When Does Coaching Help?
Executive coaching isn’t exactly new anymore, but neither is it mainstream. Yet it can be the most powerful business tool you’ll ever use. Here are three ways to use it:
Marketing and Business Development Coaching
Most professionals look to executive coaching to help with these areas because they feel this will result in the best financial return. We don’t learn much about marketing in law or accountancy school. We’re expected to become experts at it through natural talent, osmosis or luck. Or perhaps our firms expect us to be mentored in the area, despite the fact that great mentors are few and far between. Coaches can certainly assist with the development of marketing plans and marketing skills. A plan takes a set number of sessions (for me, it’s about four sessions); but that doesn’t ensure implementation. Six months or more are generally required to ensure that the plan is properly implemented, and that the professional has the support they need along the way to actually develop the skills needed to implement the plan.
Practice Management Coaching
This is often used by more senior lawyers who feel they aren’t as productive, efficient or respected as they need to be. They recognize that while they might be great at their core competency, they might have challenges around delegation, time management, time recording, billing, collections, leadership, etc. An executive coach can help the professional to hone in on where their strengths and weakness are, capitalize on the strengths and start to mitigate the weaknesses. If the professional is honest about their challenges, open to working in different ways, and has the personal discipline to follow through consistently, significant improvements can occur.
Whether we’re at work or at home, we are the same person with the same belief systems and habits. Ultimately, regardless of how coaching starts it tends to touch on personal coaching eventually because at its heart, coaching is about helping people to recognize and overcome their moments of self-sabotage. And if we’re having problems at work, we’re probably facing the same issues in other aspects of our life (and vice versa). Personal coaching helps individuals to understand the underlying beliefs and habits that are no longer serving them. It then assists with the development of new beliefs or habits that will better align with the values and goals of the individual today. This is often referred to as “deep work” and can be scary in concept but unbelievably freeing in practice…like when someone tells you “you know, you don’t really have to carry that 100-pound sack of potatoes on your back.”
Professionals are usually intelligent human beings, so why can’t they fix these issues themselves? Einstein said that we can’t solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. We know intuitively that we can be our own worst critic, and have our own greatest blind spots. Sometimes we need someone caring and outside of ourselves to help us shift perspective about ourselves.
I’ve had many professionals confess to me that the firm’s offer of a coach suggested the professional was failing and needed help. I’m always quick to debunk this belief. Coaching is an investment in people in whom organizations see potential and value, or they wouldn’t be offering the experience. Working with a coach is not a sign of weakness. It’s a commitment to being our best, a recognition that we aren’t perfect in every area, and a willingness to strategically bolster our challenge areas. Isn’t that precisely the kind of person you would want on your team?
About the Author
Heather Gray-Grant is a business strategist, marketing expert and executive coach focused on the legal profession. To learn more, go to www.heathergraygrant.com.