Real Leaders

Self-Coaching: Become the Best You Can Be

Everyone wants to find success in their life and career. The question is how to get there.

A few years ago, Google created Project Oxygen with the purpose of discovering what makes someone a good manager—or determining if managers even matter for success. Team members went to work gathering and analyzing data and came up with a definite conclusion: Not only do managers matter a lot, but the best ones display a consistent set of eight traits. Can you guess what was number one on the list— the most important quality successful managers should have? First and foremost, good managers are good coaches.

Of course that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The importance of good coaching has been studied and written about for some time now. It can help people see themselves and their experiences more clearly. It can help them respond to situations more effectively. It can help them expand their knowledge and capabilities. It can help them define what they need to do and stay on track as they do it. In short, good coaching can help them reach more of their potential and become the best they can be.

Yet, despite all the known benefits, good coaching doesn’t seem to be practiced all that much. Following up on his identification of six defining leadership styles, Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of the bestselling Emotional Intelligence, wrote that even though coaching has been shown to improve results, “the coaching style is used least often [among the six leadership styles] in our high-pressure economy.”

Where does that leave all the people out there in need of a good coach?

The need is clear. How many times have we heard how disengaged people are at work? The Gallup numbers come out every year and they never seem to budge all that much. According to Gallup’s recent State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of employees are not engaged, or worse, are actively disengaged at work. That means there are a lot of people out there who just don’t like their jobs, despite the fact that they spend at least a quarter of their time at work.

Americans are also starting new businesses at the fastest rate in more than a decade, and they are opting for freelance or gig work more and more often. And they are increasingly working from home, which means they are likely without a manager or mentor on hand to act as their coach. People in these kinds of situations often don’t have options for personal coaching without paying high prices for it. Whether you work for yourself or for someone else, the market is becoming increasingly competitive and dynamic—if you don’t know how to develop yourself and your skills, you will fall behind.

So what are people who want to grow and achieve more supposed to do? Are they supposed to sit around and hope that their organizations get with the program? Are they supposed to wait and see if their bosses develop the coaching skills they need to succeed? And what about all the people who are self-employed, have lost a job, are transitioning to new careers, or retiring? It’s often in those transitional moments, whether professional or personal (i.e., moving to a new town, deciding whether to start a family, recovering from grief or illness) when people need coaching the most. But so often those are the moments when we end up having to figure things out on our own. Where are people who find themselves in these kinds of situations supposed to find the coaching help they could so sorely use?

As important as coaches are, there just aren’t enough good ones to go around—in fact, there’s a real coaching deficit out there. And the coaches who do exist are often far too expensive and in too high demand for most people to consider hiring their own. But that doesn’t mean you should go without. Your life is too important to leave your personal growth and professional development up to chance. It’s time to take the responsibility for coaching into your own hands and give yourself what you need to succeed, grow, and lead a more fulfilling life. It’s time to take charge of you and learn how to coach yourself.

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