Forget the whistle and knee-high athletic socks. Today’s leadership coach asks questions.
My dad was a high school soccer and swim coach. I’m sure his regular insistence that we all need someone to help us get better over time opened my mind to becoming a coach.
What is a coach?
Coaches straddle the line between mentor, teacher, and guide. While some coaches shy away from offering solutions to their clients and just keep asking questions until the client figures out their own answer, that style of coaching is less efficient than I’d like.
I’m the kind of person who wants to hear a coach’s experience and what they think, but I’ll make my own decision based on my experience and what feels possible.
A coach can give you an experienced, outside perspective, mindset support, and a system to address your current challenge.
Often, the real value of coaching is to have someone further along on the path you’re walking to point out pitfalls and shortcuts. Or even to just shout some encouragement from time to time: keep going! You’re almost there!
As a 20-year veteran of the professional coaching field, I’ve worked with countless women and teams to help them improve in a variety of ways. But I’m not just a seller of coaching services; I’m a buyer, too!
My husband Bob and I have worked successfully with a few coaches over the years. We’ve had:
- Book coaches to help us structure, edit, self-publish and promote our self-published book.
- Business coaches who helped us focus on revenue-producing projects, experiment with marketing and build service offerings.
- Sales coaches to help us get better at pitching, setting up funnels, sales writing, etc.
- Speaking coaches to help us deliver high-earning talks and corporate training.
What a coach is not
Many clients have told me that our sessions feel therapeutic, and they leave feeling lighter, clearer, and less frustrated. But coaching is not therapy. I’m a huge proponent of mental health professionals of all stripes, and I’m clear with my coaching clients that I’m not a therapist. In my experience as an entrepreneur, it can take a lot of support to manage the ups and downs of running a business while running your life with some sense of balance.
I recommend having a coach and a therapist. Go Team!
Who hires a coach?
The list of successful people who have their own coach is impressive, but many more people have coaches that aren’t public about it.
What a shame. We need to destigmatize the truth that many executives and successful entrepreneurs have a coach (or two) rather than perpetuate the myth that we’re all “doing it alone” and “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.”
Here’s the truth: NO ONE does it alone. We all get help.
Let’s be honest about it, and move forward more efficiently.
Oprah, Will Smith, Richard Branson, Hugh Jackman, Nia Long, Eric Schmidt, even the band Metallica, all worked with coaches to help them through career and life challenges.
What are the benefits of coaching?
The benefits each of these celebrities received range from consistent productivity, high quality of creative output, better relationships, more effective negotiation, and goals achieved.
It’s a testament to coaching that everyone on this list is still active, productive, and considered at the top of their game years after working with a coach.
In executive, sales, and leadership coaching, we’ve seen results range from:
- More efficient teamwork and organizational effectiveness
- Raises and promotions negotiated by coachees
- Fostering innovative ideas
- Implementing healthy habits
- Personal optimism, energy, and presence
- Sales goals met early
- Better team morale
- Internal Visibility
- Career advancement
How to find your coach
- Set your intention for working with a coach: What do you want to get out of a coaching relationship? What are your goals, dreams, and known challenges? Get honest with yourself—own your career and life!
- Make a list of 3-5 coaches: Ask for recommendations from friends, colleagues, or mentors. Look online for coaches who work with the goals and challenges you’ve listed.
- Reach out to them about an introductory conversation. A good coach will want to get to know you first, just as you want to get a sense of them.
- Ask prospective coaches a few questions to make your choice: Are they accredited? Have they worked with people at your level of achievement? Are they actively engaged in coaching communities themselves? Have they worked with a coach, and on what? Are they working on things in their own work? (This is a good sign!)
- Don’t feel pressured to sign up to work with someone in the first conversation. Finding a coach can be like dating. Find someone you feel good about working with and be sure to take them up on the introductory session offer.
- Be open to different coaches for different stages. Your career and life today may have different challenges than even three years ago. Coaching relationships don’t have to last forever, and you are allowed to evolve over time.
- Try it. Start and experiment! Don’t let overthinking and analysis-paralysis get you bogged down. Begin and discover along the way what works for you.
A good coach will ask you insightful questions, and help you make better decisions, get out of your own way, and get to your goals faster. If you show up and do the work with your coach, you should see great results in three to six months. We all need help to be successful, and a professional coach can help you get there.
Co-Founder of The Alignment Company
P.S. : Over the years I’ve been in a lot of visible leadership positions, including as a sort of well-being and personal development spokesperson, because of my film Super Size Me, and books like Radical Alignment and Women, Food, and Desire.
The pressure and scrutiny in those positions was intense sometimes.
Almost unbearable a few times.
These days, I use my health coaching experience, artist practices, and positive psychology training to help emerging women leaders, entrepreneurs, public figures, and philanthropists manage the pressure they feel.
People come to me for all sorts of reasons including: how to navigate challenges, make big decisions, surface values, get unstuck, feel less isolated, find meaning, and improve work and family relationships.
I also run groups. They are specifically good for women who want to create something new and have better relationships with other women – getting over jealousy, “compare and despair,” and build an awesome collection of women to collaborate with and support.
If you think a conversation might be helpful and you’re curious about anything I’ve shared so far, you should reach out.