In a world that holds up entrepreneurs and startups as role models for how companies can flourish, the role of the ‘team effort’ seems out of favour. Even in the rise of the mega-internet companies, we tend to act as if the Mark Zuckerbergs of this world create all the value from an idea on their own. This seems a great shame to me, because while small, single-person companies are often great, most of the examples we look to have grown to include the efforts of many individuals – all who play a vital role in their success.
Getting on with other people in the company – and management of employees – and collaborating and partnering with others are vital for these larger enterprises’ success. These softer people skills deserve as much, if not more, investment as traditional competencies. Yet we often act as if an individual can do it on their own, almost despite their colleagues, rather than because of them.
Working with a coach questions the notion that the leader can succeed on their own in two main ways.
- The coach / client relationship itself is a form of partnership and
- A coach very often invites a client to ask whose help he or she will need
The coach / client relationship itself as a form of partnership.
Let’s be clear: the coach isn’t going to come into your workplace and do some or all of your work for you. He or she won’t be drafting your emails or reworking your expansion plans. In fact, the coach will probably ask you how you are going to be doing these things. A coach would invite you to come up with your own solutions to hurdles that you may face. But that doesn’t mean that you’re on your own. A coach partners with a client to empower the client, not squash them by providing all the answers (which the coach doesn’t have anyway!). This isn’t a passive role: in fact a coach will be doing a lot of work to help the client navigate their thinking and instincts to find a path forward. This respectful relationship is one that involves the client accepting gracefully that support would help them move their ambitions forward, but never diminishes the client or questions their own capability or resourcefulness.
Even though coaches believe their clients to be infinitely resourceful, that doesn’t mean people have to work alone.
A coach will often ask ‘Whose support might help to complete that?’
It can be a surprisingly freeing question, releasing the client from the expectation that they must have all the answers. So often a look of relief flashes over a client – “Oh, I can get my Head of Marketing to help with that flyer” – as they realise there’s no shame in your colleagues helping with their areas of expertise!
We often work better when we work together, and coaching can help make this happen harmoniously!