Coaching has always been associated with success in sports. Coaches are important as teachers and mentors. They know how to motivate and inspire. They address bad behaviors. Amateur and professional athletes are indebted to these individuals.
Executive and leadership coaching can be equally valuable. My coaching clients have often achieved significant outcomes because of our work together. Some have changed their workplace behaviors. Others have accomplished a professional or life goal. A few have successfully transitioned their careers. Many have become more focused or disciplined.
I wish every coaching engagement had positive outcomes. Of course, that’s not always the case. Here’s a few things I have learned about the challenges of coaching.
- Not everyone is coachable. Executives and leaders must be open to growing. They should be prepared to work hard. Conversations about oneself can be daunting. Some people have a hard time being vulnerable. If you aren’t willing to listen, learn, and change, then coaching you will always be a challenge.
- I can’t do your “heavy lifting.” Leaders who expect me to deliver their bad news present another challenge. If you struggle giving negative constructive feedback, that’s a problem. But, it’s your problem, not mine. I can coach you how to have a tough conversation. Just don’t expect me to be the person who executes it.
- We need to trust one another. I never accept a coaching assignment without first meeting the person. We talk about what they are hoping to accomplish. I introduce some of the ways we will focus the conversation. We discuss what they can expect. If I sense any hesitation, or unwillingness to learn, I won’t accept the engagement. I need to know you won’t hold back. You need to know I only want what’s best for you.
- Without a plan, nothing will change. Leaders I coach must commit to a plan of action. We set early goals and track progress. Some clients need weekly meetings. Others do well with monthly sessions. A few only require a quarterly check-in. We establish accountability parameters, including the best ways to communicate. Nothing is taken for granted.
If you are considering engaging with a coach, keep these challenges in mind. In athletics or business, coaches are expected to produce results. These factors can get in the way. They will impede success.
Executive coaching works best when outcomes are defined and expectations are clear.
Imagine a sports team where the coach’s advice is ignored or undermined. Could they win a championship? Would they even win a game?
Coaching is an investment worth making. Don’t allow the challenges outlined in this article to sabotage the effort.
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