Are you intrigued by the thought of working with a coach, but skeptical about whether it can really make a difference? I know I was the first time I had an executive coach. At the time, I worked at Deloitte, one of the largest professional services firms in the world. The organization was in flux (so politics were running high) and my new leadership role was stretching me in ways I hadn’t anticipated. Recognizing this, my firm invested in my success by offering me an executive coach. Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, I jumped at the chance.
I can tell you that I have participated in many training classes and leadership development programs over the years (and even designed some myself), but none could have taken the place of a coach – an objective third party with an approach tailored to my needs and goals.
Consistent with what my clients tell me, one of the most valuable aspects of the coaching was having dedicated time to reflect and to be much more strategic about my choices and business results. Like many professionals who work with coaches, deep down I already knew what I needed to do to achieve my goals. It was just taking me longer to see it, because I was getting caught up in the whirlwind and stress of each day. So, I remember being really surprised by how even as little as 30-45 minutes of coaching twice a month helped me get clarity and accelerated my results.
Another key piece was selecting the right coach, someone who I could really open up to and trust. After defining my criteria, I reviewed three bios and talked to two coaches before deciding. I chose my coach not only for her coaching credentials and business experience but also because of the personality fit – which is SO IMPORTANT. Our coaching relationship truly was a partnership, where she brought the coaching expertise and process and I brought the expertise about me, my situation, and goals. Together we turned that into insight, action, and results over a six-month period. Had she just told me what to do, rather than help ME discover my own answers through thought-provoking questions, I would have lost most of the value of the coaching.
Finally, the most important ingredient was my own commitment – to defining clear goals for the coaching, making time for coaching, being open to different perspectives, and turning the insight I gained with the help of my coach into action. Without that, IT JUST WOULDN’T HAVE WORKED.
So, I can honestly say that coaching made a huge difference in my career by helping me see my blind spots, make change more quickly and take my performance to the next level. It ultimately helped set the stage for my next leadership role.
I have no doubt that coaching can do the same for you if you set it up for success – by selecting the right coach, setting concrete goals for the coaching, co-designing a partnership between you and your coach, and committing to making the most of the coaching process.