If you’re interested in becoming a more effective leader, or helping someone in your organisation be more effective, you may be considering hiring an executive coach. You’ll want to know you are choosing a competent and qualified person, and one who is a fit for the particular situation. And we want to equip you with the tools for making the right choice.
Many executives and brokers of coaching jump into the selection process through referrals from colleagues, or they choose the first coach they interview, without considering what they are looking for or how to determine whether they’ve found it.
In this article, we’ll talk about key aspects of the coaching role, and give you tools and frameworks to help you collect the information you need to decide whether a potential coach can help you get where you want to go.
The Role Of The Executive Coach
An executive coach should not just be a cheerleader. He/she must also provide the challenge that is needed to get the executive out of the comfort zone of habitual behaviors and perceptions. He/she must help the executive face – directly and non-judgmentally – the unintended impact of his actions, and probe the motives and assumptions underlying those actions. The executive coach must be willing, thus, to lead the executive into places that are uncomfortable, because there is a level of learning about oneself that can only be reached with some discomfort.
One tool an executive coach can use to challenge the executive and help build self-awareness is her own direct experience with the executive. The way an executive treats the coach reflects the way he treats others in the organization.
For example, one executive had received feedback from co-workers that he was insensitive to others’ needs. Addressing this was one of the goals of his coaching project. During that project, he repeatedly cancelled meetings with his coach, including meetings she had specifically traveled to attend, with- out notifying her in advance and without even acknowledging the cancellations when they next saw each other. This was relevant feedback for the coach to share with him. Together they could probe (without judgment) what the executive was thinking, or not thinking, when he chose to schedule something else during his regular coaching meeting time, or when he chose not to inform the coach. This helped him become more aware of how he was behaving similarly with his colleagues.
Help The Executive Create Feedback Loops.
Getting the executive new insight into his style and impact is perhaps the most basic and universal coach activity. Most executive coaches conduct some kind of 360-degree feedback as part of their work with an executive. This is an important element, because most executives don’t get authentic feedback about how they’re perceived or the effects of their behavior on others, and they don’t reflect much on the underlying aspects of their character or personality that drive their behavior. Getting this feedback is often a transformational experience for the executive, as it reveals blind spots and unintended effects.
Initially, the coach can help the executive learn how to make sense of the feedback received – deciding what is relevant and valid, choosing which issues to address, and deciding how best to address them. This activity is itself developmental, because it helps the executive become comfortable with forming his own judgments about others’ perceptions and expectations.
Help The Executive Clarify Purpose And Values.
The executive coach’s role in this goal is, first, to help the executive honestly articulate his core interests and values. This includes clarifying how he wants to change and develop, what he wants from his career and life, and what purpose and objectives he has in his current role. It also includes helping him understand his wants, needs, concerns, and boundaries in any particular situation.
Second, the coach can help the executive act consistently with that purpose and values. Executives often think it is not legitimate to pursue their own interests in the organization, but they fail to recognise that everyone is pursuing their own interests, including doing the best job in their role as they see it, and trying to optimize the objectives of their group as they see those objectives – but also including building their careers, being seen as effective, and other more “personal” interests. Once the executive becomes more comfortable identifying his true interests, the coach can help him behave more consistently with those interests in every moment. Ultimately, any executive is most powerful when basing decisions on what he cares most about – his values, purpose, and vision.
These are just a few of the key points to consider when choosing an executive Coach. If you are interested in finding out more why not click here