By Julie Zadow
To be a business leader in 2019 is not for the faint of heart. Today’s successful executives are expected to be masters at pacing change, predicting outcomes, mapping strategy to execution, and ensuring both customer and employee engagement are aligned, understood and optimized. Leaders both newly minted and completely entrenched are being asked to innovate and embrace change at a level many have never experienced before, and to get comfortable with leading in unpredictable times. Inboxes are unmanageable, work-life balance is often at best intangible, and the grit needed to win can often feel unsustainable.
Did I scare you off? If you’re like the successful business and marketing leaders I coach today, then I’m sure the answer is no. My coaching clients, regardless of their functional discipline or chosen industry or years of experience in their current role, all have a few clear things in common. Namely, despite the intensity of the demands on their plates, they continue to step up, lean in and power through to drive tangible wins and measurable business success. And the best leaders, again regardless of industry, are often those who recognize the value of an executive coach and the distinct competitive advantage that comes from working with someone whose job it is to partner with you to achieve your goals. If you’ve ever thought about hiring an executive coach, here are 9 ways that investment can help you achieve your goals and advance your career:
Discretion and confidentiality are the foundation of executive coaching. Despite the strength of your internal relationships at work, there are times when the best listening ear is someone disconnected from your day to day work environment, someone who can hear your ideas, opinions, aspirations and frustrations independent of the organization you work in.
Successful people are natural idea-generators, and the speed with which they see opportunity is sometimes more than they can harness alone. An executive coach provides a forum to harness those ideas, help them breathe, and shape them for maximum impact.
The flip side of a great idea is usually a fear of the unknown. Successful leaders aren’t people devoid of fear, but people who have learned to harness the power of that tension between their ideas and their fears to create a powerful vision. Executive coaches provide an outlet for both the bright and dark forces shaping an executive’s vision of success.
Architecting the leap from vision to plan is a messy affair in its infant stages, and an executive coach can help you see your vision gaps before you present your ideas internally.
Great communicators know how to make their message clear, concise and compelling, but that rarely happens without rehearsal, feedback and practice. An executive coaching session is an ideal environment to rehearse the art of better communication with colleagues, direct reports and customers.
Command-and-control leadership styles are relics of the industrial age. Modern leaders need to embody a deep level of self-awareness in two areas. The first area focuses on a leader’s own emotional state. The second area focuses on developing an authentic empathy to the emotional states of fellow colleagues. An executive coach can help you take stock of where your emotions might be holding you back, or tripping you up, as you navigate the path of successful leadership.
Sometimes executives can’t see their own triggers and patterns at work, and how those patterns are affecting outcomes. An executive coach will listen for your triggers and ask questions to clarify how certain circumstances affect how you act and react. These insights, although sometimes hard to hear at first, can be the fuel to fixing blind spots that might otherwise be clouding your judgement.
A narrow comfort zone isn’t always the product of fear, but rather the product of a default-setting that needs to be recalibrated to support the leader you are working to become. An executive coach can help you see when you are thinking like a manager instead of a leader, and how to make the leap to a leadership vision.
Successful executives are usually quite good at seeing the goal they want to achieve, but sometimes less clear when it comes to defining the scope and the steps necessary to get there. An executive coach serves as a partner-in-map-making to get your career destination plotted, punctuated by the guideposts, directional signage, and distance measurements required to keep moving forward in a purposeful way.
At the end of the day, the best leaders have one other core principle in common: they are not afraid to ask for help, and they know they can’t achieve their vision of success alone. An executive coach becomes a partner in building and activating your vision map that most authentically aligns with your values and your goals. It’s an investment in your most valued asset: your belief in yourself, and your willingness to challenge yourself to become the best leader you can be.
(This article originally ran as a guest post on DemandSpring.com)