Let’s start by busting a common misconception about leadership. Many people believe that only 10% of all business leaders have that so called "natural talent" for leadership. However, what those people may not understand is that leaders aren't born: they're built.
We, as humans, have the wonderful gift of learning and adapting that has made us so successful all these years. Why would the leadership skill be different than say learning how to start a fire?
Don’t get us wrong, there are certainly ineffective leaders. But it's not because they lack some incredible "leader gene" that’s holding them back. Most times their lack of leadership skills comes more from either learning bad habits from other poor leaders or simply never having been taught anything to begin with.
What truly separates those with “leadership potential” from the rest is their ability to learn. The ability to take cues from a leadership mentor or being able to acknowledge mistakes are far better indicators of a solid leader. All the best leaders know that there's always room for improvement.
The problem for most aspiring, future leaders comes when they find themselves stuck. Generally, this occurs as they move up the corporate ladder and their resources for mentorships or guidance dwindles. This is especially true for those of us that have taken the plunge into small business ownership.
This is where the role of an executive coach becomes obvious. Having a coach specifically for leadership on board allows them to be evaluated, provided constructive criticism, and ultimately change success path for the better.
We've written this article to highlight the top benefits of hiring an executive coach.
1. They'll Boost Your Self-Awareness
Let’s be frank for a moment: MOST executives lack self-awareness. Typically, this is because of their role, ego becomes a debilitating factor in leadership growth. For the average executive, this may not seem like a worthwhile benefit but trust us, it's a big one.
Executive coaches will help you see yourself more clearly and become more self-aware. For an experienced professional who may spend more time observing and directing others than introspecting, this is a big deal. They will work to pull your perspective out several ways other than your own.
The more self-aware you are, the better a leader you'll be. People want to work for employers who can see themselves clearly and who strive for personal growth. Self-awareness is your first step toward that growth.
A good executive coach will act as a mirror for you. They'll help you see your patterns and either foster them (if they're good) or adjust them (if they're bad).
Self-awareness is also integral to emotional intelligence, otherwise known as EQ. Having good emotional intelligence is crucial when it comes to being a leader of a successful business. It will enhance your abilities with both your employees as well as your customers. Boosting morale and potentially sales equally.
By understanding yourself, you'll be able to understand others. You'll develop more empathy. You'll also be better at understanding, controlling, and even using your emotions in a productive fashion.
More importantly, this is a critical step into unlocking the potential in a leader that we mentioned to get us started in this article. If you are not self-aware, your ability to accept mistakes and learn is severely hampered. Which is precisely why all the best executive coaches start here and then dive in deeper.
2. They'll Help You Improve Your Relationships with Others
Once you’ve become an expert of introspection you can begin understanding others. Professional small business executive coaching will also improve your relationships with the people around you.
As a leader, you need to be able to connect with the people you lead. You want them to respect you and take you seriously, not fear you. Part of your job is forging and maintaining those crucial interpersonal workplace relationships.
While fear is technically a legitimate leadership technique, it is verboten for any legitimate leadership coach. Those types of leaders should be extinct, dying with the age of time. The best business coaches out there will always default to one of the modern leadership types: Transformational, Democratic, Laissez-faire, etc.
As great example, we will focus on the easiest way to improve relationships: Communication. A good executive coach will help you improve your communication skills. These are some of the most important leadership skills you can have, and you can't really learn them from reading a book or watching a seminar. Having a coach help you one-on-one is your best option.
Executive coaches will teach you how to understand what people are really thinking when they communicate with you. They'll teach you about body language, active listening, and so much more.
By improving your communication skills, you'll become far better at interacting with your peers, employees, and clients. You'll develop better negotiation skills that can help you both in and out of the office. As a bonus, it will also help you in your personal relationships.
Communication may be the lowest hanging fruit in terms of improving your relationships with others, it is by far not lonely on that list.
3. They'll Help You Truly "See" and Respond to Others
As a leader in your business, you may think that you have a good "eye" for people. You may think that you "read people well" and that you're a good judge of character. Likely if you’re reading this article, you probably shook your head in the affirmative for each of those items.
These things may be true, but what if they're not? What if you've been reading people and situations incorrectly, and as a result, responding inappropriately? How would you truly know one way or the other if you’ve those skills locked down or you’ve been fumbling through them all these years?
An executive coach can help. They won't be able to wave a wand to give you the ability to automatically read minds and intentions, but they'll help you learn how to see people more clearly.
As executive coaches ourselves, we aim to remain a neutral party. When they visit your workplace, they'll be able to see all your employees and coworkers with fresh eyes and no preconceptions. Because of this, they'll be able to see things you either can't… or are unwilling to see.
If you've been accepting poor behavior from an employee who excels at their job, but makes life difficult for others, the coach will call that out. If you've been underestimating an employee that's shy and withdrawn, but bright and has great ideas, the coach can identify that as well.
Any great coach will then teach you how to see what they see. Coaches aren't mind-readers. They've developed "people reading" skills over time, and they can help you develop those skills as well.
4. They Can Provide an Unbiased Sounding Board
When you're trying to mull over a problem, who do you go to? Unfortunately, many small business leaders keep to themselves. They might be limited to their own input, and that can be dangerous.
It's difficult to give yourself advice because you only have your own perspective.
Thankfully, this is an area that can be rectified easily by hiring an executive coach. However, let’s step through and look at some other options and why they might not be as beneficial as you might think,
Friends and Family:
There are a few problems with this. Your friends may not also be in leadership positions. Those who are likely aren't in the exact same type of leadership position as you.
Even if you're lucky enough to have some friends or peers in similar leadership positions, they're not neutral. They know you, and they're more likely to agree with you. This creates an inherent bias that can sabotage your leadership development.
You could take your problems to the web, but this creates its own problems. Just like anything on the internet, you don't know if the person you're speaking to online actually knows what they're talking about. Anyone can say they're a leader.
This can mean those under you, which has its own plusses and minuses, or say business partners etc. Like friends, this can come with its own biases and typically ends up handicapping you anyways.
Which brings us to your executive coach who is, again, a neutral party. They want you to succeed, but they're not biased toward you. They can be brutally honest and provide helpful feedback based on their experience rather than their relationship with you.
Having someone around to bounce ideas off can be so helpful when you're trying to be an effective and successful leader. Plus, there is an incredible amount of overlap between executive and life coaching.
5. They'll Identify Your Existing Strengths
Many people worry that a professional executive coach will solely be critical. Criticism is healthy, but an executive coach will also identify things you're doing well. A good coach can identify a leader's strengths and help them continue to work on those strengths.
Building you up is the primary objective for all executive coaches. While finding holes to shore up is one aspect, placing some emphasis on strengths can help buffer all those potentially negative items you may be working on.
It’s also highly likely there are many strengths that you may not have noticed yet. True leaders often underestimate themselves or place less importance on traits or skills that they don't deem relevant to the job at hand. You may have a fantastic trait or skill that's currently going to waste just because you have yet to identify or apply it in your role as a leader.
The best leadership coaches are going to be experts at sniffing out these strengths and skills. Once they help you identify those strengths, the coach can then help you improve them. They'll help you understand that even traits that seem irrelevant or useless can be leveraged.
6. They'll Identify Your Weaknesses and Mistakes
On the flip side, a good executive coach will also help you identify (and help correct) your weaknesses and mistakes.
Again, it's hard to get a good view of yourself, especially when you're at the top. You're successful, right? That means that you've been doing things correctly, right? This is one of the most frustrating things a client can say or believe when working with an executive coach.
There are always items that you're doing wrong or that you could be doing better. Remember, the point of a coach is to receive constructive criticism. And to be blunt, if you aren't ready to hear it, you might not be ready to hire an executive coach or even become a true developed leader.
The top can be lonely at times and as a leader, you're likely not getting a lot of feedback from others. Even if you accept employee feedback, it's not going to be as comprehensive as the feedback you'd give in return. Think of your executive coach as the person responsible for providing that feedback.
The best coaches out there will be able to notice and point out your blind spots. They'll help you fill in the gaps so you can improve your leadership skills.
7. They'll Help You Set and Achieve Goals
What goals do you have as a leader? Are they vague, or have you created SMART goals? Do you have a path toward them yet?
Many leaders have goals for their companies and employees, but rarely have their own personal or career goals. Again, it often comes down to a mentality of being at the top. Why do you need to set goals if you, personally, are already at the height of the business?
The answer is stagnation. Stagnation will kill your inspiration and drive to continue working and growing. Face it, you started your small business fueled by your desire for a challenge. What do you think happens to those who thrive under stress or challenge when they no longer see a goal to work towards?
A good executive coach will help you determine what you want. That could be with life, career, or for your business. They'll help you set realistic and achievable goals that will bring that fire back into your life. They will help fan the flames that will ultimately lead to you achieving your dreams. Even if they have to also help you dream of the dream to begin with!
A good executive coach will support you while you achieve those goals as well. They want to see you thrive.
Is Hiring an Executive Coaching Right for You?
We know that you're already a successful and independent leader, but why not invest in yourself by hiring an executive coach? Executive coaching turns ordinary leaders into extraordinary ones. You're never too successful to learn new things!
At Out of the Box Advisors, we understand what it takes to be a great leader. We help our clients reach their full potential. We know that no leader can do it alone.
If you're ready to take your business (and yourself) to the next level, we want to meet you! Contact us so we can start working together today or start a free trial today!