written by Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

You put a tremendous amount of effort into your career. You work late, you flex to reset priorities, and you’re constantly thinking of new ways you can add value to the business or organization you work for.

You’re a conscientious professional because you care.

You care about the quality of your work, your professional reputation, and the career path that leads you from one opportunity to the next.

Undoubtedly, there are days, though, when you feel that you’re alone. As if the tasks you undertake, or projects that you’re leading, have created a scenario that requires you to walk a solo path into uncharted territory. It’s in these moments that you crave something that only a coach can provide – unbiased, timely, and critical insight.

When you partner with a coach, suddenly you have a champion, encourager, and guide who’s there to support you with every difficult decision you’re faced with or challenging colleague you have to confront. You’ve got someone in your corner to reassure you, reinforce you, and help you sharpen your perspective to make better decisions or to lead your team.

You may never have considered partnering with a coach before. Yet, as you’ll soon realize, having a leadership coach could be one of the best decisions you make for your career.

What’s a Coach?

A coach is an individual with specific experiences, skills, and subject matter expertise who can teach, empower, and inspire you to reach new levels of performance. In regard to a coach who specializes in leadership development, this person can help you build capabilities and the capacity to be a more influential and impactful leader.

When you focus on building your leadership skills, your efforts will allow you to:

  • Be better positioned for promotion
  • Delivery the results that matter for your organization
  • Transform a group of individuals into a team
  • Be a sought-after team member for special projects and assignments
  • Be seen as the go-to person in your environment
  • Better lead your career

Building Your Leadership Skills

Leadership development is relevant to any professional at any stage of their career. It’s also for everyone, not just managers. Even if you’re an individual contributor, you still have leadership opportunities. Regardless of your role in an organization, the process of developing your skills is the same – it takes focus, commitment, and time. A great coach will ensure that the effort you put forth to build your leadership capabilities will produce a great return on investment.

How Coaches Can Help

In addition to building the traits commensurate with leadership, here are five ways a coach can accelerate your career success:

1. Help You Identify Your Holdbacks

Are you stuck, professionally speaking? If this sounds like you, you can waste precious months … or even years … agonizing over why you can’t break through to that next level. You might ask around to your colleagues and friends, who validate your frustrations but don’t know how to help. You can ask your boss, who gives you vague feedback that doesn’t give clarity or direction about how you can advance.

A great coach draws awareness to opportunities or roadblocks that you might never have seen before. Through one-on-one consultation, they’re able to provide enlightening insights that help you develop actions that transform your holdbacks into breakthroughs.

2. Provide New Development Strategies

When we think of professional development, our minds often turn to courses, conferences, and competency development – tools we can use, models we can employ to help us do our work better. But what if there are other ways to grow? Ways you’ve never heard of, or development experiences that have never been introduced to you?  These ideas alone should excite you because they could represent a missing piece to your professional development puzzle.

A great coach will share with you new ways to grow that allow you to build your leadership capacity and reach new heights. They’re there to make their experience in coaching and expertise in leadership work for you.

3. Deliver Real-Time Support

When you have a challenge, you don’t want to wait two weeks to solve it. You want to make impact immediately because you know that there’s so much on the line. Whether the challenge relates to a high-visibility presentation you need to prepare for, a contract you’re negotiating, or dealing with a difficult colleague, you want support … now.

When you work with a great coach, they’re ready to support you in the moment you need them because they know you’re counting on them. A great coach works for you, not the other way around, and they’re right there with you when you need to rise to the occasion you’re challenged by.

4. Present the Truth … with Care, Compassion, and Tact

Direct feedback. Doesn’t that sound refreshing? It is, especially when delivered by someone who’s got your best interest at heart.

Many professionals don’t get the feedback they need because those who should be providing it to them – their supervisor or manager, their colleagues, or their peers – either don’t know how to deliver it well or are so nervous about providing it that they opt out of delivering it all together.

We all need the truth delivered to us in a way that adds value and meaning to us. That’s exactly what a great coach will do. Plus, a great coach will go the extra mile and help you strategize how you can translate the feedback you receive into practical, relevant actions that will support your long-term growth and development.

5. Thought Partnership

As you’re stretching to achieve new heights, there will be times when you have to make difficult decisions or provide strategic guidance. In these moments, there’s value in having outside counsel to help you sharpen your perspective, bounce ideas off of, or provide you new ways of viewing your challenge.

A great coach provides a safe place for you to think out loud. They’re not there to judge you; they’re there to help you develop your thinking so you’re your best when you need to be.

When’s the Right Time?

If the idea of a coach seems like a much-needed asset in your career development equation, don’t wait to find the right coach for you. Leadership development takes time – you’ll want to launch your program right away so you can begin seeing the results of your efforts.

Plus, it also takes time to find the right fit. Your coach is someone you’ll confide in, so the relationship needs to click. As you do your research, make sure you’re identifying coaches who not only are credible in the leadership development space, but also are individuals you can be completely comfortable with. Their thought leadership should give you insight into their experience and expertise, as well as their personality and style of coaching.

Just think: You’re one decision away from embarking on a coaching relationship that could lead you to unlocking your potential. You matter, your career matters. Isn’t now a great time to initiate a development experience that has value for you today, tomorrow, and many more years to come?

This piece was written by the authors of Leading from the Front and the New York Times best-selling business book, SPARK, Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch. Both women are the creators of Lead Star and have been coaching executives more nearly two decades. Learn more about their sought-after coaching program, Year to Rise.