Coaching and mentoring- whats in it for you?
Coaching is now a mature industry and many of you will have either thought about working with a coach or mentor, or will have done so. Perhaps surprisingly I still come across people in business who don’t fully understand or appreciate the value proposition. In some cases they see coaching as somehow remedial and only really for individuals with ‘problems' to fix. I believe that coaching and mentoring can deliver lasting value to most people most of the time, and here's why.
The benefits of having an experienced coach and mentor are difficult to underestimate and also difficult to describe. You will only fully appreciate the value once you have been through the process with someone you trust, respect and with whom you share the necessary chemistry and rapport. This is how one individual reflected on his experience.
‘Being coached has been a transformational experience and has taught me a lot about myself. I have learned to recognise and understand the personalities, motivations and values of my colleagues and myself in new and interesting ways. The process has had a profound impact on both my personal and professional life.’
Before you chose an individual to work with it is important that you get together face to face to ensure that you are comfortable with them and that the chemistry is good. Trust your instincts and above all, make sure that you feel confident about the integrity and emotional intelligence of your coach. Trust is the key word here and the bedrock of what may turn out to be a long term and valued relationship, which you can draw upon time and again as your career evolves.
In no particular order, this is how the relationship is likely to deliver value to you.
1/By asking you the right sorts of questions.
And perhaps more importantly by getting you to ask insightful questions of yourself, a skilled coach will help you to arrive at your own solutions in a way which leaves you feeling empowered and alive to the possibilities. By actively listening to what you have to say, the words, the spaces between the words and the way you convey them, your coach will build a picture and will arrive at insights which they will share with you.
Your conversations will inform your choices and help you to put actions into place which will help you to achieve your goals. Because you, or your employer, have paid for this service you are more likely to commit to achieving your objectives. This may sound mercenary, but from personal experience on both sides of the fence, it is true.
2/By giving you tough love
I believe this to be core to the value of coaching and ask my clients early on, how challenging would you like me to be? Given that they are often looking to make difficult changes, the answer is often 'very' or 'enough to prompt me to step outside of their comfort zone', which may have become a fur lined rut. The coach needs to earn the right to ask the difficult questions and provide challenge in a safe, confidential context, and once this has been achieved then remarkable things can happen.
3/By providing context and perspective
By referencing your experiences and what you are going through, with their own knowledge and insight, your coach will help to make your journey a less lonely and more successful one. He or she will help you to identify the people and resources which you can draw upon and will help you to visualise what change is likely to look and feel like at each stage. Crucially, your coach will do this in an entirely non-judgemental way, such that you feel completely safe exploring alternative options without fear of being judged or assessed in any way.
4/By helping you to identify and commit to certain goals
Your coach will help you to move forward in a positive and often measurable way. By writing your goals down and revisiting them on a regular basis, you are still more likely to achieve them. Sometimes people come to me a little lost or lacking in direction and in these cases the goals maybe the outcome of the coaching process and conversations. This is a good outcome if it allows you to move forward with confidence and purpose, which is surely one of the most important things you will ever do.
5/ By improving your emotional intelligence
A skillful coach will help you to improve your awareness and therefore your understanding of your own emotions and drivers, as well as those of others around you. As social beings we like and need to feel connected with others and by improving your emotional intelligence in this way you will improve your relationships, which in time should lead to greater happiness, success and fulfillment. It will also help you to coach yourself and others more effectively in future.
6/ By making your inner voice a positive one
Effective coaching should help you to improve the quality of your thinking and the conversations which you have with yourself, often about yourself. This may sound a little patronising but it is not meant to. All of us have an inner critic which can be a spur, a hindrance or both. Learning to make the voice a kinder, more constructive one is a lifelong challenge for many people, particularly when they have been conditioned to think negatively about themselves.
No amount of self-help will overcome any lack of self-acceptance and I work hard to instill this into my clients, particularly when their internal voice is overly critical or trips them up in some way. Getting into good habits is far more effective than relying on willpower alone and if you can learn to view the world through a lens of abundance rather than scarcity, all the better. On a personal level, it took me a while to work this one out.
7/By remaining flexible and open minded
Coaching is an iterative process which can and often does lead to unexpected results. I sometimes find that my client’s goals modify, or change altogether during the course of our conversations. For example you may start out with the goal of career change, only to find that coaching has enabled you to enjoy and perform better at what you do. Or you may be looking to improve your impact and influence as a leader, only to find that you have been exhibiting unconscious ‘hobbit syndrome’ holding yourself back though undue caution and the unconscious signals which you send out to others.
Each of us is unique, with our own specific set of challenges to address. The key is to find a coach who listens well and has the ability to understand and intuit what is really going on, so that together you can move forward with clarity and purpose.
I am a coach and mentor with the award winning firm, Accelerating Experience. If you would like to arrange a confidential conversation without obligation, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on my mobile number, which is 07920 064056.