by Tony Vidler
It is a peculiar thing…most of us recognize the difference that getting good coaching – or poor coaching – can make to any athlete or sports teams performance. In fact most of us have often held quite passionate views about the merits of coaches…Very few professionals however seem to make the link between high performance and getting coaching when it comes to building their own business.
Even those of us involved in mentoring and/or coaching often downplay the real benefits of good coaching.
It will sound odd perhaps, but good coaches are usually delighted when a client discontinues the coaching engagement. (no always, but “usually”).
For example: one adviser I worked with for nearly 2 years changed his business structure, his marketing, his planning and his client engagement levels during that time. His own view of his business performance and business expectations shifted substantially…a mindset shift in terms of expectations…but the really fabulous thing is that he reached a point where he felt he could continue to manage and build a business to the performance he desired and in the way he wanted to by himself as he now had the skills and the insight required to do it. That is not an unusual situation: it is the coaches goal for the engagement.
That is the underestimated element of effective coaching: the transfer of skills. The “teaching” element if you will.
Certainly good coaching delivers accountability, and objective assessment in any number of areas that help build a great business. It should also be expected that good coaching delivers fresh thinking and a degree of innovation to a business as different perspectives and different experiences are brought to bear on the clients particular issue, or opportunities. A coach usually shows you the shortcuts you haven’t yet found for yourself, and introduces efficiencies into your business that would probably just be hard won and expensive lessons of your own. Coaching is often considered to be fundamentally about accountability, objectivity and efficiency. In simple terms we tend to view it thus:
Listening to a client describe their view of the coaching experience though reminds me that the greatest value is actually in helping equip someone to stand alone. It works best when it creates confident independence. Creating the mindset and skills for someone to chase their own dreams faster without the need for ongoing support from an outsider. Rather like parenting, the greatest value is not the upbringing you provided (food, shelter, fun, toys & experiences), but the skills you taught that enable the kids to go out into the world confident, and well prepared to make their own successes and live life their own way.
Good coaching produces self-sufficiency and sustainable performance improvement.
That is the Number 1 thing that anyone should be looking to get from good coaching: sustainable improvement as a result of learning how to self-manage performance. When considering coaching that should be the primary focus: can this person teach me the skills to succeed?
Business efficiencies matter of course, as does fresh insight and thinking. Accountability, or being answerable for performance, makes a big difference to performance too. These elements are undoubtedly important, but can have a limited shelf-life. Todays efficiency is tomorrow’s inefficient and archaic system. New thinking becomes “ho hum” at some point and is no longer actually new…accountability loses power as independence and confidence grow.
Transferred management skills, development of critical thinking skills and development of the confidence to self-manage, do lead to sustainable success however.
That’s what any professional should look for from a coach.