By Mystie Foote, MD 

I remember being in my first administrative leadership role when I was introduced to coaching.  Just a few days before this introduction, I had started as Chief Medical Officer at a large hospital.  The introduction came through an invitation to participate in the first cohort of a physician leadership development program.  I was excited to be included and started taking the required Hogan and 360 feedback assessments.  A few weeks later, the program started, and I had my first debrief session.  I left that session thinking in my head that it felt “soft” and there were no surprises.

Another week passed when we had our first small group coaching call.  The facilitator opened with a reading then asked us to introduce ourselves.  She asked open ended questions that focused on how we felt about our current roles.  I immediately began multitasking.  There were other things that I needed to get done.

My practice had been really busy.  I had spent the last 10 years since residency opening a practice, serving in Medical Staff Leadership, and developing new programs at two different facilities.  I was driven and sought perfection in all things that I did.  The business of delivering babies meant I was always at my best and never made mistakes.  It’s no wonder my first introduction to coaching left me wondering “is this what we do here for leadership?”  Quitting anything was not in my nature so I continued with the program and the coaching.

It took some time, as all learning does, for me to find value in coaching.  It happened a lesson at a time as I observed my interactions with others through a new lens.  As with any lesson, some were easy, and some were not.  Looking back, coaching was invaluable for me.

This is what I learned about the value coaching:

1 – It opens the door to new awareness.  Coaching doesn’t directly tell an individual what the awareness is.  You have to be open to thinking differently.  A simple powerful question like “How could you have approached that differently?” will have a huge impact if you are willing to look inward and answer honestly.

2 – You learn how to interact with others differently.  One of the leaders I interacted with was a certified coach.  I always felt valued and important after any conversation with her.  And I often had new ideas.  The effect of any role model is that you begin to emulate what you appreciate about them.  It’s not nearly coaching by osmosis, but I began to apply different techniques as I learned to lead a broad range of people.

3 – When I learned how to manage myself differently, my stress was also easier to manage.  I felt more confident and less fearful of being wrong or not knowing all of the answers.

This has been about my personal experience. It can be your experience as well. Coaching helps you build confidence, resilience, and motivation. It enables you to take risks and contribute to the team in a more authentic, valuable way. You can take on greater responsibility and gain a positive sense of achievement resulting in a higher level of job satisfaction. And, while you may think this only benefits you, think again. Your positive outlook benefits your teammates and your organization through your increased sense of engagement, teamwork, and productivity. Overall, your personal development has a ripple effect that positively affects all those around you, which effectively equates to a happier, more effective workforce.