Consulting coaches are an essential resource for leaders and managers at all levels of an organization, including executive staff, rising middle managers, boards, and frankly anyone interested in improving their leadership capacity.
But too often leaders and organizations misread their own needs and flat-out miss opportunities to get valuable help at a crucial moment. Here are five reasons why we might not get the type of help we need when we need it.
1 - Seeing help as a sign of weakness. You’ve been given responsibility in your organization because you are smart, skilled, and respected. These things are all true. What is not true is that you are expected to have all the answers. Seeking counsel from others within and from outside your organization is another quality of strength to your leadership. Utilizing a consulting coach is not a sign that you aren’t good enough. Rather, it is proof that you are wise enough to know your limits and to trust that you CAN do the job with someone helping you continue to grow.
2 - Waiting too long to ask. A natural tendency for many of us is to push ourselves to the limits of our capacity, and then a little bit over. Unfortunately, pressing into that new or difficult territory alone can be devastating for you and/or your organization. Once the situation moves from challenging to problematic, the energy and resources needed to correct the situation are exponentially higher than the energy that would have originally been expended to meet the challenge. A consulting coach provides extra energy and resources to address the challenge before it becomes a problem, and gives you the support you need before you burn out.
3 - Expecting the consulting coach to fix “it”. In the end, it is your organization, and it is you as a leader who will need to implement the changes highlighted in the consulting process. The consulting coach doesn’t actually change anything, but rather gives you perspective, tools, and accountability to pursue the change you envision for yourself and your organization.
4 - Being in too much of a hurry. There are many situations in business and in life that require immediate and quick responses. But the reality is that most leadership development and organizational change takes time. A one-session consulting session is really just a red herring unless it's part of a broader strategy of development. A few coaching sessions might get you through a specific decision, but long-term change requires long-term commitment to a process of accompaniment. Typically six months is a minimum. Most leaders learn that they benefit from having a consulting coach, counselor, mentor, and/or guide consistently available to them. Organizations learn that consulting is a process, not an event.
5 - Underestimating the human element. Many of us like to think that the facts drive change in organizations: budget realities, sales quotas, program details. Certainly data-driven decisions are crucial to any organization’s success. But when dealing with the data it is important to keep in mind that the data does not come alive in a vacuum. It is interpreted by people. When data is applied it affects people. When data is reported, bias is inherent. What lies behind the data is a human element impacting outcomes. Failure to pay attention to the human element along with the data often results in outcomes that even the data didn’t predict. A consulting coach will help you pay attention to both the human element and the data.
A consulting coach is a valuable resource for individuals and organizations. Sooner rather than later is invaluable for tapping the best of your decision-making, planning, implementation, and accountability.