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What Is Executive Coaching?

What Is Executive Coaching?


What is Executive Coaching

What “is” Executive Coaching?

Companies report ROI of  7x or more when using executive coaching.

“Now what is executive coaching?” Have you ever been asked a question as the person slowly pulls away from you? That is a common reaction after I tell someone that I do executive coaching. There is a degree of defensiveness as coaching implies that a person has a “problem” or a “weakness.” Who wants to admit that? In fact early on, remedial coaching was often used for executives with problematic behaviors or performance. However more recently, there is a spike in using executive coaching for top talent, high potentials, and star performers.  Executive coaching is now used to maximize leadership talents and abilities.  The return on investment is quite dramatic. Improved performance, more promotions, and increased compensation are all reported benefits from executive coaching.

Executive coaching helps you become a better leader.

Executive leadership is a complex phenomenon. Successful leaders develop their “soft skills” as much or more than their technical skills. Working closely with an expert best ensures this professional growth.

A mentor? A friend? A therapist? An executive coach is distinctly different. An executive coach is a trained and trusted professional who works in a confidential relationship with you.  Unlike a friend or a mentor, an executive coach relies on a systematic process and uses scientifically valid methods  to promote  skill development, behavior change, and personal growth.  Unlike a friend or a mentor, a coach holds you accountable to meet your goals.

Executive coaching focuses on skill development in areas such as:

  • understanding your unique strengths and how best to use them.
  • applying new tools and skills in ways that fit your leadership style.
  • improving communication and interpersonal effectiveness.
  • enhancing your 15 emotional intelligence skills.
  • learning to build and engage an effective team.
  • how to manage stress and work-life balance.
  • how to leverage diversity for bottom line results.
  • improving executive presence.
  • learn negotiating skills.

Executive coaching fixes “fatal flaws.”

Executive coaching addressed needed behavior change. Did you know that there are “fatal flaws” that may derail your career? Four EQ skills have been identified that can stall or derail a career. They are:

  • Impulse Control
  • Problem Solving
  • Independence
  • Stress Tolerance

Fatal flaws have a negative impact on how you manage yourself and your relationships, which ultimately reduces your performance. These flaws may appear as arrogance, quickness to temper, aggressiveness, difficulty staying calm under stress,  or inability to make independent decisions to name a few.  Successful leaders get results through teams of people. Successful leaders excel in managing diverse teams to accomplish company objectives. Fatal flaws will interfere with your ability to be a successful leader, and consequently, it is critical that you engage in a coaching process to assist in behavior change.

“High character leaders are nearly 5x more profitable than those rated low in character.”

Executive coaching promotes personal growth. Leadership is an inner game as well as an outer game of skills and tools. The inner games relies on personality strengths and weaknesses. Personal growth promotes strengths while overcoming personality flaws. Interviews of great leaders strongly indicates that overcoming personal issues were key to achieving success. Further, high character leaders were seen as being nearly 5x more profitable that leaders who were rated low in character.  Strikingly, the less profitable leaders were in denial of their problematic behaviors, which reflected deficiencies in Self-awareness–one key EI skill. Executive coaching is ideal to measure  problematic behaviors, provide feedback, and a systematic approach to improve.

Assess. Feedback. Accountability. Results.

Is executive coaching really needed? Can’t someone learn this stuff by taking a seminar or reading a book? Unique to executive coaching 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 accountability to perform.

Accountability keeps you focused, on track, and challenged with progressively more difficult goals. Research repeatedly shows the ineffectiveness of training seminars alone. Results are dramatic when seminars or trainings are coupled with ongoing executive coaching. It’s really hard to change on your own without support, guidance, encouragement, and expert 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 executive coaching?  

There are many scenarios when an executive decides to start executive coaching. Here are some examples.

1)  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 executives 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 through people, thereby losing talented team members or sales contracts.  Or, a rising executive is quick to temper in executive meetings and is labeled  “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. These executives are likely to have “fatal flaws” and need feedback and support to change.

5) A Leader In Crisis is human after all and faces real life issues too. Commanding top pay doesn’t address the 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.

What is Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching is a relationship designed to help you grow personally and professionally so that you can succeed in your career.

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