Executive coaching was not something I ever saw myself either signing up for, as I was always of the impression that only poor performers or under performers needed coaching and I never saw myself in that category.
That all changed around ten years ago when a friend asked me to go to “coaching school” with her. I was completely unaware that the program wasn’t just four long days but an extra 1,000 hours of coaching within a 12-month period. Initially I wasn’t sure how my coaching certification would apply in my speaking business but felt learning how to effectively coach professionals through transition was of value. Shortly after completing my coaching certification program I found my usual manner of communicating and sharing with my audiences changed from a “telling” manner to a “coaching” type conversation. Understanding the difference between communicating by telling your employees or clients what they need to do differently versus coaching them to a new approach helped me connect to my clients in a deeper and more meaningful manner.
According to one of my executive clients it helped her at a critical time in her career, that helped her move from Director level to Senior Vice President. Since then I have always looked to work with a coach, have sought out former coaches whenever I have been in need, and have now moved into the Executive coaching space myself as I can clearly see the benefits that it can bring.
Here are five things that I got from coaching which helped me in my career:
1 - Increased Clarity and Focus
Sometimes we are just too involved, too close and cannot see the wood for the trees. This was the case for me and the fact that my coach had no experience in the area in which I worked turned out to be a real bonus. It required me to explain everything to her clearly and simply which then helped increase my understanding. It seemed painfully slow at first, but the more questions she asked, the more, I realized I was busy but not necessarily productive. I lacked focus because I had just dived in and didn't fully understand, but now with my increased understanding of the situation, I could focus on what was important.
It turned out that my coach had a much better understanding than I thought, but played dumb to help increase my clarity, focus and ultimately my effectiveness.
2 - Increased Accountability
It's so easy to make excuses to yourself to get out of doing things that you know you should do, or persuade yourself that if we let it slip to next week, it will be okay. Having a coach act as an accountability partner helps to make us keep our commitments, because when we think about making those excuses to our coach we can hear how weak they are, which then negates them.
3 - Increased Confidence
Our negative self-talk is one the biggest inhibitors to our success. It's so easy to see all of the problems, the pitfalls, and reasons why failure await us, so much so that it can actually stop us from even trying.
Talented coaches will help you picture success, help you put in place a plan or strategy that will help build confidence, and eliminate doubts. Confidence is critical to success, but it can be difficult to build our own self-confidence.
4 - Better Ideas
It can be difficult to know whether an idea is good or bad, madness or genius and talking them through can help us to understand better in which of those categories an idea might end up. I have lost count of the times I have discounted a good idea because I have either talked myself out of it or decided that a lesser idea would be a better option. Ideas need to flushed out and challenged as this helps to improve them or to realize that there are better solutions available.
5 - Better Decision Making
We all have our prejudices, preconceived notions, or beliefs about people or situations that can actually be detrimental to our performance and decision making, by clouding our judgment. Having that unbiased view, someone who can help us differentiate reality from perception will help us to see things as they really are and help us make better choices.
Since that first coaching session, I have made coaching a part of my annual development plan. I now realize that you can read all the books you want, attend training courses, seminars, and conferences but the real progress comes when you have a coach, as they can help you improve focus, hold you accountable, build your confidence, help you shape your ideas and give you a different perspective which we all need from time to time.
Sher Lynn, the Generational Guru and best selling author of Ties to Tattoos, Turning Generational Differences into a Competitive Advantage, is a speaker, coach and trainer in the area of Human Resources and Talent Management. Sher specializes in helping employers maximize their human capital by collaborating across the generational gap. Her expertise in human capital management and organization includes: workforce planning, company culture, training, assessments, HRIS implementation, regulatory compliance, strategic alignment, payroll, compensation and benefit programs. Learn more at generationalguru.com.