As a certified coach, people often ask me how to know if they could benefit from coaching. Many think it’s just for executives and high-profile leaders they’ve heard use it, like Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg – and then they assume they aren’t senior enough or can’t afford it. Some think of coaching with its old stigma (“If I need a coach something is wrong with me”). Some confuse coaching with mentoring or therapy.
None of these assumptions hold any truth whatsoever. After spending nearly two decades in the corporate world and the past several years as an executive coach, there are three things I look for when deciding whether someone will benefit from coaching. These things have nothing to do with corporate title or experience level. They have everything to do with who you are as a person – whether or not you want to grow as an individual and how hard you’re willing to work to achieve your goals.
1. You’re ready for a change that you want to instigate.
You can see it, feel it, taste it. It may be a big promotion you’ve set your sights on or a complete career change. Doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 65, running a business or working at a convenience store. You have the desire and the drive; now you need experienced, unbiased support for the what and the how.
2. You’re facing a new challenge and you know what you don’t know.
You’ve been placed in a new job or a role that requires you to operate at a higher level of performance, leadership and emotional intelligence than ever before, and you realize you don’t have all the answers. Often this scenario includes managing former peers and managing “up” – skill sets that take time and focus to develop according to your unique strengths and personality, and which benefit greatly from having an experienced guide.
3. You’ve realized the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals is you.
Almost everyone has a self-saboteur – an inner voice of doom that keeps them from achieving their best – and a lot of people aren’t ready for the self-introspection required to tame it. You know you’re ready for coaching when you realize that the pep talks, promises and scolding you regularly give yourself aren’t working, and you’re finally ready to do the hard work required to tame your gremlin once and for all.
Each of these scenarios requires asking and honestly answering questions about who you are and what you truly want – not what your boss, spouse or parents want. If you can’t be honest about yourself and what makes you tick, your success will be limited at best, and it’s just a matter of when – not if – you hit a dead end. Why? Because highly effective people leverage their distinctive abilities, strengths and ways of interacting with others to achieve great things, versus trying to adopt versions of themselves they can never maintain, especially under pressure.
What to Expect from Coaching
People often think that being coached requires showing up for a conversation once a week or every two weeks and having a discussion about work issues. In reality, coaching uses a rigorous methodology of inquiry, called powerful questions, that’s designed to help uncover your unique personality and strengths, and it does so not by giving you the answers but by helping you learn to ask and answer the right questions on your own. Participating in this process can be either enjoyable or challenging, depending on your personality; it requires deep reflection about your fears and weaknesses, what within you is holding you back, and what behaviours you need to own in order to change your situation.
Questions Used in Coaching
In my coaching, I use “pondering” questions designed by The Coaches Training Institute to stimulate my clients’ thinking in a particular way that will make our work together even more productive. For example, I ask my clients to answer each of these questions as clearly and thoughtfully as possible, expressing the best of who they are:
Turn the clock back and look at a time in your life when you felt your full power - a time when your spine, arms and fingertips were tingling with excitement, a time when you simply didn't care what anyone thought of you. You were absolutely alive! Where were you? What were you doing? Who was around you and what was occurring in them at the time? What was your impact on those around you?
You've been given a billboard and can put any message you want on it. Thousands of people will drive by and see your billboard each day. What does it say?
What accomplishments do you think must occur during your lifetime so that you will consider your life to have been satisfying and well-lived – a life of few or no regrets?
If there were a secret passion in your life, what would it be?
What do you consider your role to be in your local community? In your country? In the world?
What do you want to make sure you get from our coaching relationship?
What do you want from me as your coach?
What comes up for you when you read these questions? Do any of the above scenarios ring true for you? If so, how are you investing in yourself right now?
I’d love to hear from you, and I’m always happy to help people explore whether coaching is right for them – with no strings attached. For more information, contact me any time at michalmberman at gmail.com.