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Are You Cultivating Real Growth for Your Career?

Protecting growing saplings

As a kid, I always loved Spring—especially when my Dad would help us create a garden. He’d guide us to plant seeds in rows and carefully cover them up with fresh soil. Then he would set up the stakes for the promising future of our viney sweet peas. Each night after he came home from work, we’d all go out to the garden to check on the progress. I still remember the eager anticipation of waiting to see those first, shiny-green sprouts. Pure magic.

As an executive coach, I am often reminded of the parallels between professional development and gardening.

In the gardening arena, it’s amazing to think that a seed contains a hidden blueprint for the miraculous development of a fruit, vegetable or flower. To get construction under way, we must add soil, water and sun. All of the potential is there, but it’s up to the gardener and nature to make sure the tiny seed takes root so it can grow and flourish.

In my work with high-potential leaders in corporations, I typically discover that they have fantastic blueprints for success: intelligence, education, experience, technical and functional skills, the ability to collaborate, learn quickly and solve problems. In fact, most of them are hard-wired with the DNA to achieve incredible things in the world of business. But having the potential and taking full advantage of it are two different things. Sometimes they need the help of an experienced coach. An expert gardener, so to speak.

If you lead a team and notice some of your members aren’t living up to their potential, coaching could be the solution to help them thrive. Or maybe you are feeling a bit dormant, like your success trajectory has somehow plateaued.

Here are 5 reasons why coaching can help you and your team cultivate career-changing growth.

  1. Coaching puts the focus on YOU.

Leading and supporting other people can be a full-time job (and then some), so taking a step back to think about your own professional development can be surprisingly effective. Even if you only invest an hour or two in the process, it can have a profound impact on your career.

  1. Coaching provides access to objective feedback.

Talking to a coach gives you the advantage of brainstorming with a neutral “sounding board”—someone who doesn’t have an agenda to push or a foothold in the office politics. It’s a liberating sanity-check. Plus, coaches can often give you the perspective to look at people and situations in a whole new light.

  1. Coaching gives you strategies to advance your career.

Uncovering opportunities for improvement is the ultimate goal of coaching. A great coach can pinpoint areas where even subtle changes in your attitudes and behaviors can make a big difference in the results you achieve.

  1. Coaching keeps you accountable.

Having a coach to gently push and challenge you in making positive changes helps you remain committed to the process. That sense of accountability gives you a reason to stay on track when you’re distracted by busy schedules and old habits.

  1. Coaching increases your confidence.

Understanding yourself on a deeper level and being armed with a development game plan will allow you to move forward with greater self-assurance. A confident attitude is always a valuable asset.

For years, I’ve seen how coaching can spur dramatic growth in professionals at all levels. It can be such a powerful tool. When people make the effort to apply what they’ve learned through coaching, the end result frequently involves impressive advances in leadership finesse and career achievements. For me, the anticipation and joy of watching that process are every bit as exciting as seeing those first sprouts of Spring in my childhood garden.

With that in mind, I hope you’ll think about cultivating real growth in your career and consider some important questions. Are you “planted” in an environment that will allow you to reach your full potential? If not, what changes do you need to help you grow? What support stakes can you put in the ground to lean on as you develop? The right coach can help you answer those questions and, more importantly, be your partner in a fresh season of professional development.

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