Everyone can benefit from having a coach
Coaches develop people’s individual leadership and management skills through goal setting and focused conversations. Unlike mentoring, training, and consulting, coaching isn’t about providing answers; it’s about asking questions that elicit answers.
After more than two decades of coaching C-suite executives and people leaders, I can say with confidence that everyone–no matter their level of experience or education–can benefit from having a coach. Here’s why.
Coaching is not remedial; it’s an investment.
Perhaps the most common misconception about coaching is that it’s remedial or punitive in some way. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Coaching is an investment in people–whether they’re thriving, surviving, or struggling. It’s about developing people as managers and professionals, for the good of the individual and the organization they’re part of. That’s why coaching can truly benefit everyone. It doesn’t require a prerequisite level of experience, education, or performance.
Coaches can be viewed as thought partners who help reframe feelings and experiences from a new perspective. On a recent episode of the Building Better Managers podcast, VP of Coaching, Karen Benz relayed her experience helping someone move from frustration with to compassion for one of their direct reports.
Every time the manager made a suggestion, it was ignored and followed by more complaints about the same issue. Karen’s question was simple: “What if the employee is hearing your suggestions as criticism?” Then she asked, “if that’s true, how can you support them?”
This turned into a big “aha” moment for the manager, who was able to embrace the notion that his communication was being received differently than intended. Instead of getting frustrated, his mindset shifted and he began to focus on developing the employee’s confidence. It was a game changer for both of them.
Don’t estimate the power of self-reflection.
Human beings are naturally egocentric. By holding up a mirror and asking people to reflect on their thoughts, actions, and feelings, coaches help people let go of their egos and see life through others’ eyes. One thing in life is certain: it’s not always about you! Often, it’s about the other person and how they’re receiving you–which may be very different from how you perceive yourself.
To illustrate how vantage points can drastically alter one’s perspective, my colleagues and I often rely on a helpful metaphor: the dance floor vs. the balcony. Being on the dance floor means responding to stimuli as they emerge. By heading up to the balcony and removing yourself from the action, the full picture reveals itself. The details that previously clouded your perspective are no longer as important; they’re only a piece of the puzzle.
But, not everyone has the discipline or presence of mind to remove themselves from the dancefloor, especially when the action is intense.
This is why 1:1 coaching matters. Regular breaks from the action that pull people up to the balcony provide the necessary time and perspective needed to determine the best path forward.
Accountability is critical for growth.
Having a trainer (or even just a buddy) at the gym improves adherence to weight loss programs, because accountability motivates people to perform better. A qualified coach with relevant experience supports one’s professional growth in the same way that a trainer helps people achieve their fitness goals. In time, a good coach helps people develop self-accountability, which leads to sustained growth over a lifetime.
Sometimes when people hear “coach” they think “I don’t need someone to micromanage me.” Let’s put this misconception to rest. Micromanaging is a destructive relationship behavior that can result in emotional harm, conflict, and eventual separation (after all, people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers). Coaches play an overwhelmingly positive and supportive role in people’s lives by keeping them accountable as they pursue goals their own way.
Coaches encourage autonomy. Micromanagers limit autonomy. Coaches ask important questions, facilitate reflection, and help people stay accountable through regular check-ins and progress reports. But, ultimately, it’s up to the individual to make things happen for themselves.
Experience is the best teacher.
If coaching sounds like a good fit for you, then the next step is finding a coach. The good news is that there are myriad options available–from individual providers to large scale organizations. The bad news is that like psychotherapy, the skill and experience of the practitioner (combined with your level of commitment and follow through) will determine the success of your sessions. In other words, coaching is only as effective as the quality of the coach.
Over two decades of coaching and feedback from thousands of clients has taught me that coaching is most impactful when coaches bring their wisdom, professional experience, and education into the coaching relationship. This approach is known as Directed Coaching and it has proven to be a real game changer at BetterManager.
Directed Coaching allows coaches to brainstorm solutions with you, offer suggestions (instead of just asking questions) and more. Unlike consulting, which provides specific solutions, Directed Coaching is more collaborative; it’s about exploring opportunities rather than dictating next steps. This is why working with a coach who has significant experience themselves can be so valuable.
At BetterManager, our global community of coaches and facilitators bring their people management experience, education and, most importantly, wisdom into every coaching engagement. So, in addition to asking powerful questions, our coaches act as true thought partners, brainstorming ideas and offering guidance when asked.
What is Directed Coaching: Listen to this recent conversation with Karen Benz
Essential at every stage of development
Whether you're an entry-level employee, a rising star, or a senior executive, you can benefit from having a coach–someone to meet on the balcony when the dance floor gets overwhelming.
I’ve been coaching for decades, but I’m still just as excited to be a coach today as I was at the start of my career. That’s because every coaching engagement is an individualized journey, and no one’s journey is the same.
When I discovered the power of coaching, I knew I had found my calling. It’s why I founded a virtual coaching and leadership development company that helps people the world over achieve their professional goals.
And, just in case you think I’m biased, I have benefited from coaching myself (and I still do). Even with a whole toolbox of coaching strategies at my disposal, I still find it essential to pause and reflect on my thoughts and actions from someone else’s perspective.