Coaching is one of the fastest growing industries in the world! According to Forbes, eighty percent of directors would welcome coaching and, while not every CEO has a coach, one hundred percent of their bosses wish they had. While coaching in the US, the UK, and Australia is already a very well established practice, it is taking a little longer to become the “performance development tool” of choice here in New Zealand. Having said that, coaching is very quickly moving away from being perceived as‘remedial’ to where it should be, something that is used to improve performance. During a coaching review with one of my clients at Xero, the GM in the conversation summed it up nicely, “If all great athletes have coaches because they’re expected to perform at their very best, then we should be doing the same for our people if want them to perform at their very best also.” It just makes sense. This type of thinking is one of the reasons why Xero is one of the best in its field and is one of the most sought after technology firms to work at. Xero invests in their staff in ways that guarantee the best return in investment. The government is also investing heavily in coaching and I’m delighted to have been selected for a 3 year contract to run a coaching programme in one of the larger government agencies to coach their leaders how to coach their staff. Again, it just makes sense. Whereas athlete’s all have a coach (in some cases, multiple coaches) and are expected to perform at their best three or four times a year, employees are expected to perform every day! Shouldn’t we be giving them the best opportunity to do this?
To excel at the highest level – or any level, really – you need to believe in yourself, and hands down, one of the biggest contributors to my self-confidence has been private coaching. ~ Stephen Curry
There are so many coaches out there and, unfortunately, the industry is not regulated. Quite simply, anybody can call themselves a coach. This worries me a bit because, although very well intentioned, an ill-experienced coach can cause more harm than good. That’s why Forbes tells us that the top three qualifications companies are looking for in a leadership coach are:
- Experience coaching in similar setting (65%)
- Clear methodology (61%)
- Quality of client list (50%)
So how do you choose the right coach for you? Which of these is most important for you?
- Your coach should have a recognised qualification and they should have at least five years experience in their field.
- Although coaching should be industry agnostic and a good coach will be able to transcend industries, finding a coach with experience in your industry is important for a couple of reasons, least of which concerns understanding the language, the potential pitfalls, and the array of options that might be available to a client. For example, if your coach has never been a member of a software development team that is delivering through an agile framework, it will take some time to understand these dynamics and the nature of the problems they are likely to introduce.
- You coach should be constantly updating their skills. The world of business and IT isn’t slowing down and it’s up to your coach to stay on top of the latest developments to provide guidance, if it is needed; for example, if the client has no experience in the realm they are dabbling in, guidance in how to deal with a situation may be warranted.
- You should always ‘interview’ your coach before committing to a coaching engagement. There must be a sense of trust between you both because you are engaging them to help you make changes. Sometimes these can be uncomfortable and, without a deep trust in your coach, the change is unlikely to occur. Don’t underestimate this point because an objective as seemingly as simple and straight forward as ‘career direction’ can lead to much deeper, life changing discussions. The ‘coaching alliance’ is vital to the success of any coaching engagement.
My best investment, as cliched as this sounds, is the money I’ve spent developing myself, via books, workshops and coaching. Leadership begins within, and to have a better career, start by building a better you. ~ Robin S. Sharma
Here are some more…
- Your coach should always provide you with a coaching contract so you know what to expect.
- If your coach pulls out a ten-step coaching process, run a mile. Coaching should be unique and tailored to your needs as an individual. Coaching should be tailored to you and your personality; it should be customised to your needs, your experience, and start from where you are at. There are plenty of useful coaching tools out there that are effective frameworks to help you achieve your outcomes, but your coach must be able to tailor these to best meet your needs.
- Your coach should always give you assignments between coaching meetings to further advance your coaching experience. Although many personal breakthroughs occur during coaching conversations, deep learnings also occur through giving something a go and gaining the all-important personal experience; you can’t learn to swim by having a conversation!
- Your coach should hold you to account for commitments you make. It should never be done in a mean or judgmental way, but in a professional manner which may lead to further exploring the reasons behind not sticking to commitments.
- You should expect your coach to give you feedback that helps to create the awareness that may be missing in your life, and you should feel comfortable giving your coach feedback on your experience also. It is an equal relationship and needs to be for it to be successful.
If you aren’t where you are in life, in your career, your finances, your relationships, your health, or if you find that you’re not moving forward at the pace you want to, this is where a coach can help. What are you waiting for?
If you’d like to know more about why coaching is becoming the professional development tool of choice, or if you’d like to explore how coaching can help you become a better leader (of others or yourself!), or even if you’re just generally curious about what professional coaching can offer you, please contact us at any time for a free consultation.
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