There are many coaches around, but what do they actually do? And why should you consider engaging one?
People are probably most familiar with the concept of coaches in sport. All top athletes will have a coach to help them perform at their peak, whether on their way up through the ranks or competing at the top of their game. Many of the same aspects of this are applicable to executive coaches as well.
Coaching is an investment in yourself and your development. It doesn’t just have to be for the top levels of C-suite. It can have significant benefits throughout your career and help you succeed.
Many people will turn to their partner, family or friends for support at different times, so what difference can a coach make? A coach wants you to succeed but is not emotionally invested in you in the same way, which gives them the opportunity to provide a fresh perspective. They can highlight blindspots or hidden strengths outside of the assumptions and expectations on you from work or family. A coach should be willing to challenge you and provide feedback in a supportive environment.
I have benefited myself from coaching at various times through my career and this is what led me to training as a coach myself. I found it invaluable having someone outside your management chain to be fully open with, ask challenging questions you might have otherwise have avoided and to talk through ideas with.
What a coach does
There are a lot of different types of coach depending on the type of support you are looking for. There are specialists focused on particular parts of your life, such as a health coach or a particular skill for work, for example, a communications coach. An executive coach will focus on your work life, helping you understand yourself, clarify your goals, and commit to driving the change you want.
A good coach will bring awareness, to help you see and feel what you are doing, understand the impact you have, suggest changes and also help drive accountability to make the changes that you want. A coach’s dedicated focus is on helping you achieve your goals.
A coach owns the process rather than having all the knowledge themselves. They may well give you ideas or tips based on their own experience but ultimately you have the answers as to what will work best for you and have to provide the commitment to action. Learning through trying things yourself, including making mistakes, is far more powerful than being told what to do. (I have talked about this in an earlier blog - getting comfortable with failure). It’s something that feedback from my coachees and my own experience has confirmed. They have said they feel better prepared to tackle challenges on their own and more confident in their decisions when they have come to their own view rather than being told the answer.
Coaching should provide a safe space, where you can be open and try new things. It gives you space to experiment, time to reflect and process your thoughts and feelings so you can move confidently to action. It allows you to be vulnerable without fear of losing credibility. It gives intense focus on the topic that might otherwise keep getting put off in favour of your long to do list.
When to engage a coach
Coaching can have a significant impact on your career, and there are particular times when it can be most useful. This is often around a specific shift such as taking on a more senior role, moving to a new country or taking the plunge to change career. Coaching can give you the confidence in operating and succeeding in this new environment. It can also be used as an ongoing support providing outside counsel, support and challenge when making important decisions, grow a business or helping to embed a shift in behaviour or style to be more effective at a higher level.
Coaches help you make a leap, when things need doing differently. Could a coach help you achieve your goals? Please get in touch and we can discuss if I would be the right coach to support you.