Two men in business attire sit at a conference room table. The man on the left holds up a piece of paper, and the man on the right leans over to look at it. The man on the left wears a white shirt and black tie; the man on the right wears a tan blazer over a blue button-up shirt. The conference room table also holds a few scattered pieces of paper, a digital tablet, a couple of notebooks, and an open laptop. The window behind the two men takes up most of the wall and shows the city outside.
Don't come to your coaching sessions empty-handed. Approach each session with a goal you want to achieve or a problem you need help solving. — Getty Images/courtneyk

Business coaching can help you overcome challenges and achieve new goals. But just like with sports, you need to work to see results. While you may not be running laps, you can expect to touch on a few problematic issues during sessions. And anything less than honesty and an open mindset will hinder outcomes.

Preparation will help you get the most from your coaching sessions and allow you to make swift progress. Here’s some advice for getting ready to meet with an executive coach and making every session count.

Choose your coach wisely

The best business coaches have experience working with professionals in your industry and business size. They may also specialize in certain areas, such as system and process development or CEO leadership skills. Know what type of coaching you need and look for a suitable professional.

In addition, it’s essential to take your time and ask for recommendations when looking for a coach. If they offer an introductory meeting, get to know them and ensure their style fits your needs. Ask if they’ve worked with situations similar to yours and if they can supply you with references.

[Read more: 5 Expert Tips for Choosing a Business Coach]

Be open to learning and growing

During coaching sessions, your coach may suggest an approach outside your comfort zone. It could be a process you’re unfamiliar with or a different way of thinking. As a leader, it can be hard to take direction, let alone advice from others. However, you’ll face barriers if you’re not open to trying something different. Map Consulting called this “reactive behavior” and said it “can be a real stumbling block for progress.”

According to Synnovatia, “Many goals are realized by taking a fundamentally different path.” It’s okay to ask questions that help you understand the approach. Your coach can help you get started with new ideas or methods. But ultimately, you should be ready to try something different.

Prepare for your coaching sessions

You’ll want to share background information with your coach, like previous problems or things that just haven’t worked for you. Plus, head into your meeting with a good idea of what you want to get out of it. For instance, Business Coach Tony Piper asks clients to “please come with an outcome — something you would like to have happen — or a problem that you’re trying to solve.”

Honor yourself — and your commitments — to maximize your coaching results.

Jackie Nagel, Synnovatia

During your coaching appointment, you may want to discuss:

  • A specific business issue that’s impacting your success.
  • Ways to learn specific new skills or strategies.
  • Current projects or achievements.
  • A method or behavior that isn’t working for you.

Be honest with yourself and your coach

Pick a coach that you trust and can be forthcoming with. Many coaches agree to keep what’s said in confidence. You must feel comfortable enough during sessions to explore your strengths and vulnerabilities. But it’s hard to admit that you don’t know everything, let alone disclose weaknesses.

Professional Consultant, Speaker, and Mentor Brad Milford recommended that you “be open and honest about your present and past situations.” This means sharing information about past mistakes and current challenges. According to Milford, your honesty “indicates to your coach where you’ll need a hand and what steps you’ll need to take to get there.”

[Read more: Co-Founder of Logistics Solutions Company Says Success Is About Asking for Help]

Follow through on your homework

Coaches may send you home with homework or other activities to complete before your next session. Each week you should gain insights and make headway toward your objectives. Leadership Coach Amanda Madorno suggested walking away from “every coaching session with at least one specific action that will advance your leadership in some way.”

It’s also crucial to mentally prioritize your coaching sessions. Doing so will help you reach your goals quicker and stay focused on the end results. Synnovatia said, “Honor yourself — and your commitments — to maximize your coaching results.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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