Are You Really Ready for Coaching?

You may think you’d like to have an executive coach for several reasons. Perhaps your friends and colleagues are experiencing positive results. It is also viewed as a fast-track fad: All up-and-coming leaders seem to have their own executive coaches.

How you view coaching—as a sign of prestige versus a strategic need—will influence the results.

Some people are more aware than others of their weaknesses. Overly ambitious and confident people sometimes lack a core sense of true value: They overachieve to prove their self-worth.

The best way to fortify genuine self-worth and self-esteem is to work with a trained professional and examine self-beliefs.

Unfortunately, some who desire a coach are unprepared or unwilling to do the work. They expect to hear a lot of positive reinforcement; they forget that along with that comes frank feedback on what they need to change.

It requires tremendous courage to face what other people may be saying about you, as well as the ability to treat their perceptions as valuable feedback.

A coach can help you overcome the defense mechanisms that keep you in denial about your shortcomings. Especially when a 360-degree assessment is used, in which your peers and associates both up and down the organization provide input, you will need to trust the process and your coach to achieve results. In the words of one person who was coached, “Coaching can hurt … before things get better, really better.

How to Pick Your Coach

Once you recognize that you can benefit from having a coach, you must decide whether to hire one yourself or ask one to be assigned to you.

Hiring your own creates some challenges: They can be expensive, and you will have to find the best one for your specific needs. Because you likely don’t know many executive coaches, you’ll also have to do some research.

Be aware that in selecting a coach based on your personal feelings, you may not pick someone who best fits your needs. In other words, you run the risk of choosing someone you like, rather than someone you need.

While liking your coach is a good start, having one who can challenge and stretch you toward new development is what’s most important.

Hire your own if you have questions or concerns about remaining with your company or personal development issues that are best left confidential.

If you decide to take the plunge, contact your human resources department and ask for referrals. HR specialists may already work with coaches who have proven track records, and these individuals will likely be familiar with your organization.

Having a coach assigned to you by your company can pose a few problems. You probably won’t get to choose one yourself, and you will have to deal with confidentiality issues. Because the organization—not you—is the client, it can set the ground rules. You can—and should—require a confidentiality agreement in such cases.

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