Suzanne Judy learned that coaching is about being strategic and humble enough to open yourself to learning what a person cannot see from their own perspective.
Understanding your values is a key part of becoming a successful leader in today’s world. I personally have always held the values of honesty, customer service, growth, excellence, and advancement. Therefore, it has been important over my career to focus on developing my skills and striving to work to my fullest potential.
After 20 years in IT, the opportunity arose for me to work toward my MBA. Based on my career path, this was the most logical step to getting to the next level. Once I completed my degree, it was time to shift industries to take me closer to my end goal of being a CIO. A friend suggested that I work with an executive coach, because her experience had been extremely successful in supporting her achievement of key career goals. She referred me to Christy Geiger, CPCC, MCC of Synergy Strategies. I was not sure what to expect but was eager to see what coaching might be able to do beyond the steps I had already taken myself.
I quickly found out that coaching is about being strategic and humble enough to open yourself to learning what a person cannot see from their own perspective. Here are 5 reasons having an executive coach will help you be better than you can imagine and support the growth you desire:
#1 Know Thyself. We started with assessments; DISC, Standout, and Clifton Strengths Finders, so that together we could learn more about me, my strengths, and how to position my “brand”. While I had done some assessments over the years, this time it was different. With Christy’s assistance, we were able to really dive into how I am seen, what comes easily, and what I would have to work on throughout my career. I found these discussions fascinating, because it wasn’t about the good and the bad, it was more about how these results show up in my day-to-day performance and learning what made me unique. She also helped me understand what positions and types of companies would naturally match my style. Finally, we worked through shadows of my strengths; for instance, a tendency to be overly positive or the age-old pleaser complex and how to strengthen my leadership to recognize when these reactions were holding me back.
#2 Develop and Share your Personal Brand. After reviewing and discussing the results, together we crafted a profile summary for LinkedIn and my career portfolio. The nicely written two-page summary highlighted the results of my assessments and showcased why I would be an asset for any potential IT leadership position. We also worked on my resume and created a folder to leave with my interviewers after the interview. I found this to be a special touch – to differentiate you from other candidates. The folder ends up being a standout piece to make you memorable.
#3 Be Confident and have Powerful & Clear Communication. Once the interview invitations started rolling in, Christy helped me with interview preparation. We would role play different interview questions including the difficult ones, such as why I was looking to leave my current role, my strengths and weaknesses, my story, and she would ensure I was articulating my vision and most marketable assets in ways that they were demonstratable to the interviewer. These sessions helped to raise my confidence going into the interviews. I soon found a new role that was a level up in organization size, position and pay. It was also in an industry I was passionate about. Not only did the new role fit professionally but it also encompassed personal goals including a cross-country move closer to family.
By Rebecca Maffei
#4 Keep Growing. During this time, Christy and I got to know each other well. She understood where I was coming from, what worried me, and my career goals. After I started my new role, I kept my sessions with Christy because I wanted to excel and really focus on my leadership skills. I had the job, but I wanted to be sure to not only keep it, but to navigate the new company, their unwritten rules, politics and potentially secure a promotion in my future. Also, as a leader in a new organization, it was helpful to take important conversations about situations at work to an unbiased advisor where I could think out loud in a safe, nonjudgmental, and neutral setting. Our sessions supported me by double checking my thinking, decision making, and ensured that I kept my head up looking at the big picture while the work would require me to go down into the trench. A good leader must be able to navigate getting into the details but keep the overall strategic goal in mind throughout the rebuild process.
#5 Leverage your Strategic Resource. It was March 2014 when I started working with Christy. Over the years, she has consistently made me better. She has helped me navigate very difficult situations including challenges with culture, my leader, and difficult counterparts. She also helped me work through goal setting, organizational change, leadership, improving the team, and managing up. I even engaged her to coach a few of my direct reports, understanding that she would be able to help them succeed in ways that their direct manager might not because of the reporting relationship. She has helped me understand myself, understand others, and she constantly challenges me to continue to get better. Working together has always provided a clear path, focus and action.
A coaching relationship is built on trust. Your coach knows who you are and will speak plainly to make sure you are seeing the whole picture instead of a limited view of the world. While you can talk through challenges with your manager or HR department, often you are more likely to hold back for fear of judgement or concern over your advancement. Having a coach allows you to be open, honest and say things you would never say to someone at your company. Having a trusted coach helps you understand your brand, what you can accomplish and how to continue to make yourself better.
With the ongoing support of coaching, I am looking forward to making an impact through future leadership roles in the companies and teams I get to serve. If you are looking for that advocate, strategic thinking partner in your back pocket, schedule an hour with an executive coach and see what it could do for you and your career!