Someone asked me recently to explain what business coaching is, and I realized there’s not one simple answer. It means different things to different people, and depending on who you ask, there are a lot of different ways to approach it. Business leaders building successful companies always are looking for a competitive edge. Make sure that you don't overlook business coaching services, with its multiplying effect, as an integral way to increase the growth of your business as part of your leadership development plan.
I’ve been a business coach for 15 years, and before that, I had one - so I know the benefits of hiring a business coach. Here’s my take on it.
- A business coach is a trusted advisor to the CEO, President, or other top leader. It’s lonely at the top, and it’s important to have an impartial, outside resource who will listen to you, brainstorm solutions with you, encourage you, hold you accountable, and help you solve problems.
- They understand your business and can help you assess, clarify, improve, and execute your strategy, while increasing your bottom line. They should have a solid framework for guiding you through this and know the right questions to ask at the right time.
- A business coach can observe your executive team and help you assemble and lead a group of high performing "A" players. They’ll note team dynamics, ask you challenging questions and help you make tough calls when necessary.
- They understand the delicate nature of key business relationships - with your board, your partners, your executive team, your employees, your customers, your suppliers, etc. - and can help you navigate rough waters and lead with the right message—in good times and bad.
- A business coach can help you evaluate opportunities objectively, using your core strategy as a filter for decision making. They can help you say yes to the right things, say no to the wrong things and prioritize the work of the company. It is not just about business growth; it is about long-term partner than can give you unique outside perspective on the challenges you are facing and help you build a successful business.
This list goes on, but it strikes me that sometimes a CEO may think hiring a coach is self-indulgent, a discretionary expense that only benefits them. If you look at the list above, you’ll see that the value of this work impacts everyone in your organization. Even though the relationship is focused on the leader and the coach, the results are multiplied throughout and measured in business success. That’s the CEO multiplier effect, it is why top CEOs are obsessed with business coaching. The better you are at what you do, the more effective your team will be, and the better your business results will be.
Another question I often get is “what exactly does a coach do? What does the work look like?” I’ve found that the best coaching programs are customized to meet the client’s needs. Offering a cookie-cutter approach is easier for the coach, but the best results come from understanding the client’s strengths, weaknesses, current needs and future goals, and then designing the right solution. Here are a few ways a coach can work with you:
- 1:1 Coaching Calls - These are regularly scheduled calls between the coach and the CEO (or other leader) designed to build accountability, increase performance, and work through real-life challenges the leader is facing.
- Facilitated Strategic Planning - Very often, at least once a year, your coach will meet with your entire executive team to facilitate important strategic discussions, make decisions and build focus + alignment around the most important work the team will commit to for the upcoming year. This Annual Strategic Planning session is a key step in connecting strategy to execution.
- Quarterly Execution Planning - Whether virtually or in-person, the coach should check in with the team each quarter to make sure they are staying focused on the right things and prioritizing the work that will achieve the annual goals agreed on by all.
- Execution Tools and Habits - This is where the rubber meets the road. A good coach isn’t just “all talk.” They will also bring you practical tools, best practices, and resources to help you build a high-performing organization. We use Rhythm software to do this as we document the plan, clarify success, assign accountability, encourage cross-functional collaboration, and ensure the plan is executed.
- Lifeline Support - We sometimes call this the "911 Call." These ad hoc calls and emails happen throughout the life of the coaching relationship. Your coach is the first person you want to call in a crisis to help you think through your options and calmly determine the next right thing to do. Your coach is your trusted advisor.
The final question, “When is the best time to start working with a business coach?” is an easy one. The answer is now. Whether you start with a Strategic Planning Session, 1:1 Coaching calls, a Mid-Year Adjustment Session, Rhythm software, or a fully supported coaching program that includes all of these, engaging an experienced business coach to help you on your journey will add immediate value to your company and multiply the positive impact you can have on the entire business. Click here to learn more about Rhythm System's business coaching programs to see if it makes sense to help you grow your business.
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