Get a coach, get ahead

Mentor work concept
By Russell Borland, Partner, Coaching Consultancy Leading Figures

17 January 2019

Coaching is important for your career development, as Russell Borland explains.

One of the reasons I became a coach was the benefit I drew from having a coach earlier in my career. I was a partner in a consulting firm. I got there under my own steam based primarily on my technical skills, hard work and some signs of management/leadership skills. But I was now in unfamiliar territory, leading a senior team. So I took the offer of a coach. There were three things I gained from it:

  • Having dedicated time to reflect and plan how I might tackle challenges. Most of these were related to people issues, including how best to manage my boss! It helped to be able to talk these through with someone outside the organisation.
  • How to prioritise the many demands on my time. My coach observed that I devoted most of my time to others’ needs, and encouraged me to think about how I could achieve a healthier balance.
  • Developing my personal awareness. One of my “blind spots” was that I felt my view of the world was always the “correct” one, and I could quickly dismiss others’ contrary views. My coach helped me recognise this.

These lessons stayed with me beyond the lifespan of the programme and helped me when I stepped up to more senior roles.

Working as coaches now, we often come across the above themes. In addition, we find the following critical to a successful career:

  • Developing your leadership skills. Nowadays technical skills can only take you so far in your career. Organisations are looking for senior people to leverage such skills through developing their leadership capacity.
  • Building resilience. We all face challenges, so having a plan to enhance your resilience will pay dividends.
  • Developing a growth mindset, where we constantly seek to learn and develop ourselves. We need to be prepared to try a new challenge or approach, knowing that we may occasionally fail.

A coach will help you find your own way of dealing with these and other issues that crop up. However, the real success of a coaching programme depends very much on the mindset of the coachee.

Those who are keen to invest time and energy in their own development, and who are open to constructive challenge and change, are most likely to benefit most. Your future success ultimately starts from within.

Russel Borland is a coach and partner in coaching consultancy Leading Figures.


ICAS is proud to endorse coaching specialists Leading Figures with their exclusive and unique Masterminds Coaching Programme developed especially for CA leaders.

The programme structure, comprising three group sessions interleaved with three 1:1 coaching sessions, has evolved through experience and very positive participant feedback.


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