There are so many coaches out there. How do you know which one is right for you? It depends on what you are looking for, but if you are looking for long-lasting improvements to your work performance, you may want to try a coach with psychological training who uses an integrative approach. Here’s why.
Psychologically based coaching goes beyond asking questions and typically includes assessments, tools, and knowledge to help you move beyond self-reflection to change your behaviors. What’s more, research supports this approach. Research shows an integrative coaching approach that combines different frameworks facilitates better outcomes than guided self-reflection alone (a.k.a. the coach only asks questions). In addition, there is solid evidence that psychologically informed coaching facilitates effective work-related outcomes, such as goal attainment and self-efficacy.
Receive honest feedback.
Many leaders come to me because they don’t feel that they are getting honest feedback at work. People keep telling them they are “doing fine” or someone else gets the promotion instead of them and they don’t know why. They want to get honest feedback that is specific so they know what they can do to develop or change their approach.
A psychologically trained coach has the ability to discern among the many assessment tools that are out there to choose psychometrically sound tools that provide valid, reliable feedback. For example, if a person takes a psychometrically sound personality test multiple times, they will not get different results depending on their mood or if they try to fake it. If a person takes a reliable, valid leadership assessment, they will receive feedback on their actual propensity to lead others, not their idealized view of how they see themself.
Keep yourself honest.
As much as people want honest feedback, it can be hard to take. Even the most accepting people sometimes rationalize their shortcomings or blame others for their mistakes.
A psychologically trained coach recognizes resistance to feedback and change and is trained on how to work through it. That means, when a person starts making excuses for why the feedback isn’t true or giving reasons for not making progress, the coach knows how to compassionately point it out, help them see they are holding themself back, and help them move forward.
Learn how to make lasting change.
An integrative coaching approach combines psychology-based methods such as cognitive behavioral and solution-focused techniques and strength-based approaches as well as contextual factors such as a person’s values, motivators, and organizational resources. Integrative approaches aim to move beyond self-reflection to improve coping, increase effectiveness, and yield lasting positive outcomes.
Cognitive behavioral coaching, for example, focuses on improving a person’s internal self-regulation and awareness to make sustainable changes that last, that go beyond helping the person feel better in the moment. Shifting to a new way of thinking and practicing it over time with the coach helps the person achieve greater work performance, satisfaction, and psychological well-being.
Improve your leadership ability.
A psychologically trained coach who is an expert in leadership development can distinguish sustainable leadership techniques that are backed by research from the latest fads in leadership that are published in pop psychology books and blogs. An expert leadership coach is not mentoring from their own experience; rather, they are employing proven methods that have been tested across a variety of contexts and have been peer reviewed by other experts in the field.
To put it simply, an expert in leadership has a lot more to offer than a person who only relies on their own experience or someone who is hip to the latest fad. A leadership expert has a deep understanding of the psychological factors that are necessary to motivate teams, persuade colleagues, manage change, focus on what matters, diffuse conflict, and other aspects of leadership.
There are many other types of experts who are coaches, such as business experts, technical experts, marketing experts, and others. They use different coaching techniques and provide different knowledge to help people achieve outcomes in different areas. There are also many coaches out there who are not experts, but who are simply coaches. They typically help people become more self-aware and focused on meeting their goals, and they typically do not provide expert knowledge and solutions.
You may benefit from different types of coaching at different times or find that one type of coaching fits your style better than others. If you are looking for honest feedback, guided self-reflection, and tools to improve your leadership performance, you may want to hire a psychologically trained coach.