The Need for Coaching in Professional Development
We’ve heard more than one person say recently “coaching didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago,” but we are not sure that’s exactly true. Maybe they weren’t exposed to it as it exists in the professional development space today, but we know for a fact it wasn’t invented as a result of the dot com boom or something else more recently. But here is what is different. Our problems have changed. Business has changed. The speed at which we must grow and solve things has doubled, tripled, quadrupled. Add to that the pressure that individuals are feeling to always be “on”, be polished and demonstrate their best selves (when they might not actually be feeling it). Enter coaching.
More and more people are turning to coaching today because it best fits the individualized development needs of our diverse population of leaders. No discredit to the MBAs and Jack Welch Institute graduates out there, but one size fits all development just doesn’t ‘fit’ any more. Take for example GE, the behemoth of an organization that Jack Welch turned around and made the most valuable company in the world; it’s not doing so hot now. It’s far from going the way of Circuit City, but they’ve begun to struggle. What we know is that what worked for us in business twenty years ago doesn’t necessarily work now. What worked for us in personal growth and development twenty years ago also doesn't always work now either.
To add to that, we’ll tell you what DIDN’T exist twenty years ago - and that is the speed at which we communicate and the surplus of connectivity that we have. It was just over 10 years ago that people started putting those flat shiny devices in their pockets and carrying them everywhere. Now while we’re having coffee and get into a debate about whether Katy Perry’s “backpack kid” made its debut on an awards show or SNL, we can solve that debate in a matter of seconds. Twenty years ago, we may have been able to go home and hear the whurr of our dial-up modem access AOL as we heard that familiar greeting “You’ve Got Mail”, and then navigate to a search page to find out when Katy Perry performed on SNL. And go back thirty years ago when Jack Welch was really making his impact, our only means to solve the debate would be to go to a library and searching through the microfiche archives of Entertainment magazine. (BTW, we don’t hate Jack Welch.)
So why does this matter? Why does the speed of communication influence our need for coaches?
In a sea of information and surplus of voices trying to connect to us, individuals are having harder and harder times keeping track of what is really important. Between Trump’s latest tweet and trying to figure out whether that computer voice is saying “Yanny” or “Laurel”, we lose sight of the things that are actually move us forward. A coach is a great resource to help us to step away from the information superhighway, help us to figure out exactly what we want or need, and can help to hold us accountable to what we want to accomplish.
We are smart people; we have the answers inside of us already. But, do we have the discipline to ask ourselves the tough questions? Or do we even stop long enough to look for the answer within? A coach can help us to find the solutions to our problems by asking us empowering, insightful questions that we wouldn’t necessarily have spent the time to come up with or are often too afraid of the answers to ask.
Coaches are also unbiased. There is no relationship that we have in life (beyond a therapist and maybe a great priest) that is unbiased. Bias is a natural human response that feeds into our desire to care for each other. But when you seek counsel from those around you, you get their opinion and their perspective on what is best for you – which might not actually be the case. Coaches are great sounding boards for individuals because that filter is removed and the only focus is figuring out how best to support you with whatever it is that you need - no other intention than that.
And finally, coaches give individuals the ability to take a beat and process. In this era of instant gratification and constant bombardment of information, coaches provide safe space where the only priority is your priority. How refreshing to have the ability to be fully supported and pause to assess how satisfied you are, what you really want, who you really are, and how to bring that all to life.
Coaching is a powerful tool in today's day and age and offers significant benefits. Coaching in organization and leadership settings is an invaluable tool for developing people across a wide range of needs. The benefits of coaching include:
80% of individuals report increased self-confidence
Over 70% of individuals report improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills
86% of companies report that they recouped their investment on coaching
Coaching is a critical tool in the arsenal of professional development, offering greater focus, clarity and success to those who choose to participate. In this new era of communication overload and constant contact, taking the time for ourselves will pay dividends in your future.