A day in the life of an executive coach
Today I have only one coaching client, but it is a 2-hour session. I’ve been working with John for 6 months now and know his situation well. I prepare for the session by reading the documents and update he has sent me.
Preparing for coaching
I always ask clients to send me an update on their progress on the actions they took away from the last meeting(s), any insights they’ve had along the way and what they want to focus on in the upcoming session. I use a coaching system and have a simple online template that they can fill out a day or so before our session. We both benefit from using this approach for 3 main reasons:
1) The client has done some reflection on their learning and started to prepare for our session.
2) I get the feedback I need to understand what works and what doesn’t for my client and to prepare for the session.
3) We can focus our precious time together on addressing challenges and identifying new solutions and actions, rather than spending time verbally updating.
Today John is in a positive state of mind and ready to get stuck in to addressing the challenges he faces. This is good news as he’s had some tricky situations to deal with recently. Our last session had been almost in crisis mode as he had to respond to an incident that had blown up in the office. We’d had to carefully consider potential consequences as he had generated ideas on how to resolve the issue. The action plan he’d developed demanded that he tread carefully, sounding out the various stakeholders before taking any formal action. The positive state of mind was an indication that those plans are being well received and the incident is now calm.
This allowed us to get back on track with the overriding goal that John is working towards. Building on the progress made so far, we were able to address the next hurdle. When we were discussing options, I noticed that John was expressing pessimism in his expectations of others. I shared my observation with him and reminded him of the positive changes in behaviour he had experienced in key individuals.
This generated an insight for him regarding his expectations of others once he had made changes in how he does things. I used the opportunity to remind him of the process of change (adapted from Prochaska):
We discussed how others would be behind him in the change process. He needed to communicate developments with them so they would become aware of the need to change. Appreciating how long it had taken him to get to that place would help him have more patience regarding other people’s pace of change. We also talked about how some people may never accept the need to change behaviours and what options he had to deal with the consequences of such choices.
John identified how important it was for him to communicate regularly and frequently in order to influence the kind of changes in behaviour he is looking for. He took away a number of actions around this regarding blogging regularly (internally), formal updates in management meetings, informal opportunities to chat with people over coffee and pastries, among others.
This, combined with the insights and actions he had generated on the main topic, meant that John left the session with a number of commitments to progress and a rough timeline for a major project.
I had also offered an action that I would take, which was to connect John with someone I knew who was also tackling a similar issue. I thought they would have enough in common for this to be a mutually useful connection. I spent a few minutes updating the post-session recap notes on the system and scheduled our next session. I use this to reflect on how the session went and what learning I had gained. That was it for coaching today.
What else fills this executive coach’s day?
Writing, swimming, admin
I’m writing a book. My intention is to offer a practical guide to what it takes to step up to leadership. I need to schedule some time every day to work on the manuscript, so I plan 90 minutes on the book.
I’ve also joined a blogging challenge. Till now I’ve seen it as helpful to offer quality content and through this build my credibility and promote my business as an executive coach. I’ve taken the route of providing practical and useful tips and techniques for dealing with challenges in leading or managing self, team or organisation. Over the years I’ve built up lots of resources, even though I’ve probably only blogged once a month on average. I tweet and post on my Facebook business page and on LinkedIn, but typically only get tens of people clicking the links.
Through the blogging challenge I’ve learnt that more personal blogs and stories are appealing to readers and I’m developing my style of writing along these lines. I’ve really appreciated the higher levels of engagement I’ve been getting and hope that I can maintain this.
So I spend 90 minutes on the book manuscript and then go for a swim. After lunch I spend an hour going through emails that require action, but ignore all the LinkedIn group conversations, people I subscribe to and other promotional emails. It’s a challenge to get the right balance between CPD updates and useful industry conversations and stuff that just clutters up my inbox.
After dealing with the emails, I spend 3 hours writing the blog and posting it to social media.
Altogether a busy day and I hope that the time spent on marketing activities will pay off in the longer term. I recently read the Sherpa report on the state of coaching 2016 and saw that about 70% of coaching leads is still through referrals. This makes me wonder if I’m spending my time wisely, what do you think?
Is it the same in your business? What results are you getting? Please leave your comments below.
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Amanda has over 20 years’ experience in learning and development and about 15 years as an Executive Coach.