Most of us remember Jack Nicholson’s famous line in a “Few Good Men” and when it comes to executive, leadership, and business coaching you had better be able to handle the truth, or at least what appears to be the truth to an objective coach.
I didn’t say, however, that you had to like it. About 7 years ago, I thought I was doing a pretty good job of running my business and my life, but my first session with an executive coach showed me otherwise. I walked away from that first session more than a little disappointed in myself, but, very optimistic and excited for the possibilities. You may not know this, but I am a big-time learner. I have very eclectic interests, full bookshelves, and a very overloaded kindle to go with them. I pride myself on constantly learning and digging into ideas and concepts that are of use or interest in my life or business until I have a pretty good handle on them. But I came to realize that while the thirst for knowledge and entrepreneurial qualities that I possessed at that time were sufficient to get me to that point, I doubted that they alone could get me to the next level. I had access to some of the best information in the world and somehow it just wasn’t enough.
The business was doing very well and growing, but I was feeling more stress and frustration and frankly I just didn’t know what I didn’t know. This was a situation where I really wanted to level up and be better. I wanted to find out what was missing from my toolkit when it came to managing my business and my people. Like those weight lifters that focus on the muscles they see in the mirror, I didn’t have the ability to see all of me objectively. If I really wanted to be more balanced and better for myself and those around me, I believed I could benefit from the objective feedback, encouragement, and facilitation skills of a professional coach.
Ironically, we had coaches in little league, junior high, high school and college. We all know that elite athletes have amazing coaches and we all know that our results will be better if we have a personal trainer at the gym. But somehow, the coaching paradigm didn’t follow most of us into the business world. As it turns out, it took me over 25 years to engage one.
I’ve probably never told her, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that my coach changed my life and business dramatically; without her, I would not be where I am today in my personal and business life.
For those of you not familiar with coaching in a business environment; it is a method of personal and/or group development – one person invests time, energy and knowledge in the growth and development of another person or group, who must want to take advantage of the time, energy, and knowledge being offered.
But it’s more than just wanting to accept the help. The client(s) must have or develop the desire and the ability to change. Without one or the other coaching is pointless. A coach can be a trusted counselor, guide, facilitator, and mentor. He or she will become a valued partner who can objectively assess your current situation, develop an action plan for the change that needs to occur, help you execute the plan, and hold you accountable to your goals. An effective coach teaches you discipline and motivates you through mutual respect. He or she will give you tough love when you need it and tell you the kind truth. While candor seems to be in short supply in corporate America, you should expect regular but respectful doses from your coach.
Your coach will be focused on keeping you on your path to the better future than you have envisioned by:
• Drawing out your vision of your best future
• Providing an objective view of your actions and inter-actions
• Providing critical feedback of behaviors and attitudes
• Offering wisdom and experience
• Providing encouragement and support
• Facilitating your development of specific objectives and goals
•Teaching new strategies, methodologies or concepts
• Providing comparisons of other businesses
• Standing by you in pivotal situations
• Enhancing your emotional Intelligence
• Inspiring your highest level of performance
• And much, much, more
Let’s face it, if you’re not changing, you’re not growing, and without growth, you’ll probably fall further and further behind. But please, only consider hiring a coach if you are fully accepting and committed to any necessary change. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting time and money.
Not everyone should be coached because not everyone wants to grow or improve. Good enough is good enough for many people. However, if you want to be better, if you want to keep improving, then the path of coaching may be right for you.
Studies show that formal coaching relationship brings about real, measurable, lasting results. Ask most high-performing entrepreneurs and business leaders how they achieved so much, and they will almost invariably name coaching or mentoring as one of the top reasons.
So, is coaching right for you? Maybe it's time to find out.