Why the Top Founders Hire Coaches


Helge Hellberg is an Executive Coach, working with CEO’s and people in leadership positions to create empowerment, alignment and clarity in their professional and personal lives. Helge focuses on the inter-personal aspects of leadership, enabling his clients to create authenticity and enrollment in all aspects of their lives amongst teams, management, friends and family.

Helge also works as an organic food advocate, business consultant, inspirational speaker, and writer, and is the creator and host of An Organic Conversation, an award-winning national podcast and website on mindful, green living. He holds an MBA from Communications Academy of Hamburg, Germany, and has been a member of Founders Network since 2015. 

“Life is about discovering who we are. Leadership is about striving to become better than we are, and helping everyone around us to become better too.“

If you go to the gym, you basically have two options: You can lift weights, week after week, hoping that you are doing it right, that your posture is correct, and that you are not injuring yourself now, or are creating problems that accumulate over time. Or, you can hire a trainer, make sure you know what great form looks like, and practice it, until you don’t need your trainer anymore – that is, until you get sloppy, forget how to do it right, or until you set some new, bigger goals for yourself, for which you seek his or her assistance again. Which do you think produces better results?

This choice is also true for your golf swing, soccer skills, music chops, language lessons, or anything else you are trying to become great at.

However, when it comes to leading others, to creating ownership of a problem and alignment about how to solve it among your team, to building corporate culture, to communicating clearly, and to fostering teamwork, Founders often choose the first route of going it alone and believing they can learn it on the go – while also dealing with product, fundraising, sales, and hiring! We think we must rely solely on ourselves, because no one has ever gone through “Inter-Personal Development School.”

For this one area that most defines our personal and professional lives more than any other – how to be your own true, skilled, and relational authority of your own life – there is no school.

So how do you grow personally and professionally, and not solely learn “by doing” or by making mistakes? And as a Founder of a start-up, how do you stay afoot personally and professionally with the growing success of your company? You do so with the help of a coach.

Sometimes people tell me “I already have a mentor,” and I respond with “That’s fantastic! How is that going? What else are you interested in looking at and exploring? What area in your life is not working? What breakdowns do you experience regularly? Where do you feel disempowered, out of balance, or even powerless?”

Mentors are important. They provide critical feedback and guidance in life and business. All my clients have at least one mentor.

Coaches, on the other hand, are experienced and trained experts in listening who guide you back to your innate wisdom, far beyond what you may know today. In coaching, it is those blind spots, those interpersonal muscles that we may have never used, that we are identifying and then training. This process is something no one other than a committed coach can facilitate, because those are the areas where “we don’t know that we don’t know.” In my experience, no friend, mentor, or colleague can get us there, however great their commitment to help us may be.

“A good leader leads people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them.” – M.D. Arnold

Often, in relationship to investors, co-founders, spouses, partners, children, parents, colleagues, board members, food, or personal health, there are areas and moments in all of our lives in which we are not quite as connected or as powerful as we would like to be.

Coaching grows your muscle of self-recognition, helps you stay focused, and reflects your unique brilliance to go where you might not be able to go alone. Coaching pushes you into uncomfortable territory, and keeps you accountable because, just as we do in the gym, we favor what we already know over the discomfort of the new, unknown. Growth is work. The reward you gain for this work? Being the most clear and aligned true leader of your company and team and the awake and aware leader of your own life.

Helge Hellberg, Executive Coach, February 2017

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