It is lonely at the top. There are good reasons for this. Keeping good boundaries, understanding what is responsible for sharing with others and what is not, and being unsure that what is said remains confidential keeps many of us holding our cards close to our chest. Leadership has a shadow side that needs to be discussed so our emerging leaders understand the cost of being a leader and the solution.
No matter the organization or business, one questions whether they can really share what is on their mind without being judged. We ask for someone to keep something in confidence, yet after the conversation, we walk away wondering if we can trust the other person to keep what was said confidential. Our energy and our time are our most valuable resources, so spending any time wondering whether we are being judged or if what we told someone in confidence will remain in between the two of us is energy poorly spent.
The idea that there is someone who can partner with us, as entrepreneurs and leaders. A person trained not to listen from a place of judgment. Whose whole practice of holding space for clients is based on viewing us as the experts not only in our professional lives but in our personal lives, is an idea I indeed was comforted by when I started partnering with a coach.
A coach allows us to come as we are. To arrive with our titles, concerns, insecurities, and confusion, giving us the space to gain clarity, create a strategy, become aware of self-limiting beliefs, and build the skill set needed to navigate the next big thing with confidence. This confidence comes from not being judged, not being given advice, and knowing that this person, this coach is for us, not for the organization.
The coach doesn’t bring an agenda. So, there is no concern that there is an ulterior motive, such as getting us to stay in a position rather than explore other opportunities or to gain our trust, so we confide in them, only to have them turn around and break our trust…sometimes in ways that impact our quality of life such as when it impacts our careers. These are not concerns shared when interacting with a coach. Hence, the wasted energy is conserved and one’s productivity increases.
Coaching is an action plan, a place to work on the self. Compared to consulting, which holds the consultant is the expert whose goal is to remedy a situation. Coaching facilitates the individuals discovering their own solutions to the problems they have identified. As the Institute for Professional Excellence of Coaching says, “consultants improve situations, coaches improve people” (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching [iPEC], n.d., p. 7).
According to a study published in 2009, the top six motivations for seeking coaching are interpersonal skills, relationships, business management, career opportunities, work/life balance, and self-esteem/self-confidence (International Coaching Federation [ICF], 2009). Coaching is beneficial when it comes to addressing imposter syndrome, burnout, indecision around career opportunities, improving communication skills, improving self-leadership and creating boundaries.
It is interesting to know the ROI of coaching. It’s reported that “a client who achieves financial benefit from coaching can typically expect an ROI in the range of 344% or 3.44 times the amount spent” on coaching; additionally, “the median company return is 700%, indicating that typically a company can expect a return of 7 times the initial investment” (ICF, 2009, p. ix). The Personnel Management Association internal report, states, “individuals increase their productivity by an average of 86% when training is combined with coaching compared to just 22% with training alone”. In addition, studies show coaching reduces procrastination and supports goal attainment (Losch et al., 2016).
In conclusion, coaching is worth it. It is energy, time and money well spent. It is an investment in one’s career, well-being and experience of life.
Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. (n.d.). What is coaching. www.ipeccoaching.com. Retrieved January 12, 2023
International Coaching Federation. (2009, April). ICF global coaching client study. https://coachingfederation.org/. Retrieved January 12, 2023
Losch, S., Traut-Mattausch, E., Muhlberger, M., & Jones, E. (2016). Comparing the effectiveness of individual coaching, self-coaching, and group training: how leadership makes the difference. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(5), 1–17. Retrieved January 12, 2023