A leadership coach is right for you… But when should you hire one?

  • Article
  • 23 December 2020

Clients often ask me “Wilma, when is the best time to hire a coach?”

The answer?

There is no perfect timing for when leaders should take advantage of the value added by engaging a coach. However, there are commonalities for when I have seen leaders begin to engage coaches.

  1. When you feel ‘stuck’ in a role, situation, or company. You’ve tried numerous activities to get ‘unstuck’, yet the feeling remains. The role of the coach is to provide a process for individuals to find their own path forward. Having an external, objective, third party who can provide guidance is often helpful in creating awareness and increasing available possibilities for the future.
  2. You are identified as a high potential leader or in a succession plan program. The company has identified you as a future senior leader and there is an expectation that you will live up to the challenge and perform at even higher levels. Individuals who are identified for these programs are typically high achievers who want to achieve more. A coach can help you to hone your skills and help to overcome any obstacles you may face in making this transition.
  3. Your manager has recommended getting a coach. There are often times when high performing leaders need to ‘tweak’ their skills or make changes in their actions or behaviors. Your manager may have indicated that you have some areas that require improvement and may have suggested hiring a coach. Often, it is best to have an independent party help you with this so that you are better able to track and evaluate your progress.
  4. You are moving into a new job or role. You’re excited about your new role, but you’re not sure that you will be able to perform it well. It could be a lateral role that has new challenges and new requirements, such as managing a larger team, reporting to a new manager, leading a project, or a change in focus of the role, either internal or external to the company. A coach can help you identify what you need to do in order to more quickly get up to speed in the new role.
  5. You’re promoted to a more senior role. Marshall Goldsmith, a coaching expert and one of the world’s top leadership thinkers, wrote a book titled ‘What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There.’ This premise of this book is that what made people successful in their careers and provided the impetus to move up, the very same skills, attitudes and behaviours that they were rewarded for throughout their career, at some point, become those that hold them back. Expectations at higher levels of leadership include getting work done through others, strategic focus, and establishing, communicating and implementing strategic vision. These skills don’t come naturally and are usually not developed at lower levels of the organization. Highly experienced, professional coaches who’ve worked with senior leaders can provide insights and guidance to help you perform at a higher level.
  6. The company situation and structure is changing. This often means that you have to change, too. Start-up companies require a certain level and type of leadership. When the company grows quickly, often different skills are required. Similarly, when liquidity events such as the company being sold or an IPO being issued occur, senior executives have to deal with public scrutiny and short term, quarterly focus on shareholder results. Skills that are essential in this instance include confidence, presence, thinking on one’s feet, strategic vision, and managing the corporation to achieve the results that shareholders expect. Hiring a coach can accelerate your ability to adopt to change and the requirements of the situation.
  7. You’ve experienced a major life change. This could include a new job, a layoff, reassignment, or personal trauma. Professional coaching can help support you through the emotional challenges associated with the stresses associated with these life events, and can facilitate the creation of an action plan to help you survive and thrive as a result.
  8. You’re working very hard and you’re not seeing the results. You may feel that you are spinning your wheels and not accomplishing anything worthwhile or may be working longer and longer hours and still not seeing the results. Gaining perspective on the situation and what you can do to change it is valuable to moving forward. Similar to #3 above, having an objective view can help you regain forward momentum.
  9. You want to take action. Many people will acknowledge that they need to change, but most don’t actually want to change. They think they should, because someone told them so, or it’s expected by society, their leader, or someone else who is important to them. When you want to take action, your first step could be to hire a coach to help you envision the path forward.

As you can see, the appropriate time for each individual to engage a leadership coach varies greatly. Regardless of timing, most of my clients find that the value added by having someone to support them is invaluable in helping them to achieve success.

So, why should you engage a coach during these times in your life?

Answer: we know that coaching works.

Research on executive coaching conducted by the International Coaching Federation indicates that individuals and organizations who engaged in professional coaching:

  1. Maximized their potential and improved their work performance (70%), time management (57%) and team effectiveness (51%);
  2. Experienced greater self-confidence (80%), improved their relationships (73%), improved their communication skills (72%), and created better work/life balance (67%);
  3. Found it offered a substantial return on investment (86%).

Does one of these situations describe you? If so, and you’re interested in exploring leadership coaching and what it entails, please contact me at Wilma@transcendmgt.com or 403.547.7900.

Learn more about coaching here.

Dr. Wilma Slenders PhD, PCC

Dr. Wilma Slenders is a renowned change management facilitator, leadership coach, and strategic advisor for organizations of all sizes and industries. Her insights come from over 20 years of hands-on experience and thousands of hours of teaching, consulting on, planning, and executing long-term professional leadership strategies and organizational strategies.

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