I try very hard to practice what I coach on and having my own Business Coach is no exception.
The coaching relationship that I have built with my coach, Hugh Culver, over the past 2 years has been a game-changer for me and our business at X5 Management.
For me, it is an investment, not a cost, and allows me to have a trusted advisor and sounding board.
Like many people, I desire a bigger and better “future reality” and my coach has been there to help me move in that direction.
While I have known my coach Hugh for several years, we started the coaching/client relationship in April 2021. All coaching calls have been via Zoom, but in early May of this year, I made the decision to meet Hugh in person and I flew to beautiful Kelowna, BC where he lives. The purpose of meeting in person was twofold for me:
- It served as a mini retreat for me and spending time in Kelowna in May with a room overlooking the water was just what I needed to recharge and refocus.
- The in-person meeting also allowed us more planning time together where a traditional coaching call with Hugh is 60-90 minutes, we had 8-hours together, plus we enjoyed a delightful dinner together that evening.
What does coaching do for you?
When you select a coach, you must decide what you are hoping to gain or accomplish, and every Business Coach, or Executive Coach is different, and fit is a must.
For me, I wanted a coach that had proven experience with growing a business like X5 and one that could challenge me with some tough love at times and be respectful along the way. At times, stretching you to an uncomfortable place, and in these moments, it is where you can grow the most. In addition, the sounding board element has been key for me, as I can speak to my coach and run by an idea or decision that I want to make. It can serve as validation or provide suggestions to tweak my approach.
I have found that the longer I work with my coach, the closer we get and the more he knows about our business and more importantly, me as an entrepreneur and holistic person. We can pick up where we left on our last conversation and gain momentum with each coaching call.
How does one know if a coach is a good fit?
You may have to test and measure, but the clearer you are at the outset the better it is for you and your coach. As I like to say, “clarity is a beautiful thing”.
Having said that, you may not select the best or most ideal coach for you on the first attempt, but I would encourage you to have a minimum of 3-5 sessions before deciding if the fit is not there.
TIPS: Make sure you have flexibility to wind down the relationship with no financial strings attached, and there are references that you can contact to validate the effectiveness of the coach that you are looking for.
Having the right coach is a dream and highly productive when it is working very well. That is the case for me, and I am proud to say I have some highly valuable client relationships with many Executives and Leaders that I personally coach.
Does the coach need a coach?
There is a quote from legendary leadership guru, John C. Maxwell, that references being a “Tour Guide” vs. a “Travel Agent”. The tour guide can take you where they have been or know every step to get there, whereas a travel agent may simply hand you the brochure and map and leave the rest up to you. I much prefer the Tour Guide!
You can get to where you are going without the support of others and in my case as a business owner and entrepreneur, I couldn’t imagine trying to grow and improve my business without the guidance of my business coach. Please note that while X5 offers Executive Coaching as one of our services, I look at the need for my own coaching support more from the view of a business owner. It has been key to our current and future success! Please note that the best athletes have coaches. There are key reasons for that and in most cases their success shows!
Does a coach hold you accountable?
Ideally yes, but you must allow them to do that even if it is uncomfortable. Interesting note: When I left our in-person meeting with Hugh in Kelowna, he told me, “Mike you have some bold plans, and asked me, what do you need most from me going forward? I replied, “serve as my sounding board as always and hold me accountable to what I committed to do”.
In the work at X5 Management we often reference, Alignment, Commitment, and Accountability.
Once you and your coach are aligned and heading in the same direction, you as the leader or business owner needs to commit to many things. Your coach helps you do that, but you must always do what you committed to do, otherwise, why did you commit to it in the first place. Your coach plays a role in holding you accountable to what you committed to do.
What are the top takeaways you have benefited from coaching?
There have been more than four takeaways, but what comes to mind for me includes:
- Focus: Less can be more and it allows you to focus on top and high value contribution areas for your business.
- Discipline: I do what I said I would do, and I know my coach will help hold me accountable. My view is, why commit to something important if you aren’t going to do it? Seems pointless!!
- Work Ethic: While I already have strong work ethic, my drive for grow and achieving business and personal goals makes me work a little harder and not ‘sluff off” when something important needs to get done, even if it is stressful or uncomfortable.
- Support: I always know I have my coach in my corner and he may be the first person I reach out to if a big challenge occurs or if we are presented with a significant business opportunity.
Do you prepare for your coaching sessions?
Yes, but at times more in certain coaching sessions, depending on the high level of importance or stage of the execution of a particular objective, or project. I am fortunate as my coach is very organized and prepared for each of our calls and has great summary notes and key take-aways.
Can your coach be an inspiration to you?
Again, this becomes a personal choice or desire. My coach inspires me all the time, not only because he is a big fan and support of mine, but he also operates at a high-level and has accomplished many impressive things in his life. He also serves a different purpose for me, and provides strong accountability and challenges my thinking, particularly if a great idea may be something that I have never tried before. This is based on the vulnerability-based trust that has been created.
“What got you here, won’t get you to where you want to go in the future.”
What makes a good listener?
Listening is a learned skill and I often share with others that the greatest thing I learned in my 14 years in Toastmasters, where I crafted my communication and public speaking skills, was to become a better listener. For example, in Toastmasters, when one person is talking everyone is listening. Simple concept!
While listening without interrupting is key, you need to listen and hear what was said. In some cases, without judgement as the more that you build a trusting relationship with your coach the more things you are willing to share. In my Executive Coaching role, within X5, I hear many things and much of it is highly confidential. This can range from business growth strategies, to considering terminating a key leader or employee, to dealing with a personal matter ranging from health, financial concerns to personal relationship with family.
FYI…. People often ask me, are you a Life Coach? While we focus on supporting business clients, we talk about life on a regular basis. It must be more holistic. For example, if you are growing your business and all of a sudden you get hit by a bus, so-to-speak, such as a divorce or a major health issue, you need to be able to talk to someone and if you have a coach, they may be the first person that you speak with and their ability to listen and serve as a sounding board can be critically important to you as a business leader, and human being.
With a busy schedule, how do you follow through on items you agree to action?
It’s all about purpose and your WHY. If your Purpose and Why is compelling and important enough, you will find a way. In my case, having a business coach was very intentional and like anything worth investing in, you have to put in the work too.
Who prepares the agenda for the coaching sessions?
This may vary, and in my case, I will message my coach in advance of some or our coaching sessions depending on the current state of my business and if a high priority topic comes up. My coach Hugh is exceptionally organized, so he often drives our ongoing agenda and references our notes and key takeaways from our last call.
In my role as an Executive Coach, every client will prepare differently. In some cases, particularly with regular and consistent coaching sessions (I.e., weekly, or bi-weekly) we have a flow and rhythm, but often they have an important item that popped up on their radar and they will give me a heads up that they want to focus on that topic for our next coaching session. As a coach, I am flexible and adjust based on the needs of the client. This may include an unscheduled call on short notice if the clients need a trusted ear or shoulder to lean on.
At what point in one’s career should a coach be considered?
This will vary for every Business Owner and Executive, and really all depends on you. The old statement is so true in this case: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. While coaches aren’t teachers, there is a right time and a wrong time to start with a coach. First, you need to commit to the time and the discipline and consistency of the coaching calls. Don’t cancel every other call and stifle the momentum of your progress, or the cadence of the coaching sessions. This is key!
Also, be prepared to invest in a professional coach. The better the coach, the more investment you will require. Remember, great coaches are totally worth the investment.
Do you take notes during coaching, and do you refer to these notes again?
Yes, but in my case, my coach creates great notes and illustrations during our coaching calls and send them and a summary email to me right after our call. I find this very helpful for me!
A BIG shout-out to my coach Hugh!
Hugh recently celebrated his 65th Birthday in April, and his goal for this milestone birthday was to compete in the Boston Marathon in April 2023, which he did. Super proud of Hugh and this incredible achievement!!!!!
Are you ready for an Executive Coach, or Business Coach? The team at X5 Management would welcome the opportunity to speak with you.