Are You Ready for a Leadership Coach?
“Thank you for learning my crazy and helping!” read the text I received from a new client last month. What a kind gesture and compliment! In only two sessions, we had covered so much ground and built a high level of trust. All the credit goes to my client, whose openness and transparency from the start set an effective foundation for our work together.
Having hired me for Coaching and Advising on a critical piece of his business, we addressed the primary challenge in our first session: Clarifying his primary business objective and the role he wanted me to play. Coaching and Advising are differing functions. My client made it clear he valued the insight and expertise of both roles and gave me permission to act in both capacities. This is not always the case when I’m called by an executive or brought in by an organization for coaching. Consider the following common scenarios:
- Scenario One: In corporate environments, HR or Talent Management is often asked to find a coach for a leader who isn’t working well with others or has received complaints from his/her team. In these situations, coaching is being requested to manage a performance issue instead of helping a leader further develop.
- Scenario Two: In other corporate situations, the leader is a high potential or high performer employee. As part of talent and succession planning, the organization is investing in his/her future leadership potential by bringing in a coach. Unfortunately, sometimes the leader him/herself doesn’t see the value of coaching or isn’t emotionally ready to engage and do the hard work.
- Scenario Three: Individuals often connect with me after having colleagues or friends praise the power of coaching. When I ask about their business and professional development goals, sometimes they talk about an immediate burning issue or heightened pressure they are feeling from their boss or team. When I probe further, working to get to the real issues, some individuals get frustrated, grow inpatient or completely resist sharing any real personal information.
Despite the good intentions, none of these scenarios will lead to the accelerated business performance and the improved leadership effectiveness the organization or the leader desires.
See the additional insight in this HBR article by Matt Brubker and Chris Mitchell highlighting 4 signs an executive isn’t ready for coaching. (https://hbr.org/2018/07/4-signs-an-executive-isnt-ready-for-coaching )
In my coaching practice, I recommend three easy questions to help prospective clients, friends, and colleagues determine if coaching is right for them. And, most importantly, if they have made the mental commitment necessary for a successful coaching experience. Here are the three questions:
- When things aren’t going as well as you would like, are you able to acknowledge your role in the situation? Business and interpersonal problems are often the result of many people, many factors, and multiple dynamics at play. Reflect back on the last few months: Are you able to see at least a few things you could have done differently that may have led to a different outcome? Can you identify any opportunities you may have to try a different approach going forward and the situation might improve? If you answered yes, partnering with a coach is a wise professional development investment. Once we’ve done the hard work of honestly assessing ourselves, our coach becomes a force multiplier for our development.
- Are you willing to dedicate 90 minutes to 2 hours each month to meet with and speak transparently with your coach? Early on in my practice, before I learned to ask this question, I had a prospective coaching client schedule a first session. Then, over the course of a week, she cancelled and rescheduled three times. I had provided a coaching agreement. I asked her to sign and send it back to me so I was sure we were on the same page. She said multiple times she would sign and send it the next day or in the next few days. It never came. The day I finally realized she wasn’t ready, she texted me at 6:00 am cancelling our scheduled session at 10:30 that morning. If you are feeling uneasy about the time commitment or debating if it can be a priority right now, give yourself grace. There are other development mechanisms that can get you started and help you hone in on targeted development areas. Find books, podcasts, conferences and workshops to gain new exposure to development topics of interest. Establish a cycle of reviewing progress every 90 days and identify new habits you want to form.
- Are you willing to change long held opinions or beliefs ? As a coach, my role is asking the right questions. As an advisor, I am often questioning my clients on their approach. The goal is to help uncover new insights or promote self-discovery of new operating models. I regularly have clients say “I hadn’t even thought of that,” or “I’ve been doing it this way for many years and I thought it was working.” Perhaps it is working. Yet, other times, our worldview or current perspective is holding us back when the circumstances are different. Investing in coaching ensures you identify new ways that also work. You will find new leadership actions that may prove more fruitful for you in your current situation. If changing a long held opinion or belief isn’t something you are ready to do, invest in finding a great mentor. Or, consider completing a leadership assessment and building a personal development plan. You can work independently to complete over the coming months until your schedule lightens up or changes.
If you answered “yes” to these three questions, Let’s Connect! Your mindset, current priorities, and willingness to change will ensure coaching is a highly valuable investment of your time, energy and your wallet! I work with leaders and organizations who want to achieve significant growth and navigate the changes that come along the way with ease. See what a few of my clients are saying here.