TIGER Woods can beat his coach any given day. But the golf superstar pays Hank Haney a handsome sum every year to help him improve his already near-perfect game. Why? Because the only person who can't see Tiger play real-time is Tiger himself.

All professional sports athletes have a coach, so why not executives who are determined to race up the corporate ladder?

In a nutshell, coaches help their charges enhance their professional and/or personal lives by making them more aware of their "blind spots", such as limiting beliefs that may be hindering them from progressing.

Coaching is a journey of self-discovery that aims to bring about real sustainable change that will ultimately lead to greater enlightenment and increased fulfilment and happiness for the coached individual or team.

Invest in employees

Mentoring and coaching have become buzzwords in human resource (HR) circles in recent years for their role in attracting and retaining top corporate leaders.

Executive coaching, in particular, has been one of the fastest emerging industries in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom in the past decade.

Prospective employees have also become more sophisticated in their job searches and their own selection process. They want to know upfront what they will gain in both the short- and long-term before accepting an offer from an organisation.

Thus, offering a planned approach to their career development, such as a formal mentoring programme, will enhance an organisation's attractiveness to prospective employees. It can also give your organisation an edge over your competitors.

Internally, such mentoring and coaching programmes help to retain employees, which is good for the company's bottom line. Investing in employees helps to develop a sense of loyalty in them and hence they are likely to contribute more effectively to the company's overall goals.

Be proactive

In the past, coaching was traditionally initiated by the organisation. However, these days, the idea to engage a coach or seek a mentor can also originate from proactive executives.

Experts say coaching can be particularly effective in times of change for an executive such as promotions, stretch assignments and other new challenges.

While you may be confident in your abilities to take on new tasks, you may feel that an independent and objective sounding board would be beneficial in helping you achieve a new level of performance, especially if former peers and close confidants are now reporting to you.

Additionally, your success in a new role may require skills you may not have needed in the past and a coach can help you sharpen those skills.

Executives should also seek coaching when they feel that a change in their behaviour will enhance their performance and make a significant difference in their ability to advance within their organisation as well as impact the long-term success of their organisation.

But for it to work, you have to be open to feedback and willing to do what it takes in order to bring about positive change.

In seeking out a mentor, factors to consider would be the neutrality, objectivity and experience level of the person. There must be a certain chemistry between yourself and the mentor or coach as you will need to establish a good working relationship built upon trust and openness.

It is only when there is trust thay you feel safe to open up and bare the real issues at play. For those who embrace the journey of self-discovery and commit to change, the mentoring and coaching process can truly be an exhilarating one.