1. An Independent Sounding Board
If your coach is really doing their job, they will be honest and forthright with you. You will be able to talk with them about personal and professional challenges and opportunities and in return receive open and honest feedback and support. This can reduce feelings of isolation and provide much-needed insights that are hard to gather without trusted third parties. The ability of the coach to be a truth-teller is critical and this rests in the fact that they are not relying on you for their income, nor are they a family member. This gives your coach the freedom to drop truth bombs when needed.
Research has shown that self-awareness in leaders is highly correlated with organizational effectiveness and profitability. Team members prefer to follow leaders who see themselves clearly and are willing to be vulnerable and transparent with the team. When you begin the coaching journey, your coach will want to gather feedback from your peers and team to get a sense of how you are perceived presently.
Many coaches use behavioral assessment tools to complement the data they receive from their peers and team. Throughout the coaching engagement, your coach will share those perceptions of you based on observations, interactions with others, and any other tools they employ. This compilation of data points helps your coach provide effective feedback and coaching to help you build a clearer awareness of where you’re strong and where growth opportunities exist.
NOTE: When I am working with senior executives, I rely on a Behavioral Strategy for Accomplishment instrument which provides an in-depth description of your behavioral patterns, and helps you be aware of and understand your behavioral style. I do this in conjunction with Tom Perrin, a Ph.D. in Psychology, who spends a total of three hours, one-on-one with you to help further clarify your key strengths and opportunities for growth.
3. Leverage Your UVP’s
Everyone has Unique Value Propositions and as a leader, it is critical to recognize and leverage these strengths within your organization. A perceptive and supportive coach can help you see the uniqueness and value of these capabilities and to help you lean into them to enhance your impact on your team and your company.
4. Help Define and Refine Your Goals
We all have goals and dreams, but often over time clarity fades and focus gets distorted around what is inherently important to you. An executive coach helps you bring focus to your goals and offers support in their achievement. As a consistent resource to you, your coach can bring those goals back into focus when needed and can also help you re-define and refine them as necessary. Your coach can also help equip you to develop focus around the goals and priorities within your company.
A skilled coach will have processes for helping define key issues and challenges. These tools and questions help you focus and prioritize the core challenges and opportunities that you face at any point in time. Sometimes, simply prioritizing what you tackle next and keeping a focus on that task is enough to positively impact your trajectory. The coach should also have tools to help you in processing these key focus areas.
6. Skills and Knowledge
A talented coach will provide insights and knowledge that augments or complements that which you bring to the table. They will also help you develop or enhance skills that are necessary for you to succeed in your environment. The goal of the coach is to ultimately amplify your leadership and management skills and potential, and operational wherewithal.
7. Adapt Responses and Priorities
As your company grows and morphs, it will go through fundamental changes that require you to grow and adapt your responses and priorities. Your coach provides insights and counsel to help you navigate these many phases of change and growth. As you move from working hard “in your business” to working hard “on your business,” your executive coach will help and support you in these transitions. At times, this may mean bringing in complementary team members to expand your ultimate potential. The consummate executive coach can be a powerful resource to help define and divine healthy transitions and additions to your team.
8. Clarity of Team
As your company grows and your team expands, your ability to keep team members in perspective can get distorted by familiarity, distance, and/or time. It is critical for you, as the leader, to keep perspective on the capabilities and deficits existing in your key team members. As you make critical executive decisions around promotions, changing roles and responsibilities, disciplinary actions, and even dismissals, a perceptive coach can offer insights and reflections on those important aspects of your team as an independent resource and an outside perspective. Often, talking through thoughts and concerns around team members with an independent and confidential resource can help give you clarity.
9. Embrace Diversity
We tend to attract and hire people like ourselves. While that feels good at the time, the need to attract complementary and diverse team members is critical. A talented coach can help you see any of these monochromatic threads, if they exist, and help you expand your ability to attract and retain a diverse pool of talent.
Diversity in your team does not only relate to demographics, it also relates to work style and behavioral tendencies such as assertiveness, sociability, consistency, detail orientation, and self-confidence. An experienced and intuitive coach can help you build a diverse, yet homogeneous team that is well rounded, collaborative, and effective.
Bookending self-awareness is self-care! Often, we’re busy taking care of everyone else but ourselves. The coach can help you review your habits and behaviors around self-care and attune you to ways to build positive momentum in your quest for good health and life balance.
Confidentiality is sacrosanct in the coach/client relationship. Any coaching agreement should detail the confidentiality that is also implicit in the relationship. Being able to speak frankly and in confidence with your coach provides the ability to explore areas that you may not be able to discuss with team members, stakeholders, or your family.
The ultimate upside of engaging a talented coach is the results. An effective coach is going to help you gain clarity around personal and professional objectives and opportunities. They can help you leverage and build on your strengths. Your coach can be that resource that helps you move to the next level organizationally and personally.