How to ensure coaching challenges the way you think about yourself, others, and leadership as a whole

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Before I start working with any new client in my own coaching practice, I always organise a 30-minute ‘get to know you’ session to not only ensure that I am a good fit for the individual about to embark on their coaching journey, but also that I feel comfortable working with them. After all, in any coaching relationship the dynamic needs to be right. 

A CEO who I have been working with for many years recently asked me if I would be open to coaching two of her practice leaders. I told her that I would arrange separate ‘get to know you’ Zoom calls to assess a suitable fit before making my decision, but that in principle I was comfortable with the idea. 

Fortunately, the calls went well, and I was happy to take both leaders on a coaching journey. At the end of each call, when I asked them if they had any questions, both leaders asked whether there was anything specific they should bring along to their coaching sessions. 

“Yes”, I said. “Just bring your true self”. 

This small piece of advice is true for any leader fortunate enough to be offered coaching as part of their own professional development.  

Just be your true self and don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.  

Embracing authenticity will encourage you to delve deeply into your true values and beliefs. This heightened self-awareness will allow you to gain a clearer understanding of your leadership style and how it impacts your team and the broader organisation. 

Coaching will challenge the way you think about yourself, others, and leadership as a whole.   

Whether you are a first-time leader or an experienced leader, coaching will push your thinking, help you explore new ways to navigate your career, and ensure you master new concepts to help you achieve your personal and professional goals.  

Whilst coaches will always come into every session thoroughly prepared, it’s also essential for participants in a coaching program to show up prepared and with an open mind. 

If you are a leader really wanting to embrace your coaching opportunity, be willing to be vulnerable and open about your strengths and areas for improvement. The more honest you are with your coach, the more tailored and effective the coaching will be. 

Understand that the coaching process is a collaborative effort, and you need to take an active role in your development. 

Be ready to engage in self-reflection, implement feedback, and experiment. But before embarking on your coaching journey, clarify your objectives and set clear goals around what you hope to achieve through the process. It could be personal development, improving specific leadership skills, or addressing challenges you face in your role. 

Remember coaching is a personalised program with no fixed agenda, but with you in the driver’s seat. 

Approach coaching with an open mind and a growth mindset. Sometimes developing new leadership skills or behaviours requires you to step outside your comfort zone. Be willing to experiment with new approaches and strategies that your coach might share with you, even if they feel uncomfortable at first.  

Leaning into this discomfort plays a key part in the success of any coaching program.  

You will find leadership coaching most effective when you are vulnerable, open, and honest.  

Your coach will ensure a psychologically safe space, so be willing to share your concerns, challenges and what you feel might be areas for improvement. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be open to receiving feedback. You will become more comfortable as your sessions progress, and you place more trust and confidence in your coach.  

Effective coaching relies on open and honest dialogue between the leader and the coach. By avoiding barriers, leaders foster an environment where they can openly discuss challenges, concerns, and aspirations with their coach. Being open and barrier-free in coaching sessions also demonstrates a commitment to personal growth and development, thereby taking ownership of your leadership journey. 

A leader undertaking coaching should never pretend everything’s fine in their team or business when it’s not. 

This hinders honesty, self-reflection, and the potential for growth and improvement.  

Authentic leadership involves acknowledging challenges, addressing them proactively, and fostering an environment of trust and openness. By embracing transparency and vulnerability, leaders can build stronger relationships with their coach. Besides, pretending everything’s fine will typically lead to superficial discussions and less impactful coaching outcomes. 

Acknowledging challenges and areas of concern opens up opportunities for improvement and growth. Ignoring problems only perpetuates them, hindering progress and potential solutions. 

It’s also absolutely essential to be 100% ‘present’ in a coaching session.  

Whether you are meeting your coach face-to-face in real life, or virtually, you must ensure you mentally separate yourself from your day-to-day office activities in order to maximise your professional development. Switch your phone off, and if you are meeting remotely, then ensure all your notifications are off to avoid any unnecessary distractions.  

If you are taking part in a coaching program, nothing can be so important that it can’t wait until the end of the hour for you to reply. However, don’t just go through the motions and agree with everything your coach tells you. You can absolutely challenge your coach. After all, coaching can be an opportunity for a frank and fearless conversation, too. 

Being offered coaching doesn’t mean your boss thinks there’s something wrong with you. Every leader deserves to continue their development. 

You may have doubts before you embark on the coaching journey. Of course, you might not even know what you want out of your coaching program, and that’s OK, too. Just trust your coach.  

You might even want to welcome your manager or your supervisor into the process. Not into the actual sessions! But if you feel comfortable, you might want to share some of your insights or learnings with your own leader, too. If they are aware of even just a few of the goals you have set for yourself, they will be able to celebrate your achievements with you – particularly when they notice positive shifts in your behaviour, or when they see you demonstrating leadership traits that you may not have displayed previously.  

If you’ve been selected to take part in any kind of leadership coaching program, it’s important to appreciate what an opportunity it is.  

It also demonstrates that your employer values you enough to invest in you. And when an organisation believes in you, and invests in your future and your professional development, it’s essential that you make the most out of that experience by being prepared.  

Remember,  hellomonday  can provide support to every leader, reinforcing habits through curated learning and impactful coaching, challenging leaders about the way they think about themselves, others, and leadership as a whole. 

Of course, if you would like further advice on how to ensure you get the most out of your coaching journey, please reach out. Our team has decades of experience in ensuring everyone involved (coaches, participants, and sponsors alike) get the most out of every program.  

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