Last week I had the opportunity to speak with two young leaders in our community. They both were inspiring entrepreneurs, early 30s, highly educated and very smart. Both of them have very similar challenges: Their businesses grew fast, a nice problem to have. Now they must transition very quickly from their role of knowing and doing everything themselves to leading others to get things done. I suggested they consider that they need to move from working in the business to working on the business.
Next step: Being the leader
Being an effective leader on any level of the hierarchy is challenging at best. However, without an extensive “leadership toolbox” combined with the right attitude and habits, it is almost impossible.
The Upstate benefits greatly from global business opportunities and needs leaders ready to act in the given environment. The growing pressures of global competition and a fast-paced business environment fuel the demand for increasingly effective business leaders. These leaders bear the responsibility of setting the tone and style for the organization, their teams and any individual they interact with. They are also effecting cultural shifts to meet changing values and expectations. Consequently, leaders themselves must change and adapt, and be prepared to continue to change. No organization would develop a long-term strategic plan without taking stock of its current resources and historical data. The same principle holds true for entrepreneurs, an organization’s leaders and executives.
It’s commonly assumed that those who are in a leadership position no longer need personal development. That’s seldom true. Unfortunately, personal growth opportunities for leaders are regularly underutilized, because leaders are often insulated from meaningful feedback. Especially in smaller organizations and family businesses, the challenge is the lack of role model variety that could be most enriching. A professional coach typically comes with an extensive foundation of knowledge and experience, will provide appropriate feedback, add necessary content and becomes an “interactive sounding board” for the client.
A structured coaching process is generally regarded by developing leaders as a valuable privilege and a powerful tool for star performers who wish to shine even brighter — akin to the world-class athlete who seeks coaching in order to excel. The process also benefits the leader who has potential, but for some reason is not meeting his expectations. A professional coaching engagement helps improve performance and personal effectiveness while reducing stress. It offers a rare opportunity to stand back and take a fresh look at the experiences and assumptions of a lifetime. Keep in mind that a professional coach is potentially the only person one interacts with who has a single focused agenda: the success of the client. The process enables the leader to do the following:
- Identify inner resources.
- Target areas for growth.
- Promote a healthy balance between career and personal life, so he or she can sustain the vitality necessary for effective leadership.
- Uncover specific behaviors and habits that need to change in order to enhance short-term and long-term performance.
- Challenge underlying beliefs and values, and offer possibilities for fundamental change that will enhance the overall quality of life, personal and professional.
A professional coach offers direction and assistance, but the individual client always retains freedom of choice. With the support of the coach, a coaching client is responsible for discovering the self-knowledge that forms the foundation for continued growth.
What is an executive coach?
An executive coach is a professional who works with individual clients or client groups to help them achieve results and initiate life-changing behaviors in both their personal and professional lives. Skilled coaches address the whole person, with an emphasis on uncovering blind spots and producing the right actions that leads to more fulfillment, more balance and more effective processes for living. The goal of coaching is to elicit action. The key ingredient is a collaborative, authentic relationship between the client and the coach.
Coaching is a very powerful interaction that enables people to make important changes in their lives. The primary benefits for the client begin after each coaching call. That’s when they begin the real work of redirecting their professional and private lives. A proficient coach offers a powerful combination of advantages:
- Independence from other agendas
- Wide knowledge and experience
- Different viewpoints
- Experience of weighing opportunities, risks and rewards
- Questions that stimulate the collaborative thought process in a productive way
What are the benefits?
Coaching yields a multitude of benefits for the seasoned pro or the up-and-coming rookie alike. The exact nature of these benefits depends in part on the precise form and style of the coaching relationship, but here are a few of the most common:
- Coaching helps people order priorities. They gain clarity and confidence, because the coach helps them think matters through thoroughly. True to the old adage “A problem shared is a problem halved,” the coach can lighten the executive’s burden.
- The coaching process helps the executive identify the skill set he or she needs to move up to the next step on the career ladder, to acquire the resources and take the actions that are needed in order to get there and lead their businesses or departments to higher performance.
- The coach often can bring a wealth of experience gained from other similar situations, which the executive will value as enlightening and refreshing. A leader’s problems are not as unique as he or she may believe.
Having a coach is like having your own personal navigator for your life’s journey. The coach helps you chart your course and reach your destination.
Imagine having someone in your corner who is totally committed to your success. Someone who always encourages the powerful part of you, who sees how profound you can be and constantly holds up that image for you, even when you can’t hold it up for yourself.
A coach will help you clarify your dreams, aspirations, passions and values, while being at your side to celebrate your victories. As you learn from your setbacks, a coach will guide you to press on toward achieving your goals. A coach is a professional who provides a safe place for you to move beyond superficial, inhibited, self-limiting conversations, so that you have the confidence to express even your doubts and fears.
With help, you will gain the tools and strength you need to defeat the attitudes and behaviors that have sabotaged your past success and created stress in your life.
Potential outcomes from a coaching relationship can include the following:
- Greater clarity
- Greater focus
- Improved decision-making skills
- Enhanced creativity
- Improved balance in all aspects of life
- Greater effectiveness and better performance
In the end, it all leads to increased profitability, enhanced satisfaction and authentic happiness.
Manfred Gollent is a Certified Business Coach (CBC), supporting clients to expand their potential and reach their goals more consistently. His clients range from individual entrepreneurs and professionals to Fortune 500 executives.