We live in a D-I-Y (“do it yourself”) world. You can gut your kitchen and install those sleek cabinets from Ikea, just load up the car with the equipment from Home Depot. Have you thought about making your own beer? Step over to aisle three and there’s the kit to do so, step-by-step. If you want to get into better physical shape, there’s a video to watch and you can follow the routine. It’s tempting to “do it yourself” with your professional life, too. You can manage your LinkedIn profile to maximize your “brand recognition.” You can read the latest Harvard Business Review and try to implement that new strategic planning framework. But, just like having a great contractor contribute to your home renovation project, or a personal trainer help you reach your fitness goals, a qualified executive coach will contribute to your professional and career growth and help you thrive.
An executive coach can provide value in a myriad of ways. Let’s focus on four things a coach can do for you that you can’t do for yourself:
1. Provide perspective
The coach, as an “outsider” (i.e., not you, not living in your organization, not your boss) can often recognize options, trends and patterns that you might be overlooking or unable to see. This outsider’s perspective sheds light on the situation and as the situation is illuminated you’ll find yourself asking questions and uncovering solutions that were there all along, but were hidden in the dark.
2. Challenge your thinking
An effective coach often serves as a mirror that allows you to see your own reflection. As you hear the coach ask a question about what you just said, it’s very possible to be surprised and think, “I couldn’t have possibly said that! Is that what I really think?” So much of our everyday thinking is habitual and unexamined. This can be dangerous because our thinking drives our behavior . A coach will help you snap out of autopilot and examine your thoughts. Do you really think your boss hates you? Do you really think there’s nothing you can do to change the relationship with your peer? A great coach will challenge you to examine distortions, exaggerations and erroneous beliefs that may be standing in your way.
3. Introduce new tools and new resources
Many executive coaches are experts in the field of human development and draw on rich and varied fields of study, including humanistic psychology, adult learning theory, adult development theory, neuroscience, and communication theory (just to name a few). Utilizing this knowledge, a coach will have frameworks, templates, articles and exercises that can help you deal with issues or concerns in new ways. Often a coach can normalize an experience or situation by simply introducing you to a theory or idea that explains what’s going on.
4. Create accountability
A coach will help you set goals and measure your progress toward those goals. You’ll sit with your coach each month and talk about what you committed to doing and how that’s going. A coach is not there to reprimand you or guilt you if you haven’t accomplished what you committed to do. A coach will help you piece together the puzzle of motivation. If you aren’t following through, what’s behind that? What are the competing priorities and how do you get the priorities aligned? A coach helps you review and reinforce the commitments you’ve made to your professional growth. Through a focus on the process of establishing goals and taking actions, a coach can help you be accountable to yourself in a supportive, constructive and positive way.
Although going it alone can be a smart way to approach some things in life, often a D-I-Y approach takes more work and time and the results are less than optimal. Engaging an executive coach can help you quickly gain new insights, recognize thinking traps, use new tools, and stick to your plan, all of which will help you grow and thrive as a professional.
Contact Amy to discuss how coaching could impact your professional development specifically.