Most of us strive to improve—to be better tomorrow at whatever it is we do today. Easy to say but how do you find traction to make this idea actionable? How do you actually get better instead of just talk about getting better? One way is to hire a coach. Just Google it and you will find a wide variety of local options and even some that offer their services virtually, via teleconference. They might be called personal coaches, life coaches, or executive coaches but they all tend to offer the same basic services.
Helping You to See Yourself as Others See You
Let’s face it. We tend to see ourselves as a little better than we actually are. We can’t help it. It’s those cultural and social filters that have been with us since our childhood that tend to have us view the world from our perspective first, sometimes clouding our reality. Need an example?
Have you ever noticed that everyone driving faster than you on the freeway is an idiot and everyone driving slower than you is a moron?
Like I said, we can’t help it.
Most of us are pretty sure that if everyone understood our intentions (v. our actions) that everyone would easily see that we are great people and good managers. That’s flawed logic, however, as most of the people who report to you may never know your intentions but will be constantly judging your actions. So how can a coach assist? A coach can provide a second set of eyes to help you see yourself more like the word sees you. Knowing how the world sees you is vital information as it will allow you to make whatever changes you need to improve your leadership style, habits, and actions.
Bringing Tools to the Table
Just about every coach I know is familiar with and licensed to deliver some sort of diagnostic test or survey to help you gather data on both your strengths and weaknesses as a manager. These can be fairly complex, psychological instruments or simple peer/subordinate surveys. Why are they important? There’s an old saying from Management training 101 that says that, “When you are good with a hammer, everything starts to look like nail.” A manager that continually focuses on his/her strengths but ignores their improvement needs will probably live a lop-sided professional life and will almost certainly have a team of frustrated followers. Coaches can help to properly diagnose your improvement needs, making you a more balanced individual and manager.
They Will Never See You Again
OK, that might be extreme. I am sure that many coaches build life-long relationships with their clients. Still, there is value in treating the relationship between the client and the coach as a transaction—a short term, focused, one-purpose assignment. Doing so means that the coach is free to be open, honest, and direct in their efforts, not really worried about hurting your feelings and having things be awkward the next time you run into each other at a social gathering. I guess that you and your coach could have a longer term relationship but that feels, at least in my mind, a lot more like therapy than coaching.
Need a Recommendation? Doug Thorpe is a rock star. He is a thirty-year veteran of the business world who has now hung his shingle as a coach. I have known Doug for just about his entire career and can personally vouch for his management skills, his experience, his brainpower, and his emotional intelligence. I have sought his advice and coaching, both formally and informally, on a number of occasions. You can check him out at dougthorpe.com.
Thank you for your time and have a great weekend!