I worked for many years in a company that valued leadership training and as part of that we took assessments. Over the course of my career I took over a dozen assessments. I enjoyed the assessments and tried to take advantage of the information, although I was often too forgiving of my shortcomings. Looking back, I wish I would have had a leadership coach go through the results with me and work with me for a couple months. I know now there was so much valuable information I could have taken advantage of much earlier in my career.
Assessments provide a wonderful starting point for a coach to help understand and appreciate your strengths, but just as importantly to look deeper at areas of potential growth. I imagine many people are like me; when your career is going well it’s easy not to worry about shortcomings. The daily work takes priority. I would look at the areas for opportunity, create improvement plans and do my best.
I needed a coach to push me, hold me accountable, help me create the muscle memory to maintain new ways of thinking and behaving. It’s curious to me how readily people hire personal trainers or go to some specific exercise program to stay in shape. They know without someone to hold them accountable they are likely to skip a few reps, miss a few days, and generally take it a little easier.
Just like a sports coach knows the various exercises for specific muscles, a certified leadership coach knows the tough questions to ask and the behavioral exercises to help develop and keep all your leadership muscles in shape. In 2015, William Arruda wrote an articleabout why you should hire a coach. At the end of 2018 it’s still worth reading.. He too points to the sports industry where hiring coaches is a given.
I did eventually hire a coach and it helped tremendously. The coach helped me clarify where I needed to grow, often I already knew (because we usually know), but I did not have the skills or tools to work on improving them. I wonder how much better it would have been for my teams if I had done so earlier in my career. I’m confident I would have changed certain behaviors sooner, my teams might have performed a little better, and the company’s bottom line would have benefitted.
I suggest the ideal time to hire your first coach is between ages 30-35. You have had enough successes and failures in work to recognize improvement is necessary, if not required. Like all skills, the more you practice the better you become and that sets you apart from your competition. If you want to be a better leader, consider it an investment in yourself and start training now.
BenchStrength Coaching helps leaders Turn Potential into Success.
article written by Susan Gellatly