The world’s greatest athletes and business leaders rely on coaches to maximize their performance, so imagine how much more creative and productive you could be with a little outside support, motivation, and accountability.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
Beyond that, coaching can take many forms. Coaches help their clients set and achieve goals — any goals. You can find a coach to help you improve your work performance, find a new career, get in shape, take control of your finances, finish your novel, rev up your dating life, or kick a bad habit.
But can a coach make you more innovative? Absolutely. A coach can provide the structure and accountability you need to tap into your true creative potential.
- In your typical hectic workday, how often do you find time to venture outside your comfort zone, brainstorm with new contacts with new perspectives, or just take a few quiet minutes to think? A coach can help you build time and space for innovation into your schedule.
- When you do identify a new idea with potential, are you able to follow through? Are you missing opportunities? A coach can be an accountability partner to assist you with prioritizing your goals and taking the right action steps.
- Do employees at your company truly understand how to put the principles of innovation into practice in the real world? A coach can provide structured processes, feedback, and support for those new to innovation techniques.
So You Want to Hire an Innovation Coach
How do you find the right coach to help you achieve your goals? Here are three important factors to consider when selecting your coach:
1) Coaching Specialization — A search online will turn up many coaches billing themselves as “innovation coaches.” Do your homework and make sure that they aren’t just innovative marketers and actually know what they’re talking about. You may also want to expand your search to look at executive and career coaches with experience in your field or industry. An experienced executive or career coach can help you with innovation and other career goals as well.
2) Chemistry — Chemistry is key in any coaching relationship. You have to be able to trust your coach and feel comfortable with his or her approach and style. Most coaches offer prospective clients a complimentary phone consultation (if they don’t advertise it, ask). You can get a pretty good sense of chemistry and rapport after 15 minutes on the phone if the coach knows what she’s doing.
3) Credentials — There is no one standard credential for coaches. There are many different coach training and certification programs out there — some very thorough and exacting and some not so much. In my opinion, experience is far more important than credentials. Yes, you want someone with training. However, I have found that past work with clients with similar goals is a better indication that a particular coach will be able to help you (along with the chemistry consideration, as described above). Ask for examples, testimonials, or references.
Have you ever worked with an innovation or executive coach? Please share your experience — good, bad, or ugly.
Pamela Skillings is futurethink’s resident innovation coach and wordsmith. She is a certified coach who has specialized in career and business coaching and training for more than 12 years. She is the founder of Skillful Communications, a training and consulting firm with clients including Fortune 500 companies, senior executives, entrepreneurs, and artists . Pamela is also the author of Escape from Corporate America: A Practical Guide to Creating the Career of Your Dreams.
For more ideas on how to innovate, check out futurethink.