Every Tech Business Leader Needs a Thinking Partner

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A great business coach who acts as a thinking partner is as valuable to business success as a sports coach is to a successful athlete. If you are a business leader who is not being coached, it's time to change that.

Great athletes often readily acknowledge the one or two special coaches who enable them to break through their particular limiting personal barriers. We all have limiting beliefs, a tendency to impose barriers upon our own effectiveness and performance, quite unconsciously. Limiting beliefs are self-imposed limitations that affect our work relationships, acting as brakes on our performance and also on the performance of the organizations that we work with and lead. This is true for many great actors, lawyers, and so many other professions, including for coaches! But can it be really true for successful business leaders? Absolutely! Every great business leader needs a great coach to act as a thinking partner... and every great coach has a coach as well!

Thinking Partners

I like to refer to business coaches as thinking partners. Good business coaching encourages clients to step outside their personal box, outside of their familiar space, to explore what is unique about their situation, to stop, check and sometimes take a new perspective to uncover new and untapped possibilities. Good coaching can empower a leader to discover solutions uniquely suited to their own situation, by challenging them to go beyond the limiting assumptions that can so readily attach and obscure. At the same time, an effective coaching relationship empowers the client to think things through completely before making important decisions.

Coaching Makes for Better Leaders

It used to be that many business leaders would shy away from coaching due to a lack of understanding of what coaching is about. This is less common now, and today the vast majority of global industry leading companies, almost without exception, promote and invest in confidential executive coaching for their leadership team and for their most promising talent.

The business coach is not there to tell the client what to do; he or she is there to help the client do things better, their way. Just as a sports coach is rarely as good an athlete as the athlete coachee, a business coach does not compete with the business coachee, nor does he or she need to know the answers. Instead, good coaches know how to listen very carefully, and they know how to ask the right questions.

Coaching Effectiveness

There is little a football coach can do to improve the natural skill the team's star player was born with. But the coach can work with that player to extend his or her situational awareness during the course of a game. The coach can help the player to identify and act on areas of strength or weakness depending on the goals of the player.

A business coach performs a similar role. He or she works with clients to help them to develop personal and organizational strategies, to enable them to become more effective at achieving their goals. Coaching effectiveness depends very much on how open the coachee is to the coaching relationship and trust between peers in this confidential relationship, is critical. And this is why I like to describe good coaching as a thinking partner relationship.

How to Find a Great Business Coach

But now that we understand what Coaching is, how do we find a great coach? From my perspective, here are some things to look for:

Stretch - A good coaching relationship should be able to challenge and create stretch for the coachee. Make sure your coach has the experience and assuredness not to shy away from difficult questions.

Independence - An authentic business coaching relationship is based on openness and full, honest interaction. It is important that the selected coach has no personal interest in the decisions made during the coaching exchange. This is one reason many successful business leaders will delegate coaching of their own senior team, to outside professional business coaches.

Values - The coach is dedicated to the success of the coachee and the relationship is more effective when genuine empathy exists for the desired outcomes of the coachee. A conflict of values between coach and coachee does not necessarily lead to breakdown, but is best avoided if possible.

Professional Development - Modern coaching standards are maintained through rigorous training and ongoing professional development programs governed by international organizations such as the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and the AC (Association for Coaching). A professional coach will maintain ongoing professional development with a recognized professional body.

Finally, the best business coaches more than earn their pay. Any executive wanting to find a great coach must be willing to invest financially. You do get what you pay for.

Confidential discussion

A great business coach who acts as a thinking partner is as valuable to business success as a sports coach is to a successful athlete. If you are a business leader who is not being coached, it's time to change that! 

David Orren is Practice Director for the Technology Business Growth Practice at Thames Valley Business Advisors. David is an experienced business coach who works with business leaders to develop practical strategies around the few key things in each business that really matter to achieving sustained growth. For a confidential discussion on the few things that really matter to your business,email David Orren at david.orren@tvba.co.uk, or call +44-7914-223 691.

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Author: David Orren

''The business of technology solutions is changing more quickly than ever.  CEOs and senior executives of innovative technology solution providers must lead their teams daily into the unknown, without a rule book in sight.   This can make for a thrilling and also lonely ...


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