A good strategy coach can help you accomplish things that you couldn’t on your own — or that would take much longer if you did them on your own.
How does a coach do this?
In this article, we’ll look at the different services coaches provide to help clients with strategy. First, however, let’s look at two important points about working with a coach on strategy.
Not every coach is a master of strategy
A coach may advise clients on strategy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s skilled at helping clients with strategy.
Of course, some coaches are highly talented strategy coaches. I’m in awe of the minds of the top-notch strategy coaches I know.
But most coaches don’t operate at anywhere near this level. Many coaches do a decent job of it, though what they come up with won’t necessarily be any better than what you would. Some coaches’ suggestions are ineffective, misguided, or wrong.
So it’s not wise to assume that a coach who claims to be able to help you with strategy can actually do a good job of it. You have to listen to what she says and read what she write to get a sense of how she thinks and the level of work she does.
The final decision always rests in your hands
Even if you were working with the most talented strategy coach in the world, you still have to decide if her suggestions are a good fit for you.
It’s your life.
You want a strategy that’s workable for you, that fits your values, ethics, skills, personality, and approach to life. I know brilliant business coaches whose guidance I wouldn’t take because they’re willing to do things that fall into ethically gray areas. Or they focus on results and don’t care about the suffering involved, which is pretty much the opposite of my value system. Even if something is logical and a brilliant coach whom you respect told it to you, it may not be the right choice for you.
How a strategy coach can help
Let’s turn to the list of strategy services that a coach provides for her clients.
Having a strategy discussion in the first place
The biggest value coaches provide in helping their clients with strategy may come simply from the fact that you’re having a discussion about strategy at all. Many people, when left to their own devices, jump into projects without much thought. A coach can help you pause, look at the big picture, and think about how best to achieve your goals. And just doing that can put you way ahead.
Using her natural talent at strategizing
Some coaches are inherently talented at strategizing. Their eyes get all sparkly and gleaming when you ask them to help you with a strategy. They love the stuff. They’re solutions are highly creative and clever.
They think many steps ahead — life is a big chess game to them, and they’re masters at it. They’re sensitive to subtleties that other people miss. They’ll look at a complex situation and pick out what’s really important. They see connections and opportunities where most people don’t.
Asking fundamental questions
A coach can help you fashion a strategy by helping you get clear by asking you fundamental questions about it. She asks you about your motivation, the dynamics of the situation, any people that are involved, and what you want to achieve. Often, a strategy will naturally start to form. The coach may not have the answers herself, but she helps pull them out of you.
Brainstorming can help you come up with creative options, You can brainstorm with your coach or just have your coach listen while you brainstorm. If you’re lucky, you and your coach will spark ideas in each other so that the two of you come up with ideas that neither could have come up with on his own.
For more information about brainstorming and how to do it, you can check out the What is brainstorming? article.
Designing your life
Your coach can help you think about how you’d like to live, how you’d like all the different areas of your life to be. She can help you create a vision and then work with you to bring that vision into reality.
Being a sounding board
You can bounce your ideas off of your coach and see what she thinks. You get to hear what she thinks, and, arguably just as important, you have a chance to say your thoughts out loud to a supportive audience. An idea that’s just in your head comes to life when you talk about it.
Your coach uses her creative problem-solving skills — and encourages you to use yours, too — to come up with new ideas about how to solve problems, overcome challenges, and succeed at your goals.
Being a devil’s advocate
When you’re at the stage where you have an idea that you’re starting to take seriously and turn into a plan of action, your coach point out places in your plan that may be problematic. She can help you strengthen your plan by finding holes and weak points and helping you take care of them.
Sharing inside knowledge of an industry
Sometimes, the coach brings deep knowledge of an industry to the party. She knows what’s likely to happen long-term if you take different paths. She knows the inner workings.
Let’s say you’ve got some top-notch widgets, which you know are just perfect for big Wall Street investment banks. But you don’t know how to get in front of the right people at the investment banks or what to say to them to make the sale. You work with a coach who has experience making these types of sales. She knows what they care about, what buttons to push, which people to approach and how to get in touch with them. She knows how the decision-making process works and how to help it along.
Next on our tour of coaching services, we’re going to check out how coaches help their clients with information, skill-building, and advice.