When I started my own executive coaching and leadership development business a number of years ago, I only considered what I was good at – coaching and developing others. My thinking didn’t go much further, and in my line of work, I’m embarrassed to admit that. It took the COVID pandemic to make me stop and take the time to think about my own development, and I mean really think about what it was I was trying to achieve.
Often, it takes something drastic to happen for us to realize that we need to make changes; that something isn’t working the way it should; that we lack confidence or that we simply aren’t coping/taking control as we would like. Our own development, when in the midst of leading an organization/department/team, does not always get the time or priority it deserves, and doing it on your own is practically impossible.
Late last year, I began to wonder whether I could benefit from some coaching, which ultimately led to me, a coach, receiving coaching. I was intrigued as to how this would work since I was effectively putting myself in the opposite seat but having all the experiences of the coach and none of being the coaching client.
My closest experience of being the client is as a qualified coach receiving regular supervision, but this (I can now say with complete confidence) is not the same as being the coaching client. Supervision ensures that, in complete confidence, coaches are able to share their case load activity (a little like therapists) and receive support and direction so they’re better able to work in the service of their clients. (My advice to anyone considering coaching is: never use a coach who isn’t qualified and who doesn’t receive regular supervision).
Moving Forward to Coaching
Choosing your coach is the most important item on your checklist as you need to have complete trust in the person you eventually choose to work with.
Many coaches offer a free introductory meeting where you can begin to get the feel for the coach and their style of working, and importantly, whether that style works for you. It’s also an opportunity to find out how the coaching program is organized, what you can expect from the coach, and what they can expect from you.
Meeting a coach before agreeing to a coaching program of several sessions enables you to get the feel for whether you will be able to develop an effective and trusting working relationship with this coach — rather than regretting (and dreading) each coaching session.
There’s More to It…
Coaching is not simply about having six (sometimes more) individual meetings where nothing happens in between. In a nutshell, coaching — and in turn, your own development — is first and foremost about exploring what is and what is not working for you; leading to identifying the changes you want to make and what you need to do to make those changes, sustainably, happen.
A good coach will not lead or direct or advise you, but they will take the time to ask the right questions in order to better help them understand you and your work environment. They will support and guide you through your own individual and unique process. It takes time but you’re worth it.
Why We Need Coaching
Coaching can be life changing, whether you want to develop your confidence and skills to be an exceptional leader; to have more influence in the boardroom; to develop a compelling vision and inspire others; to lead more effective teams; or to understand how to better run your own business. Coaching takes commitment and a desire to see real change. We all have that desire, and it’s good to know that coaches can help you realize it.
For me, this whole experience has been extremely valuable and one I wish I had taken sooner in my professional journey. Not only have I benefitted from the coaching as a client (I am now more confident in my role and my abilities; I am making decisions — and acting on them — for the future of my business, and I am less anxious about the ‘small stuff’), but I have also: gained a better appreciation of how a coach’s questions will be received by their clients; a greater understanding of the safe space that coaches (me included) provide to clients in order that they’re able to explore their concerns, their anxieties, and their development of the skills they need to achieve what they want to achieve — and all in a calm and non-judgmental environment.
About the Author
Teresa Boyle is Managing Director and Founder of Accompli : Professional Development. As an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) qualified coach and leadership developer, Teresa works to increase the number of exceptional women (and men) who are leading in our volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world.