My employer gifted a series of professional coaching sessions to each attendee at a recent in-person manager experience course. After taking advantage of those coaching sessions, I wanted to offer a testimonial for my coach, Shyam, to encourage others to look into hiring a professional coach for themselves:
It took me a long time to write this. I mean a LONG time. Months. I would write something only to delete it. Start up again and then leave it for another day. Why? It is just a testimonial, a few lines that say, “I did this, it was great, and I recommend you go do it too.” See…that took all of a few seconds. So why the months of frustration? Partly, because I am not a writer. I worry my grammatical errors and literary faux pas’ will end up floating around social media with lots of laughing emoji’s tagged to it. More than that, this testimonial is important to me. I want to get this right! I want to do Shyam justice for the outstanding work he does and I want convey the true impact coaching can have on your career.
The first handful of drafts I wrote went into a long explanation of when and how I became a people manager. I detailed my experience with management certificate courses, in-house trainings, books that question the relocation of cheese, books that count the steps to being highly effective, and books on how to talk about tough stuff. I discussed finding good mentors and trying to emulate them. The goal was to give you, the reader, background information so you could hopefully, connect to my journey. You would realize we did many of the same things with the same results. You would nod your head because reading about me running back to my desk, excited to immediately implement and execute a list of every technique I just learned in a management class is something you have done too. Only to learn when we arrived at our desks the overwhelming reality of too many emails, calls, and questions from direct reports caused us to push that list to the corner of our desks, then under a pile of papers, eventually into a drawer never to reference again. However, I threw those drafts away.
Because this testimonial is not about how I got to this point, or how you got to this point. This is about how I believe that while these other methods have certainly provided valuable information and assisted in my success, coaching with Shyam, for me, has been the most effective way to differentiate myself as a people manager and make the biggest strides toward improvement and in turn success for me, my team and my company!
I know, it sounds too sales pitchy, too overzealous, believe me I was skeptical too.
Truthfully, I was unsure of the need for a coach. I have a couple people I consider mentors and they have been very successful, what would a coach provide that these mentors could not tell me? I also have a boss who holds me accountable and reviews my performance. Do I really want another person giving me direction and analyzing my every decision? Is this going to get too personal and feel like counseling? Moreover, am I actually ready to put in the work to improve? I pondered these questions as I hesitantly signed up for my first coaching session.
Thankfully, I knew the answers to my questions as soon as I connected with coach Shyam. He is a true professional. He was always on time for our sessions and prepared. Fully engaged, free from distractions, he shared a kind smile to greet me.
Working with coach Shyam is much different from working with a mentor. When you work with a mentor, you tend to emulate their style of management. Mentors share advice with you based on what has made them successful, which is awesome! However, this means you most likely lead and make decisions the same way they did. Although successful for them, this way of leading may not be natural for you, or success in your role may require a different approach. Coach Shyam does not tell you how to lead or what decisions to make. You are not going to watch or listen to the way he manages a person or situation. Instead, Shyam will guide you, through questions and thoughtful reflection to determine what would be your own authentic response in a situation. If you allow yourself to be vulnerable, enough to answer truthfully, you discover ways in which your reaction or responses to the situation you are discussing may or may not be the most effective. This opens up the opportunity to discuss advice and techniques on how to improve.
Shyam did not know me prior to our coaching sessions. Unlike a boss, Shyam has no affiliation with your Company. He does not report, grade or evaluate the responses or lack of action regarding anything we discuss. In fact, Shyam is not there to hold me accountable. He holds space and time for me each session to evaluate myself, what worked, what did not work, and what do I want to focus on improving. Shyam asks if he can challenge you and it is up to you how hard you want to work. During these discussions, the reality of some realizations are tough and Shyam always made me feel at ease. I never felt judged. While Shyam is not necessarily holding me accountable, I certainly found I held myself more accountable because I knew we were having an upcoming session. While this seemed intimidating at first, I realized when I did not work on something, I actually needed to bring that back to our sessions so I could determine what was causing me to resist. During these times, Shyam is incredibly insightful and offers relevant materials and thoughts to help make progress.
At no time did I ever feel our sessions were personal counseling. Shyam always kept our conversations professional and I never felt his intent was to pry into anything further than what I brought to the table that day. It was incredibly impactful to realize how much knowledge and ability I had within myself if I would just take the time to reflect and build consistent practices as a leader. Shyam helps your realize that being a successful leader is journey and where I believe I failed in the past was trying to implement everything at once, instead of thoughtfully working on a few things. I have felt frustrated that I walked out of a conference room, classroom, or read a book and was inspired to improve as a leader and each time I did not actually make that much happen. Coaching has changed that because I feel more empowered and capable to improve.
Shyam embodies the spirit of a professional Coach. I feel he truly has an interest in my success as a leader and my wellbeing as a person. Shyam continues to learn and develop his coaching skills and shows a relentless passion to help others! Shyam inspires me! His ability to find the right words seems so effortless, even when the topics and conversations are hard. Shyam has also shown me that he has not yet “arrived” at his destination as a leader or as a human being. He practices continual self-reflection and works hard in order to be able to guide others.
In closing, if you came here only looking for a few lines as a testimonial, then here it is…I opened my mind and committed to receive professional coaching by Shyam, it was impactful and inspiring in ways I did not expect; I would whole-heartedly recommend Shyam to help guide you in your professional journey. I believe you will experience increased success at work and you may even feel more enriched as a human being as well!