Executive coaching is the process of self-discovery. We all can benefit from learning more about ourselves and exploring ways to improve ourselves. An executive coach — one hired from the outside — can be a resource that helps others see themselves more clearly. Additionally, through the process of gaining feedback from colleagues, executives can learn how colleagues see them.
But the question arises: How do I prepare myself to be coached? A new book, Becoming Coachable, by a trio of executive coaches, Jacquelyn Lane, Scott Osman, and Marshall Goldsmith, can provide insight. Think of it this way. If you want to get in shape, you want to ensure that you have the mindset to put yourself through the rigor of physical exercise. Half-measures do not work. It’s the same with coaching.
Getting ready to engage
Executive coaching is not for everyone, but its benefits are plentiful when you prepare to address the obstacles you face and the willingness to address them intentionally. I recently conducted an interview on LinkedIn Live with Jacquelyn and Scott, both of whom lead the 100 Coaches Agency, Jacquelyn as President and Scott as CEO. [Disclaimer: I am a member of 100 Coaches.]
“Since leadership is all about relationships and relationships are complex,” says Jacquelyn, “coaching is really something that helps cut through some of that complexity to allow you to collect feedback from key stakeholders, from all the people that work around with and for you. And that helps you become more self-aware, it helps you understand your blind spots and how to be in better relationship with all those people.” Essentially, coaching can help “transform not only a person’s leadership but also life as a whole.”
Relationships are better understood – and ideally improved – when we know our effect on others. That is why feedback is so critical. “One of the great things about feedback,” says Scott, “if you can change your perspective on what feedback really is and not hear it as criticism, but hear it as the gift that it really is.” Listening to feedback opens the door to what you need to change. That perception “makes feedback a lot easier to handle. It still can be painful, but I think with the perspective of if I know about it, I can change.”
The role of trust
Leadership crumbles when trust erodes. “Trust can be improved by engaging in the coaching process,” says Jacquelyn. “Trust is really built by being consistent in our words and our actions in living our values and having integrity, making sure we follow through on our commitments. And the great news is that a coach is someone who can help you do all of those things better [as well as] help identify some of those places where you may be falling short.”
Trust shows up in how you act as well as how you engage with others. Dr. Jim Kim, a physician and former President of the World Bank, has said that as leaders, “you don’t own your own face.” As Scott says, “Your face, your expressions, your emotions, your attitudes are almost property of the company because they do, they impact so many people.” It sounds harsh, but as Scott explains, leaders are playing a role, one who aspires to help the organization achieve its goals. Realizing it permits a disassociation from one’s ego. “By saying I don’t own my face, it allows me to disconnect from that and recognize that my expressions don’t have to be an expression of me. They need to be an expression of who I am as a leader. And that [notion] is very transformational.”
Coaching as an enabler
Scott likens an excellent coach to the solvent WD-40, “a little bit of grease to help them work through something that they, maybe if they pushed hard enough, they could work through on their own.” The benefit of working with a coach is that it avoids “grinding too many other people’s gears.” Coaching leads to insights that the leader may not have thought possible. Often, such changes occur rapidly within a matter of months. “And once you open up the sense of what’s possible, you can grow into it.”
All of us need an outside voice, or voices, to help us see ourselves more clearly and more honestly. Coaching can be that process of self-discovery that opens the door to greater possibilities for your organization, colleagues, and yourself.
Note: To watch the full LinkedIn Live interview with Jacquelyn Lane and Scott Osman, click here.
First posted on SmartBrief.com 11.07.2023