Getting the most from your executive coach
Your organisation has decided to invest in you by engaging an executive coach. Or you’ve decided to invest in yourself. Either way executive coaching is a significant investment in time and money, so you want to make the most of this experience.
Putting the effort into your coaching sessions can help you clear career hurdles
Stephen Key has written about coaching as a two-way street and suggests 11 steps to take to get the most from this experience. Amongst these are some we believe are critical to your success:
- Get in the habit of recapping what you’ve learned via action steps. What are you going to do next? Document what you are planning to do and share this with your coach.
- Make the focus of your course a top priority. Actively work toward accomplishing assigned tasks each week. Look for ways to get the work done, not for excuses as to why you couldn’t.
- Listen with the intent to take action. Focus on action steps at all times. There’s a big difference between passively taking something in and actively noting what needs to be done. All the instruction in the world won’t help if it falls on deaf ears.
- Do the work. Better yet, return asking for more.
- Be patient. Nothing happens overnight. Accept that it might take longer than you want.
Joyce E.A. Russell from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business advises that for executives to get the most out of the coaching they should:
- Periodically provide feedback to their coach about what is working or not in their sessions.
- Remain open to the feedback they get in return. She writes, “You may hear things that you never heard before. Instead of immediately denying and rejecting the feedback, ask questions to better understand it.”
Make sure the coach works with their client on crafting a developmental plan. “At a minimum, this should outline your key strengths, developmental areas for improvement, obstacles to changing, and action plans along with timetables.”
Jeannette Purcell suggests you should “Be clear about what you want to change. The more specific you can be about your coaching ‘goal’ the more effective your coaching will be.”
She then writes about the importance of preparation. “Prepare for each session by reviewing what has happened since you last met your coach. What has gone well? What has not worked well? Has a specific issue arisen that you would like to discuss with your coach…?”
Next, she points out the importance of follow-up. “Make sure that each session ends with a summary of what has been discussed and what actions you are going to take…Agreed actions allow you to put into practice some of the good ideas or options you have discussed at the session.”
Finally, she points out the importance of being open to the experience: “Be prepared to challenge yourself and your ways of working. Be open to new ideas and to trying new things. Coaching provides you with a safe environment in which to be honest and open about what is happening at work and what needs to change. If you are not completely open you will not realise the full benefit of coaching – it will be a missed opportunity.”
To sum up, we believe you will get out what you put in to your coaching experience. Invest in yourself and have faith in your ability to make positive changes. Coaching can be a very challenging experience but by making the effort in preparing, doing the work, taking action and being open to new ideas, you will have a rewarding experience with long-lasting benefits and exponential personal and professional growth.