With an executive coach, you’ll have someone in your corner who can help you see yourself more clearly, by providing feedback from a different perspective. If this is done well, it will be clear that the coach has your back – not there to judge or criticise but rather offering support based on experience and expertise in the subject area of leadership and team engagement. In our conversations with clients we often find ourselves using phrases like “I wonder what might be behind this?” Or “What do you think happens when people hear that from you?” This kind of thoughtful questioning helps clients gain insight into their own behaviours without resorting to criticism or harsh
1. See yourself more clearly
Some of the benefits that an executive can expect to experience from working with a coach are increased clarity, self-awareness and focus. Executive coaching can also help you better understand your impact on others, manage difficult conversations and relationships, develop strategy and navigate change. In addition, coaches provide a confidential sounding board for ideas and challenges, as well as a safe space to work on personal development and growth.
2. See others more clearly.
When you have someone to help you see yourself more clearly, it naturally follows that this person will also be able to help you see others more clearly. A good coach has the ability to provide an objective view of those around you and give feedback based on experience and expertise in the field of leadership and team engagement. This is done with the intention of helping their client better understand how they are perceived by others, as well as what impact they may be having on them.
3. Learn new ways to respond.
We all have a set of capabilities and responses that may serve us well as mid-level employees but won’t help us as more senior leaders. For example, we often hear from clients who are new to leadership or management roles about how difficult it is for them to make time for themselves when there are so many other demands on their attention. A good executive coach will be able to support you in developing new ways of responding so that you don’t get trapped in old habits which aren’t serving you anymore.
4. Leverage your existing strengths.
Many people who come to coaching do so because they recognise that they have some great strengths but they’re not sure how to best leverage them. An effective and supportive coach can also help you see and leverage strengths that you already have but that you may be underestimating. Many years ago, I coached a client who had a real gift for envisioning products and services that would appeal to customers in the future. He somehow thought that wasn’t a big deal (in fact, he said to me at one point, “Doesn’t everyone do that?”). I helped him see the uniqueness and value of this capability, and to learn how to lean into it in order to use it more effectively for the benefit of his team and his organisation.
5. Build more productive relationships.
All too often, leaders can dramatically limit their effectiveness by only being willing or able to build strong relationships with certain kinds of people. And all too often, that means people like themselves – in background, race, gender, beliefs, or work style. A good coach can help you recognise that tendency in yourself and work against it, both by helping you see and question the limiting assumptions you make about people who aren’t like you, and by offering you tools to support you in understanding and creating strong and vital working relationships with a wider variety of individuals.
When we’re trying to be everything to everyone we inevitably end up pleasing no one. However, when we focus on building productive relationships with those who share our same values and goals, we grow.
6. Achieve what you want.
The bottom line for an effective coaching engagement is that a good coach can help you get clearer about your goals and dreams, and about what you’re capable of doing in order to achieve them. He or she can also be a powerfully useful support system on your journey: someone who knows you very well and wants the best for you – but is a neutral third party. Unlike your family or your employees, your coach isn’t dependent on you for his or her success. He or she can be honest with you about how you’re doing, reminding you of what you’ve said you want to achieve and letting you know what you need to do to get there.
When we take the time out for executive coaching we allow ourselves space to focus on what we want, to dream a little and to get clear about the steps we need to take in order to achieve our goals. It’s one of the best investments you can make in yourself and your career.
John James Hickey is a certified executive coach who helps leaders achieve success through improved self-awareness and relationships. Based in Ireland, John works with clients across Europe and North America. To find out more about how executive coaching can benefit your organisation or individual career growth, please contact John on firstname.lastname@example.org.