development coaching accessible to people at all levels of the organization.
Christine advises several startups, is a budding angel investor and is also a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, a foundation dedicated to investing in the success and sustainability of women entrepreneurs.
Prior to co-founding Sounding Board, Christine was a Senior Vice President of Developer Relations at Tapjoy, a venture-backed, leading mobile advertising & publishing network. She led the growth of Tapjoy’s publisher advertising business from 0 to over $100 million in revenues in less than 3 years. Prior to that she led e-commerce partnerships and strategy at YouTube. Christine holds an MBA in Marketing & Operations from Wharton and a BA in Business Administration from UC Berkeley.

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