by Gregg Thompson, author of “The Master Coach: Leading with Character, Building Connections, and Engaging in Extraordinary Conversations“
When it comes to helping you perform at your best and accelerate your career, nothing compares to the power of being coached. But while working with a great coach is a highly effective way of accelerating your development as a leader, it also represents a significant investment of time and money.
Here are ten ways to ensure that you get the most out of working with a coach:
1. Craft a bold new future.
Challenge yourself to move up to a whole new level as a leader. Don’t waste this opportunity by settling for minor changes and fine-tuning. Spend time early in the coaching process crafting a picture of the most ambitious future possible for you as a leader. When this picture both excites you and scares you, you will know you have the right one. Expect great things from yourself and the process.
2. Drive the process.
Unlike most other learning and development processes, you are responsible for setting your own learning objectives, crafting session agendas and structuring the coaching schedule. This is your show. Take charge. And have a healthy degree of self-centeredness. For once, it really is all about you.
3. Steel yourself for a rocky road.
If the changes that you need to make to significantly lift your game as a leader were obvious and easy, you would have made them already. Prepare mentally for the rigorous tasks of self-assessment, learning and personal change. Think about what you are willing to learn, invest, risk and sacrifice to become a better leader. Recognize that leadership development is impossible without personal development.
4. Seek out new sources of feedback.
Invite the perspectives of others, especially the stuff that is hard to hear. Select six people who regularly see you in your role as a leader, tell them that you are involved in a leadership development process, and ask them how you can better use your leadership talents to have a larger, more positive influence on others.
5. Prepare well for each session.
Before each coaching session, spend 15 minutes in quiet private contemplation creating an agenda for the coaching dialogue. What are the most important leadership issues facing you at this moment? How have you fared since the last coaching session? How can you best use your time with your coach? Spend another 15 minutes quieting your mind from the frenetic pace of day-to-day organization life. Do what you need to do to get yourself ready to explore new territory, challenge your current thinking and experiment with new leadership practices.
6. Focus on outcomes.
Great leadership is measured by one thing: the impact that you have on others. It is not about being popular or easy going. Keep asking yourself one question: “What can I do to help others on my team or in my organization become more aligned, engaged, committed, productive and innovative?” You are the instrument of leadership but are measured by how others perform.
7. Hold on to the important stuff.
Use the coaching process to get exceptional clarity on those principles and values that are most important in your role as a leader. Resolve to hold on to these at all costs. Significant, sustained change can only happen when it is rooted in your most closely-held personal values.
8. Let go of the unimportant stuff.
Use the coaching process to identify the assumptions, behaviors and habits that no longer serve you well and are best left behind. Think about this process as an opportunity to aggressively prune your approach to leadership so that you can blossom into a much stronger leader.
9. Always move forward.
Leave every coaching session with at least one specific action that will advance your leadership in some way and commit to completing this action before the next session. This will include things such as experimenting with a new practice, having a difficult conversation, redesigning how you invest your time, restructuring your personal strategies or acquiring the resources you need to meet your goals. As the Spanish proverb says: “Habits are like cobwebs, and then they become cables”.
10. Use your coach well.
Don’t waste time trying to impress your coach. Your coach assumes that you are a very talented, committed leader with the potential to make a much bigger impact on your team and organization. Your coach is not your personal advisor, counselor or therapist. You will get few recommendations and answers. Your coach, however, has great faith in your ability to chart your own future as a leader and will challenge you, encourage you, confront you, affirm you and provoke you . . . always in service of your learning and development.
Adapted from “The Master Coach: Leading with Character, Building Connections, and Engaging in Extraordinary Conversations (SelectBooks, Inc.) by Gregg Thompson. Copyright (c) 2017 by Gregg Thompson. All rights reserved.
Gregg Thompson is the author of “The Master Coach“. He is President of Bluepoint Leadership Development, recognized as one of the finest providers of coach training programs in the world.