Professional Coach or Just Wing It?

I can’t foresee the value of a Professional/Business Coach

Many senior resources are likely mentoring and/or coaching more junior staff.  It’s personally rewarding and fun.  But do they have a coach?  If you had asked me 2006 if I needed a professional coach, I would have certainly answered that I don’t foresee the value.  Over time I’ve come to learn that having a coach is invaluable.   Professional development is a life long road and I didn’t foresee the value a professional coach adds, but I’m glad I’ve accelerated my professional development.

I will teach you my padawan

Once, a long long time ago, during a time when you were virtually guaranteed a job for life, your coach or mentor was likely someone within the company, at a more senior level, who occasionally shared his or her wisdom with you.  We didn’t know it then, but that was coaching.  You would “work” with this coach over many years. You continually gained professionally by his or her mentorship.

Fast-forward to today’s business climate, with the tenure of the average job lasting seemingly not much longer than the shelf life of bread, your long term mentor from work is gone. You are now on your own.

While working for a software division of one of Canada’s largest general contractors, the management team I was part of was given the privilege of utilizing the parent company’s corporate coach.  This is the coach for a $2B company mentoring the management team of a 50 person ERP software development company.

Within a short time, I discovered that the perspectives the coach provided allowed us to address problems in a significantly more effective and efficient form.  He challenged our boundaries with questions that we hadn’t thought of, he would propose approaches to action that we wouldn’t have considered, and importantly, provided deep insight in the area of people-management.

Importantly, the coach was not bound by any typical employment constraints.  He was not our boss.  He wouldn’t and didn’t report anything we said in confidence outside of our four walls.  In that safe atmosphere, one opens up a little more, and as such, gains more in return.

As my loaf-of-bread’s expiry date passed, I found myself without a coach.  A couple years afterwards I had the good fortune to not only to engage with another coach, but a coach whom I’d worked with in a previous life, affording me continuity of a pre-existing excellent relationship.

Do you need a coach? 

Consider these points:

Professionally Growth Every professional or solopreneur should have a coach, as should company leader.  If you’ve ever participated in a peer-to-peer group, you are discovering some of the value of a coach, in that setting, a P2P Coach.  Now imagine if the P2P group was solely focused on you, on your needs?  You will grow faster professionally with a coach or mentor, than without one.

Unbiased / Trust What value would you place on open and frank professional and/or personal development conversations which won’t impact your yearly Performance Review?  Your discussions with a coach remain private and away from the ears of your employer.  This will allow for a deeper level of engagement.

Value Start by asking those close to you whom you trust and admire if they have coach and what value they derive from it.  Ask them where they connected with their coach. Some people I know use a coach from their industry, a senior person in their industry.  This helps them additionally learn more about their industry.

Time Commitment The time needed is determined between you and your professional coach.  One hour per week, one hour every two-weeks or two-hours per month, are some of the schedules I’ve heard.

Accountable My coaching is something I look forward to.  Sometimes my professional homework is behind and it forces me to catch up, to be held accountable to one’s commitments.   I maintain an electronic journal (document) which I share on-line with my coach (you don’t have to do this), listing my action items for the next couple weeks.  This also allows me to track my journey over time.

I recommend trying a coach for six months.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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One thought on “Professional Coach or Just Wing It?

  1. It’s a good question, and interesting viewpoint. I think a lot of professionals just think that coaching is just for executive and c-level types, but maybe that shouldn’t be the case. I would add that another value is having “peace of mind” when being able to make decisions with the help of others who are invested in your success.

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