6 Tips to Getting the Most from a Leadership Coach

Leadership coaching is designed to bring out the very best of your leadership skills.

It’s not just about your skills development but also learning what leadership means both in practice and conceptually from many perspectives.

By working with the right leadership coach, we master the key competencies to lead others well; how to use your personal skills and charisma to their maximum to make better decisions, increase productivity, nurture others (to lead), effectively manage and collaborate with people etc.

However, the quality of executive coaching for leaders rests on doing several important things;

1. Find a great coach to work with

Anyone can call themselves a leadership coach. But the truth is that very few coaches qualify for such a title.  So how can you tell?

Start with the basics; Look for someone with vast experience and expertise in developing leaders. This can mean asking them how much time they’ve spent coaching, not simply the years but some coaches keep tallies of their actual hours. And it takes thousands of hours to become expert in most things.  But there’s something more. Plenty of people can spend years doing something – it’s no guarantee of greatness. So look at the people and teams they’ve worked with. They should have many references. Ask for these.

Does it matter to you about finding a coach who has coached someone just like you? Or just one or two of these criteria may be important to you; your demographic, industry, role. This depends on you and may depend on the type of development you’re looking for.

If it’s in part a mentoring role you’re looking for, it may be helpful to find someone who knows your business, industry or has coached people similar to you. Often people can think this is more important than it is as the type of skills that usually matter are universal.  A great coach should be able to help just about anyone.

Remember coaching is all about you. If it feels like it’s about them, and how great they are, they’re probably not the right coach for leadership.

2. Ask for evidence of their successes

Find a leadership coach who has succeeded in the type of development you’re looking for. Also, you might want to check out their reputation, methodology, accreditations, online reviews before working with them and note they should be very open about sharing such information.

3. Understand what it means to be coached, to develop yourself especially if you’ve not undertaken any personal development work before. Remember that growth can be quite uncomfortable sometimes, especially if it takes you out of your comfort zone, trying new things.  It can make you feel vulnerable and take (perceived) risks.  But the right leadership coach will find a balance in helping you to learn as well as challenging things comfortably and respectfully.  And this often depends on trust and rapport.

4. Check you have good rapport and trust

It’s all about chemistry and if someone gets you. Coaching works best when the relationships is strong and there is a high degree of trust.

Ask for an initial/chemistry chat and see how you feel. Do you feel comfortable, able to share, open up to and feel listened to? It’s worth speaking to a few coaches first to get a sense of differing coaches out there.

5. Be open to feedback

Another important tip for getting the most out of a leadership coach is to keep an open mind about feedback. No one is infallible or perfect. And as coaching is about change, it means accepting that change is helpful, and necessary.

Hence, you are bound to make a wide range of mistakes on your journey to becoming a great leader. And you will become more aware of your issues, what’s holding you back as your awareness increases, especially initially.

Apart from your coach, other individuals may also give you some important feedback. Great leaders don’t take as much personally, so can still serve themselves in the moment even if they are being criticized. Try not to react negatively to feedback. Take advantage of it to enhance your communication skills, decision-making, and overall leadership skills. In addition, getting feedback from others will ensure that you get help from others during your leadership journey.

6. Dedicate time to your leadership coaching

Becoming a great leader is not a one day job. Unfortunately, most leadership coaching packages only involve about 4 to 8 sessions. You can hardly master everything you need in this time. Therefore commitment is possibly the most crucial element in working well with your coach. Commit to several coaching sessions, commit to change, commit to weekly practice/ homework.

There’s a huge difference between different coaches and their ability to alter mindsets, self-perception, and behaviours.

In a nutshell, executive leadership coaching is a process that can change your life in quite profound ways. These tips are proven as fundamental in helping you do so.