The largest steps I’ve taken in my personal and leadership development are directly related to utilizing a trusted Coach in my life. How? Glad you asked. Coaching has provided me:
1. New perspectives
2. Vital encouragement
3. Supportive Accountability
To help you ascertain if a Coach would add value to you, try this exercise…Think for a moment about the best leader you’ve ever had. Get a specific person in mind.
What did they do that made them your best boss? Jot your answers down on the left side of a piece of paper in a column labeled “Best Leader.” Go ahead, we’ve got time.
All done? Now, think of the worst leader you’ve ever had. What did they do that made them the worst boss? Write those answers down in the right hand column labeled “Worst Leader.” It shouldn’t take too long. The Worst Leader answers come a lot more quickly for most people than the Best Leader answers.
Now, here’s another question for you – do you want to be someone’s leader or their worst leader? Unless you have some serious issues, I’m guessing it’s the best leader. Your own answers to the best boss question can give you a target to shoot for but how can you be sure you’re hitting the mark?
One way to go is to hire an experienced leadership coach that can help you take an objective look at your performance and guide you in the process of making adjustments that will make a positive difference to you, your team and your organization. Don’t have the budget for a leadership coach? Lots of organizations have a cadre of trained internal coaches you can call on. Check out what your organization has to offer. Yet another option is to pair up with a peer from another part of your organization and agree to coach each other.
Whatever route you choose to go, here are three suggestions to get the most out of working with a leadership coach:
Make It Designated Balcony Time: Harvard leadership professor Ron Heifetz likes to point out that people can either be on the dance floor or the balcony and that it’s important to alternate your perspective between the two on a regular basis. When you’re dancing as fast as you can, it’s hard to see much beyond what’s right in front of you. Use your time with your coach as designated balcony time to pull the lens back and look for the patterns in what’s going on down on the dance floor.
Answer Different Questions: By spending some time on the balcony with your coach, you might notice that the actions you’re taking on a regular basis aren’t getting you and your organization to where you need to go next. A good coach is going to ask you questions that you probably don’t usually ask yourself. Answering different questions can help you get out of an action rut. Expect your coach to help you with that.
Build Better Habits: My guiding philosophy as a coach comes from Aristotle who said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Your coach should be able to help you identify a few new habits to take on that will make you a more effective leader and then support you in grooving those behaviors. You want to look for leadership habits that are in the sweet spot between relatively easy to do and likely to make a difference.
What’s your take? What do you want to get out of working with a coach?