You already have friends and you already have employees.  What you need now a business coach.  That means someone who will not only guide you, but also push you.  Hard.

A business coach is on your side.  But make no mistake, a good coach is not there to agree with you or be your own personal cheerleader.  They are there to help you see and do things differently.  To push you to do things that may not be easy or come naturally.  They will take you out of your comfort zone – and intentionally and admittedly make you uncomfortable… if only in the short term.  In other words, your relationship with your business coach should not always be easy and it may not always be fun.  It will stretch you and challenge you.  And above all else, it should make you better at doing your job.

When choosing a coach, here are 5 things you should consider:

1)      Support vs. Challenge:  As a leader, you spend a lot of time focusing on the concerns and interests of the people you work with.  People come to you for help.  When you have a coach, you have someone to help you.  They should be someone you feel comfortable going to with your own uncertainties, and who will address your motivations with understanding and confidentiality.  But at the same time, your coach also needs to have the strength to push back.  They should not only understand, but also challenge your habits and behaviors.  Expect them to confront you –directly and without judgment — about what you are doing and why.  You want to choose a coach who can both support and challenge you.

2)      Focus on Feedback:  You aren’t in business alone.  You are working with other people… and those people aren’t always so forthcoming when it comes to letting you know what they think.  Your coach should invite others to be a part of the development process.  This not only provides valuable insight, it also allows them to notice and respond to the changes you are making.  A coach should show you how to solicit feedback going forward and, more importantly, how to respond to that feedback in a productive way.  You are chose to look for a coach, which means the time has come for you to stop being intimidating and defensive. A great coach will not only help you change, they will also help others see the changes in you.

3)      Purpose and Structure:  Coaches aren’t hired to make you feel happy.  They are hired to help you clarify and ultimately achieve your career and life goals. Coaching is not a side project that can be postponed or canceled when urgent work matters arise. The coaching process should be viewed like any other high-priority project.  There needs to be plan development, regular review, accountability and results.  Make sure your coach has a measurable way to track your progress.

4)      Leadership and Perspective:  A coach is also a teacher… and one of the lessons they teach is how to be a better leader.  This means they are able to identify the leadership skills you have – and the ones you need to develop.  So if you need to improve things like your expectation management, conflict resolution or staff development, your coach can help you.  And if you need to learn how to broaden your perspective, they should help you with that too.  Your perspective can change when you find new opportunities to play devil’s advocate, ask new questions and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.  These are all skills that great leaders possess – and that great coaches teach.

5)      Confidentiality and Trust:  Your relationship with your coach is based on trust. You will be revealing a lot of sensitive information about yourself, and you need to be able to do that freely and without worry.  It is important to work with someone whom you respect – and who respects you.  When you interview coaches, ask questions how they would handle different situations.  And above all else, trust your gut.

ASK YOURSELF:

  • Have I put myself in someone else’s shoes today and tried to see things from their point of view?
  • How can I encourage honest feedback, so people aren’t just telling me what I want to here.
  • Am I walking the walk? Did offer help and support for anyone who works for me today?