7 Top Tips for Getting the Most from Coaching


I am convinced that once you get to a certain level of competence as a leader and manager, the remaining development potential you have is all to do with developing your self-awareness and self management: coaching is the ideal vehicle for addressing this. 

If you, and/or your employer, are investing in coaching to support your development, how can you make this a high quality experience? 

I’ve been involved with a number of organisations that offered coaching to their senior managers. Some of these experiences have been life changing; others made me question whether they were a good investment of the time and expense involved!

Why was it that some experiences proved so valuable and what was it that those people being coached actually did to make it work so well?

To ensure your experience of being coached is a really positive one I have outlined the top tips I have found useful.

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  1. Be ambitious  This is your chance to create a bold new future. Decide what you want to achieve through this process and think big; you can include how you want to feel, not just what you want to do, e.g. to feel more motivated to tackle new projects. Don’t waste this coaching opportunity by only dealing with routine or minor matters.


  1. Be prepared to challenge yourself and let go of old habits, including your belief systems, assumptions and expectations. This is a chance to experiment with new ways of thinking and behaving. Start to observe more at work and see things differently.



  1. Schedule preparation time before your sessionsTake time before your first session to really consider what could be in it for you. This is an opportunity to increase your: self awareness;  understanding of others;  motivation;  ability to relate to and influence others;  personal effectiveness; resourcefulness and resilience as well as your ability to drive and manage change.  Schedule the preparation time in your diary and don’t let it get pushed out. Use this time to think about how you are integrating and applying what you are learning from your last session and what you want to achieve in your next session.


  1. Be the driver of your sessions and bring a notebook with you. Organise your own record keeping for planning, evaluating, reminding yourself of new ideas, actions and commitments. Take your agenda with you. Take more than you may be able to cover, but with the most important things prioritised. Be clear about your desired outcome for each of your agenda items. Give your coach direction about what you want from them, and give them feedback about what works for you. It is up to you to make the session work well.

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  1. Be honest. Get into the habit of being candid from the start. Your coach doesn’t mind about you appearing brilliant or successful; they care about helping you to find a way to be yourself at work, really successfully. Talk about what matters to you. What is the difference that will make the difference for you? Is it helping those on your team become more engaged and committed? Is it becoming more innovative and productive? Ask yourself “What matters to me?”


  1. Listen to the feedback you receive. You’ll hear something useful that you may not get to hear any other way. Feedback can be the most powerful catalyst for change and professional development. The piece of feedback that you might feel most like shrugging off is probably the feedback that you ignore at your peril, in terms of professional or personal development.


  1. Leave each session with 2-3 clear actions that you will report back on at the start of the following session. Figure out a way to keep this ‘front of brain’ when work pressures may overtake your good intentions.


Use the opportunity wisely and enjoy it!


Posted by Shona Ward



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