5 Surefire Ways Working With an Executive Coach Will Give You a Competitive Edge

The demand for exceptional leadership and heightened communication skills in business has never been more significant.

In 1990 the term “Emotional Intelligence” (or EI) was brought to light in a research paper by two psychology professors, John D. Mayer of UNH and Peter Salovey of Yale. The term was further explained in an article by Rutgers psychologist Daniel Goleman, wherein he describes EI this way:

The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions…. Without (emotional intelligence), a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.

The explosion in executive coaching is due to the fact that companies are beginning to realize that leadership success is powerfully swayed by qualities such as resilience, self-control and “people skills.” Leaders that possess the skills to work well with their teams, adapt to change and be flexible, are much more adroit, and ultimately successful, in a corporate environment.

The corporate sector and entrepreneurs alike continue to fuel the growth of the coaching industry, realizing that feedback and self-improvement feeds into the old adage “knowledge is power,” and is certainly not a sign of weakness. As a leader or business owner — or anyone looking to excel in their career, it’s also critically important to seek non-judgmental feedback about your performance. In sports, you would never dream of having a star “playmaker” make do without a coach. All the best athletes — regardless of their sport or talent — have a coach, so why not the playmakers of an organization? A good executive coach will provide guidance, feedback and resources to help you develop and meet your full potential.

One of the methods that we use and highly endorse is a process wherein the coach uncovers a client’s mental models. Mental models are beliefs that you have acquired through life experiences and are often unconscious. Never the less, these mental models will run your life both personally and professionally and will either support you or become an obstacle for success. Through a coaching engagement, you’ll begin to identify them and explore how they affect you, and most importantly, how to reframe negative mental models into constructive ones.

Here are five advantages you will realize when working with an executive coach:

1. Unbiased support.

Change is hard — no question. A good coach is non-judgmental and asks questions in order to determine the motives behind your habits and behavior. An important aspect of the coaching process is to uncover these motives and the mental models that prompted them. Once these are brought to light, you are in a far better position to generate change.

2. A perspective “wake up” call.

A qualified coach has the courage to respectfully tell you the truth — and help you understand how your beliefs are affecting your behavior and relationships. The awareness of your beliefs, and the clarity of how you got to a particular juncture because of them, can move mountains.

3. Honest feedback.

Feedback can be difficult to obtain — even when you ask for it. There can be a lot at stake and occasionally office politics come into play. Alternatively, a coach can remain objective, and is better able to obtain more candid feedback, assisting you in uncovering the significance of your current behavior and how it influences your work relationships.

4. Strategic vision and benchmarking.

An expert coach has a wealth of experience working with the top 20 percent of corporate leadership, as well as leaders who may be derailing in their career. Skillful coaches have an abundance of knowledge and perspective and can help you determine a plan and direction for sustained success. Many clients often ask how their feedback compares to others in similar positions. An experienced coach can offer you a holistic view of your current situation, and eventually provide you with insight into your evolvement as a more effective leader.

5. Your own personal advocate and negotiator.

A competent coach gains insight on not only your challenges in the workplace but also takes into consideration other leaders in the organization, as well as the company culture. Therefore, the coach is able to help you avoid landmines and navigate the political waters more successfully. Coaches may also be in a position to negotiate on your behalf in some cases, and may have influence with your superiors as an unbiased, third party supporter.

Originally published on Inc.com