For the past two years I’ve been on a marvelous journey—moving from being a successful vice president for a Fortune 100 company to becoming a successful executive coach. I am now well on my way to fulfilling a lifelong dream of having my own business, and helping great people become even better while also finding more happiness and satisfaction in their professional and personal lives.
Having recently completed a six-month extensive coach training program, I wanted to share my story so that you might benefit from some of the insights I’ve gained during my journey… thus far.
I have experienced executive coaching from all sides: (1) as an executive who received the coaching/development; (2) as an executive who contracted with coaches to develop leaders on my team; and now (3) as an executive coach who is providing development to other leaders. I am more convinced than ever that coaching is an extremely valuable part of leadership development. Whenever I’ve attended or sent people to leadership development courses or seminars, I’ve had to more or less just hope that the material will be as applicable and beneficial as the brochure claims, and that these concepts will indeed stick and positively change behaviors. In contrast, I love how coaching is tailored to the exact needs of the individual, and can energize the learner to make faster, long-lasting behavioral changes.
As soon as I made the decision to set out on this new career path—pursuing my passion of helping others grow—I really ramped up my networking. I started gathering best practices and soliciting advice from trusted advisors on how to best leverage my 30 years of experience, as well as my desire to be the very best executive coach I can be. One of my greatest influencers has been my own coach. She has always been an ideal role-model of exceptional coaching, and gave me this outstanding piece of advice: “If you want to be a great coach, you need to be a great listener, and learn how to bring out the answers from others, instead of giving advice.”
To help me improve at these skills, she recommended I go through one of the certification training programs with the ICF (International Coaching Federation). Though I already have several distinguished coaching programs under my belt, hold an MBA, and have successfully developed many individuals, I pride myself on being a lifelong-learner, so I took her advice. I am so glad I did!
One of the biggest learnings for me has been around the topic of neuroscience—the scientific study of the brain and the leveraging of recent discoveries about how the brain works. I not only found the content fascinating, but it led to a major paradigm shift on my part—that when people come up with the solutions themselves, the learning is so much more impactful. As leaders, at some level we already know this intuitively, but studying the actual research around neuroscience and how the brain works was truly enlightening. By asking just the right questions in just the right ways, a person (such as a coach!) can help change another person’s perspectives, and lead them to those remarkable, self-propelled “aha” moments that have such impact.
Having reprogrammed my own brain, as a coach and leader I am now regularly applying these insights in my practice. Instead of giving a client the answer, or even too much advice, I’m helping them as leaders leverage neuroscience findings to discover their own solutions that improve their performance and that of their employees. It’s truly a Winning Result—the impact on my client is greater, as is the reward I feel as the coach!