Secrets to Maximizing Your Investment in a Executive Coach

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

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Getting ME Out of My Way

A popular Seth Godin Blog is called Safe is Risky and was recently routed to me by a family member.

I found myself reflecting on Seth’s blog and how fast this year is going – we are almost a quarter of the way through 2010.  As I make my climb toward making 2010, as I inwardly refer to it, as  “My Best Year Yet”, I wonder if I am in fact, still playing it safe or if I am doing what it takes to become what I want to really become, vs. what I think I must do or limited by what I only know to do.

I decided my Best Year Yet would be defined by playing bigger, bolder, smarter, and still having balance, fun, wellness and peace of mind.  My vision includes elements like ………more financial profitability;  challenging new executive coaching experiences that stretch my capacity and make a bigger impact;  10 life experiences I will enjoy telling about years later ……… to name a few.

I have my plan, a support team stoking me to perform in weekly “possibility” calls, and am knee-deep in action. I would give myself an “A” for effort and some glimmer of results.  Then, I reread this excerpt from Seth:  “

You have more freedom at work than you think (hey, you’re reading this on company time!) but most people do nothing with that freedom but try to get an A.

I have a nagging feeling that I am working harder at getting an A than exercising my freedom to REALLY choose things that REALLY light me up AND propel me towards My Best Year Yet, heck, the best life ever!  It’s so easy to get in a groove of comfortable choices, and fall back on ways of being and doing that I am used to.  Or, is it easier said than done?  Probably a little of both.

I think the way to realizing my vision is going to be because I do some game changing things.  This blog was meant to be one of those and yet, my last post was over a month ago.  What happened?  Why did I stop?

After spending a weekend with my social media guru sister and owner of Story Teller Productions, I recommitted to my vision of playing bigger in the blogosphere.  This should, according to my sister and other authorities in social media like the best-selling book Crush It, by Gary Vaynerchuck, help me spread my value to others in new and bigger ways, and potentially lead me to amazing adventures beyond my wildest imagination.  If I don’t stick with it, I’ll never know what this new phenomenon of social media can do to support me in achieving my goals.

The biggest thing in my way, is ME.  Now – on to surfing other blogs to post some comments!

Paradigm Shifting: Can’t Get Enough in Today’s Dynamic World

I LOVE creativity like this and I hope you do too!  How simple!  How profound!  How can you turn something you are working on from ho-hum and business as usual, to something provocative that really gets the brain working?
I’ve got some ideas.  What are yours?????
View more presentations from Tara Hunt.

Managing Feedback: Do You Have The Guts To See Yourself As Others Do

For many executives, January is the time of year to refocus your organization on the goals ahead for a successful year.  A fantastic strategy to set the foundation for a high performance organization is to look at the past year and evaluate what worked, what didn’t go so well and how things could be changed to do better.  360 degree feedback is a powerful tool to assist with that analysis, and as an Executive Coach, I support leaders with this process very frequently.

When used properly, gathering feedback about how others percieve you, can be a game changing experience.  Several clients I am working with right now have me worried however.  It seems likely that although they were willing participants or initiators of the feedback gathering, they are treating the data that has come back with a teflon shield and letting the learning value roll right off their backs like water on a duck.

One leader is on the cusp of being fired and this feedback process is being offered to him to help him turn things around.  When reviewing stakeholder feedback with him, I didn’t get one impression he is willing to accept others perceptions as possible realities.  He had an explanation for everything vs. taking ownership that his actions cause some negative reactions – especially with his boss!  Avoiding the reality of how others experience him is likely going to turn him OUT of his company vs. turn his career IN his company around.

Another executive I am working with has just been promoted to heading up a mid-sized company.  Strong feedback has been shared with him about some of his leadership characteristics that either annoy others or cause people to tune him out.  His credibility is on the line which could affect followership and executive sponsorship.  My bet is he will work hard to manage this perception, but it won’t be as easy as he thinks to change his style.

Both leaders are praised for their technical acumen.  Yet both leaders are not considered as successful as they could be and others want them to be because of leadership behaviors that not aligned with company expectations.  Quality feedback is on their doorstep.  It’s up to them what they choose to do with it. I’ll update you in the days ahead how things go for each of them.

For suggestions on how to give and receive feedback, here’s a great article written by the Management Research Group, a global assessment company I use in my coaching practice.  It’s titled:  Accepting Feedback, Altering Behavior: The Achilles Heel of Human Development

Resolutions vs. INTENTIONS. Is there really a difference?

Intention defined: A course of action that a person intends to follow; The goal or purpose behind a specific action or set of actions  en.wiktionary.org/wiki/intention

Intent defined: The purpose of something that is intended; The state of someone’s mind at the time of committing an act; Firmly fixed or concentrated on something; Engrossed; Unwavering from a course of action en.wiktionary.org/wiki/intent

Resolution defined: a decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner; ordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Resolute defined:

  • firm in purpose or belief; characterized by firmness and determination; “stood resolute against the enemy”; “faced with a resolute opposition”; “a …
  • unhesitating: characterized by quickness and firmness; “his reply was unhesitating”
    wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Under closer examination, I don’t see much difference between intentions or resolutions.  Before exploring these differences, and because New Year’s Resolutions have a bad reputation, I decided to start my year off with intentions instead.  It always seems cool in yoga when we have to ‘set an intention’ for the class. I love the way forcing myself to get focused for that hour makes me feel during the class and how I carry that with me the rest of the day.

But really, isn’t the key not what we call them, but rather what we do with them? Both intentions and resolutions require conscious action which is what I am committing myself to in 2010 and what I hope to contribute to those I interact with as well.  Whatever I am doing, my goal is to be fully present so I can make the best choices possible for what I do and say.

That’s it. Plain and simple – to be awake for 2010 with intention and resolution.

No going through the motions just to get through something;  reduce the time I spend behaving on autopilot and stay on manual drive where I consciously choose the way I act and carefully measure the words I use; be aware of ALL that surrounds me not just what is in front of me.  I know from past experience that when I do this – I am a better and happier person.  I know from my executive coaching practice that when my clients do this, new possibilities emerge and better results get accomplished.  The tough part is doing it most of the time vs. some.


Conscious action:  I think I will call this my ‘ intentsolution’ for 2010.