So your company has engaged an executive coach for you. Congratulations! Companies and corporations only ever engage executive coaches for their most valuable, high-potential, and high-impact executives; people who are deemed as worthwhile investments that they would like to see succeed. Maybe even lead the company in the future, in some capacity. This usually means that you’re either already occupying a pivotal role in your company, in which case a more personalised development plan is called for, or you’re being groomed for a more senior role.
You could also be someone who has decided to engage an executive coach on your own. This is what many of the world’s most successful executives do; take personal responsibility for their own growth and development on your own dime.
How then can you put your best foot forward to fully maximise this golden opportunity?
Based on my own extensive experience as an executive, business, life, and wellness coach, here are some of the things I heavily recommend so that you can make the most of your coaching sessions!
Set Clear Goals for Yourself
One of the first things that coaches usually do when approached by a client or a client company is to clarify the overall objectives of the coaching engagement. Do they need to boost the productivity of the coachee? Or would they like to work on some of their personal quirks or habits that are holding them back from achieving more? Top C-suite level executives of some of the world’s most profitable companies have needed help in areas such as work-life integration, work-life-family harmony, or managing professional and personal relationships. Other times, they want to become better leaders, improve their communication skills or hone their decision-making processes.
What is common to all fruitful coaching sessions are coachees who are actively involved in setting goals for their coaching sessions, who are aware of what they would like to achieve and are ready to make the necessary adjustments to their lives. Of course, sometimes the coach will already have a list of items they would need to work on, usually given by other stakeholders invested in your success. Even then, it is best that you get involved by putting your own goals on the table.
Address the Difficult Issues First
Meeting an executive coach for the first few times might take a little getting used to and it is perfectly understandable if you feel the need to build more rapport or get comfortable with your coach first before deep diving into issues you would like to work on.
However, if you feel that you have an idea of what some of the big roadblock or challenges you’re facing are, it is best to put them on the table so that you and your coach can have ample time to work on them together.
Great executive coaches with extensive coaching experience can often identify issues that the coachee has never thought about. However, if you think something is an issue and that it needs to be resolved or worked on, let your coaches know so they have time to work through it with you and to conceptualize an appropriate action plan if necessary.
This also applies to any burning questions you might have or clarifications you might need to make—great coaching sessions are two-way conversations that should be as open and candid as possible. This brings us to the next point.
Openness and Honesty
This might seem like a no-brainer but one of the main challenges coaches everywhere face are coachees who keep otherwise pertinent and important thoughts to themselves, hereby limiting the coach from being able to address issues with the required depth. Sometimes, it could be an issue of trust; some executives might find it difficult to be completely open with someone they’ve only just met for a few hours over a few weeks. Sometimes, it’s a personality issue, particularly for people who do not have a habit of being frank with their words or who are too used to censoring themselves. There have also been cases where it is a confidentiality issue involvinng either company or industry secrets.
To help facilitate honest conversations that will aid in your personal and professional development, ensure the following:
• First, you should always check that you and your company have a binding confidentiality agreement in place with your coach. This is standard protocol in executive coaching and should allay concerns regarding privacy and confidentiality.
• Second, let your coach know if you have any concerns with their suggestions or methods and do not worry about coming across as critical; seasoned executive coaches can take the heat. This gives them the opportunity to explain their thought processes while also allowing you to give them a more accurate picture of your situation.
• Lastly, keep in mind that executive coaching sessions are about YOU so be honest with yourself with what it is that you personally need, what you need professionally, and what you are willing to do to achieve them. Your coach will help guide you but only you can walk your journey.
It takes time for executive coaching sessions to bear fruit so be patient with yourself as you continue to evolve and grow; no responsible coach can promise you a 150% increase in productivity after a single session or guarantee instant work-life integration. If you keep the above points in mind, you will be able to maximise your coaching sessions, and make the best of this opportunity to grow.
About the Author:
Angeline V. Teo is the President and Chief Consultant of PEPWorldwide (Asia) Pte. Ltd. She is also an International Speaker, certified Master PEP Consultant, and award-winning Executive Coach and Author with a vision for leading a purposeful and meaningful life. Above all, she is a caring Mother of two, a loving Wife, and a filial Daughter.
Connect with Angeline on Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/workplacedoctor/ and drop her a message to say Hi!