When folks find out that I am a leadership coach, I’m typically met with the question, “why would I need a coach?” The two primary reasons I see for engaging a coach are to become better at the position you are already in or to prepare you for new/different/bigger things. Let’s explore each of these scenarios through vignettes.

Brenda has been in her role for a decade. She loves the company and her team. Lately, though, she has found herself in ‘auto-pilot.’ The job has become routine. In fact, in our first conversation, she said, “I know the job like the back of my hand. Every day feels the same. I’m bored.” Her performance reviews have been good because, as she puts it, she gets the job done. But, it’s becoming harder for her to muster up the desire to do the work. She just wants to figure out how to enjoy her job again.

Cedric just received his performance review. His direct manager gave him feedback that his peers do not find him to be collaborative and his direct reports don’t feel that he’s invested in their growth and development. At the moment, he’s feeling a bit blindsided by this feedback. He’s struggling to understand what these comments even mean, nevermind how to address them. He’s looking for an objective partner who can help him process this feedback and develop a plan to address these concerns.

Denise has just been tapped by her organization to lead the creation of a new division. While she’s developed strong relationships across the enterprise, her peers are wary of how this new division will impact their work. And, her new manager has given her 90 days to define the scope of the division, delineate the resources she’ll need, and articulate the roadmap of what the organization can expect of this division. She’s never done anything like this before and doesn’t even know where to begin.

Evan has just taken a senior leadership role at a new company. The position had become available because the CEO of two years and the incumbent had differing visions for the role and chose to part ways. While Evan understands, and is aligned with, the CEO’s vision, he knows he’s got an uphill battle ahead of him. First, his predecessor was beloved by his peers and team. And, second, the vision is a radical departure from ‘business as usual’ for this organization. He needs to understand the culture, the priorities of his key stakeholders, and the strengths, aspirations, and concerns of his team members, if he is to stand a chance of effectively beginning to move the organization in the direction the CEO has laid out.

In each of these cases, the individual faced a gap between their current skills and experiences and those that were needed to succeed. While they may have been able to close that gap on their own, they chose to engage a coach in order to bridge that gap more easily and effectively.

Have you worked with a coach? What prompted you to do so?