The idea of working with an executive coach appealed to Lynda. She understood that executive coaching could help her strengthen her existing leadership skills and develop new capabilities. Lynda wanted to take on a bigger leadership role at work and was planning to start her own business in a few years. So she recognized the potential value of a coach.

Smartly, before taking the plunge, Lynda wanted to know what she could do to make sure she squeezed every drop of value out of her coaching experience. How could she get the most from her coach and herself? From a variety of sources, including a few trusted friends who had worked with a coach, Lynda identified four critical elements:

Be Prepared to Do the Work

Coaching is fundamentally different than training. Executive coaches help their clients clarify their goals, change behaviors, and strengthen leadership skills, emotional intelligence, and performance. But, executive coaches do not come up with the “answers,” or tell their clients exactly “what to do.” Coaching is not a passive activity. It’s a partnership in which the person being coached must be committed and willing to do the work necessary to break old habits and engage in new behaviors.

Clarify Your Goals

A good executive coach partners with a client to increase awareness and insight, then uses that knowledge to build a specific plan of action to achieve a desired goal. The clearer you are about what you want to achieve from executive coaching — from developing communication skills and strategic thinking abilities to executive presence and emotional intelligence — the better you will leverage its power. Sometimes, during the discovery process with your coach, you’ll realize that your goal needs to change. That’s alright. A skilled coach will emphasize that what matters is what you want to achieve.

Be Receptive

Be open to possibilities — to new ways of thinking and perceiving, and new ways of approaching a problem or an opportunity. The patterns of thinking and behavioral habits that will help you get to the next level are rarely the same as the patterns and habits that got you to the point where you are now. Be open to intentionally shaping your mindset to discover alternatives and new ways of leading. Be ready to achieve the results you want but, perhaps, in an unexpected way.

Engage the Best Coach…For You

An experienced, capable executive coach will provide you with a safe emotional space to explore, and also challenge you to grow. Expertise and experience are vital. Seek a coach who has earned advanced certifications from the International Coach Federation: Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and Master Certified Coach (MCC). That said, your coach needs to be a good fit with your personality and learning style. You have to be both comfortable and excited that you and your coach will work together effectively to help you achieve your goals…notice how this is all about you?

Read more about getting the most out of coaching in Arden Coaching’s blog, “Executive Coaching is Not ‘Training.” You Must be Coachable!”

To learn more about how executive coaching can help you expand and improve your leadership skills, contact Arden Coaching at info@ardencoaching.com or 646.684.3777.