In some professions, it is very easy to see if you are getting better at what you do. A decline in errors, an increase in results, the measurement might be different yet both can indicate an improvement. Getting better is a process of continuous small steps forward and sometimes a few steps back. Which one do you learn most from?
- I remember the wrong business partner choice from 1999 like it was yesterday. It resulted in a costly business divorce in 2000.
- In 2004 I neglected to include our legal department in a negotiation process. It set me back a whole year in the negotiations.
- In 2017, I rightfully walked away from a negotiation due to unreasonable demands from the prospective client.
All three of these are examples of lessons I learned in the process of getting better in what I do. Lessons in the form of setbacks and lessons in the form of the right decision. The setbacks were the toughest lessons, those will not happen again. Staying on course for the right decision might be more difficult as sometimes the opportunity seems so interesting that it might blur the right judgment.
That is exactly everyone’s biggest challenge: awareness of your own performance. No one is able to objectively judge how you yourself are doing. If you want to get better, you need to work with someone else, someone who will be able to let you see how you are doing. Someone who will challenge you, will be your sparring partner, will critique you and who will guide you on your path to improvement. You need a set of extended eyes and ears, that can see what you can’t.
I am a curious person and I always want to know why people are doing what they are doing. Hence I ask a lot of questions, I analyze the answers and ask more questions. In my coaching, it helps me to let you look into your own mirror.
For one alliance leader, my coaching helps her to implement an organization-wide alliance program. A business executive has seen his career propel to the next level as a result of executive coaching, and he jokingly accuses me of being guilty of that. An alliance manager finds my questions helpful in finding new solutions for the crisis her alliance is in. For a team, my questions helped them to transform and reconnect with a common goal. Two companies joined forces in an alliance after an inquisitive day together with me.
You see from these examples that coaching can have different forms and outcomes. For me, all coaching situations have in common that my clients all want to get better at collaboration: with their peers, their stakeholders, in their teams, and with other companies. Situations where they need an independent sparring partner and another set of eyes and ears to help them create awareness of how they are doing in order to be able to get better at it.
How about you: (how) are you getting better?