In any work environment, it can be difficult to admit that you are struggling. Your job can define who you are, and the value you hold – you feel that your value goes down if you are unable to do your job 100% perfect all of the time.
In a corporate, alpha-based industry such as the Financial Services, that need to be perfect can be skewed by how ‘perfect’ seems to be defined – you have to be bold, outspoken, ambitious, ready for the next huge step in your career. But let’s face it – most of us are not like that. We want to do a good job, yes – but in our way. If you are quietly spoken, you can still contribute a huge amount to the organisation but it can get knocked down or ignored just by the manner in which you present yourself. Do you then need to change who you are, to fit the stereotype? Absolutely not! The challenge is to work out who you are, what you do and how you add value, and that is exactly the type of questions a coach can help you answer.
Coaches are commonplace in the work environment, but tend to be people’s secret weapon – we don’t want to admit that we asked for help. But an objective, calm but encouraging partner in mapping out your career goals can be the advantage you need to stay ahead and in control of where your career goes.
So what do coaches really do? If you worked with one, what could you expect?
Coach, not Mentor
The first thing to make clear is that a coach is not your mentor – they are not going to tell you what to do and how to do it. Mentors tend to come from inside your industry, those you aspire to work like and so can help you by explaining how they did it. The benefit of a coach is that they will typically have an understanding of your industry, but from the outside looking in – this objectivity allows them to challenge the status quo and the norms of that industry that someone inside may not be able to. A mentor is a great way to gain inspiration, but you still have to create your own path, and that may take looking at what you do and how to do it in quite a different way from the norm. A coach can challenge those pre-conceived ideas and really help you see how you can succeed in YOUR way, not the way things have always been done.
A coaching session, usually lasting around an hour each time, is completely confidential. There is nothing that cannot be said, or feeling and emotion that cannot be expressed. It is your time to admit where you need help, where you feel weaker, or less prepared. You may have a specific issue you are facing, or simply need to admit that your overall approach doesn’t work for you. A coach will allow you to sit in that space, but will challenge you to conquer those issues, and answer the question: how do you overcome what you need to? Their role in the conversation is to tease out the green shoots of growth from what you are saying, drawing them out and help you work through the tangle of thoughts that we all inevitably have when we are unsure of a situation. Their job is to keep you from being too comfortable, from escaping into what you have done before, but not challenge you so much with the new thinking that they have you running back for cover! A good coach will make you face your fears and doubts, but constantly reassure you that you are not alone in that process.
Coaches Don’t Give the Answers – You Do
Many clients feel that they come out of a coaching session and realise that the coach has not really said anything amazing, or profound – rather, they feel like they have done all of the work! Well, that is kind of the point! When you leave your session, it is important that you are aware that you control the actions that you agreed to, and you own the decisions made. A coach can get you there, and be your ever-present cheerleader to your new adventures, but they can’t do it for you. It’s important for you to own the work, mainly so that you feel the benefits when things start going your way!
Not every Coach fits every Client
Because a lot of the conversations focus on areas where you feel vulnerable or sensitive, it is crucial you find a coach that you feel comfortable with, and that may not be the person who you Googled, or that has the highest ‘Like’ rating on Facebook! Although all coaches are great at building rapport with their clients, you need to work with someone who you feel able to share everything with and who you feel understands your personality and what is important to you. It’s always worth talking to a few, reading their websites or blogs, and using personal recommendations to see if they are a good fit for you. Many do a free consultation so you can speak together and see if it would work out. Use the opportunity to talk with them and ask any questions you have before signing up.
Nothing is Off the Table
Coaches cover a myriad of subjects, and are used to conversations veering off course, from careers to the relationship you have with your kids. In fact, they expect the topic to waiver between different aspects of your life, so don’t be worried if you are in the session to talk about your career, but you realise another aspect of your life has just become a priority. The most hardy of career coaches will listen as much to your relationship ambitions as your career ones! The role of the coach in the conversation is to help you get movement on how you are feeling and acting, and they will make sure the conversation remains on course for achieving that, even if the topics vary greatly!
It’s not just for Leaders
It is very common for senior executives in companies to have leadership coaching, and this is essential given that their choices and strategies govern the careers of many more people. Yet, they are not the only ones who can benefit from coaching. If you are planning to get a new job, a coach can help you get ‘match-fit’ for the application and interviews processes. If you want a promotion, they can help you plan your short and long term goals to ensure success. If you decide you want a massive career or life change and you have no idea where to start, a coach can help you break that down into far more manageable chunks of change, enabling you to see it as a possible reality rather than as a hopeless dream. And yes, if you are a senior leader who needs to manage a turbulent time for the organisation or for themselves, a coach can help you understand your leadership styles and what you want your legacy to be. A coach can work in every level of an organisation structure – they help the person, not the role.
Working with a coach can really help you are your life and career to the next level, and be a great partner in your future goals and ambitions. And they are with you every step of the way.
For A Safe Place to Plot Your Success, email or call us 07596 160036 for a no-obligation consultation
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