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Why Every Business Leader Needs a Coach

Take a lesson from elite athletes: A coach can be essential for your success.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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In the competitive world of professional sports, the impact of a great coach is undisputed. 

Top athletes across the globe rely on their coaches, not just for training in skills and strategy, but also for mental and emotional support so that they can consistently perform at the highest level. 

So, why wouldn't business leaders embrace coaching to excel in the corporate world? The best do just that.

I have the privilege of coaching superb leaders. In my work, I see three important parallels in how the best athletes and best business leaders are coached. 

1) Who You Are Being: As in sports, executive coaching not only improves what you are "doing" (e.g. setting vision, raising money, inspiring the team), it also focuses on who you are "being" (showing up fully, telling the truth, giving your best). It offers you a powerful mirror with no judgment, leading to 'aha' moments of insight and growth.

2) Accepting Help: Humility is as crucial for business leaders as it is for elite athletes who recognize the need for a coach to achieve peak performance. When you admit you don't have all the answers and are open to learning and feedback, you position yourself for greater growth and better team leadership.

3) Outcomes without Attachment: To stay present and "in the zone," you should set goals and aspire to them, but do not get so attached that you lose your center and confuse your self-worth with goal achievement. Executive coaching supports your unique gifts and professional aspirations without attachment, so you achieve success without feeling desperate or needy.

John Wooden, one of the greatest sports coaches of all time, has this to say about his success "If there's anything you could point out where I was a little different, it was the fact that I never mentioned winning." His UCLA team won the most national college basketball championships in history. And this is, paradoxically, how you and your organization can win-aspire to outcomes without attachment to the results.

  • What specific areas of your leadership could benefit most from coaching?

  • How do your actions and decisions impact the performance and well-being of your team, akin to an athlete's impact on their game?

  • What would become possible if you consistently operated at your very best?

7 Actionable Steps to Embracing Coaching

Here are specific coaching tools, with analogs in professional sports,  that you can use now to improve your leadership.

  1. Daily game tape reviews: Implement a practice of daily reflection, akin to an athlete reviewing game footage, to assess your leadership actions and their impacts. This could involve journaling or discussing key decisions and outcomes with a mentor or coach.

  2. Real-time feedback: Just as athletes receive immediate feedback from their coaches during training or a game, commit to seeking and utilizing real-time feedback from peers, direct reports, and your coach to refine your strategies and interactions.

  3. Visualization for empathy: Borrowing from the use of visualization techniques in sports, you can enhance your empathy by imagining yourself in the shoes of your team members and customers, thereby improving your decision-making and relationship-building skills.

  4.  Aligning values: Much like athletes who align their training with their core values, work with your coach to define and live by your personal and organizational values, so that your leadership reflects what you and your organization really stands for.

  5.  Leadership performance labs: Just as athletes experiment with new techniques and strategies, dedicate time to exploring innovative leadership practices and technologies, fostering a culture of continuous learning and agile adaptation.

  6. Peer coaching circles: Emulate the collaborative training environment of athletes by forming peer coaching groups within your organization, where leaders can share experiences and support each other's growth.

  7. Celebrate milestones: Recognize and celebrate leadership growth and achievements with the same enthusiasm as athletic victories, fostering a culture that values continuous improvement and excellence.

The parallels between sports and business coaching underscore a universal truth: With the right support, feedback, and accountability, individuals can surpass their perceived limitations and achieve greatness. 

By integrating the discipline, focus, and strategic guidance of athletic coaching into the realm of executive leadership, you can navigate the complexities of today's business environment with confidence and agility.

It's time for business leaders to embrace a coaching mindset, unlocking their full potential and leading their teams to victory.

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

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