“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you always knew you could be.” ~Tom Landry
Why is it that we rarely think twice about a professional athlete or musician having a coach to guide their career and hone their skills – no matter what level of success they have already achieved – yet often successful business leaders are less likely to engage a coach to lift their game to the next level and improve their ability to achieve the wins that they define as essential to their role?
Long gone are the days when businesses primarily hired coaches to remediate an employee. Today, organizations are investing in coaching for the dual purposes of developing leaders and preparing managers to be successful in new and more challenging roles. Coaching is no longer viewed as a response to poor performance, it is seen as a recognition of future potential and is often viewed as a job perk.
Increasingly, high-potentials are asking their employers for coaching or seeking it and paying for it on their own. Business owners are engaging coaches to help them stay accountable to their highest priorities, strategically plan, and to serve as an objective sounding board.
If you are highly motivated to learn and grow and willing to do the deep inner work that is a necessary part of the coaching process, the benefits of working with a skilled coach can be transformative.
But here’s the rub, it takes a commitment on your part which requires being present and intensely engaged in the process, actively doing the work between coaching sessions to apply what you’re learning and being accountable to your goals for coaching.
If you choose to engage a coach or are offered the benefit of coaching by your employer, here are 5 conditions that are necessary for realizing the transformative benefits of coaching:
- Be very clear about your intended goals for coaching – and be willing for those goals to shift as the process unfolds. For example, an emerging leader may initially want career coaching to prepare them to find a new job and they may discover that opportunities to grow and develop exist within their current environment. Alternatively, a business owner may engage a coach for the purposes of growing revenue and unearth organizational cultural issues that need to be addressed in order to implement a new business strategy.
- Be willing to be vulnerable and real about the hard stuff. If you’re not willing to be real about what’s not working, your greatest fears and disappointments, and your emotional triggers and frustrations, the benefits you gain from coaching will be superficial at best. The deeper you dig, with the support of your coach, to identify and address the underlying reasons for why you’re not getting more of what you want (and less of what you don’t what) the more probable it is for you to create powerful shifts in your thinking and actions.
- Ask for the feedback you need. A good coach will respectfully and honestly “mirror” what they are hearing you say, habitual behavior patterns they observe, and how they are experiencing your energy to help mitigate blind spots you don’t know exist.
- Be ready to make changes. Unless you are wholeheartedly ready to make small changes like keeping a journal or big changes like changing how you respond to conflict, no amount of coaching will create the necessary shifts in your mindset and behavior to gain a positive impact from the coaching experience.
- Be committed to the process. While you can gain some immediate benefits from coaching such as developing more self-awareness and an understanding of your emotional triggers, forming new habits and ensuring they stick will take time, practice and support.
There is no need to go it alone as you navigate through your career or explore business opportunities. As new challenges and setbacks occur they can be more quickly overcome with the guidance of an objective trusted advisor. If you have identified your goals but are unsure of the path to get there, a professional coach can offer the insight, accountability, and confidence you need to become a star player.