You need a coach - test how ready you are for one

Image credit to banksy 

“Have a coach. Everyone needs a coach!”

Google CEO, Eric Schmidt apparently said this when asked about the best advice he ever received. 

I totally agree. The valuable clarity my coach brings when grappling with the next right steps to take with my biggest challenges at work and in life is huge. She enables me to challenge myself, transform, grow as a person, and avoid getting stuck in roles, assumptions, beliefs and situations holding me back from positive change in life. 

But I don’t believe most people think they need a coach. Therefore most don’t yet want one. That will change soon as those who do communicate the benefits. The value a coach brings you can last a life time. Coaching enables you to transform and grow beyond your current situation. We all spend money on things that don't last with little or no enduring value. A monthly haircut, an expensive restaurant meal. The value of these quickly disappear. The enduring value of a coach means people spending their time and money know its an investment in their personal growth - like a personal trainer for the mind. The more you invest, the more cumulative the benefits are as you provide yourself with more space to explore your key challenges and how to overcome them with someone who listens to you deeply and stretches your thinking on how to achieve the change you need.  

But how do you make sure you get the most value from your investment in a coach? 

This week I attended a coaching practitioners event entitled “It’s Not About The Coach: getting the most from coaching” which got me thinking…

·         When you become interested in getting a coach how do you know whether you are actually ready to be coached? [And by that, I mean ready to fully realise the potential value of investing in a coaching relationship.]

·         And does your readiness and openness to being coached change over time during a coaching relationship?

These questions help you maximise the value from your coaching.  We explored these very questions with the event speaker, Stuart Hadden, who shared key research insights from his book on the topic.

He's developed a model following his survey of 85 UK organisations, big and small, across various sectors on determining how ready people are to be coached to maximise its value for them. Below is a summary of 9 key areas which emerged across those organisations on how best to determine whether you will be ready to fully realise the value coaching can bring you:

1) Goals - What aims, targets, or desired results can you use to shape the focus of your coaching sessions?

2) Change - How open are you to change? How much change do you want? Do you fear it?

I think these first two are present for almost all of us that show an initial interest in coaching. We'll want something to be different. Though the extent to which we want change may vary dependent on whether we have sought out a coach or whether someone has told us to get one. For example, if your employer recommends you to get a coach to improve your performance and assigns an internal coach to you then you may not agree and so I would argue the process is doomed to fail or achieve minimal results. That said, if we are open to change, then it will happen. And the more of the areas below are present in your coaching, the more transformation and value you are likely to get. 

3) Emotion - How willing are you to show your emotions and to articulate them with your coach?

4) Authenticity - Are you seeking to be more authentic in how you operate on daily basis and interact with others in your life? How willing are you to be authentic?

4) Curious - How curious are you about your own self, the people you work with, and the wider systems you operate in (e.g. your employer or organisations you belong to)?

5) Challenge - How open are you to receiving challenge from your coach? How much do you want it and believe it could help you grow?

6) Questioning - How able and willing are you to work with tough questions; answering them and asking them of yourself?

Sometimes we just want an answer to be provided by someone else on how we can address our problem, and coaching isn't about getting direct solutions from your coach - it's about exploring your situation, so you can discover answers that will work for your personal circumstance.

8) Systems - How much do you want to explore, understand and leverage the systems you operate within (workplace, family, friendship groups), and build/extend new personal networks?

9) Energy - How much drive and ambition do you think you can bring to achieve the outcomes you are seeking from a coaching relationship?

You don't need to answer all of the above fully or positively in order to benefit from having a coach. But the more you can honestly answer positively, the more personal transformation you will see in yourself when working with a coach and the more you will benefit. 

When you think you don't want coaching or are not fully realising the potential benefit of existing coaching sessions it could be because you aren't ready to bring some of the above to a coaching conversation... yet.

It's worthwhile to consider how these could be used to assess both how ready you are for coaching before it begins and to use it as a measure for how coachable you’re becoming as your coaching relationship progresses. 

If you are thinking about being coached or are currently being coached here are 3 ways you may use the insight above:

1)      During or before your initial coaching session – Discuss your comfort levels around the 9 areas above. 

2)   After each coaching session you have – if you feel your session went badly/well, perhaps refer to the 9 areas to identify why and consider different future approaches with your coach based on those observations.

3)   During various stages of your coaching relationship – your readiness for coaching will vary over time. It will be influenced by your current life circumstance and your sensitivity around the topics being discussed. The above could be used by you when thinking about the question “Right now, given the challenges I am talking through and my current life circumstances, how ready for coaching am I?”

I firmly believe most people need and can benefit from a coach. A coach can transform your life for the better and those benefits can last a lifetime. 

But as I said at the start a lot of people - including you maybe - don’t yet want one. A large contributing factor to this could lay somewhere within the 9 areas above. These 9 areas are the ingredients required from you if you are to truly benefit from the transformational benefits of a coach. 

What do you think? Is the model above useful? Do you agree or have an alternative view?

All thoughts welcome!