Connor is a former business student of mine who just got his second promotion since joining a national retail firm three years ago. He’s managing a group of professionals and reached out to me to provide coaching as he takes on his new responsibilities. He has a boss, of course, who can provide direction and help him through the learning curve, but Connor wanted someone who could not only help him navigate the role, but provide unbiased input as well as a sounding board from a source that wasn’t writing his performance review.
Connor and I talk through relationships with his team, especially those he finds more challenging to manage. We’ve worked through the company’s new performance management system and how it can be used positively despite the fact that it’s not perfect. I’ve shared some tools with him that will help him build relationships while helping his team reach their goals, and Connor has asked me questions about managing his own career and influencing his bosses.
Executive coaching has seen strong growth in the past decade. Coaching credentials are varied, although the International Coaching Federation (ICF) is probably the most well known and respected certifying bodies. They offer a solid program that ensures coaches have good model to follow. But there are many excellent coaches whose credentials are based on experience more than certification.
Why You Need a Coach
We all understand the role of a coach in athletics – they’re the ones on the sidelines during the game giving direction, correcting missteps, and providing encouragement. But before game day the coach spends hours teaching game strategy, instilling discipline, and focusing on conditional and strength development. The coach doesn’t play in the game, but they know the game inside and out and provide invaluable input that leads to improvement and, ideally, a win.
The executive coach has a similar role. They assess, teach, provide feedback, instill habits, and act as a cheerleader on the sidelines. But in the world of business or nonprofit management, is a coach really necessary? After all, I went to college, have years of experience, and have done pretty well on my own. That may be true, but sometimes we don’t see roadblocks that are keeping us back, or opportunities that are right before us.
A coach can help us see those things, plus help us create a strategy and associated processes to achieve our goals. If you’re interested in getting to the next level in your career, a professional coach can help you.
The Five Reasons You Need a Coach
A professional executive coach can provide five things that you might not be able to do for yourself.
- Assessment. A skilled coach has a bag of tricks they use to assess your strengths, aptitudes, default mindsets, etc. This is the starting point for most coaching relationships.
- Expertise. Although your coach may not be an expert in your industry, they are experts at insight and drawing parallels from experience in multiple industries. They can shed light on things from a unique perspective that challenges you to see the world differently.
- Accountability. One of the greatest benefits of a coach is the accountability they provide. Their objectivity allows them to challenge you without emotional baggage that comes from a friend or boss.
- Processes and Tools. A coach teaches a coachee valuable models and processes that build positive habits.
- Achievement. Strategy creation provides measurable achievement for you, and a good coach will provide insights and means to move you toward achieving meaningful, intentional success.
Some specific outcomes of coaching are:
- In one study conducted by MetrixGlobal LLC, companies including Booz Allen Hamilton received an average return of $7.90 for every $1 invested in executive coaching.
- A recent study of Executive Coaching in a Fortune 500 firm by MetrixGlobal reported a 529% return on investment and significant intangible benefits to the business.
- A survey by Manchester Inc. of 100 executives found that coaching provided an average return on investment of almost six times the cost of the coaching.
- An internal report of the Personnel Management Association showed that when training is combined with coaching, individuals increase their productivity by an average of 86% compared to 22% with training alone.
- A Hay Group study of Fortune 500 companies found that 21 to 40% utilize Executive Coaching; Coaching was used as standard leadership development for elite executives and talented up-and-comers.
- A 2001 study on the impact of executive coaching by Manchester Inc. showed an average ROI of 5.7 times the initial investment or a return of more than $100,000, according to executives who estimated the monetary value of the results achieved through coaching.
(Retrieved from ActionCOACH.com)
What To Look for in a Coach
Coaching is about creating the future, so finding a coach who will equip and enable you to do so is critical. So how do you know if you’re getting a good coach? And by good I mean someone with whom you have rapport, a person you feel comfortable with, and someone who can move you toward achieving your life and career goals?
Erika Anderson, writing for Forbes.com, identified some important elements in coach selection. Before committing to a coaching relationship, conduct an interview and really make sure you get answers that make sense to you. Paraphrasing Anderson, a good coach will:
- Provide clarity about the process. They’ll provide a roadmap of the process they’ll use.
- Facts and feedback. A good coach will try to get the perspective of those with whom you work most closely, rather than relying on your view.
- A learning approach. Skilled coaches go beyond dialogue and move toward ability and action.
- If your prospective coach is talking openly about other clients, they’ll do the same with you.
- Measurable outcomes. Your coach should be able to provide you with solid examples of helping coachees achieve their goals.
Coaching certification may be less important than other credentials, depending on what you’re looking for. The important thing is that you have confidence in the coach’s ability to take you through a process that will get you closer to your dreams.
About the author: Todd Conkright, MA, CPT is a Certified Performance Technologist who combines expertise in human performance, six sigma process improvement, and the soul of a teacher to help clients achieve their personal and organizational dreams. If you’d like to talk with Todd about coaching or consulting, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.