Inspired by Bill Campbell’s influence and having seen firsthand how our founders and CEOs have grown as a result of having an executive coach, I recently put out a call on Twitter for recommendations for coaches.
I received a ton of recommendations (happy to share if you ping me) – thank you to everyone! I’m still trying to figure out who will be the best match for me, but I thought I’d share what I’ve learned in the process so far. Mind you, my sample size of coaches is less than ten, so consider this anecdotal, rather than based on statistically significant data!
There seems to be a full spectrum of coaching styles… from emotional (“be in tune with your feelings” and “visualize what your feelings look like”) to academic (“studies show that these inputs affect your output” and “x% of individuals who have a certain experience are y% likely to behave in a certain way”). On one side, the focus is more on acknowledging the underlying emotions, while the other side focuses more on the action or behavior and how to change it. Both approaches hopefully lead to greater self-awareness – it’s just a matter of which end you start at.
The different styles of coaching are likely correlated to the previous work experience of the particular coach. Was he or she a CEO, professor, or psychologist? I’m personally looking for someone in the middle of this spectrum, as well as someone who has worked in the startup/VC industry and understands the context of my situation.
There’s also a difference in process, for example:
- Is coaching done remotely or in person?
- Do you speak synchronously (meet, phone, video chat) or asynchronously (text)?
- Will the coach give you homework? Are you committed to doing it?
- Will the coaching involve other people? Will the coach solicit the perspective of others (team, significant other, family, friends)?
And last but not least, there’s a range in pricing. I’m finding that most coaches work on a retainer, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 a month.
When you’re looking into coaching, it’s important to understand the difference between therapy and coaching. Therapy aims to address the root causes of your issues (bringing you to your functional self), while coaching takes you from your functional self to optimal self.
Choosing the right coach is a very personal thing, requiring mutual trust and respect. After having some brief initial calls, I’ll be meeting with two to three coaches in person over the next couple of weeks.
And finally, I intuitively know that coaching will be good for me, but I’ll be trying to figure out how VCs can specifically benefit from coaching, especially in small partnerships like ours. With our small team, we have fewer individual/team dynamics to deal with on a daily basis, and fewer urgent fires to put out than a CEO, founder, operator, or manager.
For those of you who have coaches: is there anything else that I should be thinking about?