You’ve heard it. I have too. “They will get better with experience.” The problem is that I don’t believe it! I have been coaching leaders for over fifteen years now, and my observation is that, left to their own devices, people largely repeat the same mistakes over and over again! One of the reasons I believe every leader needs a coach is because experience alone might not make you better. It might even make you worse! Here are:
4 Reasons Experience Might Make You Worse:
You might not be learning the right way to do it.
The reason I like to use a Trainer when I exercise (at least a virtual one like Tony Horton) is because they not only show you what to do, but they show you the right way to do it! If you do a particular exercise the wrong way, two things can happen: first of all, you can injure yourself. Second of all, once you learn the wrong way to do something it takes twice as long to unlearn the bad habit and learn the habit the right way! The same thing is true in our leadership. Why go off by ourselves and learn to do something the wrong way when training (or coaching) is available to do it right the first time? Why not learn from someone else’s pain and avoid it entirely? Learn to do it the right way from the start…with a Coach!
You might not be getting honest, consistent feedback.
Even athletes don’t get better based solely on experience. No, as they take the field and get reps, they have a position or head coach in their ear, pointing out all the things they did right and wrong on the last rep. This coaching, combined with experience, is what really makes the difference! You could express the equation for growth this way: Experience + Coaching = Growth.
You might not be maximizing your potential.
Potential is a dangerous word. I believe we need other people in our lives to help us maximize that potential. We will tend to choose to stay in our comfort zone. We need someone to stretch us and push us past our learned limits to get to the next level of achievement. Experience alone does not make you better! Your choices do. If you measure success correctly, choose change, make courageous decisions, focus, maintain self-discipline, and give up to go up, I am convinced you can get to the next level. You do have blind spots in your leadership. You probably still struggle with some unhealthy success drivers. You still may not understand completely what true success is all about. You will need help. You will need mentors and coaches in your life. I know I do...and so do you!
You might not bounce back well.
In sports, everyone has losses. Everyone experiences setbacks. Everyone gets injured. When you get injured, if you don’t rehabilitate the injury properly, scar tissue can form and affect the athlete permanently. The same thing can happen in our leadership! When we get injured we need someone safe to process through our emotions, debrief the events of the situation, learn from and heal from them, so that those scars don’t affect us permanently! Thus, another reason every leader needs a coach!