The Career Coach

The Career Coach

Set to speak at the Club next month, Tanja Bach explains how she helps business execs unlock their full potential and thrive.

Good questions lie at the heart of Tanja Bach’s work as a leadership training coach. Bach challenges her clients to find the answers to help them become “unstuck.”

“Most people get themselves stuck for one reason or another. It can manifest itself in a variety of ways: micromanaging because you can’t give people the benefit of the doubt, or yelling at people because of stress, or maybe a person just can’t see how to move forward,” she says.

It’s a situation she understands well. While working as a C-level manager at a large Swiss insurance firm, Bach found herself at a crossroads in her career.

“After a variety of role changes, from product development to controlling, I found myself constantly in front of a computer and an Excel spreadsheet. I knew I preferred to be with people, but I didn’t know what to do next. I hired a career coach to talk about it. At some point during those meetings, I thought, ‘I could do this!’” she says with a laugh.

Tokyo resident Bach, who was born in Germany, grew up in Switzerland and completed undergraduate and postgrad studies in the United States, has now spent more than 10 years offering face-to-face and web-based guidance to managers and executives at companies around the world. She says she uses nonthreatening questions to encourage clients to examine themselves and move beyond their perceived obstacles.

“I aim to make people better leaders. It’s really a great journey. You go from being an individual to a manager to a manager of managers on up to a C-level executive,” she says. “I’m very future-focused, pragmatic and work-related. I want to help my clients understand how they can motivate themselves and other people, how to be more efficient and more inspiring to those around them.”

All of this may sound straightforward, but it isn’t. Bach, 47, asks clients to analyze themselves to reveal what is actually important to them and differentiate their competencies (what someone can do) from their strengths (what someone enjoys doing).

Bach then develops a road map with her clients to maintain their new-found momentum. As the coaching progresses, she monitors its impact.

“When my clients tell success stories of interactions at work or other real work experiences, I know I have succeeded. I can also sometimes see it in their behavior—they’re more
relaxed in the way they talk or carry themselves,” she says. “Sometimes, people they work with pull me aside and say they can see a difference. It feels fantastic.”

Monthly Program: Discover Your Full Potential
March 16 | 11am–2pm

Words: Joan Bailey
Image: Enrique Balducci