It’s that time of year again when the world celebrates International Coaching Week, which is next week, May 16-22. It’s exciting to see how this relatively young profession has grown by leaps and bounds! If you’ve worked with a coach, you will hopefully have experienced what a difference coaching can make, both in your career and in your personal life.
The original definition of the word “coach” is a vehicle – usually horse-drawn – that took someone from one place to another. More and more people around the world are recognizing that this is metaphorically what they can gain from an executive or leadership coach as well – a means of getting from where they are now to where they want to be.
Statistics bear this out: In a study of 370 participants who had worked with executive coaches, the group went from the 50th percentile in performance to the 93rd percentile. Amoco Corp./BP evaluated the impact of executive coaching over a ten-year period and discovered that managers who were coached received 50% higher average salary increases because their performance was so much better. So, there is a lot to celebrate this week, if you ask me!
What do successful leaders Oprah Winfrey, Jack Welsh, and – yes, even Donald Trump – all have in common? They each credit a part of their success to having had a good executive coach at some point in their careers. Let’s face it: When you reach a certain level, it’s hard to get an objective perspective. Everyone you turn to for advice has a hidden agenda. No matter how hard they may try, these stakeholder perspectives just can’t help but be “biased.” This includes your spouse, your children, your boss, your Board of Directors, your subordinates, and your peers.
This is where an executive coach comes in. There’s an unfortunate myth that coaching is only about “fixing problems.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Coaching isn’t consulting, counseling, or therapy. It isn’t about regretting a past that cannot be changed. It’s about focusing on a future that can be changed. Executive coaching helps leaders who are already successful overcome any roadblocks in their way to achieving even more in the future. Many of today’s organizational leaders understand that the skills that enabled them to be in their current positions may not be enough to advance their careers or even keep them competitive at their present level. Here are just a few of the top reasons that executives turn to coaching:
- Drive peak performance
- Develop stronger, more inspiring leadership skills
- Transition successfully into a new position
- Help high-potential employees succeed
- Foster better self-leadership behaviors
- Learn to influence without direct authority in today’s matrixed world
- Strengthen conflict management skills
- Find a truly objective sounding board for ideas and issues
- Successfully implement a specific new strategy, vision, or direction
- Reduce / better manage stress
- Improve time management and work / life balance
- Create a more positive workplace environment
- Achieve greater overall business success
An executive coach is a skilled professional who develops an ongoing relationship with you and focuses on helping you take action toward your stated goals. A good coach doesn’t provide solutions. Instead he/she draws out solutions from you. As an already successful leader, this helps you achieve positive, lasting changes in behaviors so that you can transform yourself and your team, ultimately leading to better overall business results.
Finding Your Coach
So, how do you find the best executive coach for you? First and foremost, do your research. Search the internet, and/or look for certified coaches. Interview a few coaches until you find one who feels right. Ask to see training certificates and testimonials. Talk to past clients, if possible, and request a free trial session. A coach may be very talented, but the chemistry between you needs to be spot-on in order for you to achieve your goals.
Make sure you get a good return on your investment. Two large-scale independent studies among thousands of executive coaching clients across the world reported that the return on their investment was anywhere from 600-700% of the cost of the initial investment. Nonetheless, take the time to quantify the results of hiring an executive coach.
If you do the research and find an executive coach who is a good “fit” for you, the benefits can be life-changing. In honor of International Coaching Week, why not try it for yourself?