Executive coaching combines a widely-accepted process and a coach’s skill set to help a leader achieve their goals. The best executive coaches are serious about their craft and dedicated to the success of their clients.
But it takes two to tango in an executive coaching engagement. In fact, although your executive coach may bring a wealth of background and skill to the table, it is your responsibility to do the work that assures a return on investment for the coaching you receive.
Having an executive coach isn’t a cake walk for the leader. In fact, the leader who is being coached bears the burden of the responsibility to make success happen for themselves and their organization. Since their organization is usually paying the bill, the organization expects results.
So what can you, Mr. or Ms. Executive, do to assure that the coaching outcomes from that engagement with your executive coach are beyond your wildest dreams?
Attend meetings: Although this advice seems basic, my office spends a lot of time chasing down clients who are AWOL. There are one or two clients every year who must get “fired” for not showing up at meetings. You only get out of coaching what you put into it, and attending meetings is foundational. P.S. not showing up for meetings is generally a sign of disinterest; come clean and let your sponsor (usually your manager) know this. If you don’t, your coach will.
Actively include stakeholders: Your manager should be involved in three-way progress meetings with your coach. Also, if you have regular 1:1 meetings with your manager, time should be spent discussing your progress on the action plan; if your manager doesn’t bring it up, you should. You must also make other stakeholders, including your peers and direct reports, aware of your goals and action steps; regularly ask for feedback from them.
Do your “fieldwork”: At the end of each meeting with your coach, you will make some commitments to take specific actions that will move you closer to your goals. Write them down and actually do them; they’ll become reflective discussion material for your next meeting with your coach.
Let your coach know how they can best help you: Many coaches are pretty intuitive, but we’re not mind readers. Many of us will regularly ask how the partnership is going for you. Be honest, and let your coach know what is working and what isn’t. You’ll find that when the coach makes adjustments to suit you and your style, you are more likely to quickly achieve or surpass your goals.
Trust your coach: Most good executive coaches can tell when they are being snowed. It doesn’t do you any good if you feel you can’t be honest with your coach. If you don’t trust your coach or they aren’t what you expected, find another one.
Review and reflect: Block out time on your calendar at least weekly to review your action plan and reflect on your goals and progress. Change or update your action plan if it needs to. Use this time to prepare for your next meeting with your coach; they are expecting you to come with a full agenda of items to discuss.
Best wishes on your success!