It's always amazed me that the most elite individual athletes in the world maintain coaches. Tennis players, golfers, you name it. They ALL have coaches.
Somehow, in my instinctive thinking, it would be easy to assume that once one has reached the pinnacle of performance there would be little to learn from others. In fact, you could assume that a coach would likely have never reached the performance level of a Jack Nicklaus, Roger Federer, Steffi Graf, or any of a multitude of legendary and successful athletes.
They all maintained coaches for their entire professional careers.
Business coaching is no different. When we begin our careers we seek coaching for very specific reasons. We are seeking:
- Development of basic competencies and skills
- Industry, position, and career insights
- Mentoring in organizational dynamics and politics
- Perspective in the development of personal habits and behaviors
With time and experience, and generally a measure of success, we may begin to feel we are beyond the need for coaching. After all, our career attainment has validated our fundamental mastery of many of the things we would have initially desired coaching to develop.
We have made it.
So what then, do elite athletes and business professionals gain from keeping a professional coach? Ironically, they most often seek:
- Development of basic competencies and skills - Elite athletes never stop honing their focus on the core competencies that create their success.
- Industry, position, and career insights - Leaders acknowledge that the world is constantly in flux and they need new and fresh perspective to always optimize their performance in a changing world. As well, leaders recognize that they are capable of creating a distorted or insular view of reality based on the frame of experience and a coach can help in providing a more independent perspective.
- Mentoring in organizational dynamics and politics - This actually becomes MORE important as we become successful. The stakes get bigger and those around us become more sophisticated. Learning to wield influence when we might be able to just wield power is challenging yet incredibly important to sustain leadership roles. Coaches provide objectivity to the process.
- Perspective in the development of personal habits and behaviors - We are the product of our habits. When we reach places of power and influence we can become sloppy in our habits. After all, who is going to hold the leader accountable? Coaches provide a mirror for us to reflect on our own habits and behaviors in such a way as to continue developing for today and the future.
In my 30 years of coaching and mentoring across the globe I have found ONE key corollary to sustained executive success, "coach-ability." Coaching is powerful because you gain the benefit of a third party expert to support your growth.
AND, coaching is powerful because it helps you maintain a position of coach-ability and humility. And without that, none of us can hope to succeed for long.