As we are starting a new season of coaching high potentials in a client organization, I was excited to hear a few of them ask “What can I do to get the most out of this executive coaching experience?”. It’s a great question, and one that tells me why this group of high potential leaders is….well…..high potential. I can see that they want to take responsibility to maximize their experience with a coach.
My answers to them may seem simple, but I’ve found them to be quite essential to the success of coaching outcomes (and perhaps in life, too) for the leader:
Prepare: Spend some time preparing for each meeting with your coach. You could be thinking about what you accomplished since the previous meeting, what you practiced and how well it worked – or didn’t work, and what you’d like to discuss with the coach at the upcoming meeting. You are the primary person who is responsible for the agenda of all meetings with your coach – why not make the most of them?
Engage: It’s my belief that although I may be the process expert in a coach-client relationship, in order for the goals of the engagement to be achieved, the client has to step in and step up to their part in the work during and between meetings. Although there may be some interesting learning in the meetings between coach and client, most of the real learning happens on the job based on the behaviors that the client has agreed to practice. This on the job practice can be foundational to a future discussion – what was learned, whether the practice worked, or if it didn’t, what can be done differently.
Take risks: Coaching may require you to do some new things that may be out of your comfort zone. The perceived level of “risk” involved in trying new things will vary from leader to leader. Courage is an essential leadership trait, and taking risks in trying new things are important. When courage is practiced under the support of a coach, you can become stronger and more daring. You must be willing to take some risks during the coaching engagement in order to develop as a leader.
Be Honest: Your honesty about what’s working and what isn’t in the coaching relationship will be appreciated by the coach. A good coach will be pleased to step into this discussion at any point, because we want the relationship to work; this is important for you to get the most out of your coaching experience.
Your trust in the coach is essential. All of the above tips need to be grounded in the conviction that the relationship you have with the coach is trustworthy. If for any reason you don’t have trust your coach, discuss it with them. If you aren’t satisfied that trust can be increased, find another coach to work with.
If you are a coach or a leader who has had a coach, what else can the leader do to maximize their work with a coach?