When you’re facing a particular challenge, be it a technical problem or looking at your leadership style, having a coach can be particularly useful. For some, having formal coaching sessions is invaluable, whilst for others, a more informal style and approach works best, but in most cases, for us all, as our career develops, we can benefit from having a range of great coaching figures in our life.
For a chief executive, it can provide a much needed opportunity to try out new ideas, whilst for a new inductee into a business, it can provide a guiding light to develop the initial skills to keep afloat, the foundations for the future.
Identifying the need for coaching can sometimes be formal, but often is emergent, and it’s worth recognising that it can go unnoticed at busy times. Coaching can easily be pushed into that category of ‘training’ that is nice to have when you’re not busy, but which can most easily be dropped when things hot up. This is of course, exactly the time at which a good coach can make the biggest difference.
Why? Because coaching is, essentially, a practical activity: it has an aim of improvement, be it in mindset, skills or productivity, it’s intended to make things better.
The temptation under pressure is to just ‘dive in’ and act, hoping that this energy will translate into efficiency, or, at least, productivity. In reality, it can be most beneficial to use these times to look for coaching and specifically, to look for coaches who sit outside your usual sphere.
You see, the problem is that people within any specific industry tend to do things in certain ways. We can all end up reinforcing each others behaviours, without anybody ever questioning why we are doing things this way at all. Coaches from different disciplines, with complimentary skill sets but widely differing backgrounds can bring a breadth of perspective and experience that is incredibly useful. Instead of trying to find someone who is like us to coach us in a particular area, maybe we should spend more time trying to find people who are nothing like us at all, in the hope and belief that they will jolt us out of established routines, offer challenge as well as guidance, and give us a better perspective on the issue as well as building skills to develop.
It’s easy to use coaching in a reactive way. Maybe we should try to consciously change the parameters and look more widely, in the belief that a range of people from wildly different backgrounds, can all teach us something, and maybe teach us something different, not just something that we’ve done before.