Help me, Obi-Wan

A friend recently mentioned to me that she had hired an executive coach for her business. She’s super excited and it seems clear that even before she has gotten to do much work with her coach, the effect of committing has already improved her focus and spurred some momentum in her practice. I was reminded of how powerful investment can be – both in and from others—on our professional journeys.

And then I saw this post from Eric Kaufman (edited below) on why people DON’T hire coaches, and I just had to share. As one who has been coached and has also coached others, I agree that the positive effects of coaching are impossible to overstate. Read on for more insight.

Leadership/Executive coaching is an inside out process that helps leaders make better decisions, increase engagement, magnify team cohesion, and accelerate results.

Leaders engage in coaching because they:

• Recognize that leadership growth is more than just acquisition of knowledge
• Are willing to participate in a rigorous and honest self-appraisal
• Have the confidence to ask for support to become more effective
• Devote time, energy, and resources to make changes over time
• Have the courage and trust to discuss their strengths and challenges

So, why don’t all smart and driven leaders work with a coach?

Here are the top 7 reasons (excuses, really) NOT to hire a Coach:

7. “I don’t have time for coaching.”
Unless you have Hermione Granger’s time turner, we all have the same amount of time in a week. The question is, how do you choose to spend your time?
Coaching doesn’t take time, it nets time. Most coachees report that they stop doing other people’s work, start getting home earlier, and devote more time to the most important relationships in their lives.

6. “I’ll wait until I get over this hump… (project, challenge, goal, etc.)”
Well, that’s a sweetly naive prediction of the future. Remember last year, last quarter, last month, last week? There are endless “humps” stacked up just behind the current one.
Generally, coaching clients wished they had started getting coaching six or 12 or 18 months earlier.

5. “I’m too busy running my business.”
Senior leaders report that spending time on their business (rather than in their business) with a seasoned coach makes them more effective leaders.
Within months of engaging in coaching, coachees are doing more in less time.

4. “I can’t afford coaching.”
Professional development is a normal line item for leaders. You must be willing to invest in your own growth as a leader because there is no organizational transformation without personal transformation.
Clients engage coaching for the ROI, not because they need to check a box or find some way to spend money.

3. “I already have advisers.”
Of course your friends, spouse, and colleagues give you advice; but it isn’t agenda-free advice. They have an angle: love and affection, desire to impress, or an axe to grind. Their advice might be good, but it isn’t free of some agenda.
As your coach, my only agenda for you is your best choice and, really, I’m less interested in answering your questions than questioning your answers.

2. “I can’t trust others with my secrets.”
Wait, are the cops after you? Or the IRS? Coaching is completely confidential because that is the necessary ingredient for true sharing. This would not work any other way.
Mature leaders develop clarity about what to share and what to keep. And more importantly, they cultivate the courage to trust others as a commitment to being trustworthy.

1. “I can’t possibly learn from other people.”
This is narcissism, blindness, or naiveté. None of us are totally self-made, we are all products of our relationships. JFK once said that leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
Every coaching client will tell you: I have learned fundamental lessons from my coach, and from the interventions we experienced together.

To summarize: Coaches can be found just about anywhere; from a respected professional acquaintance who is several steps ahead of you on their journey but has a generous spirit, to a Google search in your field. I encourage you to consider taking a step outside of your comfort zone and putting yourself in the position of a learner. You won’t regret it.

Are you leading the life you want?

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