How Business Coaching Can Benefit Your Career

Why should you even consider business coaching? Coaching in sport is a well-established and recognised service. Sports coaches are often seen as playing a critical role in helping an individual gain a competitive advantage. In the sporting context coaches help players to improve their skills, perform to the best of their ability, develop strong character and gain confidence.  It is no different in the field of business.

Studies by Stanford University in the USA highlight that more than two thirds of CEOs do not receive coaching although they feel they would benefit greatly. Sadly, those who do have business coaching appear to keep it under wraps. So clearly there still appears to be some discomfort around coaching in business.

Let us explore what you can gain from coaching.

Executives and enterprise owners are in the business of relationships. The higher up you progress, the greater the need for you to gain a better psychological understanding of the various stakeholders. You need much more than good interpersonal skills. At this level you need to understand what drives and motivates your Chairman and co-directors. It now becomes a challenge to gain a thorough understanding of the personalities with whom you are interacting.

The reality is that you need to understand what drives and motivates you as well as this will determine how you respond to situations. No matter how high up you are in a company, every individual has vulnerabilities and buttons. It is crucial for you to have a thorough understanding of these as you need to find ways to manage these effectively in the work environment.

Power dynamics become more evident at CEO and MD level. Now you are measured on so much more than just business results. You are measured on your relationships with key players within the company too.

Although many CEOs fail to see the need to work on their softer skills, it is imperative that they do so. Once in power many CEOs tend to rely on their own perspectives of situations. They are inclined to think that their co-directors will see situations in a similar way to them. This is not the case.

Studies have also shown that people in power tend to be more self-centred and self-assured in a negative way. They are more inclined to be less empathetic and compassionate. They are also less tolerant of others’ points of view.

A senior executive provided this input:  “Business propositions are often driven by people’s ego. This is demotivating. At executive level it is all about the money and profits. The higher up you progress in a company the more ruthless people become. This kind of experience really disappoints me immensely. Why must one accept bad business! I am currently in a situation where I am taking the Board on and find I have to do so much lobbying before meetings. I will get the support of colleagues but when they all arrive in the meeting no one supports me: they all keep quiet. Politics at senior level are frustrating.”

This real life example highlights the type of dynamics at a senior level.

Successful executives have learnt astuteness in interacting with others. They take time to reflect on and understand others’ behaviour, agendas and motivation. Relationship competencies are dependent on self-awareness and self-knowledge. You need to know the truth about yourself to be able to have deeper insight into other people.

Executives need to be particularly careful about opening up about their true feelings with colleagues or seniors. The need for a respected and trusted confidant outside of the work environment becomes more crucial. The right business coach can fulfil this role very effectively.

Business coaching assists executives to improve high performance even further. Coaching equips you to build resilience to stress, manage conflict, resolve inner conflicts and deal with power plays. It helps you to improve your leadership, delegation, listening and communications skills. Apart from enhancing your management skills coaching will help you to understand your staff better and how best to utilise their skills.

Executives often travel a great deal, so this has implications for their marriage and family life. The need for greater work-life balance becomes crucial and can be addressed very effectively through coaching.

Let us consider the life of an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur or business owner is hard work. Start-up failure rates are as high as 50-70% in first 2 years. Business coaching can play a crucial role in setting you and your company up for success. Business coaching will help you manage the various challenges you face more effectively so that you will feel more in control. It will help you clarify the vision and objectives of your business, the values your business stands for and to set smarter goals. It will help you gain clarity on your own personal vision and where it fits in with that of the company.

Coaching increases your self-knowledge and makes you more aware of your blind spots, the beliefs and attitudes that work for and against you. It will help you find ways to address behaviour that is less helpful and help you make more considered decisions. This will result in improved self-confidence and lowered stress levels.

In either of the above cases self-knowledge and self-mastery are the core drivers for success. Business coaching will help you focus on specific areas that are impacting negatively on your effectiveness or productivity. If you find yourself going through some major transition (eg loss of a significant other, retrenchment, marital problems, etc) coaching will help you.

Personal feedback from executives and business owners about what they gained from business coaching include: learning about themselves and what drives their behaviour, action and decisions; identifying and addressing their defenses; discovering their humanness; having an opportunity to change patterns of behaviour; experiencing a safe and trusted environment to explore aspects of themselves; understanding their inner journey; addressing aspects that impact on their self-esteem and managing stress. The most significant comments have been that they can be themselves and express themselves candidly in a trusted and confidential space.

Business coaching can help you become even more effective in your role. What takes place in coaching remains between you and the coach, unless otherwise negotiated.


Posted in CEO, Entrepreneur.