How important is the right business coach?


Do they need to be the same as you? Have the experience you want to gain? Or be in the same sector that you are/want to be in?

These are all questions, among many more that you may be asking yourself when either being approached by a business coach, while you're talking to one or even after you have had your session.

While broadening my network of contacts, I took the decision to seek coaching from an experienced individual who is not only influential in the circles I would love to be involved in, but more so I feel like he understands what I am trying to achieve.

We can't get on with everybody in life and there a few people with whom you have a distinct understanding and even fewer who tell you that you remind them of themselves. When I first met my coach I had genuine reservations, not because he didn't have the relevant experience or ability to adapt his style but because he told me what I didn't want to hear on the day in question.

So what should you expect from a coach? Are they there to empathise with you and give emotional support if your business is failing? Not always. Are they there to tell you what you want to hear? Definitely not. Are they there to ask you more questions than give answers? Yes

It is my view that you should be able to be as selective with your business coach as you would be your life partner. This person is there to provide you with what you need to enhance yourself as an individual and help you succeed, it is their privilege to work with you as much as it is yours to have their help.

One of the main driving factors for me was someone that had the ability to view life from perspectives that I didn't.

My tips of what to look for in a good and effective coach are as follows:

  • They should be there as an ongoing supporter fitting around the time you have
  • They should keep their end of the bargain and follow-up on deliverables; this isn't just about you doing things so they can tick a few boxes
  • Provide feedback on signs of development
  • Ask for your opinion on the relationship as and when appropriate
  • Be willing to provide you with face to face coaching rather than distance
  • They should be able to provide other contacts in their network for you to meet
  • Agree on the outcomes of coaching; there is no point in a coach telling you how you should change if it not what you want or are comfortable with

Now some less conventional ones...

  • Be capable of getting you emotive; after all what use is a coach that can't establish what makes you passionate
  • Be there to learn something from you! No coach is perfect and every person is unique, they are there to learn from you as well

Overall would I say coaching is worthwhile? Yes. But only if you can find the right individual to unlock your potential. Use them wisely, your time with them is limited; preparation, follow-up and continual self-reflection is the key to making it worthwhile. You should always end a session asking yourself more questions than when you went in. You should be considering how you can use what you have spoken about to enhance your own way of working and that of others.

As a coach to small businesses and the colleagues I work with, it is vital I try to stick to these rules as much as possible. It is difficult sometimes to jump from one side of the fence to the other but it is also rewarding, anything I learn I try to pass on. All coaches may drop their focus at one time, but a brief nudge will have the relationship working in the right direction for you both.

Emotional intelligence…Management BS or Serious Stuff?!


Is ‘Emotional Intelligence’ current vogue management speak or is it something serious worth considering?

I’m can't tell you how to become emotionally intelligent or whether or not it’s for you but as a consultant to small businesses and a manager of people, of which I have made mistakes, it is important that I am aware of how good (or bad) I am with people under what circumstances.

Personally, I think that there is perhaps too much hype about journeys of self-discovery and understanding yourself, but ultimately the bottom line is, do you understand people properly and know how to represent yourself in the best way possible under any given circumstances? Do you need anger management, life coaching or counselling to do this? No. You simply have to care.

I am a passionate person, as my current and former colleagues might tell you. My moods go up and down just like anyone one else. It’s not about going through monk training in China that’s going to help me think positive all the time; I simply have to care enough about the people around me to understand the impact I am having on them and judge how they react if I say something out of tone.

I guess the bottom line is recognising that your mood influences your reaction and how you think.

What’s the irony in all of this?

Emotions are within us and are created for a reason- to get us motivated, passionate or even angry about something. The fact they are emotions, by nature, means they are expressive and therefore the reaction, seen by others if your extroverted, is sometimes irrational. If any of you have suffered grief you can empathise with this; you can very rarely control how you react in the extremes.

What changed my mind to care and respect people more?

Last year, I was unfortunate enough to lose my sister, having been so focussed on my own problems for so long and career driven I had lost touch with her somewhat. In a moment of self-reflection I realised that if I just cared more, there may have been something I could have done to help her. Don’t mistake this for a feeling of guilt because that isn’t healthy but it did make me realise that everyone you encounter has their own problems you just don’t know about them most of the time.

Unfortunately as a leader, father, husband or friend we can’t let our problems encroach on the rest of our lives. We need to be able to treat all of the people we encounter with the same level of respect and care we would expect to be treated with ourselves. I understand that’s a lot harder than it sounds but I have managed it, yes with a few lapses, which my team will be more than happy to highlight to me, but it’s not too difficult to get back on the right track again.

In summary, yes Emotional Intelligence is high on management agenda in the workplace right not but it is something to think about in too much detail. Ask your team, family and friends how you are in different moods or just think of some situations in the last couple of days where you know your reaction was emotionally driven and think about it from the third person or the recipient.

If you don’t like the self-help approach or journey or discovery, simply view this as a level of respect people deserve in life. You like to be respected and cared about, as do they. After all, it wasn’t my colleagues fault my car broke down on the way to work, so I won’t let that affect the way I treat them.

At The Growth Collective we work with staff, managers and directors to provide an awareness of these issues for a lasting positive change.