If you think you don’t need a coach? Then YOU NEED a coach.

Having a coach is a competitive advantage.

Anyone can pick up a racket and play tennis, but if you want to win Wimbledon, then you get yourself a coach. Think about someone who comes to mind that is successful – could be an athlete, a business person, a celebrity. Do you think they did that all on their own? There was at least 1 person steering them in the right direction. They will all have had a coach of some kind. By nature, we’re either too self-critical or too deluded as to our levels of success. An external person is another set of eyes who can provide constructive information for improvement. The best players have the best coach and you cannot win without one. Working in business is no different.

What’s the difference between a mentor and a coach?

Mentoring is generally more long-term (often years) and coaching is usually more short-term (weeks, months or over a year).

Why have a coach, what’s the main objective?

If you want (or need to) change your leadership skills, enhance executive performance or improve your chances of promotion, a good coach can help. A coach is generally an expert who operates outside of your company or organisation. It is not important for a coach to know how your company operates, as they are there to help you enhance your ability to perform. It is impossible to be objective on yourself, so a coach provides an outside perspective at arm’s length and is a judgement-free sounding board. They will have education, industry and workplace experience of their own to draw upon various tools and techniques to help you. Rather than solving problems for you or giving direct advice, a coach will ask the right questions to elicit the thinking that promotes problem solving.

“I don’t need a coach”

My personal experience in executive coaching tells me that those who are adamant they don’t need a coach, are also the kind of manager or leader who tend not to listen to their teams either.  These are often the people who need a coach the most. Personally, I love hearing feedback from (respected) others who believe I can improve. After all, why wouldn’t we want to do better?

How Bold Conversations™ can be used in coaching?

Feedback is the breakfast of champions, but it can be very hard to swallow at times. Giving feedback is a high-stake conversation, so it needs to be delivered exactly the right way if the message is to be heard and a change is expected. It is common for a coach to be challenging and possibly even confronting if there are areas of development to be addressed. We don’t tend to grow as much if we are only being told about the great aspects to how we operate. Whilst this is certainly crucial, it is important to address in a respectful, but direct manner, those areas which are limitations. After all, if you want to become the best tennis player, you won’t succeed with a coach who only tells you “great job”.

What makes an effective coach?

An effective coach will A less-effective coach will
  • Set goals at the beginning
  • Build rapport quickly
  • Gain trust quickly
  • Understand motivations to change
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Listen a lot
  • Seek to understand a problem
  • Provide alternatives
  • Challenge your thinking
  • Have proven experience
  • Offer flexible delivery (availability for face to face, phone, text, online video)
  • Provide multiple tools and techniques in their ‘kit bag’ to deal with different situations
  • Regularly seek feedback
  • Talk a lot
  • Give direct advice (telling you what to do)
  • Not follow a structure – operates “ad-hoc”
  • Be agreeable
  • Not challenge you
  • Lack experience
  • Offer Inflexible delivery (eg “I only work face to face”)
  • Solve your problems on your behalf
  • Seek feedback at the end, or not at all

What do coaches coach on?

  • Leadership
  • Emerging leaders
  • Women in business
  • Job interviews
  • Performance management
  • Management effectiveness

If your company is paying for a coach, this is an indication of their desire to invest in you. If you are paying for a coach yourself, there is no better investment, than in your own personal and professional development.