In his book, The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley has these words to offer about coaching: “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be…”
Hmmm…. Honestly, until I was coached a few years ago, I was a skeptic. And now? Well, coaching isn’t a silver bullet for everything lacking, but overall it sure has made a difference in my life and leadership. Further, having been a conference junkie for many years, I’m convinced that my one year coaching journey has been much more transformational for me than the combination of all the conferences I’ve ever attended. Who of us doesn’t have stacks of untapped notebooks full of wonderful nuggets and principles from the Global Leadership Summit, Catalyst, Exponential, Leadercast, Q, Orange, and a multitude of other conferences? Honestly, when was the last time you perused one of those? Sure, there’s a place for conferences like those, and each inspired me to one degree or another. Though, the emotional high from those experiences quickly faded when I returned to the daily grind of leading people and initiatives. All the amazing stuff I learned seemed to dissipate when I needed it most.
Why does leadership coaching exceed leadership conferences when it comes to sustained growth and impact? Consider these five reasons:
- Coaching is customized and laser focused to you and your specific growth needs. Conferences typically cover a multitude of themes that may or may not speak into areas where you need to grow.
- Coaching is conducted over an extended (usually 6-12 months) period of time and allows you space to truly digest what you’re exploring and learning about your unique context and leadership challenges. Conferences saturate you with topic after topic, over a two to three day period, and leave you overwhelmed and even paralyzed at times because of information overload.
- Coaching sees you as the expert in your specific role and context. Conferences encourage you to sit and take notes from the experts.
- Coaching asks you powerful questions to help facilitate deeper thinking, discovery, clarity and action. Conferences make powerful and pithy statements that you love to jot down.
- Coaching provides ongoing accountability to help ensure follow-through. Conferences encourage you to process with your team during and beyond the event. But how often does that really happen?
If you’re feeling stuck and desire to continue growing as you move some significant balls down the field in your life and leadership, get a coach. If you need to get away from the office for a few days to be inspired, along with your team and/or some other colleagues, go to a conference. Again, there’s a place for experiences like that. But coaching is for those who want lasting leadership transformation and effectiveness.
What tangible differences have those conferences really made in your life and leadership? On the other hand, what could coaching potentially do for you?