How business coaching is not just for people with 'notions'

An outsider’s perspective can help whip entrepreneurs into shape.

By Sinead Kieran Founder, Coaching by SMK

BUSINESS COACHING ORIGINATED in the US, which is possibly why there is a perception that it’s only for high-flying execs – and people who have ‘notions’.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. My own client list includes a number of senior business executives, but I’m also coaching a plumber, a florist and an artist.

Each of my clients is aware of the need to maintain a competitive advantage in their individual industry. We all know that in business you can’t afford to stand still.

The process of continual evolution can be overwhelming, which is exactly why engaging an external party, in the form of a business coach, can help lead your business towards lasting success.

Here’s how:

1. Avoid tunnel vision

When you’ve been immersed in a business or a role for a period of time it is almost impossible to view it objectively. Colleagues, friends and family, despite their best intentions, will have a vested interest or skewed view of your situation.

A business coach provides a helicopter view, married with their own business acumen, to ask you the important questions.

Whether it’s a business or a life coach, having somebody with an array of diverse experiences only helps broaden your own awareness about yourself, others and the competitive landscape. Nobody can really learn in a vacuum; we learn through sharing knowledge.

2. Minimise errors

Business coaches work with a variety of clients in multiple industries. A coach can share past lessons learned from other clients – while maintaining confidentiality, of course – who faced similar challenges, thereby saving you the time, money and emotional investment from repeating the mistakes yourself.

Of course mistakes are healthy and necessary for improvement but learning from others is a no-brainer in terms of minimising errors. A coach can also use their experience to flag potential pitfalls that may not have been immediately obvious to you.

3. Get feedback

People don’t like conflict and will naturally shy away from having difficult conversations. If you’re in a leadership position, the chances are your team or staff will be reluctant to criticise or voice negative feedback because they don’t want to get fired.

A business coach has no emotional investment in the matter and is actually doing his or her job when they speak plainly. Getting an unbiased viewpoint through a business coach provides a valuable reality check and also serves as a strong sounding board to bounce ideas off.

In times of change, coaching also serves as a solid backdrop of support. A good coach will help keep your feet planted firmly on the ground and avoid those matters that try to push you away from where you should be.

Often people who experience success, particularly self-made entrepreneurs, aren’t ready to slow down or relax because they’ve spent years building a company or a career and they constantly push themselves.

A good coach can ask you questions that you wouldn’t think to ask yourself and no one else would dare ask, such as:

  • What do you really want?
  • Why are you working so hard?
  • When are you going to celebrate your success and how?
  • What kind of legacy do you plan to leave?

4. Nurture and reward your team

Coaching has certainly become more accepted and mainstream in Ireland over the past five years. In recent years, clients have also come to the realisation that if knowing about my own strengths and blind spots has helped me understand how I work best and where I need to grow, imagine if my whole team had that knowledge?

It’s a natural leap to want to create a whole team of people who understand their strengths and deficiencies. The more everyone knows about how they work best and where they fall short, the easier it will be for everyone to communicate, delegate, and cover any gaps without resentment.

Engaging a coach to work with your team ensures that you’re maximising their skill set and also represents a valuable investment in that person’s personal development.

In a tight labour market where staff retention is a major issue, coaching can be key differentiating factor for employers.

When we consider that coaching is highly revered in other elements of our lives, such as sports and fitness, it is not hard to see that it can be advantageous to our business and personal lives.

Coaches do not have secret powers, or even a deeper knowledge of your industry, but because of their training and experience they can help you see what your missing and identify your blind spots.

Sinead Kieran is the founder of Coaching by SMK.

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