Coaching has what you might call an image problem. At one extreme the proliferation of people offering “life coaching” services which can be seen as woolly and ineffectual have had the effect of diluting the perception of anything by a similar name.
The practice of effective Business Coaching that I know having coached and been coached has little in common with that popular misconception. Here’s what I see as the main benefits for executives and business owners…
The further up the organisation you travel the lonelier it can become at the sharper end of the pyramid and a sense of isolation in business is not uncommon. In fact, over the years McKinsey has built a business on being “the CEOs friend” which is rooted in exactly this insight.
At the same time there are some issues that are best not shared or aired within the organisation. If these issues are not addressed that can also lead to a sense of isolation.
The need for sage counsel becomes all the more acute in these contexts. Coaching can provide the sort of support that allows executives to reach decisions and actions through a reflective process, recognising their individual strengths, weaknesses and in a way that is true to their values.
Working the issues or decisions through together with a coach addresses the isolation as well as the issue.
In our accelerating and fragmenting world the business of change and dealing with it productively is an inevitable requirement but change is uncomfortable.
There are moments of transition in almost every career where more support is welcome. Perhaps returning to work after an absence or being promoted into a bigger role. Maybe it is being passed over for promotion or coming to terms with difficult interpersonal relationships. Increasingly the wrestle of work-life balance at these points can also impinge on contentedness and hence effectiveness.
Coaching is very people-centric in its approach and by necessity deals with the whole person not just the business persona if it is to address the challenges presented at times of change.
3. Reality & Clarity
Having a mirror held up to you can be both a revealing and sometimes a scary experience. Everyone wants to feel competent, good and able to be liked, but at points we don’t live up to those criteria or live up the values we hold dear. It is at these points that the tension created needs to be unwound.
In the hectic lifestyles that we often lead sometimes the first thing that gets lost is a sense of perspective. The nature of the coaching conversations allows that reality to be illuminated and brought into focus.
There are many forms of coaching and certainly team coaching can be highly beneficial, but any coaching approach needs to start from a good understanding of the individual characters involved.
Their pre-dispositions and personalities will affect they way they interrelate with and perceive the world around them. The power of coaching is in its personal relevance – there is nowhere to hide. Whilst there are some common tools and techniques the whole process as tailored to the individual is completely bespoke.
Unlike other forms of intervention business coaching works best when the coachee is allowed to build their solutions and action plans founded in reflective discussion, a bottoming out of the current reality and due consideration of the options available.
By approaching the conversation in this way the coachee has the opportunity for plenty of ownership of the problem, the solution and the will-power to make a change. That’s not to suggest that it is necessarily an easy process, but when done well it enables significant commitment to change.
6. Follow through
Coaching unlike many other consulting interventions is longitudinal in nature. The short but frequent aspect of the coaching conversation over time lends itself to follow up and reinforcement.
So handled sensitively the process can enable a smooth change of course over a period of time. Supporting small successes along the way, overcoming set-backs and building on productive adjustments all contribute to the long term effectiveness.
For this reason I’ve found that small to medium sized business owners, as well as executives, like the coaching style as it enables them to continue as long as they feel it adds value along the course of the conversation. Although there is usually a need for a number of sessions before the full impact and benefits can be realised.
Six good reasons why talking with a business coach could be a good idea that are, in my opinion, anything but soft and fluffy. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you with business coaching then please get in touch.