It may seem as if coaching, particularly at the executive and leadership level, is a relatively new concept. In fact, coaching has been widely used by top leaders for at least two or more decades in the United States. However, the use of executive and leadership coaches can be traced back in research to the late 1930s, although the style, qualifications, and models used are much more sophisticated today.
There are many different professionals of benefit to a leader. Consultants and trainers can be used to learn new skills, mentors can be used to refine the understanding of the industry and the business, and advisors can be a resource to determine how to move forward.
Coaching is very different from all of these different professionals. Coaching is a unique, confidential, and private partnership where the coach and the client work together to achieve the goals set forth by the client. They are partners, but the coach is also a mirror, a supportive person, and a sounding board for ideas, plans, and options.
There are several benefits to find in entering into a coaching relationship with a qualified, experienced leadership or executive coach. By understanding these benefits, it is easy to see why coaching is seen as a true opportunity for personal and professional growth.
Understanding Self and Others
Coaches may use a range of assessments to help people see where they are in their ability to work with others, as well as how they see themselves. The client often wants to set goals to improve in a particular area of interpersonal or intrapersonal understanding, and the coach and client can work together to achieve these goals.
By providing feedback, objective observations, and possibly even in posing challenging questions to the leader, a coach creates deeper understanding, better skill development, and a more complete building of required skills.
Change Unhelpful Patterns
Many people want to change, and maybe ever realize they have to change, but their old behaviors and patterns keep them firmly stuck in place. Sometimes, people want to change but do not know what to do first, or even how to choose the best alternative behavior.
Through working with a coach, this becomes a clear, focused process. The coach does not choose, but rather helps the leader to consider options and to make a choice. Then, they also work with the individual to refine and modify what isn’t working while building on successes.
A Trusted Support
Leadership roles can be very lonely places. Working with a coach allows a leader to speak freely and in confidence to explore and look at options in a non-judgmental environment. This isn’t always easy, and the coach acts as a trusted support for this type of insightful conversation, while also celebrating achievements and providing the leader with encouragement in meeting her or his goals.