Any leader can benefit from having a coach. Today we’re joined once again by Brent Carter to continue the conversation about building stronger leaders. Brent is a senior consultant and senior executive coach at Leadership Excelleration Inc., and we’ll be talking about how to build stronger leaders through coaching.
We’re coached a lot as kids for sports and other activities. So why is it that when we graduate and go to our first employment or run a $300 million organization, do so many not receive coaching?
One might think that they’ve got it all figured out, which is very probably not the case. For some, there’s a stigma that comes with having a coach.
But the trend that Brent has noticed is that coaching has gone from stigma to perk. A lot of it boils down to being humble enough to realize that you don’t have it all figured out, you don’t have all the answers, and you can still learn no matter how experienced you are.
What are the challenges of being an executive coach?
One of the biggest challenges is being conscious about how you show up to the conversation. Many coaches can project their experiences onto their clients, or make assumptions about a situation because they’ve seen the issue before. So it’s really about coming into the conversation with no real expectations and putting on the glasses of wanting to learn, listen, and understand.
We encourage any leader that we coach to be transparent. Be open with your team about the process, and be transparent about the feedback you receive, both good and bad. Being sincere about the process and intentional about your own improvement as a leader will change your relationship with your team, and they’ll engage in that process with you.
What is the difference between an executive coach and a mentor?
Executive coaches will help uncover some of the issues that keep leaders from being effective in their roles, which typically include an assessment process and feedback. The objective is to hold up a mirror to the executive and help them see what they’re doing well, what they can improve on, then working together on a path for their development.
With mentors, the priority is the relationship. They’re somebody you would look up to and learn from, experience-wise, so it’s good to have somebody you really click with, have conversations with, and can be vulnerable with. This is someone you can rely on over time to learn and grow from.
What trends are emerging in executive coaching?
- Having a coach is now seen as a real benefit, instead of something stigmatized.
- There are more internal coaches, coaching teams who are in-house, and even partners certified as executive coaches.
- One downside is that just about anyone can call themselves a coach these days. It’s more of a declaration versus having experience, knowledge, and expertise. It’s very important for senior leaders to go with coaches who have the expertise and the background in the business world to challenge them and help them be their best.
What are other reasons people bring in coaches?
It starts with discovery. If somebody is in a vacuum, then they’re not getting the feedback that would benefit them, and they could think they’re doing fine. When people are more self-aware, they’re more likely to think about specific situations they’ve been in. That’s when they start saying, “Maybe it’s time to have somebody onboard to help.”
If you’re an organizational leader and you don’t have a coach, are you really fine-tuning your craft? Mike would even go so bold as to say, if you don’t have a coach, then you shouldn’t be leading. You need that accountability, transparency, and openness.
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