Executive coaching is a relatively recent but rapidly growing profession. When I meet someone for the first time and tell them that I’m a coach, there’s usually a flash of recognition followed by lots of questions. Many people have heard of coaching but don’t really understand what’s involved and want to know more.
As an enthusiastic convert to the benefits of coaching, I have to be careful not to overdo my elevator pitch and become a bore by talking about it endlessly. These are the three key points I usually try to make about what a coach does.
Much of the power of coaching comes from the questioning process. Being able to ask the right question at the right time can create transformation in a client’s thinking. This is exciting for both client and coach. When clients reach a new insight for themselves they feel empowered and inspired. Rather than telling the client what to do I have facilitated this process. This brings me to my next point.
Never give advice (or hardly ever)
Coming from a background in HR management, where I needed to give advice on a daily basis, starting as a coach required a fundamental shift in my thinking. For clients, the real value in coaching is to come up with their own answers and gain confidence in the process. If I give advice as a coach I take away this benefit. I may also create a relationship of dependence, which is even worse. I give greater value by believing that my clients can reach their own solutions and helping them to get there. The other key part to my role is holding my clients accountable to make the changes they’ve identified.
Keep you accountable
It’s relatively easy to come up with a list of goals, and even to identify the steps which will help you achieve those goals. It’s much harder to get started on actually doing those things. Usually by the end of a coaching session, a client will have worked out what action to take next. If they know that at the following session I’ll be asking, “What have you done? How did it go?” it makes them more likely to actually follow through. No one wants to admit to their coach that they’ve taken no action since the last session. Those who have taken action and made progress towards their goals get a wonderful sense of achievement and feel inspired to do even more.
If you’d like to learn more about executive coaching, contact us.