Executive Coaching can be a gamechanger for leaders seeking to improve their skills and to develop and grow. Any coaching journey calls for an investment in time and resources. The more you put in, the greater will be your return. In order to grow from good to great, you have to be willing to invest time not only to amplify and develop your strengths but identify and address potential blind spots.
Coaching is an investment in yourself – either by your organization, your boss, or by you. Your main responsibility is to make it work and to achieve results. Executives should be clear about how to maximize their outcomes or returns, before embarking on their coaching journey. Below are some pointers on how you can make the most out of your executive coaching experience.
By seeking an Executive Coach you are showing commitment and are willing to make the investment to become a better version of yourself. But first, you must understand what your coach can and cannot do. Remember that your coach will be your accountability partner and will nudge you to find the right answers by asking powerful questions. However, do not expect the coach to mentor you or provide you all the solutions. If the coach gives you the solutions, how will you improve your own thinking to bring about real change? A coach will teach you how to fish rather than giving you a fish. The job of a coach is to empower, rather than enable. So, it is important that you understand the difference between the two.
Any coaching relationship is built on a foundation of trust, and it takes time for trust to get established. It also takes a lot of commitment and hard work along with maintaining confidentiality on both sides. Start with an open mind and an honest self-appraisal of your strengths and vulnerabilities; your leadership style, personality traits and potential challenges that you are likely to face. By being open about your challenges and flagging issues that matter to you, you can leverage your coaching sessions to achieve the desired results.
Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
Have the courage to step outside your comfort zone, as the coach will push your limits. Have the humility and openness to accept feedback (even if it is negative) from your executive coach and others, throughout your coaching journey. Be willing to change. You must have the discipline to take consistent action towards your goals and aspirations and to make changes in your habits and behaviours. For coaching to be effective, leaders must be motivated to change and have an intense desire to learn, unlearn and grow.
Share Your Priorities And Take Initiative
You have to tell your coach what your priorities are and the things that matter to you. If you have a particular development area you wish to address, express it openly early on in the process so the coach can devote adequate time to the subject. The objective of coaching is not for the coach to share all his knowledge and experience. Instead, it is up to the coachee to take the initiative to create the whole agenda and define the outcomes for each individual session as well as the overall coaching journey. Don’t wait for your coach to initiate the same. Think about what issues you are currently facing as a leader? What has been your progress since the last coaching session? What would you like to discuss in the next coaching session? How can you make the most of your time with your coach? When you come to a coaching session prepared, engaged, and open to new ideas, you’ll find the experience much more valuable.
Be honest with yourself and your coach. This allows you to learn from failure or inaction; to evolve your goals and maintain a growth mindset. Remember that your coach is not there to judge you, but they cannot help you if they don’t have the full picture. Being honest about your behaviour, your patterns, and your missteps will enable your coach to steer you in the right direction.
Make Continuous Progress
Strive to make continuous progress not only by attending your coaching sessions, but also by reflecting and taking necessary action between sessions. Remaining committed to the coaching journey is different from participating in it. Set aside time to prepare for each session, reflect and take action between sessions.
If you have a busy schedule and many responsibilities, you must acknowledge that your business will continue even while you are working with your coach. So, you will need to become strategic in managing your time and give coaching its due importance. In fact, making your coaching sessions a priority might help you reach your goals faster. So, unless there is a real emergency, try not to cancel or reschedule your sessions.
Leadership coaching usually takes place over a 6 to 8 month period and consists of 8 to 10 sessions, with each session lasting about an hour or two. And although this may seem long, it is important to note that attending these sessions is only a small part of the commitment you have to make to achieve real transformation.
First, understand and acknowledge that fundamental changes in your self-perception, mindsets and behaviour will not happen overnight. This is a journey that will need some time, so be patient and realistic with your coach about how long you might need to work together to see some actual impact.
Second, the coaching sessions themselves are just the beginning. You need to commit time and energy, so you can continue your self-reflection on a day-to-day basis. You also need to have the discipline to consciously practice your new ways of thinking and behaving in your everyday work. An additional benefit of regular reflection and taking action is that you will be well prepared to drive your own self-development, after your coaching sessions come to an end.
Throughout your coaching journey, do not hesitate to ask for help. Look at your executive coach as a partner. Stay connected with your coach throughout the coaching period, so you can get the best out of them. Indeed coaches function as accountability partners, helping you accomplish whatever you set your sights on.