It saddens me that the coaching industry is so unclear with the processes and outcomes that you can expect. I know from my own personal experience that true happiness and success can be gained.
So let’s discuss in detail what you can expect from a business coach.
Before we start though, let’s define what business coaching really is. Here’s my favourite definition:
A series of steps designed to assist a business owner, employee, or executive in overcoming obstacles that are causing the business or individual to achieve less success than desired.
A professional approach to coaching
A business coach should have completed a course which demonstrates their ability to coach effectively. The process of coaching is unusual to most people, but it can unlock huge performance gains, if done correctly.
They should take reasonable steps to ensure the confidentiality of your information too, for example using a professional email system and ensuring that only trusted individuals have access to it.
Finally, a coach should not try to become involved in your business in any way. They are not there to offer to be part of your company, but instead to help you grow.
Support and non-judgmental understanding
In business coaching people expose secrets of their business and their heart. They may tell you about their fears and weaknesses. The coach should be equipped to deal with this in a completely non-judgemental manner, and continue with their friendly and approachable demeanour regardless.
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On occasion though, a coach may decide that they aren’t the person you would benefit most from, and they may suggest alternatives.
Personal growth and professional development
We’ve all had our own unique journey and that should be respected.
This means that we all have unique struggles, whether that’s within relationships, tasks or stress and fear. We all have some areas that we could improve in.
A business coach should aid you in the journey of learning and growth, whether that’s personal or professional. This is done through effective questioning to bring about options that you hadn’t considered, to ensure that you’re not continuing to work within your weaknesses and unsuccessful strategies.
This learning and the awareness it brings will help you to build and grow at a pace that’s right for you.
New patterns of behaviour and reactions to situations
We’ve build patterns throughout our lives. Some of them are effective for us whenever they’re used, some of them are effective occasionally and some significantly hold us back.
This means that sometimes we react or behave in ways that are ineffective for the success we want to achieve.
Coaching helps to uncover some of the reasons behind these and allows you to explore options that might be more effective.
Strategies that are successful uniquely for you
We should all work within our strengths in order to allow ourselves to be thrive while being happy and content. However, people often work within their weaknesses, which is one way we are sabotaging ourselves and using strategies that are unsuccessful for us.
During coaching, we’ll discover more about how you can be successful by replacing some of your less successful strategies with ones which are more likely to lead to the goal that you desire, whether that’s more happiness, financial success, more space and autonomy or more effective relationships.
A key element of coaching is challenge.
As part of this, you should expect a coach to challenge words like “should”, “need to”, “try” and “guilty” because they all show that you don’t really want to do something.
In addition, limiting beliefs hold us back significantly and sometimes we can feel like an imposter. This can cause us to reduce in self-confidence. Challenge in coaching should aim to encourage the coachee to find a path that’s right for them, but also support them through tasks or situations that they don’t feel they can cope with.
A sounding board
You may wonder if the decisions you’re making will lead you to the goal that you’re aiming to achieve. A business coach has the experience to ask you questions that will help you determine whether you are moving down the right path.
It’s important to understand, though, that the coach will do this in a way such that you find the answer for yourself, rather than offering an opinion. If you would like an opinion, the coach may be willing to switch to a mentor role temporarily, if they feel they have the experience to do so in this area of business.
Clarity on your goals and plans in business
Most business owners and executives would like more effective plans and objectives. While they shouldn’t necessarily be stuck to rigidly, understanding the general direction and some milestones – at least – is important for all businesses, large and small.
I favour working both backwards (reverse engineering) and forwards in the development of goals and plans. All business coaches should be able to effectively help you determine what you really want in life and business, and aid you in the plans which are most likely to arrive you at this point.
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In short, you should expect to be much clearer after coaching on what you want from your business and work, and how you might arrive there.
The individual approach to each coach is very unique though, and it’s important to choose a coach who can help you.
A more effective work-life balance
Many business owners come into coaching in order to achieve a more effective work-life balance, and to explore why they are “working themselves to the bone”.
Choosing whether this is a goal for you in coaching is a unique and personal decision, but it’s likely with the personal development and increased awareness you receive in business coaching sessions, you will become more in tune with what you really want in life and will make more confident and clear decisions on these as a by product.
Improvement in personal and organisational performance
Many people come to coaching in order to perform at a higher level. It’s one of the top three reasons that people cite when considering business coaching.
Improvement in personal performance is likely to indirectly affect the performance of your business too, with many business owners finding that their unhappiness and stress is all to easy for employees to see, leading to a feeling of distress within the organisation.
Reduced stress and unhappiness
Undoubtedly one of the most important improvements that you can expect from business coaching is a reduction is stress and unhappiness.
For this, I work with a very unique process which aims to help you understand your needs and values in more detail, and the negative emotions that you experience as part of not meeting these needs and values.
Stress comes from a variety of areas, such as unreasonably high expectations, or a feeling that you are in an impossible situation that you have little to no control of.
During coaching, you’ll discover new options for dealing with these situations that will reduce your stress and unhappiness.
A unique perspective based on considerable experience
Most coaches who work with business owners will have run their own businesses, or have years of experience as a business coach. This makes them a fantastic source of experience in the business world. They’ve likely been through many of the challenges you have and have succeeded.
While we’re not here to advice you, we may find that we have some information and questions that will help you to discover the path for you.
More effective decision making
Decision can become incredibly complicated and coaches have exercises to help you with the uncertainty that you might feel in your professional life, from time to time.
There’s no embarrassment in admitting that a decision is challenging and a professional coach should be able to ask you questions to lead to the truth for yourself. This may not be an immediate resolution, but over a number of sessions, you can expect the path forward to become clearer.
What you should not expect from coaching
Coaching isn’t about advice, so if you have someone offering you significant amounts of advice on how you should do it, at least without listening to you in detail, they aren’t coaching. Instead they are being a consultant or mentor.
All that said, many business coaches – myself included – have significant experience since we’re run our own business and we may suggest specific knowledge you are lacking in order to speed up the growth that you achieve. However, it should be clear that we’re not suggesting you take this on board. That’s your choice.
Coaching is also not therapy; therapy aims to help you release emotions from the past, whereas coaching is focused on improving your performance and finding paths you can and will navigate, even if slowly. That said, many coaches find that understanding the emotions you experience, how you deal with situation and interpersonal therapy techniques like Transactional Analysis can be of significant benefit.
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