Wisdom//

Lessons From a Top Executive Coach

I help people become the best version of themselves as a living, and it's taught me a lot about human behavior.

Africa Studios/ Shutterstock
Africa Studios/ Shutterstock

I’ve been coaching my whole life. As a young girl, other kids would seek me out for guidance. As I moved into my teen years, I found myself dispensing advice and helping others see the light.

Fast forward a number of years later, and I’m still helping people become the best version of themselves. I learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way. Here are five of them.

It takes courage to hire a coach. If you’re over a certain age, and you’ve rallied up the nerve to stand in front of a mirror naked, then you probably have a good idea what I mean by courage. Taking stock of where you are currently at can be scary. However, what’s worse is knowing you should look in that mirror and refusing to do so because this means you have a new reality to deal with.

I’m the mirror for many executives, except they get to keep their clothes on. I gather feedback from their peers, direct reports, and those above them, and report back on my findings. Most have a good idea what I’m about to say, which makes it a bit easier for them to take in the information. However, it still takes courage to be open to hearing this.

If you’re thinking about working with a coach, and you’re not ready to hear the truth, then don’t waste time or money proceeding. Your odds for success are better in Vegas.

Not everyone is coachable. Please don’t write to me and tell me I’m wrong about this or tell me that I do not have the skills required to be a coach since I can’t fix these people. The world’s number one coach, Marshall Goldsmith, whose two-day Stakeholder Centered Leadership Certification session I just attended, has a vetting process, as do I.

We ask the following questions, before accepting a new client.

  1. Is the prospective client committed to making behavioral changes? You can’t want more for people than they want for themselves.
  2. Is this person in over their head or in the wrong job? If the answer is yes, we say no, as what’s needed is a job change–not a coach.
  3. Is there an ethical problem, such as lying or cheating, that the client wants fixed? We’re not therapists. We’re coaches.
  4. Has the organization or the boss already written this person off? Is coaching being used as a possible legal defense, should this person sue after being fired? See question #1.

Coaching isn’t something you do to someone. It’s something you do for yourself. Working with a coach is a lot like working with a personal trainer. You’re not going to see results if you’re not willing to put in the work.

In the old days, one used to be assigned a coach for remedial reasons. Thankfully, we’ve moved past the dark ages. Even one of the best quarterbacks in history, New England Patriot’s, Tom Brady has a coach. In fact, he has several. If he can still improve, so can you.

Be very selective when choosing a coach. It doesn’t take much to hang out your shingle and call yourself a coach these days. When seeking a coach, look to hire someone who has been where you want to go.

This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. I mean it’s nice that someone may have read a book or taken an online course on parachuting out of a plane, but would you want this person coaching you, as you look to make your first jump? I think not!

Ask a trusted colleague for a referral. When doing so, ask specifically about how they are better off today than before entering into this relationship.

Buyer Beware. I’m sure you can get some great deals on coaching, as fees vary. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. For example, you can get to the same place driving a Honda Civic or a Jaguar. However, you’ll get there a lot faster in the Jaguar.

Leaders seeking a promotion or those whose job is on the line should think twice before choosing a low-cost vendor. In fact, don’t hire anyone who considers themselves a vendor. What you need is a partner. Someone who will be by your side through thick and thin, and preferably one that doesn’t have the meter running every time you call.

©2019 Matuson Consulting.

Considering a coach or got a question about coaching? Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] and we’ll schedule a brief call.

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