The benefits of coaching are undeniable.
Research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (commissioned by the International Coach Federation) shows that the vast majority of companies (86%) say they have at least made their money back on a coaching investment.
Making your money back isn’t a high enough bar as far as I’m concerned. We can look deeper into the self-reported feedback from clients showing sky-high satisfaction and repeat-customer ratings. Below is more data from the same study:
[% of respondents who were satisfied or would repeat the coaching process]
Even more compelling, is research in from three different studies showing that companies that have used professional coaching have seen median returns on investment ranging from 5–7x their initial outlay! That’s like investing $1,000 and getting $5,000-$7,000 back!
So yes, coaching can more than pay or itself. However, beyond the facts and figures, what is really interesting is taking a look at the specific benefits that working with a coach can provide.
There is a reason why business people and innovators like Eric Schmidt, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Fred Wilson (VC) are fans of coaching, and why anyone who achieved success in business, sports, music or the arts; surely has a history of working with at least one, and perhaps more than one coach.
In this post, I’ll outline ten of the key benefits that working with a coach can offer you. I could provide a list of 100 items, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll stick to the top ten!
1) See blind spots
You don’t hire a coach to help you achieve the things you know you want to achieve and know how to get. You might think that is why you are hiring a coach, but inevitably the biggest results will come from the realization that it’s the things you are avoiding or not aware of at all, that have the biggest payoff.
This is what blind spots are. Blind spots are the unknown aspects of your career, business or lifestyle that are holding you back.
A savvy coach will use smart questions to help you shine a bright light on these blind spots and build up the courage (or whatever else is required) to move past them.
2) Overcome procrastination
If we all did the things we knew we should be doing, we would be wealthier, healthier and happier. Why, then, do we not follow through? It’s not just us as individuals who suffer from the problem of procrastination. Teams, businesses, families, and communities suffer from it as well. Procrastination arises because we aren’t evolved to properly weigh long-term consequences against short-term investments.
Procrastination arises because we aren’t evolved to properly weigh long-term consequences against short-term investments. We are hard-wired biologically to seek short-term payoffs, even if this isn’t in our long-term best interests! The idea of working out for an hour day, for long-term health, isn’t something that the reptilian parts of our brain value highly, even though the long-term payoff can be immense!
Coaching can help you notice this disconnect – between what you do and what you should be doing. Once you notice it, it’s that much easier to close the gap.
Most of us will do more for others than we will for ourselves. Would you agree? We will also rise to the occasion when others depend on us or are simply watching.
We will also rise to the occasion when others depend on us or are simply watching.
I witnessed this first-hand when I worked at Microsoft. People used to bring in treats or candies whenever they returned to the office from a foreign work trip. They would place the goodies on chairs outside their offices. When people were in their office (and able to see the goodies in plain sight) people would rarely grab more one piece of candy walking by. However, when no one was watching, the candy would disappear in an instant!
When people are watching us, we tend to rise to the occasion. In a coach, you have a built-in accountability partner to help you stay honest in the pursuit of your goals.
4) Purpose-driven goals
Goals and missions are only as powerful as the purpose and motivation behind them. Simon Sinek would call this “Starting With WHY.” Getting to the purpose behind a goal might cause a shift or complete change in the goal itself.
For example, let’s suppose you pick a goal of running a marathon after hearing about a friend who ran a marathon and lost 20 pounds in the process. In probing into the purpose behind your choosing this goal, you might realize that your underlying motivation is to be healthy so you can spend more quality time with your kids. This purpose might make you realize that running the marathon would be a less efficient way of achieving the goal than training for a multi-day backpacking adventure with your family. After all, the marathon would require lots of solitary time spent training, which is the opposite of the family oriented outcome you wish to achieve!
On the other hand, training for a hiking trip would be a more efficient way of getting in shape that centers around a family oriented outcome. Therefore, in this example, you would adjust your goal to fit better with your underlying motivation. You would pick the goal that optimizes both health and family connection (training for a long hike), instead of just health (the marathon)
A master coach will help you create goals that are congruent with your values and underlying motivation. The best goals aren’t just flashy and noteworthy; they connect with a deeper purpose!
5) Proven strategies
The right strategies can save you years (or more) or experimentation and struggle. For example, if you want to learn how to a be an effective presenter, you can use a trial and error method of discovering how to create and communicate a powerful message. Alternatively, you can join Toastmasters (or hire a coach to critique you) and apply what you learn through ongoing practice talks on the job (or outside of work). Both methods might yield results, but the later method will have a higher and faster rate of success.
For example, if you want to learn how to a be an effective presenter, you can use a trial and error method of discovering how to create and communicate a powerful message. Alternatively, you can join Toastmasters (or hire a presentation coach to critique you) and apply what you learn through ongoing practice talks on the job (or outside of work). Both methods might yield results, but the later method will have a higher and faster rate of success.
No matter what you are trying to achieve, someone else has struggled with a similar challenge and achieved success. Instead of reinventing the wheel, learn from others who have mastered the skill you desire.
A great coach will have exposure to a large number of strategies that can be applied to create results in many aspects of your career and lifestyle.
6) Increased productivity
One of the common benefits of working with a coach is increased productivity.
Productivity is not just good for companies; it’s also good for any worker or entrepreneur who wants to get their work done so they can spend more free time enjoying life. According to the International Coaching Federation research, the productivity benefits that clients reap from coaching work is palpable.
[Self-reported benefits of coaching, as reported by business clients. Source: independent survey on coaching benefits by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
7) Clarity on your values
What do you care about? What do you value?
These are simple but powerful, questions. When you know what you value, and line up your actions in support of those things, the result will always be a fruitful and fulfilling career and life. However, if you act in a way that is in opposition to your values, you are in for a world of hurt!
For example, if your top values are learning and contribution to society, but you are working in a job that is boring and also not contributing to society in any meaningful way, you will eventually either burn out or become fed up (or both!). On the flip side, when you can line your values up with work that serves and supports those values, the sky is the limit!
A core aspect of executive and career coaching is to help you identify your values and make sure you work and actions are supporting them to the fullest extent.
8) Erase limiting beliefs
I love to run.
There are few things more enjoyable to me than a relaxing hour-long run on the trails near my home. For some of my friends, however, the idea of running for an hour – no matter how slow the pace – would be torture! You couldn’t bribe them with a $100 to go for a five-mile run!
I happen to believe that running is relaxing and supporting of my mental and physical health. This belief makes it easy for me to lace up my running shoes in the afternoon and hit the trails. In fact, is it quite enjoyable! If my belief was that “running is painful and hard work!” I would be much less apt to go for my daily runs.
Identifying your beliefs, that is to stay, the stories you tell yourself about your life and career, and shifting the negative belief patterns, can help you make breakthroughs and build new healthy habits that last a lifetime.
A coach is vital in identifying and changing negative belief patterns. It is very hard to do on your own.
9) Skills development
A good coach is not just coaching from their experience. They should also be continuing to learn and improve their own knowledge, skills and teaching capacities. You will benefit from their experience and continued self-study.
No matter what life or career skill you are looking to build – communication, leadership, technical skill, healthy habits, etc. – a coach can help, or at a minimum, coach you in identifying the industry leading experts and resources that can help you make a quantum leap forward in your capability.
Not to mention, through working with many clients (e.g. I’ve coached over 30 clients, for well over five-hundred coaching hours, in the past year alone), a coach will have observed patterns and strategies that work (and don’t work). Their insights regarding your particular condition can help you improve a skill much faster than reading a book and hoping for the best.
10) Facing the cold, hard truth
How many people do you have in your life, that care utterly and completely about your goals and well-being, and are not afraid to call you out on your crap?
If you are not following through on your goals, who is going to confront you with your lack of follow-through? Who is going to bring to your attention the gap between your desires and your actions? Who is going to care so much about your mission and vision that they will support you no matter what, even if it means asking you a tough question?
A good coach cares more about your goals than you do! They are willing to listen deeply, and notice if you are not showing up and putting in the effort that you know you need to put in. Sometimes we need to be told to get our butt in gear! A coach can do that for you.
I could keep adding to this list of benefits of working with a coach. However, I’ll stop now at ten.
I hope that you are motivated to find someone to coach you.
Call for comments: “If you are working with a coach, what has been the major benefit you have gained from coaching? If you aren’t working with a coach, what benefit would you most value?”