The world today as a leader
Exponential change, complexity and ever-increasing interdependency; just look at this Coronavirus global pandemic. As a leader today the world demands you develop greater capacity and agility. If you aren’t doing that, you may be managing, but you are not fulfilling your capacity to lead.
Why get a coach?
Every leader I talk with realizes that they need time to pull back, reflect, and deal with the complex, difficult issues of business and family. Yet, they struggle to do so. Creating this time and neutral space to think, feel, reconsider options, and get feedback from someone who doesn’t have skin in the game is as vital as it is rare. Being a leader can feel isolating, even lonely. Yet the good news is this is an opportunity to develop your capacity.
What are the benefits?
Working with a professional leadership coach can be a tremendous investment in yourself, both professionally and personally. It can give you this white space to pause, reflect and process your issues and opportunities. The vast majority of what a coach brings to any leader is the ability to truly listen, to stay curious and ask questions that get you to rethink your assumptions, broaden your options, and cultivate the awareness to turn unconscious patterns in your life into mindful choices. You cannot work on anything, be it a strength, a weakness, or a blind spot until you are aware if it. Then from that greater awareness you can become far more effective in your actions. This process can even be transformative to how you show up in your life. This is how you build your capacity.
What coaching isn’t
Coaching is not therapy and should not be used for treating any mental illness. It is not like what many of us are reminded of from the athletic coaches in our youth: a professional leadership coach is not directive. In fact, having other people in your life jump into problem solving mode (here is what you need to do), is exactly what a coach should avoid. A basic premise of a good executive coach is to trust that the client has the best answer and just needs the coach’s time, attention, and facilitation to help bring it out.
What to look for in a coach
I have been a coach for over 20 years, had coaches, and thought a great deal about this. My experience is three things make this relationship effective. First, chemistry, do you get along? Now this doesn’t mean friends but basic compatibility. She or he will need to push, challenge, and even give you difficult feedback, but all that should happen in service of your growth and well-being. Second, character, is this someone whose values, integrity, and commitment you admire? Without trust in those, this doesn’t work. Third, competence, have they the credentials, experience, and testimonials that align with what you are looking for? Again, if someone thinks they know the answers to your issues they may be a sage, but if they believe they can help you work together to help you uncover those answers, then they may be a good coach. The former solves your problem; the latter will develop your effectiveness as a leader!