If you ever played sports as a kid, you had a coach giving you direction, helping you to improve, and being a source of motivation. However, once you grow up and enter the working world, you are expected to learn as you move up the business hierarchy all on your own. Even though you may have not become a professional baseball player, you still need a coach in the business world. A business coach or executive coach provides several benefits.
What is an executive coach?
Before we discuss the executive coaching benefits, what exactly is an executive coach? An executive coach is different than taking the necessary training for job success from a facilitator. Executive coaches give you the tools to help you learn. They also pinpoint the best way in which you learn. Since every person is different on how they retain and use training on the job, it’s imperative that you figure out what works best for you. Once you find what works best, you will have a deeper understanding of what is being taught, why, and how to apply this on the job.
In addition, since this person is usually not an employee of your company, they can provide an unbiased opinion of your actions. Plus, this executive coach can give you feedback in real-time while you go about your day-to-day activities. This helps you maintain job focus while tweaking the process to obtain your goals. And with an estimated one billion a year spent on executive coaches for business leaders, you don’t want to fall behind your competition.
Executive coaching benefits
Now that you know how an executive coach differs from a training facilitator, let’s discuss the executive coaching benefits. What does an executive coach provide? What should you expect from your coaching experience?
1. Know yourself
This may seem like an odd benefit. You may say, “Of course I know who I am.” But when you are busy on-the-job you rarely look up from your desk let alone reflect on “what makes you tick.” or what your team really thinks of your performance. That’s where an executive coach can help. They can recognize your strengths and weakness making you a more effective leader.
Usually an executive coach will first let you know how others see you as a leader. Then after some observation of you on the job, this person will give you their assessment as well. Next your executive coach will you give you new skills to improve on your weak points. Armed with your new skills and your self-awareness you will become a better person and team leader.
2. Know others
After you get to know you, you next want to understand your team. What is the personality of each person on your team? What goals do they have? Are they giving the job their all? If not, why?
Again, as an executive you are busy and often focused on the short-term goals. But to keep your top-performing team members, you need to make sure they are happy. And that’s one of the benefits of executive coaching. This person can help you see the capabilities of each of your team members and make suggestions based on their observations.
3. Act the part
Usually you are promoted into a senior level position from your years of experience and acquired skill sets. You are never really taught how to be a leader. So one of the benefits of executive coaching is learning to be a leader. This is different from getting your daily tasks done. You need to become aware of what your team is doing, what difficulties are arising, and then most importantly, how to react. Communication is paramount and your team needs to know they can look to you for advice and direction.
4. Play on your strengths
If you have ever sat in an interview where you have been asked, “Tell me about your strengths?” You may think you know exactly what they are. But it’s often helpful to have an outsider give you an assessment of what they think these are. An executive coach can point out your strengths and sometimes show you strengths that you didn’t think were strengths or were not unique to your peers. Then, this person can help you utilize these strengths on the job for your benefit and that of your team.
5. Relationship building
The term “birds of a feather flock together” is a lot like business networking. You most likely travel in circles of like-minded individuals. And although peer to peer training sessions or networking is important, it won’t help you become the best leader possible. For you to relate to your team and customers more effectively, you need to learn how to form relationships with all types of people.
An executive coach can break you out of your comfort zone and teach you how to build more diverse and dynamic relationships. This person will point out your stumbling blocks and help you see the benefit in networking with a wider range of people. You will not only relate better to your team, but to your customers.
6. Be a role model
Often times lower level team members look at senior management as this unattainable and unapproachable group. You don’t want to appear this way to any of your team members no matter what their level. One way to change this perception is with executive coaching.
Your team will see you are training to be a become a better leader. And this also shows you are not perfect and can always grow.. Plus, it motivates your team to aspire to reach senior level management as one of their business goals.
7. Grow your network
Part of an executive coach’s role is to bring you out of your comfort zone. As a result, this person can point you to new groups to join, people to meet, and new ways to enhance your network. Plus, they can introduce you to people in their network. Executive coaches know some great resources that very well may benefit your career path.
So it’s important to tell your coach what you hope to gain from partnering with him or her. Then building upon these statements, ask your coach how you can grow your network to obtain these. Even if your coach does not have anyone top of mind to help you, they will know where to look for these individuals and can point you in the right direction.
8. Branding yourself
As an executive, you often take time to brand your product or service, but little time to brand yourself. It’s important to get your name out there as an industry expert. Not only will it help attract new customers, but it will expand your network.
Working with your executive coach, focus on strengthening your social media and web presence. A coach can also show you new platforms you may not have considered for marketing yourself. Once you establish these online vehicles, work with your coach to create a presence on each one. And set goals to achieving success with each one.
9. Help at home
We spend more time at work then we do at home. So it makes sense to pour your efforts into executive coaching for work. But one of the benefits of executive coaching is it actually helps at home too. Skills you learn from your coach can be applied at home. You will become more organized, less stressed, and strike a better work/life balance with a coach on board.
10. Set goals
When you first started out in your career, you goal was most likely to be a senior executive. But once you achieve this goal, it become hard to set new goals. Or you become less motivated since you have reached a level you are comfortable with.
That’s another benefit of executive coaching. This person is an unbiased third party sounding board. They can help you create new goals, work toward these goals, and bring new energy along with this process.
Where do I find a coach?
Once you know what you will gain from hiring an executive coach, you may wonder where you find one. Or maybe more importantly, a great one for you and for the industry you are in. Here are a few places to start:
LinkedIn is already a great resource for business networking. So try LinkedIn Profinder where you can search for a list of executive coaches closest to you. Plus, you can get free price quotes and select what you hope to gain from using one.
Nomii is a company who has a database of executive coaches by state. They can help match you with the right coach for your needs. Their process is to describe your goals, then they will send you a list of one to three coaches. You can then consult with your top choices and hire the one that seems like the best fit.
3. Global Gurus
Global Gurus is not a place to find an executive coach, but they have written an article on what they believe to be the top 30 of all time. Now you may not be able to hire one of these individuals, but it is helpful to read through this article. It will give you an idea of the qualities of the best of the best executive coaches. Plus, you can see how each one market themselves and what their philosophies are.
This may help guide your decision on how you select the best coach for you. You will also find book these individuals have written, articles created, and further resources listed on executive coaching. You want this to be money well spent so finding the right coach is key to obtaining your goals.
How do I choose a coach?
Now that you know where to find an executive coach, you may ask how do I choose the right one? As a busy executive you have enough on your plate. Taking the time to interview a bunch of coaches that may not work out is not productive nor worth the time. Asking the right questions can help you narrow your choice quickly.
Here are some questions to ask:
- Just talk
The first step is to interview two or three potential coaches and just talk to them. You will get a feeling if it’s a good personality fit or not almost immediately. Are you excited about what he or she is saying? Are you feeling inspired to get started? Use your instincts. You only need about 15 minutes with each candidate.
- Walked in your shoes
You also want a person who has been where you have. It does not have to be the same industry or a person who has held the same position as you. But just like a sports coach, it needs to be a person who understands where you are, where you want to go, and how to get you there. The coach needs to have the same mindset and credentials for what you want to achieve.
- Look at marketing
When you gather a pool of executive coach candidates, it’s important to look at how they market themselves. Check out their websites, LinkedIn pages, and what speaking engagements they have coming up. If this person does a stellar job of marketing themselves, than they will do a great job training you.
- Seamless approach
Finally, what is the style of each executive coach you are interviewing? You want someone who has an approach to coaching that fits your personality and how you learn. Because you can’t grow or change if the process does not work.
Have you worked with an executive coach?
We’ve given you the benefits of working with an executive coach, finding one, and how to choose the right one for your goals. But we are curious if you have used an executive coach in the past. If so, what was your experience? Was is helpful and would you hire one again?