So you now have a coach – what next? What is working with a coach going to feel like, what will we talk about, what will come out of it? How do you know what expectations to have of a coach, and what can a coach reasonably expect from you?
Coaching is a large investment in a manager or executive offering huge potential for development and change – neither of these should be wasted. Coaching is also intensely personal – you are the only agenda in the room – nothing else matters other than your learning, your future, your development.
So how can you maximise the usefulness of meetings with your coach? After 20+ years of client work, I would boil it down to the 3 critical essentials: focus, open-mindedness and bravery.
- It is vital that you know what you want to get out of the coaching relationship overall (the longer term goal) but also each meeting in a more tactical way. It is your future and you have to own it – but sometimes it is hard to know where to start. A good coach will help you focus on either problems to solve or opportunities to exploit, but either way there needs to be a desired outcome to work towards – what is important to you?
- Be open and willing to explore who and how you are as a leader – rationally and emotionally. It is vital to consider that through your coaching conversations you will get new insights into yourself which might not always be comfortable – stay open when when it is challenging, there is an important role in the discomfort – it helps you challenge your status quo and find new paths forward.
- Take action – it’s not just words and fresh understanding that emerge from coaching – if it does not translate into new ways of being and doing then it is all hot air. Your coach will have a reasonable expectation of taking action and doing things differently between sessions, and this may at times feel risky. ‘Risky moments’ are the foundation to development and change as an individual, so be prepared and willing to embrace them.
This all sounds like hard work and isn’t the coach the one providing the service? At its best a coaching relationship is a co-creative partnership where both have responsibility for insight and breakthrough in thinking but the client takes responsibility for action and results.
As the old cliche goes – with most things in life, you get out what you put in, and coaching is no different.