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Sep 8, 2014

Life coaches and personal trainers seem to be the new status symbol.

From corporate CEOs to the 19-year-old French student, everyone’s talking about the rigors their “coach” is putting them through. If you’re the one being coached, they expect you to show up, work hard, and do what you say you will.

No accountability and no embarrassment … means no progress.

Why you need a coach (or a good cheerleader)

But don’t overlook the value a supervisor, colleague, or team leader acting as sponsor or mentor can provide in offering accountability and encouragement. It’s easier to follow through when you have someone — anyone — watching.

So get these cheerleaders in your corner:

1. Coaches help you identify your strengths and remind you to use them. Bosses, team leaders, or mentors can help you identify your strengths and then put you in positions or on projects that allow you to use those strengths to shine.

2. Coaches warn you of trouble ahead. Coaches also help you work on your weaknesses to ward off problems before they develop: Do you need better quality control? They design drills and scrimmages to improve in these areas.

Coaches also warn of trouble from the outside: If your team is behind and you need to get off the winning shot, you’ll hear the coach yell, “Watch the clock. Watch the clock.”

Your coaches at work serve you in these same ways. They identify skills that need to be strengthened and help you set up action plans and gain stretch assignments to grow in those areas. With your projects and plans that may be in jeopardy, they point out trouble-spots and suggest check-back points for further direction.

3. Coach-cheerleaders rally the crowd to support your efforts. Spectators have their own way of “watching” a game — from visiting with friends to loitering at the concession stands to conducting business. But when the cheerleaders start a yell, most other conversations get drowned out and everyone tunes in to the game.

Coach-cheerleaders at work serve the same function: They bring together all the various players who must contribute to your project, process, or task and get them behind your effort. Understandably, others get sidetracked in their own dramas at work. And their failure to meet a deadline, provide data, give a call-back, or attend a meeting can jeopardize your ability to execute your plans.

Enter your coach-cheerleader. Although you hope to use personal power as often as possible, knowing that you’re accountable to someone else to execute your plan can be the difference in your commitment to drive the project to completion.

It’s not that you’d have to call on your coach to intervene; it’s your commitment to the coach that often drives you to peak performance.

4. Coaches build your confidence. Mentors and sponsors place their faith in you to accomplish your mission. Their belief in you inspires the same confidence in yourself. Committing to someone else in writing that you will accomplish X by Y date and having them believe in you based on your word starts the adrenalin pumping.

5. Coaches celebrate your wins with you. Having a coach-mentor slap you on the back after a win with “Great game” feels much better than hearing him or her walk away with head down and a mumble, “Better luck next time.”

They expect you to win

Understand what this means for you: Your coach-cheerleader at work expects you to win.

And that’s the idea — and the attraction. Commit to a coach who will encourage you to execute your plans and hold you accountable for results.

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