Still Not Sure You Need a Business Coach?

In the last post I offered a quick overview of how a business coach operates along with indicators as to when you wouldn’t need one. And the LinkedIn community was gracious in their responses which typically fell into one of three categories:

  • “That was helpful!” Some readers were unfamiliar with coaching and expressed an appreciation for the brief summary of the differences between coach and consultant.
  • “Spot on.” Some had used a coach in the past and attested to the many benefits of having someone in their corner rooting them on.
  • “I think I get it, but I’m still not sure if a business coach is for me.” Agreed, an article only allows a brief overview, a teaser if you will, of what a business coach offers you as a business owner or corporate leader.

With the last category in mind, let’s expound on business coaching a little more (the last time, I promise) and look at some indicators for when you would need a coach.

“Put me in coach!”

Facilitating the discussion, let’s use a sports coach from your past as a reference. Remember him? Come on, think back to your childhood.

Was he the athletic, gym-short-wearing dad coaching your recreational soccer team? Was he the “Bear”-Bryant-like football coach commanding authoritatively from the sideline? Maybe he was the tie-wearing “Coach K”-type waving a clipboard and screaming at the refs during your basketball games? Maybe more like a John McEnroe? Or a Bobby Knight? Pat Summit? Billy Martin?

Whatever coach from whichever sport from whatever era you identify, they all have some things in common. The really good ones are:

  • Focused on the Individual: Sure, a coach is responsible for molding and shaping an entire team into an unstoppable force. But the really good ones know a team wins when every individual plays their individual role to the best of their individual ability. Speaking at Leadercast 2016 Nick Saban, coach of numerous SEC and National Championship winning teams, drove this home with a few observations “The individuals make the team what it is”, “Do your job”, and “Everything’s about [the player]. It’s not about [the coach]. Make it about the individual.”
  • Objective: Every year a coach follows Steve Wozniak’s advice of “You need the kind of objectivity that makes you forget everything you’ve heard, clear the table, and do a factual study like a scientist would” and evaluates each player as they are, where they are. No comparisons. No fudge-factors. No BS. He then uses those evaluations to determine the best corse of action for developing that player into the best they can be.
  • Temporary: Can you imagine having your little league T-Ball coach walking to the pitcher’s mound giving Freddy Garcia advice (notwithstanding the current Braves could use all the help they can get)? Or your Pop Warner league coach giving passing advice to Aaron Rodgers? Every coach knows they have whothey have for a limited period of time.

The Ton Of Bricks Are About To Fall

At this point someone might be saying, “Ok, Ok…I get what a coach is. But how does all this translate to coaching me as a business owner or corporate leader?” Great question! Glad you asked. I’ll use the same framework for the response. A business coach will help you stay:

  • Focused on the Individual: Typically, the curse of growing businesses (or departments, divisions, branches, teams, etc.) is fighting the fires of the day-to-day only to find the time and identity of everyone involved consumed and lost in the fray. You need a business coach when the dividing line between THE AUTHENTIC YOU (or your teams authentic identity) and your awesome organization have become blurred.
  • Objective: The first thing you loose, be it ever so subtly, as a leader who’s buried in the day-to-day is Objectivity. There are a lot of things we FEEL are still true about our core values six months into a new venture. There are some things we WISH were still true about our financial performance after reaching the first $5M in revenue. There are even things we HOPE are true about our customer service after those first few hiring decisions. You need a business coach BEFORE (not after) you’re operating on a feeling, a wish, or a hope.
  • Temporary: If you haven’t yet figured it out, we’re all here temporarily. We’re all in the process of exiting our companies. I know, I know…business owners and leaders, buried in the day-to-day, think they’re irreplaceable, invincible, and will never sell out “their baby”. You need a business coach if you feel you’re the only one keeping things running and everything would all fall apart without you.

One Last Brick

Need more clarification? Ask yourself these questions (out loud…go ahead…I dare ya):

  • In the past month, have you missed or cut short more than two important dates with friends and family because you had to take that call?
  • In the past year have you avoided industry conferences because they’re too expensive, too far away, take too much time, or are just a bunch of people exchanging business cards and having shallow conversations?
  • Since starting your business, you haven’t called, written (not email, but that thing involving a postage stamp? You do remember stamps, right?), or spoken with someone who makes you a better spouse, sibling, friend, or human being?
  • Do you spend less than 10 hours a week developing your mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual well-being?
  • Is your business super-busy but getting the same (or declining) returns (i.e. profitability, financial performance, market share, etc.) and know “trying harder” isn’t the answer?
  • Does it bother you less now than it used to when you hear phrases spoken to customers YOU WOULD NEVER HAVE SAID?
  • Have you looked at your financial reports and thought, “I worked myself (or my team) like a dog all year for this?
  • Have you ever said or thought “I’d like to look into that, but I’m too busy doing [fill in the blank]”?
  • Have you recently thought to yourself, “I’m nearing retirement and don’t know what I’ll do with my business” or “I’m just getting started, I’ll think about that later.” or “I’ve finally hit my stride, I can’t think about that right now.”

“Survey Says…”

If you answered YES (or squirmed a little when answering NO) to any of the above questions, YOU NEED A BUSINESS COACH! Yes, a consultant has a process ensuring quick, short-term results. And in some organizations, that’s all that’s desired or needed. But, if you want to build or re-train your organizational muscles through a partnership which starts with you as the leader, consider a business coach for long-term gains.



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