This article was written by and published in Business Scene Magazine, January/February 2012 edition. http://www.thebusinesscene.com/ Reprinted with permission.
No one really, honestly does their best on a challenge when they face it alone. Even if the only help they have is someone cheering them on from the sidelines, that bit of encouragement can make all the difference to overcoming the challenge or succumbing to defeat.
In a business situation, you might not have the luxury of confiding your vision, hopes, fears to one of your staff or even to a family member. At that point, who do you talk to? What happens when faced with the daunting task of firing someone, renovating your goals, or answering the question, “Where do I go from here?”
A business coach can be somewhat like a mentor, or a therapist, or even a treasured confidant. The goal is to find the coach who best suits your personality, can help move you and your dreams forward and will hold you accountable for milestones along the way.
So what does a business coach do, exactly? Here is a list of seven points a good coach should help you with:
- Provide an objective point of view
- Provide accountability when setting goals
- Advocate for your success—help you reach your dreams
- Help you expand your comfort zone so you can grow
- Help you realize the tools and resources you need to be successful
- Allow you to be authentic with yourself and others
- Encourage you to stay in action and be unstoppable
1. Provide an objective point of view: Because your coach is not a partner, employee, family member or stake holder in your company and business, he or she can provide a different point of view than the one you are currently getting from your own window, from your employees and other people intricately involved in your business. You coach doesn’t have a financial interest in your company, he has the goal of seeing you succeed.
2. Provide accountability when setting goals: Through regular meetings, whether weekly or monthly or whenever they occur for you, the coach helps you set up action plans to meet the goals the two of you have worked out together. You know you will have to answer to your coach at the next meeting. He’s going to ask you if you accomplished the milestone you said you would reach. He’s going to want to know if you took the action you said you would. Together you will review your progress and identify what is truly important to you as your values, your mission, your purpose.
3. Advocate for your success: Everyone at sometime has set goals only to discover that—whoops—life shows up instead. You experience breakdowns in communication, work efficiency or health. Upsets occur that threaten to spin you off track. A coach reminds you of your purpose and of who you really are versus the person you sometimes think you are. Having someone objectively say to you, “You can do this” is invaluable. Especially if you have lost sight of the end result. He will also challenge whatever reasons you throw up saying you can’t achieve those goals. “Yes, you can,” he’ll say with confidence.
4. Help expand your comfort zone: Your comfort zone represents the limits of what you know and what you are accustomed to. Another rational voice can bring into your awareness concepts and understandings you might not have ever thought of. There will be areas you might find uncomfortable. A coach helps you explore those areas and even, if appropriate, grow into them.
5. Help you realize the tools and resources you need to be successful: Planning tools and time management is key to stretching your effectiveness in your business. A coach will likely have access to these kinds of tools, to other professionals, and to other key ideas that you might not have known otherwise. You can experience profound paradigm shifts, alternate ways of thinking and new and/or better ways of communicating. Your skills with develop with every encounter.
6. Allow you to be authentic with yourself and others: A coach will call you out on your flakiness and won’t take those sorry excuses for not performing. He creates for you a safe, non-judgmental place to be and to grow. This is what allows you to go through the discovery of what is holding you back from realizing your goals, uncovering the fears and objections that your scared self tells you—the ideas that you can’t really make it. Those fears and ideas are blown away in the light of another’s rational thinking.
7. Encourage you to stay in action—to be unstoppable: The only reason to not be in action is because you don’t have the tools to overcome obstacles. Maybe you don’t know what’s holding you back, maybe your fear is unwarranted, maybe you need someone to point that out to you. Circumstances will always arise that try to stop you from moving forward. Don’t you think it’s a good idea to have someone on your side who shines a light in the shadows and helps you move forward?
Coaching looks like this: There is usually a preliminary session to lay the groundwork. This might be a one to one meeting, or a classroom situation.
Next, you begin to meet regularly. Maybe it’s a two-hour session once a week or a four hour session every other week. Whatever it is, this is where you become honest with yourself and swallow your pride and fears and really get down to work.
One to one meetings have more flexibility and more intense time spent on working out problems. A classroom’s advantage is getting other minds involved in your challenges and finding, maybe, several different approaches to what it is that you want to do.