Leadership Development: When to hire a coach
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It all goes back to Timothy Gallwey. Before Gallwey, coaches were people who wore whistles around their necks.
Coaches helped people get better at physical tasks. That meant they mostly dealt with sweaty people, except for swim coaches who dealt mostly with chlorine-blind people.
That changed in 1974, the year Gallwey published The Inner Game of Tennis. He shifted the focus from what was happening on the outside, to what was happening in the mind of the tennis player.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Gallwey tells the story of the Inner Game on his web site. It's compelling, but it won't answer the question about whether you should hire a coach.
What's important about the Gallwey story is that The Inner Game was the faint beginning of what is now a hot field: coaching. Now there are coaches for all kinds of things that don't involve sweaty physical activities or even whistles.
There are life coaches. There are cooking coaches and writing coaches. There are career coaches. And there are executive coaches like Mary Jo Asmus. She describes why you might want to consider engaging an executive coach.
"The advantage of using an executive coach over other development options such as training is that the learning is customized to specific individual needs and goals."
Mentors do some of the things that coaches do. Many bosses, perhaps including you, have come to understand "coaching" as part of their job. And, sometimes, companies will provide coaching services or direct you to find a coach to deal with a specific issue.
Those can all be helpful. But there are times when you should think about hiring a coach yourself. I asked Susan Mazza, an experienced coach and friend of mine to describe when that's a good idea. Here's what she said.
"Hire a coach when you have a clear and specific idea of what you want to accomplish or become and you don't know how to get there on your own."
Mentors and bosses and the HR department can help you with some things. You can suss out how to accomplish some things for yourself. . Coaches are for those situations where other accelerators won't get the job done.
There's one more thing that Susan said, that's important. "The bolder you are in conceiving your outcome, the more a coach can serve you."
Boss's Bottom Line
The time to spend your money and time on coaching is when you know what you want to accomplish or become, but you can't figure out how to do it on your own.
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Wally's Working Supervisor's Support Kit is a collection of information and tools to help working supervisors do a better job. It's based on what Wally's learned in over twenty years of supervisory skills training. Click here to check it out.