Nobody in business can fail to have noticed the recent rise in the number of coaches and consultants offering their services. But how do you go about finding a coach who will give you a return on your investment? Executive coaching might be an option for you if you are running your own business or are in an employed management role, and have aspirations to achieve more.
I would advise you to initially identity an executive coach through recommendation, or by conducting your own research on the web or in trade publications, and then request a free session to ask questions and find out more about them. Most coaches will give you some time without charge at the outset to discuss what your objectives are in beginning coaching, and to establish whether there is sufficient compatibility between you.
If there does not seem to be a connection, or if the coach feels someone else can help you more, they will refer you on to someone who is more appropriate. Only commit if you feel excited and relaxed about working with that individual – if there are any doubts, go with your intuition. We are all different and what works for your friend or colleague may not work as well for you.
You will be asked to commit to an agreed period of coaching, not to protect the coach's income, but to give the process a fair chance of taking effect. The period will vary from coach to coach, and will depend to some extent on what you are wishing to achieve. You may find you are getting cold feet once you have committed to coaching, and feeling nervous or negative about the outcome. This is entirely natural and will disappear once you have embarked on your regular sessions.
You and your coach will decide on specific goals to be attained, but don't worry if you have none at the start of coaching, as they will soon become evident as you think about what you want to achieve in life. Often our goals shift anyway, as we learn more about ourselves and what we want, rather than what society wants for us. You will be expected to spend time between sessions on accomplishing the goals you have set with your coach and on reporting back to them so they are prepared for the next session.
An executive coach is a sounding board who allows you to understand your own strengths and realise where your comfort zone ends and how to move beyond it. It is like having a conversation with a friend who has only your interests at heart and who can contribute to your development in a completely detached way. A friend who has no emotional investment in you staying the same and will be purely delighted, and not at all threatened, if you start to achieve more of your goals.
As a coaching client, you will be required to be open and honest with your coach and tell them what you feel is and is not working. In order for executive coaching to really make a difference to you, you must be willing to look at yourself as objectively as possible and not become defensive or upset if it becomes apparent that some of your current behaviour is not the best response to the situation you find yourself in.
You will need to be able to change your behaviour in some circumstances to see if an alternative works better. You should also be prepared for changes throughout your life and not just at work – we do not operate in boxes, and a change in one area of your life will have a knock-on effect in others. You may well find family and friends remarking on the changes in you.
Try to be as open-minded as you can about executive coaching and what it may bring you. Many people are pleasantly surprised by the fundamental improvements it can help bring about at work and home.
Andy Britnell is an executive coach who works with businesspeople in both the public and private sectors who wish to achieve better results. There is more information at http://executive-coaching-for-business-growth.com/ and you can read some testimonials at http://executive-coaching-for-business-growth.com/executive-coaching-testimonials.html