The term Executive Coaching can mean different things to different people. From an Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching perspective, executive coaching is assisting top executives, managers, and other identified leaders to perform, learn, stay healthy and balanced, and effectively guide their teams to successfully reach desired goals and exceed individual and corporate expectations. It is about enabling leaders to unlock and unleash their full-potential so they can bring greater value and abundance to the people and entities, they serve. Abundance is a key word in this concept. What do we mean by it? Of course, financial profit is part of it and is expected. But another component of abundance really drives how you get to success and financial abundance. A leader with an Abundance Mindset does not feel threatened and is genuinely happy for others to succeed and thrive. They will also invest in their own self-development to flourish in all areas of life – physical, mental, emotional, financial, career and spiritual. Abundance is about being your best and encouraging others to be their best. Success and greatness will naturally follow. Executive Coaching helps you achieve this. Executive Coaching doesn’t come cheap, and no organization is going to make the investment in a top executive coach for a person they don’t believe in, or hope to be rid of in a year or two. Basically, if your company wants you to have an executive coach, you can take it as a vote of confidence that they think you’re capable of great things, and they hope to keep you around for the long term. Most businesses recognize that investing in their leaders produces a positive, lasting return on investment. Here is what you can expect from executive coaching, whether you’re the executive, or you represent the business interested in investing in executive coaching.

“Successful executives don’t invest in coaching.  They invest in results.”  – John Mattone

Who Uses Executive Coaching?

Clearly, many organizations use executive coaching, because it’s a $1.5 billion per year industry, with most of the biggest enterprises now using coaches. And, based on predictions from the Forbes Coaches Council, executive coaching will continue to grow and will overtake consulting as companies seek to transfer wisdom to employees via coaching rather than just fill in knowledge gaps. Working with a coach will soon be the norm at all levels in the organization, not just C-suite executives.

Companies want to invest in their executives who are:

  • High potential “rising star” leaders who need to accelerate their development
  • Leaders with specific developmental needs or skill gaps
  • New leaders who are acclimating to the organization
  • Leaders facing broader roles, new challenges, or changes in strategic direction
  • Solid performers who want to take their performance to the next level

How does Executive Coaching work?

Coaching relationships usually last for a specified time period, generally 6-12 months, during which time a coach works with the client to help them improve self-awareness, identify and work toward goals, and improve specific aspects of their performance.

Meetings between coach and client are typically structured and scheduled, and focus on specific developmental or leadership issues. Meetings may be conducted in person, on the phone, or via video conferencing.

Executive Coaching helps a leader become more self-aware of their strengths and development areas through in-depth discussion often paired with diagnostic assessments.  Based on this awareness, Executive Coaches help their clients create custom leadership development plans with specific goals to leverage their strengths and address any development needs. Over time, through coaching and accountability checkpoints, the Executive Coach helps ensure that the client is working toward and achieving their goals. Goals vary, but may include things such as learning to effectively delegate, improving communication or negotiation skills, and strengthening executive presence.

In particular, Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching follows an effective, proven, and robust process for coaching including:

  • In-depth proprietary diagnostic assessments that identify a leader’s “inner-core” self-concept, character, values, thinking patterns, and emotional intelligence.
  • “Outer-core” assessments such as a proprietary 360-degree survey and leadership interviews which reveal how effectively the executive executes the “outer-core” skills and leadership competencies required for success.
  • Co-creation of an individual development plan that leverages the executive’s enduring strengths and addresses their development needs.
  • Engagement of stakeholders to help measure progress in achieving development plan goals, using the proprietary LeaderWatch survey.
  • On-going coaching to help attain goals as well as targeted Executive Coaching to address specific development needs.

What Are the Benefits of Executive Coaching?

While specific outcomes of executive coaching depend on the goals that the coach and client set at the beginning of their work together, many more overarching benefits have been reported by clients and companies that have used executive coaching. Among the benefits of executive coaching are improvements in:

  • Effective leadership and delivering against KPI’s
  • Self-awareness and self-confidence
  • Motivation and commitment
  • Empathy and emotional intelligence
  • Agile thinking

And, it’s a win-win, the organization can expect results from executive coaching of their leaders:

  • Higher productivity and growth
  • Better retention
  • Lower costs
  • Better working relationships

How to ensure that Executive Coaching is successful?

Making coaching work requires that organizations and the people running them prioritize coaching. Executive coaching should never be treated as an afterthought or an “extra,” but as an essential part of developing maximum leadership potential. At the same time, it’s important that companies not overuse coaching or think that coaching is capable of solving deeply entrenched organizational (or personal) problems. Coaching can be remarkably powerful, but it can’t do the impossible.

Prior to embarking in a coaching relationship, make sure the potential client wants to be coached. An executive who doesn’t want coaching is unlikely to make good progress.

Ensure that the executive is working toward clear and measurable goals that are not only important for their success in the organization but are also personally meaningful to them. The client should passionately want to attain these goals, so they are not just going through the motions.

Coaching should not be used as a last-ditch effort for an executive who is faltering and needs “saving.” Coaching as a response to a monumental mistake runs the very real risk of coaching being seen as a punishment. And even if it’s not, when coaching is the last resort, it is often ineffective.

Hire a qualified, experienced coach who knows how to develop and define goals, measure baseline conditions, monitor progress, and assess conditions at the end of the coaching engagement.

What to Look for in an Executive Coach?

An executive coach you consider working with should be crystal clear about the process and willing to share proven results from that process. Evasive responses, or overweening enthusiasm may indicate that the person is more style than substance. Your coach should be able to discuss their skills in depth and detail. What tools do they use? What specific skills have they helped previous clients with? They should be proud to share references with you.

A great coach is honest about gathering feedback and understands the important of having a unique, outsider’s point of view. Feedback should come from not only the client, but also the client’s supervisors, peers, and direct reports to ensure the clearest picture emerges.

Your coach should understand the importance of client confidentiality. A coach who casually shares everything with a client’s supervisors or HR people will shatter the client’s trust and cast a pall of negativity over the entire process.

Finally, meet with any potential coach to get a good sense of their style, personality, approach, and energy. Make sure there’s chemistry between the two of you.  Do you feel energized and inspired and ready to get to work after talking to them? If so, that’s a good match.

Blue Skies Strategy Coaching, Certified in Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching, welcomes the opportunity to support you and your team on your leadership journey!