There are various euphemisms borrowed from other enterprises that have found their way into the business lexicon. Sports have fostered several of these, including the concept of “coaching.” After all, who would not want to have their own Bill Belichick or Terry Francona on the sidelines or in the dugout providing advice and assistance? (Author’s admission – I am a faithful Patriot’s and Red Sox fan, but please, don’t hold that against me – read on!)
An executive coach can help a business owner and his/her employees (the team) to identify areas you need to strengthen and to learn new techniques, shortcuts, and approaches that can make you more effective “on the field.” The coaching model used for so long in the athletic world has real value in business fields. Remember, you want to work “on,” not “in,” your game (business).
While the benefits of having your own executive coach vary with the person, business, and the situation, here are ten benefits that will likely be important for you.
- Achieve a Clearer Focus – We all know that business is a serious game and that sometimes life can feel like a contest – with balls constantly being thrown, caught, or hit. When you’re tackled by tasks, projects, e-mails, voice-mails, and customers, and find yourself staying late every day; you may need to work on your focus. A good executive coach will help come up with a plan of action to get things under control.
- Stay On Track – It’s easy to put things off. You may know that some things are important. You may tell yourself you want to do them, but then, oddly, you never get around to actually doing them. An executive coach gives you someone who will hold you accountable for what you want to accomplish and keep things from sliding and being thrown out.
- Your Own Personal Sounding Board – Sometimes it-s hard to spot weaknesses in your own game plan – reasoning, faulty underlying assumptions, or missing facts. A well-informed executive coach can point these out and help you strategize, brainstorm, and refine your approach – all before you have to take action.
- Live a More Balanced Life – When life gets out of balance, both work performance and personal fulfillment (your game plan) can precipitously decline. An executive coach keeps an eye on these critical interrelationships and helps you identify actions you can take to keep them in balance.
- Target Your Career Paths and Career Strategies – Too many people are content simply with being on “autopilot” as far as their careers are concerned (they swing the bat, run the bases, and score a few runs). A good executive coach will help you think about effective career paths for you as well as develop strategies to achieve your long-range career objectives (think Most Valuable Player).
- Learn New Skills and Approaches – Successful athletes are always willing to learn. When you’re successful, there’s usually a reason for your success. Often you’ve honed your strengths to the maximum. Nevertheless, many people can do dramatically better when they expand beyond their own personal “success formula” to work on skill sets that have remained undeveloped. For example, think about someone you know who’s great with technical details, but terrible with people. When that person improves his/her “people skills,” a completely new world of career and life possibilities opens up.
- Have a Mentor – Just like a sports coach, an executive coach can act as a mentor in many different situations and is especially valuable for entrepreneurs, or those taking on new responsibilities. In situations like these, an executive coach can help you handle the steep learning curves that often have to be dealt with.
- Become More Productive – You can become more productive by figuring out ways to do things more efficiently, by prioritizing better and by minimizing low payback activities. (Think Curt Shilling using his fastball less, and working the corners more!) Working with an executive coach on an ongoing basis helps to give you perspective on your job and to identify better ways to apportion your time and energy so you get maximum results.
- Maintain Momentum and Enthusiasm – Although you may know intellectually what you need to do to reach your goals, often that’s not enough. In today’s busy world, it’s much too easy to be diverted. When you work with an executive coach on a regular basis, you don’t lose track of your important goals. Consider yourself in constant training, charting your progress from week-to-week, getting inspired, becoming reenergized, and keeping your momentum going.
- Avoid Dangerous Blind Spots – Just as there are certain parts of the defense you can’t read, there are undoubtedly things that you regularly miss in your daily interactions because you (as is the case with most people) have your own personal blind spots. A “numbers” person might be sensitive to today’s bottom line but miss long-term industry trends. A “strategic planner” might view the world in terms of trends and not be focused on what’s actually happening today. An executive coach – acting as a second pair of eyes – can point out things that are critical to your success that you may be missing.
Successful athletes appreciate the advice, direction, feedback, and assistance of their “coaches” since they become more successful by heeding this assistance. Successful business owners can learn to do the same by seeking, securing, and working with their own “executive coach.” Who is yours?