Five Things to Look for in a Business Coach
Just because a leader is “at the top,” doesn’t mean he or she has all the answers. In fact, in our conversations with new clients, we’ve found that even the best and brightest have blind spots—and many of them know it. According to a Stanford University executive coaching survey, nearly 100% of the responding CEOs said they enjoy or want to grow their professional potential through coaching and leadership advice. Yet two-thirds of them were not receiving any outside, objective executive coaching, and half of the senior executives surveyed weren’t getting this need met either. What’s more, of those who had received coaching or consulting services, most had taken the initiative to seek it out on their own versus under the direction of a company board. This demonstrates a significant gap—lots of leaders genuinely want and need help but aren’t getting it. And those who do are in the minority.
Of course, there are a number of reasons why many leaders aren’t pursuing this avenue of growth, including everything from lack of financial resources to concerns about the time commitment and even fear of change. But at MAP, we’ve found that Disciplined Leaders push to get beyond the hurdles that might be preventing them from hiring a business and/or leadership coach. Then they enlist these services as part of their strategy to become not just accountable to their own growth and improvement, but accountable to the people they lead.
Research shows that there are almost 100,000 business and leadership coaches worldwide. So if you are interested in hiring a coach or know someone who is, consider your options carefully. Here are some things to look for in a coach:
1. Someone with a proven track record of success. Ideally, you want to hire a coach who has been in the trenches of business and leadership. But in addition to this real-world experience, this person should also have demonstrated an ability to get results using the methodologies he or she will teach you. Equally important, consider this professional’s track record for helping other leaders (or businesses) like yourself. Just as you would in hiring someone on your staff, do your due diligence, check out the approach and success rates of the coach you may “employ.” Find out what makes this person extraordinary, unique, highly effective, and the best fit for you and your needs.
2. Someone who will push your comfort zone. The right executive or leadership coach will challenge you to change in ways that will capitalize on your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses. Sometimes this process may feel downright uncomfortable. But for significant outcomes and results, some discomfort will be necessary—and valuable in terms of real, sustainable change. Be wary of a coach who wants you to start doing all kinds of random things simply for the sake of stretching your comfort zone. Instead, choose one who will encourage you to challenge yourself in new, different ways that align with your values, vital goals, and core responsibilities. An effective accountability coach can help you identify what to do and what not to do.
3. Someone who gives you practical, actionable ideas. When it comes to nurturing your leadership in a meaningful, impactful way, the last thing you need is a gimmick or some trendy solution. You also deserve professional support and a proven accountability system that will save you time and money. A great coach will provide all this while teaching you how to focus on what matters, or the Vital Few activities that will drive the majority of desired results. Of note, this expert should help you spot what’s trivial in your leadership activities, too, then teach you how to delegate or stop doing whatever isn’t supporting the desired results.
4. Someone who genuinely cares about your success. There are a number of ways a great coach can “care” about his or her clients. At MAP, one way we care is by offering tools and techniques that really work. For example, we provide honest, anonymous 360-degree feedback that has the potential to make a huge impact on our clients professional (and even personal) lives. When clients use this as a catalyst for change, the results can be powerful. Look for a coach who truly cares about clients, choosing and using resources and solutions that empower genuine, tangible success.
5. Someone who stays with you in your leadership journey. No matter where you are in the process of your professional development, you’ll find a great coach won’t get ahead of or lag behind you along the way. They are right there with you, in your real world, in your real time. There beside you, they consistently assess and understand your unique situation, guiding you to develop appropriate, effective next steps that address those identified needs. And they stick with you until the end, often becoming not just a “business coach” but mentor for life.