By most standards, I had a very good athletic career. In high school, I was one of our state’s top runners in the one mile, and I later set my college's record for 1500 meters. But I wonder if I could have done even better with different coaching. I had a good coach, but I also had a problem. I was the best on our college team (at the time) at 1500 meters, but I didn't have enough speed to be the best in our conference. The next longer race, the 5000 meters, was never my favorite to run, plus I had two teammates who were All-Americans at that distance. Perhaps a different coach with more specialized workouts could have improved my speed, or would have pushed me toward the 5000. I'll never know.
What I do know is that leaders need to constantly grow and improve, and doing so is often facilitated or accelerated with someone else's help. That someone might be a wise mentor, a trusted peer, or a professional coach. The label is less important than the benefit that you're receiving.
Can you articulate the top area(s) where you need to grow as a leader? Perhaps you need to improve at managing people or articulating a clear vision or dealing with criticism. How could that growth help you move to the next level? How could it help the organization that you lead?
If you’re not growing, don’t expect growth from those that you’re leading. And if you’re not sure how to grow, it may be time to seek the help of a coach. Even if you have a coach, it’s fair to assess whether he or she is the right person to help with your current needs.
Looking back, I can see how my running career might have benefitted from different coaching. Of course, switching wasn’t easy once I committed to a college, but you don’t face the same constraints. So what kind of coaching do you need, and where will you find it?
Mike Bonem is a Convene Chair who began his business career as a consultant with McKinsey & Co. and subsequently served in senior leadership roles for two mid-sized environmental service companies. He also served for over a decade as the executive pastor of his church, and has continued to serve Kingdom-minded organizations as a strategy and organization consultant and coach.