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Executive Coaching


What is Executive Coaching?

This question catches me off guard most of the time. In doing this work, it seems so straightforward and transparent. Yet to the uninitiated, it really is a great question. I coach executives to be more successful in the workplace and in one’s personal life. More successful in what one might ask? Another great question! Whatever the executive wishes to focus on!  Now that’s really vague and I know that, however that is truly the answer. I don’t mean to be cagey but in my experience each person is unique and shows up to work with unique life perspectives, set of issues, and cornucopia of talent and blind spots.  So a careful assessment with a handful of tests, interviews, and 360 feedback will define a customized plan for each client.

Executive coaching is a process that flourishes in a relationship between a client and a coach.

A mentor? A friend? A therapist? Although it seems that the coaching process embodies aspects of all of these yet it is distinctly different when it’s coupled with scientific-based assessments, methods, and strategies designed to promote  behavior change. How can you do less of the negative, unresourceful behaviors and increase the more effective ones?  To do this, the truism, “Know Thy Self” is never more applicable.  Do you know who you are?  What exactly do you stand for? What are your passions, and are you living them?What do you value?  Is your career compatible with these values? If not, why not? Can you truly live a life worth living if you are in a position mainly for a comfortable paycheck rather than proactively pursuing your mission? This is the difference between living a life of dissatisfying doldrums and living a life of focused fulfillment. This part of the coaching process is best embodied by personal growth.

Another aspect of executive coaching is skill based as it focuses on helping you understand your unique talents and strengths, and how best to use them.  I’m amazed at how many very successful people stammer when I ask them what is their skill set? There is a distinct aura of unawareness or gross modesty.  Can you imagine negotiating a raise and promotion if you can’t articulate your value added? Other skills can include improving interpersonal interactions, emotional intelligence skills, leadership, managing a team, managing stress, and making better decisions under stress.

Executive coaching is ideal to address any “fatal flaws” that can limit, detour, plateau or end a career.

Fatal flaws essentially are interpersonal behaviors, in communication or actions, which have a negative impact on the quality of one’s relationships: team, peers, boss, or upper management.  Typical flaws include arrogance, quickness to temper, aggressive communication, inability to maintain composure under stress, submissive communication, and inability to make independent decisions. The list could go on but I think you get the point. A strong leader leads people. Successful leaders really shine in how they manage diverse people and how they manage people in stressful situations.

Can’t someone learn any or all of this stuff by taking a seminar or reading a book? Unique to executive coaching, or any coaching process is the idea of “accountability.” In more passive forms of learning such as reading or attending a seminar, a transfer of knowledge may take place. However, very little actual behavior change will occur unless there is regular practice. Regular practice requires focused goals, discipline, commitment, and someone to hold you accountable for regular practice of your goals. Accountability keeps you focused, keeps you on track, and keeps you challenged with progressively more difficult goals. Research shows time and time again the ineffectiveness of training seminars alone. Yet, when seminars are coupled with ongoing coaching the results are dramatic! It’s really hard to change on your own without support, guidance, encouragement, or valuable new information. My clients truly value the privacy that coaching offers when learning a new skill, rather than feeling exposed and vulnerable in the workplace.

When do clients typically seek out hiring an executive coach?  There are many scenarios, yet here are some examples.

  1. Polishing High Potential Leaders are those highly talented executives who have recently been made aware that specific interpersonal behaviors are hurting their career progress. These ambitious executive may feel threatened for the first time in their career, and seek to turn outside the company for support. For example, an executive isn’t aware that his/her dominant style is alienating others and is unable to lead to through people; losing talented team members or sales contracts.  Or, a rising executive is quick to temper in executive meetings and is labeled as “hot headed” rather than “management material.”
  2. Emerging Leader is an executive who is newly promoted to lead a team for the first time and is a ball of confusion about how to do this? Worse, this executive can’t reveal these fears out of concern of being seen as incompetent and a fraud. In some cases, these talented individual contributors truly have weak interpersonal skills and are unable to successfully lead a team. Others are evolving their leadership identity and what it means to lead.  In many cases, the company does not provide training and the executive truly is in a sink-or-swim situation.
  3. Leader In Transition: This executive is in transition between new promotions or new companies and may need to learn new skills. Career change, either voluntary or involuntary, is a catalyst to identify direction, re-define purpose, find work-life balance, or find accountable support. Sometimes the executive’s career has plateaued but he/she doesn’t know why?
  4. Problem Leader is one who is at risk of being fired or causing severe problems at work such as alienating customers, losing sales, or demoralizing team members. Often, this leader can be highly talented yet terribly unaware of how they are coming across to others or they don’t know how to manage their problematic mindsets and emotions.
  5. A Leader In Crisis is human after all and faces real life issues too. Commanding top pay doesn’t address the call of crises such as divorce, loss of a loved one, or medical illness.  Further the executive is at risk for keeping these issues a secret in order to maintain a high level of performance. Yet the crisis detracts from focus, energy, motivation, and time away from the office. Unlike a star athlete who can go on the disabled list for a period of time, a top executive doesn’t have the luxury of pausing to take a breath. Nor would many want to admit the need for such a pause given the unrelenting demands of a high pressure, high performance job.

Executive coaching is a relationship designed to help you advance and to have Even More Success in your career.

 Sign up for a free coaching session, isn’t it time?