I have the honor to coach some pretty sharp people in the corporate world. It is a special role to serve as their guide on the side on their journey toward leadership excellence in the name of getting great business results. I get paid to push them out of their comfort zone so that they can grow. I am successful if they have some self realizations that motivate them to try new things. I am effective when I can show them new ways to work toward their goals. I am rewarded when my clients are energized to discover more potential in themselves than they knew before and contribute that to make a difference.
I am always very mindful in my work of the investment a company is making in the clients I work with. Today, time is an even more precious resource than the dollars being spent. Time spent in coaching better be worth it!
Yet too often, I am of the belief, value is left on the table. I reflect on this when I have had a great session with a client where both me and the client are feeling really challenged, energized and connected. Why don’t I feel this with ALL my clients? I want to be soaked for all I am worth – all I have to offer. This is what I sign up for when I work with a client. Most clients start off saying they want that from me too. Yet sometimes, I see that behavior peter out. The client THINKS they are working hard, but from my seat, they could be doing so much more to maximize the value I can offer.
So I would like to give anyone working with or thinking of working with an executive coach some suggestions for how to make this investment in leadership coaching really worth your while – at least if you work with me anyway.
- Know the WHAT: Have some specific, measurable results you can measure your coaching experience to. We should both be aware of the intended impact you desire to create and keep our sites set on that in every interaction. If you aren’t getting the results you want – challenge the coach. Aim for results that are direct and indirect – not just one or the other.
- Know the HOW: get focused on a few very specific behaviors that you want to grow and that support your goals. We can’t change your personality, but we can help you change a behavior if you really want to.
- Push the learning envelope: Challenge your coach to fill you with ideas to the extent that you can handle, for how to enhance the behaviors you are working on. We have a plethera of resources. Challenge your coach to dig into our resources and find the best – the best book, the best chapter, the best article, the best role model to study, until you can’t handle the input you get.
- Practice: Engage your coach practice new behaviors with you – more than once. Role playing is one of our best tools for preparing you for a real situation in advance. It works. Invite the coach to watch you do new skills in real life. We can give you so much better feedback when we see you in action than just talking about what to do.
- Show up: Even if you aren’t prepared for your coaching session, keep the appointment. There is always a conversation to have that will make a difference. Of course you are busy and things come up to get you off course. But the rigor in the coaching schedule that you agreed to upfront was designed to help you stay focused on your goals. Missing coaching sessions prolongs your route to success.
- Be laser focused: Get to the heart of what is important to you as soon as you can in the coaching session. An average session is only an hour. Tell it to the coach like you see it as efficiently as you can. General updates are helpful, but keep it quick. We want to get to the meat of the session as soon as you are ready, but we set the pace by your readiness.
- Monitor progress: Don’t wait longer than 3 months before you do a review of how the coaching process has benefited you. Seek feedback from people who interact with you frequently about how they percieve your progress. Review the results of the What and the How. If you aren’t seeing a positive trend within 3 months, ideally in both, that you can validate with some objective data, you should change direction, or maybe the coach.
- Be courageous: Try new things and sometimes, try some REALLY new things. There is no better time than when working with a coach to test your limits. Life is short and our habits run deep. You and your coach will find it exhillerating to hit a home run in addition to some base hits.
I could come up with more, but these are top of mind when I feel like a client is using me up. Put some serious rigor in your coaching relationship and get some huge ROI for your investment.