What A Good Coach Can Do For YouOct 10, 2022
When I’m at a networking event (or a family gathering, even), and people ask the inevitable question “so, what do you do?” I’m learning not to freeze up. The question remains, how do I tell people what I do in a way that helps them understand the benefit I provide?
Well, after my conversation last week with Limor Bergman Gross (Episode 106), talking about the difference between Mentors and Coaches, it got me thinking about some other conversations I’ve had about all the different options of help available to you as you grow your career. For instance, Jennifer McCune (Episode 17), talked about how empowering women as a mentor is the end to which her business is a means. Catherine Cantey (Episode 56) focused more on the difference between a mentor and a sponsor, and both Michelle Tillis Lederman and J. Kelly Hoey (Episode 76 and Episode 78) focused on the role of all these people in building your network and tapping into these relationships to grow your career.
That’s a LOT of information (at least 5 hours worth) on how important it is to allow others to pour into your life, support and guide you, how to find them, what to ask for, and how to apply what they provide in order to grow.
So, you might think “great, Andrea, so what’s left to share?”
I’m SO glad you asked!
Today I'm pulling the information together, to show how Mentors, Sponsors & Coaches:
- Each play an important role in your network,
- Are distinct and different, in style and the role they play for you,
- Vary in focus and style, and
- Could benefit you or your team, including how I fit into the paradigm.
What role do each of these play in your network?
J. Kelly Hoey encouraged us to leverage informal relationships - all the people you work with on a daily basis - to gain a better understanding of what you’re good at, what you need, and where you’re going. Many times, the collective group can function as a sounding board or feedback loop, setting you on the path to what you want and are good at.
Michelle Tillis Lederman stressed the need for informal relationships, those cheerleaders and champions, who are there to give you positive feedback as you move through your career. But she takes it a step further, to use the information gathered, to determine who you might benefit from having as a mentor, and then how to develop the request in a way that will benefit you both.
This is what Limor Bergman Gross was talking about in last week’s episode, when she said that you might need a mentor when you know you want more, but you’re not entirely sure WHAT that “more” is - because a good mentor will help guide you along the path you choose.
Jennifer McCune is a great example of a self-identified Mentor - someone who desires to walk alongside others, sharing the wisdom and knowledge she’s gained over time, in a way that helps them discover their own path.
Catherine Cantey introduced us to the idea that a Sponsor might be the thing you most need, if you already have a good idea of where you want to go and how to get there. A sponsor is that person who “talks you up” in front of the people who can make the decisions to grow your career. These could be colleagues or those in positions of greater power - either way, they have decided it’s important to ensure that the people making the next hiring decision know to include YOU in the mix.
How is a coach different from a Sponsor or a Mentor?
Based on the definitions of these roles (from these fabulous experts) both mentors and sponsors are the ones who either pull you along, help you identify what you want, or teach you what they’ve done.
Mentors are those who you brainstorm with. They listen, encourage, and teach you. They are likely ahead of you in the game, but aren’t the ones to necessarily help you get a raise or that next promotion or land that big client or deal. They teach and instruct.
Sponsors are your own personal promotion team… they’ve got your back behind closed doors. They are the ones talking you up in front of your boss, the VP, or that really desirable client. Sponsors believe in you, promote you, talk you up, and advocate for you.
Coaches, on the other hand, push you.
A coach’s role is to pull out of you what’s already in there, waiting to be discovered. They might teach a little, guide a little, and even connect and promote you. But their main role is to help you get down the path you’ve chosen faster and more efficiently.
As Limor reminded us, you need a coach when you know what you want and where you want to go, but need encouragement, accountability and someone who can play these different roles, if necessary.
What Types of Coaches Are Out There
If you do a google search for “coach,” you’ll find everything from luxury goods, local athletic clubs to life and transformational coaches. While I’d love to head down that “luxury goods” rabbit trail, I’ll steer clear today, and focus on a few types of non-athletic coaching categories. Disclaimer - this will NOT be anywhere near an exhaustive list.
Specialty Coaches: These coaches cover a wide range of expertise, including things like ADHD, educational help, clean eating, or trauma recovery. In general, you know you need help in this specific area, they will get you that help.
Business Coaches: Think of just about anything you want or need to grow a business or career, and you can find a coach for that. A few examples include productivity, speaking, social media, marketing, sales, course development, interviewing, career transition, team development and leadership.
Personal Coaches: Some call these life coaches, and they can be specific or generalized in topic, or more focused on a clear demographic. For instance, transition (mid-life, career, college), millennial life coaches, creative expression, empowerment, and specific to gender.
The range of certification programs, experience and expertise is about as wide as you can imagine, which (to me) is exciting. If you have something you need help achieving, you CAN find someone to help you get there.
How To Determine if, or How, a Coach Could Benefit You or Your Team
Your Team: As a reminder, these coaches tend to fall under the Business category, and the first thing I’m going to toss out here, is that plenty of coaches can help you figure out where you or your team want, or need, to go by using diagnostic tools to establish a baseline for context, and to identify gaps or specific issues. These coaches can usually work with group facilitation and 1:1 deeper dive work.
When looking for a coach to work with your team, ask yourself the following questions:
- What precipitated your desire to have someone work with you & your team? If it’s just that you want to offer the benefit of growth and development, you can look for a coach who specializes in that kind of positive forward-thinking work. If it’s because of things like high turnover, low morale or poor communication, then you want someone who can come in and take the temperature, use those diagnostic tools and get you moving in the direction that you’d like.
- Do you know what the problem is? It might be crystal clear, like lack of emotional intelligence, poor communication skills, underdeveloped job skills or clear leadership. If so, you can target those issues. If, however, you don’t have the ability to pinpoint the problem, that’s when you need that coach who can diagnose the issue, treat it on multiple levels and give you a good plan to move forward.
- Does your organization have a governing mission or values within which you need a coach to operate or agree with? This is just as important in an organization as it is personally - you don’t need a sales coach coming in to work with your team who has very different ideas about how you close a sale or what’s the most important thing to focus on each day, if those things don’t line up with the organizational mission or vision.
- What outcomes are you seeking? This still speaks to a coach’s specialty, but if you have a specific need (like skill development, engagement or communication), that will help your search.
Think You’re ready for a coach?
If you are at a place where you know even remotely where you want to go… like weight loss or health management, career movement, mid-life transitions, overcoming limiting beliefs, empowerment or leadership, business building, any of it - you can begin there.
Here are some guidelines:
- Determine what you want or where you’re going. You don’t have to know both, but you need to know something. And if you THINK you don’t know - I’d say you probably do. A good coach can ask you the right questions to help you figure it out. But, if you DO know, start searching for someone with that specialty.
- Know your core values. When you know WHO you are and what matters to you, most of your decisions become much clearer. If you’ve never really thought this one through, I can give you a leg up. Stay tuned - I got you.
- Do your research. You might have a friend who is a life coach, and she might be amazing. But she might not be for you. Your network (yes, all the people you know) will have recommendations. Tap it. If you were going to go back to school for a masters degree, you would do your research. If you're looking for a good hair stylist or aesthetician, you ask your network and do your research. A coach will work intimately with you for what could turn out to be a long time frame. Go get all your options.
- Be willing to do a test drive or two. All coaches give consultations. Some actually coach ON the consultation call, some don’t, but either way, you’ll get a good idea of how well you will get along with them. If it feels pushy or salesly, and that’s not your thing, that’s fine. Eject. But keep going until you find someone who resonates with you, your desired goals/outcomes and will work with you and your personality. No coach wants a client who doesn’t fit. They want you to succeed as much as you do, so find the right one.
- Manage your expectations, but know that you get out what you put in. A coach is not a fairy godmother. There is no such thing as bibbity-bobbity-boo. If you are willing to hire a coach, you need to be willing to not waste anyone’s time or money (especially your own) by not doing the work it will take to get you where you want to be. That’s why you need to find someone you resonate with. However, a good coach will NOT bully you or force you to do anything that isn’t in your best interest, and they will put in work in between your sessions on your behalf. Meaning, they will review your sessions, evaluate your progress, and even research options depending on your agreement. You put in the work, and they put in the work.
Good coaching (of any kind) is an ongoing conversation designed to provide encouragement, guidance, honest feedback, and individualized development. Milestones and agenda are defined based on mutually agreed upon assessment tool results, individual development goals and overall individual mission.
Before I close here, there’s one other thing I’d like to point out. Just as every human is unique, and cannot be placed in a specific set of boxes to check off… every coach is also unique and brings their skills, wisdom, strengths and value to the table. All the categories listed earlier are general, and loose. You will find that most coaches fall somewhere between the two extremes of mentor or coach, creating a spectrum of sorts, without being purely one or the other. So don’t let that confuse you.
The difference for you, is the role they play in your life.
For instance, there’s me. I am a teacher, a speaker, a mentor and an executive coach. What that looks like in my world, is that I employ all the coaching skills of asking open ended, curious questions, holding space for clients to figure out the answer on their own, and challenging their limiting beliefs to help them see something they need. Where appropriate (and some clients want/need this specifically), I offer advice, consulting, teaching and encouragement - which to many people looks like mentoring. But the role I play for my clients is not that of a mentor, but a coach.
The title of this episode is “What a good coach can do for you,” and the bottom line is that a good coach can help you figure out who you are, where you’re going, why you want to go there, how you need to get there, and everything you need along the way.
I've worked with business coaches (to learn how to podcast or handle my finances), life coaches (because I seriously needed someone to help me walk through some hard things I wasn’t ready to figure out on my own), and I currently work with three separate coaches for different things. I’ve gained just as much value from free coaching sessions or bartering as I have from coaching programs that cost the same as my car (probably more, to be honest), so I’ve seen the gamut.
But I would not be where I am today without help. Without mentors when I was younger, holding my hand and helping me along the way. Sponsors I didn’t even know were cheering me on behind closed doors, helping me get into greater leadership positions that developed the skills I now employ to mentor and coach others. And coaches who are willing to hold me accountable to ME, for where I want to go and who I know I can become.
That’s what a good coach can do for you.
Are you ready?
Because my passion is to equip and empower YOU, the next generation of female leaders. To help you learn to think critically, create imaginatively and lead effectively - in any situation, team or organization. My hope is that the information I bring you here on this podcast will inspire you to move forward and take action with confidence and strength, to lead in your own unique and beautiful way. In your personal AND your professional life.
Where do you begin? Well, one of the things I said you need to know when you look for a coach, is your own Core Values. I have a mini course that will help you with that right now. It’s called “Uncover Your Core Values - Live in Alignment With Your Own Non-Negotiables!” This simple 4-step process will provide your guidelines to live with full authenticity. Understanding your non-negotiables is the first step to knowing who you are and where you’re going.
Give yourself the gift of clarity, as you determine where you want to go and who you want to be.
Ok, before you go, scroll down and comment with your biggest takeaway from this article. Then click the link and get started on your core values. Take that first “next best step” to get you on the road to personal and professional success and fulfillment.
Until next time!
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