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Coaching is increasingly popular, but when your time and reputation are on the line, you need to know its true value. You need to decide, What are you trying to achieve? What are the consequences of not meeting your goals? How will the coach help you get results?

Coaching comes in many formats and can address many different issues. The key is to be clear on desired outcomes and work with a coach in a way that emphasizes action and results.

For instance, senior executives and high potentials may benefit from coaching that allows them to build on existing strengths, develop strategies for leading in new or complex situations and push their goals forward. One leader may work with a coach to go from “good to great.” Another may use coaching to shorten his ramp-up time in a new role or to help navigate a significant increase in responsibilities.

For middle managers, coaching can reinvigorate a job or even a career. A coach can help a leader identify strengths, skills to be developed and strategies for improvement. Coaching can focus on achieving goals within a leader’s current job or move in new directions.

Derailing executives stand to gain from leadership coaching, too. Coaching helps these previously successful leaders, who for any number of reasons have jeopardized their prospects, to identify problem areas and make tangible improvements that serve the needs of the organization and the individual.

So how does leadership coaching lead to results? Research shows that it helps to improve individual performance in at least four ways:

  • No. 1: Greater self- and contextual-awareness. Coaching is about you and where you work. You will gain insight about yourself as a leader within your organization.
  • No. 2: Greater understanding of others. A coach helps you understand why others might think and act the way they do. You’ll learn about actions you can take to help them or to focus them in a direction that is better for the organization.
  • No. 3: Enhanced ability to communicate. A coach works with you to find ways to improve how you convey what is important to you, to the business and to others.
  • No. 4: Enhanced ability to coach others. Once you have experienced the value of coaching for your own development, you will be much more prepared to notice and leverage coaching opportunities with your team. This capacity will be a key differentiator between a good leader and a great one.

Of course, leadership coaching is not for everyone. If you have no interest in changing or you’re not willing to work hard and make your development a priority, then coaching will be a waste of time and dollars. On the other hand, if you are ready to invest in yourself, coaching offers a tailored, focused way to connect your leadership development with your day-to-day work demands.

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