If you think you stopped needing coaches as soon as you stopped playing Little League, think again. Coaches can play a critical role in the life of a business or an investor, or just about anyone. Think of them as mentors, if you want. A good coach will challenge you, guide you, instruct you, and help you be better at what you do. They can instruct in person, or through their writings or their life. Even people who have passed away, such as investing legend Benjamin Graham, have a lot to teach you.

Coaches abound in corporations. Larry Bossidy, former CEO of AlliedSignal -- which merged with Honeywell (NYSE:HON) in 1999 -- called himself a coach, helping his employees learn, perform well, and "win." Debra Benton, who wrote Secrets of a CEO Coach, has worked with leaders of companies such as AT&T (NYSE:T), Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL), and McKinsey. Many companies have the philosophy that it makes sense for a CEO to coach those under her, while seeking out guidance for herself as well.

Many believe that it's better to promote from within than to hire from outside -- it maintains a company's culture more effectively and also boosts the morale of employees. The best way to do that is to focus on developing talent in-house, by coaching or mentoring.

One way to be successful at work is to make those around you look good -- you can do that by coaching and guiding them. Don't neglect yourself, though, as you can probably benefit from coaching, too -- in your business performance and even in your investing.

Many people choose to coach themselves, by reading about and learning from others. FedEx (NYSE:FDX) CEO Fred Smith, for example, avidly reads historical biographies to learn what made past leaders great. General Electric's (NYSE:GE) Jeff Immelt also reads business books for leadership tips, though he knows he also has to put that learning into practice.

We too can coach ourselves from the knowledge of successful CEOs -- as well as teachings from the world's best investors, too. With all the good books -- and articles -- out there, don't wait to start coaching yourself toward success.

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of General Electric. Try our investing newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.