Why Wouldn’t You Want an Executive / Business Coach?
“Having a coach who can develop insights for you, to help you think through things is so, so helpful.”
You are a founder who is juggling a million priorities and tasks — from product to people to vision. There is so much going on and so much to do that you feel simultaneously adrift and stuck, not sure what to do or where to turn next — even as you continue to work incredibly hard to get your startup on higher ground.
Even if you are initially skeptical about the value of a Business Coach you will soon find a coach invaluable to the process of self-improvement as an entrepreneur and leader. [Even though there are subtle differences between an Executive Coach and a Business Coach, I am going to use them here as synonymous.]
An Executive Coach Isn’t For Me
When you consider the most successful people in many industries — athletics and entertainment are perhaps the most visible — they have coaches. What’s lesser known is that many top leaders and entrepreneurs, including Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos, had Executive coaches.
Yet people generally don’t consider coaching an option because they see it like a luxury service — or even dismiss it as something downright silly for suckers. Entrepreneurs, especially, can feel that a Business Coach is something they’ll never need, dissonant with their very identity. Just think: the stereotypical persona of an entrepreneur is that she’s bold and brash, disrupting the establishment, making waves, and blazing her own path. This person has no need for a coach.
Business owners typically learn rather late – people only change when they are hit with a crisis – that this skepticism is the major barrier in anyone’s quest for improvement. That’s probably the biggest challenge for most people. They look at it and they think, ‘I don’t need that. That’s for people who are really struggling, and I really have a good handle on this sort of stuff’ — despite the fact that they are not actually seeing results.
The turning point usually comes when you go through “a particularly stressful period.” What you get will be a rewarding opportunity to talk to someone who is outside of work, outside of your personal life, someone who could really lend an objective third party view and work with you with the explicit goal of making you better.
The Humble Paradox of Executive Coaching
The paradox of Executive Coaching, especially for entrepreneurs and other driven, ambitious, talented people, is that the very attributes of self-confidence and chutzpah required to take the risk of starting your own venture prevents you from admitting that you could use a little help.
I have seen how this plays out when coaches encounter skeptics. These are the people who aren’t willing to give up their preconceived notions or believe that receiving guidance and coaching is beneath them.
Working with a coach requires a certain level of humility. Not everyone’s ready to do it — especially if you are someone who believes that you know all the answers and you don’t need external help. Then you are never going to work with a coach, because you haven’t gotten to the point where you are humble enough to think, ‘maybe I can use some help.’
The result is self-fulfilling. If you don’t believe in coaching, you also won’t allow it to help you get better.
If you are having your assumptions challenged and getting asked to think about things in a different way — and you are really resistant to that — coaching is not going to be helpful for you. But if you are willing to take a different look and you come into it with the attitude of, ‘I am here to improve and I know I don’t know everything,’ then you are going to get a huge amount of value.”
Having an Executive Coach seems like proof that you are not good enough, that there is stuff you need to work on. Even though you may be stuck on the next step and how to make meaningful headway, this can be a difficult thing to admit. But you are never going to get better if you don’t improve your strengths and look in to your blind spots.
By trying to do this all yourself, you limit your possibilities and your potential. You have to have the peculiar confidence to be humble enough to admit that you are not good at everything, that perhaps you could use a coach.