Who Needs Executive Coaching?

Who Needs Executive Coaching?

Executive Coaching

Executive coaching is a structured helping process designed to improve an executive’s capability and performance. If you are facing a challenge to your organisation’s effectiveness, you may be wondering whether executive coaching can help you address your specific challenges. Over the years, I’ve seen leaders look to coaching to address all kinds of situations. The success or failure of a coaching effort depends on a number of variables operating in these situations.

Three of these major variables are: the nature of the executive’s development needs, the executive’s readiness as a client, and the willingness of key colleagues to engage in the process.

Types of Executive Development Needs

The specific nature of the executive’s development needs is probably the first question to consider when deciding whether coaching will have an impact. Typically, the situations in which people approach a coach fall into four areas. For each area, coaching can be beneficial, though one of these areas is potentially more problematic than the others. In any case, it is important to know what the specific development need is, as this will shape the coaching approach. Coaching can help in the following areas.

  • Address performance issues – when an executive is seen as having a problem in style or capabilities that limits effectiveness in his or her present role
  • Support transition needs – when an executive needs developmental support to improve already good leadership performance, often related to a new role or increase in responsibility
  • Enhance strategic effectiveness – when senior management expects all executives in a particular group or above a certain level to develop their leadership capability, often in support of a strategic initiative or desired culture change
  • Coach coaches and create a coaching culture – when leaders use external coaches to help them adopt a coaching-based leadership style.

To optimise the effectiveness of a coaching program, you must also address two equally critical questions: the executive’s readiness to be coached and the willingness of key colleagues to engage in the process.

Factors Determining An Executive’s Readiness For Coaching

If you are the executive considering coaching, your participation in coaching must be voluntary and you must involve yourself in several ways, if the process is to benefit you. The coach should test these issues with you as part of the initial “contracting” to do work together, but it is worth anticipating these expectations even before a coach enters the picture.

In our whitepaper Who Needs Executive Coaching we discuss in more detail the factors determining an Executive’s readiness to be coached, but below is a summary of some factors that can help you assess an Executive’s readiness for coaching.

POSITIVE FACTORS (the more of these, the higher the readiness)

  • Do you acknowledge that your effectiveness could improve – not only through learning skills but also through dealing with the inherent limits of your own style?
  • Are you willing to devote time and priority to coaching activities – even when tempted by other urgent matters?
  • Are you willing to ask colleagues for feedback on your behavior and impact?
  • Are you willing to try new behaviors, even if you are relatively unskilled at them?
  • Are you willing to feel vulnerable by showing others your interest in changing?
  • Are you prepared to share authentic needs, feelings, and concerns with a coach?

NEGATIVE FACTORS (the more of these, the lower the readiness)

  • Do you blame all your challenges on others or the situation?
  • Are you convinced you already know what you need to do in order to become more effective?
  • Do you believe that you have few, if any, behaviors that need improvement?
  • Do you believe that your ideas and approach usually lead to the best solution?

However, the pressure to change should not rest solely on the executive. If your colleagues have this expectation, then the impact of coaching will be drastically limited. Therefore, let’s take a look at the changes others must be willing to make.

Stakeholders Willingness to Engage Matters Too

These are some of the factors that can help you, as a stakeholder, assess your readiness to support coaching. I suggest that you consider these questions seriously before sponsoring a coaching process. Ideally, these issues can also become the basis of an open dialogue with the executive.

POSITIVE FACTORS (the more of these, the higher the readiness)

  • Do you expect the executive to broaden perspective and increase skills and effectiveness but understand that he will retain his same basic style?
  • Are you willing to modify your initial definition of the executive’s development needs and other contributing factors?
  • Are you willing to look at your own contribution to problems and develop your own behavior to support change?
  • Are you willing to give the executive ongoing feedback on important behaviors?
  • Are you willing to change your habitual interpretations about the executive’s behavior and motives?

NEGATIVE FACTORS (the more of these, the lower the readiness)

  • Have you already passed judgment on the executive?
  • Do you expect the coach to accept your definition of the problem and/or solution?
  • Do you expect the executive to adopt a totally different style from her current one?
  • Do you expect an overnight change in her style?
  • Do you expect only progressive improvement, with no backsliding or side steps?

Want to find out more about Executive Coaching, click here.

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