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Why Should I Hire an Executive Coach?

“Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance.”

~John Whitmore

So Many Choices

Are you interested in support and are trying to figure out what you need? So many choices! Executive coaches, career coaches, life coaches, therapists, mentors, wellness advisors, and various other professionals are available to support both your personal and professional development; however, each comes with a distinct approach and specialization. How do you know what is best for you? Devoting time to researching each area, speaking to professionals about their services and understanding their expertise is important in determining what aligns best with your needs. I suggest spending time reading a professional’s website to grasp their approach, background, and get to know them better. Like I do, many professionals also offer a free introductory meeting or a “chemistry test” so you can determine if the person is a right fit for you. In addition to your own exploration, read my blog on How coaching differs from psychotherapy > to learn more.

Tell Me About Executive Coaching

Since my area of expertise is executive coaching, let's focus on what exactly is executive coaching. Executive coaching can cover a variety of topics, and be tailored to a specific individual, but it typically focuses on professional development, building and refining leadership skills and improving the performance of individuals in a work environment. Executive coaching is a partnership and to get the most from the process it’s important for you to help drive the results by committing to introspection and implementing change. Some clients have said, “I’m not an executive, can I still get executive coaching?”. My answer is a resounding “Yes!”. While some professionals work primarily with individuals in leadership or executive positions, I collaborate with individuals at any career level. Regardless of your position, executive coaching can offer insights, strategies and skills that can provide continuous professional growth and career advancement.

Yes! Executive Coaching it is

Once you decide that executive coaching is for you, in selecting a coach to work with, make sure to inquire about their qualifications and training. Choosing a coach with professional accreditation indicates their commitment to industry-accepted standards, adherence to ethical practices and ongoing professional development. Furthermore, it signals they are equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge, and competencies to navigate the complexities of coaching effectively.

As mentioned, there are many subject matters to work on with an executive coach. Executive coaching can benefit your professional development but along that journey, there are other advantages to having an executive coach. They can give you an objective perspective, provide accountability, and in the overall context of professional development, you can experience personal growth and self-awareness.

Now that you know you are working with an executive coach, I’m going to refer to the executive coach simply as "coach" in the rest of the blog.

Offering an Objective Perspective

If you can’t step out of a situation and it prevents you from seeing clearly, it helps to have a coach that can provide an unbiased viewpoint. A coach typically does not have preconceived notions about the company, the employees and the situation, which allows them to provide honest, insightful and constructive feedback. Here is an example of how objectivity might benefit a workplace situation:

Let's say there's a team project at work, and tensions arise among team members about the best approach. Each member is convinced their idea is the most effective, including you. It leads to a deadlock and the project can’t move forward. In a coaching session you express your frustration and describe all the ways in which the others “just aren’t getting it”. You’ve gone into great detail about this situation and so you ask your coach for her thoughts on what the issue is that is keeping them from moving past this deadlock. As an objective outsider, the coach can assess the situation impartially and provide a fresh perspective. Her insightful and thought provoking questions about a new way to look at it help you realize that there is a way to compromise, and previously unseen common ground is revealed. In this instance, a coach’s objectivity led to a more effective resolution, fostered collaboration and ended the deadlock.

A quick pause here to talk about feedback. Sometimes feedback can be difficult but necessary to hear. It’s important to work with your coach to determine the best way for you to receive feedback. Since your coaching engagement is a partnership, your coach should also want to hear your feedback, I know I do.

A coach’s external perspective combined with specific certifications around workplace dynamics and culture can also provide new awareness and illuminating insights. The company may be organized in a structure that is difficult to navigate (agile organization anyone?) or there is a pervasive culture that is impacting the employees and their effectiveness. You may be too “in it” to “see it”. A coach can help you identify influences and navigate them.

Facilitating Accountability

A coach can provide individualized attention, help you to set clear goals, create achievable objectives and provide support and guidance to ensure your goals are met. By employing accountability mechanisms and progress check-ins, coaches can ensure you follow through on your action plans. When collaborating with a coach, they can guide you through the process of self-discovery and professional development, helping you adapt and refine your goals as your aspirations evolve. Here is an example of how accountability can work.

You have a goal to add more exercise into your week without sacrificing the time spent specifically on the weekly progress reports. You work with your coach to prioritize your tasks, account for your time, determine what can be delegated to your team, explore time saving automation systems, and define what “exercise” looks like for you. During your session, you work with your coach to establish specific measurable objectives. Your coach says, “To summarize your objectives, I’m going to paraphrase what you have already said. When we meet in two weeks you want to have delegated running the Tuesday meeting to Betsy, eliminated external client lunches on Tuesdays and Thursday, and worked with IT to create smart mailboxes to help prioritize emails and save time. With these goals met, you will have the ability to leave the office 40 minutes early on Tuesday and Thursdays so you can take a pilates class”. As you try to act on your objectives, you and your coach use your sessions to regularly check in on your accomplishments, talk through your obstacles and ensure that your goal of exercising more without sacrificing time spent on the weekly progress reports is achieved. As mentioned earlier, in working with a coach regularly, the goals may shift and change and the coach can work with you to incorporate that into your new plan.

Benefitting Personal Growth and Self-awareness

In working with you on your professional developmental goals and action plans, celebrating your achievements and aiding you in navigating obstacles, your coach is helping you on your path of self-discovery. Trained to ask insightful questions and challenge you, a coach can help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, values, and motivations. They can shed light on the story that you tell yourself, that society tells you or even your work environment tells you. Together you can examine the story and its influence, and determine what no longer serves a purpose in your growth. Self-awareness might include identifying stresses and obstacles to your progress, and providing tools and techniques to work through them. With individualized coaching, self-awareness can boost your confidence by helping you work on areas that need improvement, leading to increased self-assurance in your role. Here is an example of how a limiting belief, once explored, leads to a professional breakthrough.

As a manager, you believed you were not capable of taking on a leadership role due to your fear of presenting in front of others. The company you work for is a “deck heavy” culture and seemingly every meeting involves presenting to large groups. As you show that you are more and more capable of taking on additional responsibility, the groups you are addressing begin to grow and your fear of being incapable is becoming a major issue to progress. This belief has hindered your career ascension to date. You really want this next promotion, but you know you have to overcome this fear of speaking in front of others. Through the coaching process, self-discovery leads you to explore the root of this belief. During a session, you suddenly recall that early in your career a boss you thought of as your mentor, shortly before you were to give a presentation, dismissively cut your portion of the presentation out and increased the time that your co-worker had for her portion. You never received an explanation, you did not present again at that job, and your co-worker was promoted shortly thereafter. It led you to believe that you were terrible at presenting and would never get promoted when presenting was an important part of the job. Talking through this now, you recognize it as a limiting mindset. In this job, everyone is receptive to your presentations and you’ve never gotten any negative feedback, only compliments. The coach works with you to develop strategies to overcome this fear, and provides you with tools and techniques for effective presentations. As you gain confidence and experience success in presenting to bigger and bigger groups, your belief system shifts. Over time, you not only conquer this fear but you also begin to believe you can get promoted, you can take on a leadership role and presentations aren’t going to hold you back. This change in belief opens you up to the possibility of promotion and you now feel empowered to pursue it, without being held back by your previous limiting belief.

Executive Coaching was for me

There are many ways working with an executive coach can benefit your career. The aforementioned examples serve as just a glimpse into the advantages that accountability, an objective perspective, personal growth, and self-awareness within the context of executive coaching for professional development, can be life changing. It's worth noting that executive coaching typically spans a package of 10 sessions. When there is a successful partnership between the coach and client, and the client is dedicated to the process, it doesn't have to be an ongoing series of sessions that lasts for years. Clients can return to their executive coach for various reasons throughout their professional development journey. If you are interested in learning more about how executive coaching can benefit you, reach out to me to set an introductory meeting.


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