Whether you personally made the decision or your organization decided to provide you with one, hiring an executive coach is an investment of both your time and money. And as with any investment, you want to get the best out of it. Use this comprehensive guide on how to prepare for executive coaching for maximum results.
How to Prepare for Executive Coaching
Executives, managers, and leaders play the biggest roles in their organization’s success. Their skills, knowledge, experience, and leadership is what steers the company in the right direction and moves it forward. In the past few years, more companies have realized the importance of investing in their leaders through executive coaching to develop the right leadership style and skills needed for success.
A couple of decades ago, people saw executive coaching as a way to “fix” or “save” struggling c-suite executives and managers. Thus, many business leaders were uncomfortable with the idea of hiring a coach, thinking it would reflect on them negatively. Today, this type of coaching is more in-demand than ever, as people are now seeing the progressive value they provide, not just to their executives, but to the entire organization as well.
Just like in any sports team, the role and value of a coach in a team is invaluable. He is not there to simply cheer you on, he is there to be honest and tell you exactly what you need for you and your team’s success. Your job as the student is to be like a sponge – absorb everything you need to be a better leader.
How do you prepare for executive coaching? There are some strategies you need to help prepare yourself and make the most of using a coach.
Know your goals, focus on them
Know the most important things for you, and the things you most need improving on with your coach. This should be the start of your journey as a student.
You want to come into each session ready for a meaningful conversation. You may have tons of things in your mind that you think you need working on. Understand that you cannot just unload everything in one session. For a session to be effective, you need to focus each session in one specific area and intention. American business management writer Patrick Lencioni once said “if everything is important, then nothing is.” So be specific about what you want.
Have an inventory of your current situation
After establishing your goals, it is time to reflect and assess your current condition and situation. What is going well with your career? What area could be improved?
You can write this on a piece of paper. Draw a line down the middle, one side for what’s going well, and the other side for what you think could be better.
From here you can come up with attributes, behavior, habits, and things you can keep, remove, and create to move forwards towards your goals.
Discuss the things on your list with your coach. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers, so be honest with yourself. You don’t need to impress your coach. The idea is to find common ground for each session to start.
Keep an open mind
Your coach is there to give you a different perspective on things. He is not there to agree with you and tell you that you’re right. He is there to see things differently than you do, which is a good thing. Thus, you need to be open to new perspectives.
Your coach will ask you thought-provoking questions. Be honest in your answers. Open up and be vulnerable. Do you intimidate your staff? Are you being a good leader, or are you bossing people around?
Dig deeper into yourself. That’s how you can identify the root of the problem, see things as part of a bigger picture, and have a more meaningful coaching session.
Have a journal
Your coach will take notes about you, so should you.
Having a journal is a great way for you to reflect and bring real-life situations to the sessions. Write anything you can think of that concerns your leadership and relationship with people in your workplace and your entire organization.
To help you focus, review your notes before each session. Share specific things and situations that you think are worth discussing with your coach on a deeper level. Include the details. Your coach may ask you meaningful questions to help you identify the root of the problems.
Commit to each session
As said earlier, executive coaching is an investment. If you want to get the best out of that investment, you have to commit.
It is one thing to be just there in sessions and tell your coach things you are comfortable to share. But that’s not what coaching should be.
As with most things in life, you get what you put in. So again, be open and honest. You have to commit to the process and put your heart and mind into it. You have to commit to putting the lessons from every session to work in real life.
You will be challenged, be ready
Again, your coach will ask you thought-provoking questions; questions that will force you to dig deeper into yourself and see things from a different and often bigger picture. Be ready for this challenge, embrace it. This is how you get out of your comfort zone.
Remember, your coach is there not just to challenge you, but more importantly, to encourage and support you. But for that to work, you need to have a good sense of accountability.
Carry the lessons into real life
If you look closely, there will be many opportunities to put the things you worked on in each executive session into real life. That is exactly the purpose of coaching.
The best way to do this is, since most coaching sessions are on a weekly basis, to implement what you have learned in the coaching lessons into activities during the rest of the week.
The Bottom Line
Executive coaching is a two-way street. For it to work, you have to do your part. To get the most out of it, you have to commit to it, practice it, be honest with yourself and your coach, and be open to new perspectives and different ideas.