Many of us had had amazing coaches in our lives. The problem is that many of those coaches were influential when we were kids kicking a soccer ball, hitting a bat or swimming lengths. These amazing people (often volunteers) imparted knowledge, taught us our games and developed our sense of team or self-worth. So what the heck is coaching in the business sense? If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have thought it was similar to therapy and I would have said that I would never need one. Boy – was I wrong. Through a series of changes in my career (voluntary and involuntary) and while redefining what I wanted to do when I “grew up”, I discovered the amazingness that is coaching and the feeling of relief and peace and accomplishment of using my own coach.
And yes – I drank the Koolaid and am now a convert so may be slightly biased, but let me tell you why using a coach is simply amazing: You can talk to your coach about anything – I mean anything, the irritating co-worker, your boss’s annoying habits, your own shortcomings and fears, your feelings of guilt when trying to balance family and work, anything!
Your coach gets you! They really do.
They ask you the hard questions and they don’t judge you. I mean that, really – they don’t! There is no secret laughing that happens at your expense and they must remain confidential so you can be sure they aren’t spilling your secrets with their coaching buddies over beer (or wine) at happy hour.
They force (and I know that’s a strong word but it can be true), you to come up with plans, actions and accountabilities to ensure progress and move forward with whatever it is you need to do.
My own style of coaching may always be in transition. I tend to be a coach that slants towards being more hard-assed than sweet and I would most likely describe myself as a sarcastic business, executive and career coach which I know does not appeal to all. That’s ok. When you hire a coach, you need to mesh with that person or you are both wasting your time (and money). Many executives use coaches and many are also now willing to admit it. It is no longer a dirty secret or something to be ashamed of. Some of the top leaders in the business world have had help (and many lots of it) from a coach. Check out Executive Chairman and former Google CEO Video Eric Schmidt talking about why he has a coach.
So, when I tell you what a coach is, this is what I mean. Coaching for sports is amazing and I value my experiences and the influence that my coaches gave me growing up. I think all leaders and those going through some sort of career transition can benefit from what a coach has to offer in this different way and I encourage those who are interested to seek out qualified coaches.
Check out www.coachfederation.org for a directory of coaches in your area.