A prospective client recently approached me using her private email because, she told me, “I don’t want my employer to know that I need coaching because it would be seen as a weakness.”
This is sadly an all too common reaction amongst certain business leaders. It is as though coaching is a kind of remedial class. It is like getting extra help when you are falling behind.
And yet the truth is that coaching is the complete opposite. Executive coaching as we know it today has evolved directly from sports coaching, where the top performers will ALWAYS have a coach. Think of Andy Murray - he has worked with a number of different coaches during his career. Each one has added something different to the mix, and each one has helped Andy to achieve and sustain his levels of exceptional performance.
It should be the same in business. Coaching is for successful people who want to achieve even more.
This attitude to coaching reminds me of an incident recently as I was travelling by train into Edinburgh, where the line passes close by Edinburgh Airport. From the train, you can see a plane wreck which is used by the airport, airline staff and emergency services to simulate disasters. This way they can practice their emergency response procedures and train in different evacuation procedures.
On this particular day, many fellow train passengers noticed the place wreck, and commented on it negatively. One particularly vocal traveller said "It puts you off flying to keep on seeing a smashed up plane".
But then I overheard a child of about 7 or 8 years old who piped up "But Dad, I feel so much safer because I know that they've practised what to do in an emergency."
What do you mistake for incompetence, but is actually an opportunity for continuous learning and development?
For example, if you are going on a training course, do you worry that people think that you are falling short somehow and need to learn something? Do you think of coaching as being for unsuccessful people, or do you see coaching as the choice of champions?
And are you proud of the fact that you are paying attention to your own continuous professional development?
Madeleine Allen is a human leader in a corporate world. She delivers training in Soft Skills with Hard Benefits, enabling leaders to be compassionate AND profitable.
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