More often than not, a leader is told that they are getting an executive coach without being part of the decision process. As a coach, it can create a variety of reactions from the coachee. Depending on the situation and events leading up to the decision, the continuum of reactions can be from enthusiasm to apprehension, fear, and even anger.

Variables that can influence the reaction to being coached can include but are not limited to: coaching history within the organization-positive or negative, performance feedback from the leader, leadership development plans, recent 360 degree surveys, and relationship with the leader.

So where are you on this continuum?  My experience is that if you are at the anger or fear side of the spectrum and you remain there, your opportunity to grow and learn will be a missed opportunity.

All too often, a successful leader’s initial reaction to a coaching assignment is as one of being penalized rather than one of being rewarded. And yet, once they understand the motive of their leader, more often than not it changes their perception of the coaching opportunity. Those that do make the transition from negative feelings and emotions over to a positive place can actually take advantage of the opportunity to work with an executive coach and perform to their best. The rate of this transition differs by individual and those who remain firm to their negative beliefs longer will benefit the least from coaching.  Often they move into apathy and just go through the motions.  They make changes but they aren’t developed into habits and thus the changes may dissipate after the coaching assignment has concluded.

How can you move up the continuum so that your mind opens to new ideas and perspectives and you can take full advantage of your coaching opportunity?

The first step is to understand how your manager made the decision to provide you with a coach and what her goals are for you. Often your executive coach will be involved in this discussion. Was it in a place of caring for you and a desire to see you develop to a higher level of performance? Or was she looking for one more way to try and “fix” you? And then you need to understand what she is looking for as an end result in the process.  What will she observe or measure that proves you have progressed?

Once you understand what his reasoning is and the goals he has for you then you are ready to start the coaching process by talking to several coaches. Since you will be working closely with this individual over a 6-12 month period of time, it will be important that there is a good “chemistry” between the two of you.

As you work with your coach, he will provide you with opportunities to raise your awareness of the environment and people around you as well as your self-awareness. A high level of awareness drives a high performance levels. The other necessary step in the coaching process is an acceptance of responsibility in your own thoughts, feelings, and actions. No one controls any of these personal aspects of your person. Learning to manage these parts of your persona can have a powerful impact on your performance and relationships.

The opportunity to have an executive coach is just that, an opportunity not a penalty.  An executive coach can assist you in learning more about your strengths and challenges, as well as develop into a better, higher performing leader and individual.

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