Do you look forward to going to work more often than not? Does your work challenge you in ways you enjoy and find stimulating? Are you happy with the way your career is going?
If you answered “no” to any of those questions, you are in good company. A 2017 Gallup poll showed that 85% of people globally hate their jobs. Given that we spend about one-third of our adult lives at work, it doesn’t make sense to accept that you have to be miserable at your job.
So, how can you turn your current job into a job that you love, or, failing that, find different work that will be a better fit? Working with an executive coach may be the first step.
What does an executive coach do?
Many of us are fortunate to find a number of people who help us along the way in our careers—mentors, bosses, sponsors. Each plays a unique role. But an executive coach fills a very specific niche. The coach is trained to help you define, determine a path to, and achieve your career goals.
They can serve as guides to help you navigate current career challenges, as well as searches for new jobs. If you are not advancing in your career or are dissatisfied with your job, executive coaches can help you forge a path forward. If you are looking for a new job but are not sure what you are looking for or are not comfortable networking or interviewing, they can be help guide you through the process. You should also consider a coach if you are good at what you do but know that blind spots are holding you back from doing even better.
A coach will approach the partnership by asking powerful questions that help you reframe problems, identify your blind spots, and challenge your own assumptions. A good coach will not tell you what to do; instead they will guide you to decide which changes you want to make and hold you accountable to make them. While this can be frustrating in the short term, it is much more valuable in the long term. By helping you to see challenges in a new light and guiding and encouraging you as you navigate them, a coach will empower you to find solutions that truly align with your values, priorities and goals, not those of a mentor, boss, sponsor or family member. A coach will help you to block out the noise of others’ expectations to hear your own voice and forge the path that you determine is best for you. A coach has only one agenda—to help you clarify and achieve your goals.
How do I work with a coach?
Working with a coach requires a substantial investment of your time and energy, even if you are lucky enough to have an employer that will sponsor the coaching engagement. If you are not willing to do hard work and be held accountable, an executive coach is not going to be the best fit for you. The most successful partnerships come when you are willing and able to put in the time and focus to invest in thinking deeply, doing your homework and keeping to a regular coaching schedule.
Once you decide that you are ready, you need to select a coach who is going to be a good fit for your personality, style and needs, and one who understands your profession. To screen coaches, consider whether the coach graduated from a reputable program that is accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), has a good reputation, and can clearly articulate his or her coaching philosophy, typical program and approach. It goes without saying that a coach should be an excellent listener and a clear communicator, so take the opportunity to interview coaches before committing, to make sure the coach is a good fit. Those initial courtesy calls will give you get a better idea for how the coach likes to work and whether you feel comfortable with their communication style. Do your homework and then listen to your gut. Your coach should be someone you look forward to talking to and someone you trust.
Just as elite athletes work with coaches to help them get to the next level in their sport, individuals who are serious about enjoying their work and want to advance in their careers benefit the most from coaching. One-third of your life is too much time to spend doing work that you do not enjoy. Dissatisfaction at work tends to bleed over into other aspects of your life, putting strains on relationships and making everything less enjoyable than it could be. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to design a career that maximizes your strengths and gives you satisfaction. Working with an executive coach can help you get there.