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Business Strategy

The CEO Strategy’s Coaching FAQ

The CEO Strategy’s Coaching FAQ

In this article, we provide an overview of Max Polec’s journey to coaching, answer questions about executive coaching, and invite you to explore if coaching may be a fit for you.

What lead Max to coaching

I stand on the shoulders of giants. I have come across countless people in my life who have supported me through mentoring, advising, and coaching. My first “coach” was my dad who taught me the trades (i.e. carpentry, plumbing, electrical). I remember when I would get stuck and come to him. He would simply ask “What do you think you should do?” This powerful question made me pause, think, and talk out loud about my plan. My dad would listen, offer specific advice when required, and give me the space to test my plan. Sometimes I would fail, sometimes I would succeed. Regardless, I learned to think critically and become less dependent on my dad for answers.

At the beginning of 2020, I got a formal coach of my own, Raymond, and have been working with him since. Through my 4 years working with Raymond, I have experienced the value of coaching firsthand through its impact on me. I worked with Raymond to set goals for my new business to hit in 12 months - we hit those goals in 3. I now have had the opportunity to use coaching to work with 300+ leaders to help them start businesses, turn around struggling companies, and scale their organization’s impact to new heights.

I’ve defined different learning and growth modalities and under what circumstances they are best used (see FAQ section below for more detail). I believe that coaching is the most effective modality for learning and growth. When I have done advising or consulting work, my client would become dependent on me for advice and the successful execution of an initiative. With coaching, I can show someone their ability to grow through challenging questions, reflection exercises, and actionable frameworks so that they are equipped to solve their current *and* future challenges. 

At the risk of sounding cliche, coaching is similar to teaching someone how to fish. Most other modalities fall short and end with simply giving someone the fish.

Entrepreneurs are called to build solutions for problems they see in the world. These solutions can be loosely categorized as products. Entrepreneurs are builders of products. I strive to be a builder of People

I believe that leaders are one of two things for their organization:

  1. A ceiling that caps their organization’s ability to drive impact.
  2. A multiplier that brings out the best in the organization to maximize impact.

At The CEO Strategy, we coach leaders who aspire to be multipliers.

Coaching FAQ

What is Coaching?

People who are world-class use coaches. Why?

One of the reasons for this is that no athlete or performer, however skilled, can watch themselves while they’re playing the game. One of the coach’s jobs is to watch the players and give feedback while the game is unfolding. Often, the coach and player will even go back to the locker room when the game is over and look at the game tape together. In those sessions, you’re likely to hear a coach saying, “Hey, you notice you did that?” or “Are you seeing this pattern?” or “What’s another choice you could’ve made there?” or “Next time, what do you want to try?”

Good coaching, then, leverages a valuable outside perspective to help us become observers of ourselves. By becoming observers of our own behavior, we can start to identify ways we can be better.

This level of self-inquiry is the starting point. Good coaching also focuses on movement. Coaching is used as a vehicle to get you to where you want to go. This could be getting from:

  • Stuck to Unstuck
  • Confusion to Clarity
  • Hesitation to Action
  • Managing to Leading

How to get the most out of Coaching?

The clients who get the most out of coaching prepare for our sessions. I recommend blocking off 15 minutes before each session to reflect on what’s worth updating me on and to pick 1-2 items you’d like to dig into. Ask yourself, “What would be most helpful to come away with at the end of my session today?”

What are the differences between advising, consulting, mentoring,  cheerleading, and coaching?

Advising - Advisors ask questions upfront to frame the problem. They focus on getting you the answer as they have it or will find it for you. Advisors are experts in their fields and provide professional, technical advice on a well-defined problem.

Consulting - Consultants are very similar to advisors and take the above definition one step further. Consultants typically also help with implementation or doing the thing. For example, a consultant may not only advise on which CRM to use, but manage the setup, implementation, onboarding, and handoff of that chosen CRM.

Mentoring - Mentors share their experiences hoping you will find value in their storytelling and lessons learned. Mentors have been in your shoes and can share knowledge, insights, and guidance that applies to your path.

Cheerleading - Cheerleaders just support you. They believe you have the answer, won’t question nor challenge you, and cheer from the sidelines.

Coaching - Coaches ask challenging questions to help you discover the answer. An ideal coaching arrangement helps You maximize your performance. You’re in control and choose what actions to take moving forward. Coaches offer:

  • A confidential and judgment-free zone where you can broaden your thinking and develop transformational insights
  • Options in the form of frameworks and tools you can use to make smarter, better decisions

How is coaching different from therapy?

The Mochary Method does an incredible job breaking down the differences between coaching and therapy. I will share their answer below:

Coaching is ARCHITECTURE

  • Forward-looking
  • Designing the future, imagining possibilities
  • Building things 
  • Focused on insight and action
  • Helps us move into high performance

Therapy is ARCHEOLOGY

  • Backward-looking
  • Digging and analyzing
  • Focused on understanding and fixing
  • Helps us move out of dysfunction 

What are some roadblocks that occur with coaching?

Here are three common roadblocks that may occur with coaching and how we can work together to prevent and/or manage them:

Lack of Internal/External Feedback: The quality and quantity of feedback that you as a leader receive acts as data for us to get a full picture of where you are and make a contextualized plan on how to get you where you want to go. This feedback is going to be both internal (from oneself) and external (from others). Tools that we may use to gather this data are:

  1. Internal
    1. Challenging Questions
    2. Journal Prompts
    3. Reflection Exercises
    4. Coach Accountability & Feedback
    5. External
      1. 360 Review
      2. External Assessments (such as the ProfileXT)
      3. Coach Shadowing
      4. Group Coaching

    Change is Hard: You are being proactive in growing yourself, but that does not mean that change is easy. Often between weeks 8-12 of coaching, you'll experience The Dip. You may not be growing at the rate you hoped, change may be harder than you thought, and you may want to throw in the towel. When we hit The Dip we will make sure to address it fully and keep pushing to navigate those growing pains. Tools that we may use to navigate these growing pains are:

    1. Measuring the small wins so we can see and feel the incremental progress.
    2. Holding you accountable via Impeccable Agreements. If you are not happy with the pace of growth, we will have a paper trail to analyze to see where we need to course-correct.

    Trust in the Coaching Relationship: The power of the coaching relationship lies in the trust that we build together. Simply put, if you are not sharing pertinent information with me during our coaching sessions, I will not be able to coach you. I typically establish strong trust with a new client within 1-3 months. If we don’t end up clicking, we will start offboarding and I will offer guidance on finding a different coach.

    An invitation to Coaching

    If this article has resonated with you and you are someone who aspires to be a multiplier, reach out to me directly at max@theceostrategy.com. I’d be more than happy to make the time to dream with you, answer your questions, and see if coaching may be a fit for you.