Leadership Skills: Leadership Coaching


“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” – George S. Patton

COACHINGHiring a coach and being a coach require the same awareness of the discipline of executive coaching. It’s not athletic coaching. It’s not mentoring. It’s not life coaching. It’s not a lot of things, and it’s especially not telling people what to do.

Executive coaching is mostly listening, and then forming great questions that help the leader gain skills in self-awareness and decision making that will increase their own personal capacity for making a difference.

Executive coaching is not measured by the amount of time spent in coaching sessions. It’s not measured by how much is discussed in the coaching session. It’s measured by the results of the work. That work is done together – by the coach and the executive.

Finding a good coach is just as much a skill as learning to be a good coach. I have benefited greatly from my personal coaches over the past years. In fact, I would be in a far, far better place now if I had engaged a coach earlier in my life. It’s amazing to think of how much more I could have accomplished if only I knew….(fill in the blank).

My personal coaches have helped me become more effective every month. Leaders do what they ask others to do. I suggest that every effective leader have at least one coach. Why not find a professional resource to help you achieve your greatest success?

Here are my reasons for always having a coach:

Clarity: Talking about my ideas and challenges gives me some clarity. A wise coach will ask questions that help me to think through my decisions in a more thorough context, and then I can revise as necessary.

Skills: I learn new skills from each coach. Each professional coach has a different skill set, so I have opportunities for experiencing coaching, leadership, and decision making in different ways. There’s often more than one right answer.

Systems: As I studied Bowen Family Systems Theory, I began to observe people and their interactions from a system point of view. As I am able to see the systems, I gain perspective for making my decisions. Leadership, as I teach it, is a system, as well. Learning to work within a system is a challenge at first, but a blessing once the transition happens. I specifically look for coaches that understand and practice systems thinking.

Self-Awareness: Sometimes I get overconfident and create problems for myself and my enterprise. Talking to a trusted advisor who will challenge that kind of thinking is very helpful. I don’t know what I don’t know, either. None of us is exempt from that trap. Enlightenment is humbling, but very useful.

Accountability: The rhythm of weekly sessions, with specific deliverables for the time in between, helps me stay focused and to avoid procrastination. I’m really good at putting things off that I know I need to do. The promise, to someone else who will hold me accountable, is very powerful.

Focus: Focus is focus. It’s also being Free Of Clutter and Unnecessary Stuff. I work alone and I need help with this. People who lead teams also have a challenge in staying focused with all the interruptions in their day.

Challenge: Once the words are out of my mouth, I know I just said something stupid. If I don’t correct it right away, my coach responds with a comment helping me to discover my flaw. It’s when I don’t realize that I said something stupid that a coach gives me real value – this happens more often that I want to admit.

Encouragement: This should be at the top of the list. I think that I’m just moving along slowly, and I get feedback that I’m really doing some good work. Wow, what a lift that gives me! This is more valuable during times of stress when I have lost my way or am about to lose my way.

I interview several coaches and determine which one is the best match to what I need. I don’t hire people I want, I hire people I need. There’s a big difference. I like the person I will work with. I need that person to make me a little uncomfortable, however, so I can grow. So, needing trumps liking.

What are your goals for your enterprise and yourself? What you don’t know will be a barrier to your success. Why not work with a professional to assist you in achieving more in less time?

Let me know if you want a complimentary assessment, and we will schedule it.  Use this link:

Here’s to your success!


Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

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