Recently, however, I was asked how I benefit from being an executive coach and mentor. On reflection, I think the rewards for me fall into three areas: intellectual, professional and socio-cultural.
At an intellectual level, coaching and mentoring are challenging to the mind. Whether you are working with a seasoned CEO or an aspiring leader, your clients are professionals with their own organisational context and their own world views. Each client trusts you to help them find better ways of working and new approaches to their jobs. That’s why being a coach and mentor is such an intellectually challenging and interesting occupation.
At the professional level, being a coach and mentor keeps you current. You can learn a great deal about how organisations operate right now from your client, which is particularly revealing if they work in a field or type of organisation which is unlike the areas where you worked as an executive. In fact, you can learn as much from your client as your client does from the experience and expertise you bring to the process. Consulting with clients as a mentor leads you to reflect on your own previous performance as an executive. It makes you question where you could have improved, why you responded to particular situations as you did and what you might have done differently, given the benefit of hindsight.
The third level is socio-cultural. Working as an executive coach and mentor gives you an opportunity to work in many different kinds of organisations, with a wide range of interesting people whose work and life experience may be very different from your own. It gives you the chance to explore ideas and concepts with people who might think quite differently from you. It allows you the opportunity to really listen while people find their own approaches to the issues they are encountering in their work. While workplace issues often share similar elements, each client is unique and their approaches to their organisations, teams, colleagues and leaders are therefore also unique.
Working as an executive coach and mentor is a privilege. It is challenging, rewarding and interesting and gives you the opportunity to improve workplace performance, one client at a time.
Contributor: Dr Catherine Burrows is a Sydney-based executive coach, available in Wollongong, Newcastle, Western NSW and other areas by arrangement. Catherine is a co-founder of Executive Coach Exchange and the CEO and owner of Innoverum independent consulting.