Last year, I was given the opportunity to work with an Executive Coach for 6 months at the same time I took a new position within my company leading a large, geographically dispersed sales team. After executing a 360 feedback survey to understand from direct reports, peers, and leadership my key strengths and development opportunities, I aligned with my manager and coach on 3 developmental areas where my coach and I would focus our time. At the same time, I was also dealing with unconscious gender bias issues within my leadership team, so we spent time working through these issues as well.
Over the course of our 6 months together, my coach and I developed a relationship built on mutual respect. He always helped me think through how to resolve an issue, capitalize on an opportunity, or recognize when to take the high road – coaching me the entire time to make my own decision, but guiding me through the process. My coach also gave me tools to help me along the way, including books to read, the Resilience Advantage (breathing techniques designed to help me stay calm and communicate without emotion in stressful situations), and conversational intelligence (because words definitely matter).
At the end of the day, I feel I improved my communication skills, my self-assurance, my productivity, the alignment & trust across my team, peers, and leadership, and my ability to connect and build stronger relationships with people on a deeper level (by being vulnerable and listening to connect).
I will forever be thankful for the wonderful coaching experience I had.