6 Tips to Leverage Your Executive Coach

At this point in your career, taking time to consciously work on these personal shifts can end up being some of the most productive "work" you do to set yourself up for success down the road.

Working with a coach for the first time? If you’re not even sure what an executive coach does, check out our what is leadership coaching post first.

For the rest of you who have been lucky enough to get a coach, we want to share a few tips on how to make the most out of the opportunity. Given how busy everyone is, it can be easy to go through the motions or even deprioritize time that is focused on your professional development because it feels like a luxury. It’s important to shift your mindset, particularly as a new leader, on always “doing”. At this point in your career, taking time to consciously work on these personal shifts can end up being some of the most productive “work” you do to set yourself up for success down the road.

The good news is that your coach can help keep you moving along a process towards those goals. You just have to:

(1) Commit yourself to the process: This won’t be easy. You’ll have to spend time on it. This will be more “work” on top of your everyday “job”. This can involve everything from soliciting feedback, rethinking goals, or allotting time for some self-reflection. Sometimes you may not feel like you know where it is going. Sometimes you may feel too busy for it. But stay committed. You’ll see progress over time.

(2) Get to know your coach: Coaches are trained in and have a great deal of experience in developing strong, trusting relationships with their clients. But it takes two to build a relationship. The more you get to know your coach, and allow your coach to get to know you, the more they will understand how you operate and how to support you.

(3) Be open: listen, share, observe & repeat: If you aren’t honest or don’t share tough challenges with your coach, you’ll always just be working on the surface. A coach can only help you as much as you are willing to let them. So be open – share those ambitions or worries that you have. And be open to hearing a perspective that may be different than yours. You don’t always have to agree, and your coach does not “know better”. They are there to push your thinking and help you come to your own answers.

(4) Set goals: Take time to talk through and set clear goals with your coach at the start of the coaching and what success metrics look like for your relationship. Then revisit these goals consistently throughout the coaching and set action items against them. This will not only help center and focus your conversations with your coach, it will help you stay on track in progressing towards them. If your goals change (which happens), talk about it and integrate them into a new go-forward plan.

(5) Do the work: It’s easy to talk about what you want to do. Coaches can also help you figure out practical ways to work towards those goals. For example, “improving communication with management”.  But if you don’t actually apply techniques and put things into practice, i.e., setup the 1:1s, join the meeting, etc., you won’t get anywhere. You have to actually do the work! No one else can do it for you.

(6) Enjoy it! Leverage your coach: It can be exhausting to actively work on yourself, especially if you are trying to address skill gaps or put yourself out there in new ways. But take time to acknowledge yourself for taking the initiative. Share your wins and losses with your coach. You’ll find that they can simultaneously be your biggest challenger and supporter.  It’s not often that you get to work with someone who is really just there to support you, no matter what. Take advantage of it!

These are just a few tips to get you started, but if you can keep these as guiding principles for your coaching there’s no stopping you as a leader. Any other tips you have found useful? Tweet your tips to us!

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Piyush Gupta is VP of Product and Technology at Sounding Board and champions the voice of customers and users with deep empathy. Piyush envisions Sounding Board to be the first window of coaching experience for professionals and leaders worldwide. His approach is deeply rooted in proven scientific research, modeling human behaviors, and data-informed insights to deliver mindset shifts and desired business outcomes for organizations at scale. He believes that a world-class UX is key to drive simplicity that will lead to millions of professionals to access coaching for their development. Piyush co-invented the world’s first ‘landmark intelligent driving directions’ technology that led Google to redesign their routing algorithms for the Asian markets. For the next decade, he led two disruptive FinTech companies to the market leadership positions and delivered two award-winning products that serve more than 70 million users worldwide. His teams filed 20+ patents while he himself authored three patents. He is an active startup investor and advises selected AI-driven startups on business and product strategy. He is the recipient of the World Summit Award, one of the most prestigious international honors for product innovators. In addition, he is a James Swartz fellow, the most prestigious fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University funded by the founder of the iconic venture firm, Accel Partners. Piyush holds an MS in Software Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

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Tommy is at his best helping clients think through complex challenges in order to create a positive impact on their organizations. He thrives when interacting with others whether helping his team succeed or working with clients to build long-term partnerships. He has extensive experience consulting with organizations on driving their employee experience, guiding organizations through change, and working to ensure organizations are moving the needle when it comes to their results.

Most recently, Tommy was a Client Services Leader overseeing some of GP’s most prized accounts on a global level. His responsibilities included overall client growth strategy, retention, and satisfaction. He represented all of GP Strategies’ major business lines including leadership, coaching, and engagement, digital transformation, outsourced services, and technology implementation solutions.

Before GP Strategies, Tommy spent several years with TTEC Digital (formerly rogenSI) where he led the sales team,  eventually becoming the regional Learning & Performance practice leader for North America. While managing the P&L and sales team he also led the largest global relationship for the firm (Deloitte Globally). During his time at TTEC, he focused on delivering blended learning solutions that incorporate technology and hands-on training. Before TTEC Digital, he spent several years dedicated to strength-based leadership disrupting the business landscape regarding performance management and employee engagement with thought leader Marcus Buckingham at The Marcus Buckingham Company / TMBC (now ADP).

Tommy has had the privilege of working with some of the most well-known global brands in professional services, retail, technology, and healthcare including Deloitte, Facebook, Microsoft, Bank of America, Novartis, Gap Inc., lululemon, and Intel. Several projects he led for Deloitte were Global GNPS, New Partner Pivot, NextGen Partner Program Deloitte China, Present to Win, the RPM project on performance management, and Unconscious Bias.

Tommy holds a BS in Health Sciences from Texas A&M University, and an MBA from Universidad del CEMA.

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