“I’m confident you got here because you have questions about engaging a business coach.”
“Let’s see if I can answer them and provide some context for us to talk when you’re ready.”
You can measure business success in multiple ways, but unless you’re running a nonprofit, you consider things such as return on investment, profit (e.g., EBITDA), cash flow, growth and risk management; in other words, a financial return. In addition, if you’re smart and emotionally intelligent, you’re concerned about your people and how to develop a committed workforce — and then there are those customers you have to please!
Business coaching addresses those issues — specifically, how you as a leader positively influence them.
As a CEO or senior executive, there are many levers you can pull. Working with a business coach allows you to focus on those that are critical to your business success and to you as an executive.
Coaching differs from training because it’s a one-on-one dialogue focused on improving your effectiveness as a business leader. If you want to better understand the laws of thermodynamics or general accounting principles, you need training, not coaching. If you want to improve your skills and behavior as a leader, keep reading.
Solid evidence says that the way you view yourself is inaccurate. You may be underestimating your strengths and blind to your weaknesses. The best way to overcome this is to get feedback from those whom you work closely with. In most cases, I assist my business coaching clients by interviewing their associates (e.g., peers, boss, subordinates, board, sometimes friends and family) to get a clear picture of strengths and weaknesses so that we can develop coherent objectives for our work together. I don’t tell you what to do; we talk about objectives, and you decide what’s most important, but you do it armed with information.
Sometimes business coaching clients come to me with specific objectives they want help with. Frequent themes are:
- Dealing more effectively with conflict
- Improving communication skills
- Delegating and holding people accountable
- Creating a highly functioning executive team
- Clearly articulating business strategy and plans for execution
- Developing the optimal organizational design
- Needing a sounding board — someone who listens intently and tells them the truth
How does engaging a business coach work? Let me be clear: It should offer you a good return on investment. If you want a friend, adopt a dog. We’ll have fun together, but this is also hard work.
Once we identify objectives, we talk about what success looks like. Then we discuss priorities. You can only work on a few things at a time, and it’s often best to start with one. Better to move one thing a mile that 10 things an inch!
“We consider options and identify potential obstacles, and then you choose some actions to take. You’ll occasionally get stuck — everyone does — and we work through that together.”
Coaching is about change, and change is hard. We also need to make it “stick.” Involving those around you in your journey is the best way to make progress and ensure that it’s permanent. We’ll talk about how to get others to help you.
Where, when and how?
I only work with business coaching clients face-to-face. That’s how we all communicate most effectively. Yes, we can follow up on specific issues with email and telephone, but most of our interaction is in person. That might be in my office in Boulder, Colorado (not such a bad place!), or it might be in your office in New York or Los Angeles.
This might sound odd, but I don’t limit our interaction — it’s an “all you can eat” program! (If you want to meet daily, remember my suggestion about a dog. …) Most of my clients like to meet monthly for an extended period with some follow-up between sessions, but the goal is to meet your objectives, and we’ll do that as effectively as possible. We’re both busy, so we’ll work toward optimizing our time together. However, I don’t charge by the minute or the hour, like your attorney, so you can call whenever you like!
If you work with a business coach, be prepared for a long-term relationship. We’ll always try to get some quick wins, but I work with most of my successful clients for a year or longer.
If you’ve read this far, you have significant interest in finding the right business coach and specific reasons you’d like help. This may have been bothering you for a while. Why wouldn’t you want to get the benefit of a business coaching relationship right now?