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You've only got to watch a few minutes of the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia to see how important coaches are and how much they can influence performance. In the moments before each event, coaches get the final words. Post-competition, they often get the first look or hug. During competition, their words of wisdom can guide an athlete to peak performance.
Athletes work with coaches to set clear and measurable objectives, rigorously track training and provide regular mentoring.
For the same reasons business leaders should also have coaches. People to keep them – and the organizations they lead – focused and in top shape.
There are no podiums in the boardroom; instead, business leaders strive for metaphorical medals through increased market share, new client wins, and so on. Success requires stepping out of the comfort zone and leaving egos on table. Great leaders have the grit, grace, discipline and humble confidence to reach out for counsel.
Constructive feedback from trusted experts is a great performance enhancer. Below are some areas where I've found coaching and outside expertise to be hugely beneficial:
It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of running a business. To help me stick to overall objectives, priorities and plans, I consult with coaches who provide objective feedback and a reminder of the bigger picture.
I meet with a strategic business coach quarterly and each member of my team meets with him monthly to ensure alignment with our corporate objectives.
I meet with a group of like-minded peers every four to six weeks and we take turns sharing our business and personal challenges (with signed non-disclosure agreements in hand and assurances of complete confidentiality). Between meetings, this group is on call and can provide a sounding board. Their support is invaluable; they have guided me through many of my most critical challenges.
I don't have one specific coach in this area. Instead, I take advantage of as many educational resources as possible. Most of my coaching comes from reading, attending conferences and watching TED Talks, online lectures for which I have developed a growing addiction.
I don't think anyone has cornered the leadership market, but there are many who are great examples. One of my favourites is Canadian writer and leadership expert Robin Sharma (@_robin_sharma). The leaders I admire have several things in common but the most critical is a continuous hunger for learning.
Health and wellness
Maintaining our health is what gives us the energy and focus to lead, yet this is often the first area we neglect.
In 2014, I made health my No. 1 priority with coaches to keep me accountable and on track. I see a personal trainer three times a week. I do yoga and see my chiropractor once a week. I have a standing bi-weekly massage appointment and quarterly reiki treatment.
Following this regimen, I've seen my health, stress levels and focus improve.
Taking care of my health is time-consuming, selfish and inconvenient. But without my health, I cannot possibly be an effective leader.
A reality check
Leadership is awesome – and it is exhausting. It is a 24/7 job; but we can't operate 24/7 and be effective. Leaders need coaches who remind us to take a break. I have a life coach, three young adult children and a close-knit team in the office who fill this role.
I connect with my life coach on a quarterly basis. Between sessions, my kids and my team remind me daily that to live up to our vision of being extraordinary, I need to regularly turn off my brain and rest. Admittedly, I have difficulty sitting still and shutting my mind off. I have made a point to meditate daily. I listen to calming music and write in a journal. This reflective time helps me prioritize the constant demands of leadership.
Faster, higher, stronger
As business leaders, we are naturally adept in certain areas; we need to be equally adept in knowing when to reach out for expert counsel. In doing so, we improve our own performance and that of our organization. In addition to the coaches listed above, I have tactical coaches whom I consult periodically when specific opportunities arise (for instance, presentation training, public relations). The impact their counsel has on my performance and confidence to win is immeasurable.
Commit to your performance
We need to stay in the best shape possible – physically, mentally and spiritually. To do this, recruit a team of coaches who will provide the support and expertise to help you thrive. Then build time with them into your calendar.
Nicole Gallucci (@BOOMbanter) is the chief executive officer and president of Boom Marketing in Toronto.