What to Expect When Working With An Executive Coach

Look for a coach with whom you feel comfortable, just not too comfortable. You’ll have to know that line for yourself. 

It’s essential that you be able to let your guard down. Trust is king. The sooner you are able to develop a trusting relationship with your coach, the more quickly you’ll make progress. 

Each coach has their own tool kit and approach. Find out how your prospective coach likes to work. Will that stretch you? You want to be working at the edge of your comfort zone with your coach.  

Look for a skilled listener; someone who hears behind your words, senses into your intent and is tuned into the various ways you communicate through tone, body language, cadence.

Together you’ll develop goals that will forward your growth as a business leader. Some of those goals may come from a 360 degree review she implements or that you already have. 

Your coach may do other assessments to better understand your intrinsic motivations, habits of thinking, feeling, acting … At Trilogy Effect, we like to use the Enneagram because we believe (and our clients tell us), that it is the most holistic system available.

Expect your coach to give you practices to take on. You’re going to be building new muscles, trying on new glasses and testing new filters. All of this takes time and practice, until what started out feeling awkward, becomes your new normal. 

Your coach may ask you to do some reading to provoke your thinking. She will also serve as a good resource (books, articles, YouTube, courses) for you to delve into areas you’d like to explore.

Your coach should be able to seamlessly switch hats from advisor to coach. When she has her coaching hat on, she’ll ask questions that bring you to self-insight. She’ll help surface the best of who you are.

You’ll also want a trusted advisor. Often my clients have specific business issues of concern and they are looking for advice and counsel. Ideally, your coach has worked inside an organization and therefore understands the context in which you operate and/or has a consulting practice so that she can offer you wise counsel based on her direct experience. 

Expect your coach to gently put her hand on your back to encourage you but not push you to places you are reluctant to go. She should challenge you and not let you get away with all the various tactics you may employ to dodge, duck and cover. She should see right through your antics and call you on your avoidance behavior.

Your coach is your accountability partner. 

Remember, she’s working with you in service of bringing out the best of who you are; to help lift the veils that stand between you seeing yourself and others more clearly; to help point to the filters (beliefs and world views) that color your perception.

If you don’t find yourself growing through your experience, then you are not allowing yourself to be coached, not putting in the time for your practices and / or you may have the wrong coach.

Make sure that you are assessing your relationship along the way. Give her feedback to let her know things she’s doing / saying that are ineffective with you as well as what she’s doing that works. Feedback should be two-way.

A skilled coach will adjust her course quickly with your guidance.

Which brings me to the most important point: you must be coachable. You have to want to be coached and see this as a benefit; a gift. If you aren’t motivated, even the most skilled coach won’t be able to get any traction with you.

Choose wisely, surrender to the process, step out of your comfort zone and enjoy the journey!