I recently bumped into a colleague who had held a senior leadership role with one of the top financial services companies in the world. She was recruited to a smaller company and was perplexed that her new company did not know about the value of executive coaching. She indicated that each senior leader at the bank had an executive coach for at least the first six months (frequently longer) when they moved into a new position.
We discussed why certain companies saw great value in executive coaching while others did not. The conversation validated why executive coaching is essential to the success of a senior leader:
- It helps leaders to see themselves from all angles. This applies to many leaders who believe that they “have arrived.” Everyone has blind spots which is why even executive coaches have their own coach. Through multi-rater assessments and interviews, the executive coach can help leaders see the differences and similarities between self-perception (or self-deception!) and how those working closest with the leader see that leader. Contrary to most internal feedback the executive receives, the executive coach has no hidden agenda when providing feedback. They can be direct, objective, and clear about what will be best for the executive, accelerating the feedback, improvement and development process.
- It gives leaders the competitive edge. Simply put, the best leaders acknowledge that they don’t know everything. They are hungry to better themselves and their companies. There is no one better than an executive coach to ask senior leaders the questions that no one else is asking. Effective executives understand that to win over the competition, they need to think differently than every one else. Through insightful open-ended questions, raw curiosity, and reaching into the powerful, intuitive mind, executive coaches help senior leaders to think differently, leading to breakthroughs and innovation.
- It complements and accelerates leader development. Many leadership development programs provide great skill building and learning. Regrettably, dollars invested in leadership development can be wasted when behavior modification and cultural absorption of the learning is not taken into account. Executive coaching can solve this problem by addressing the factors that keep skill building and learning from sticking. Recurring periodic meetings, accountability agreements, constant feedback and progress monitoring on individual development plans are all tools effectively used by coaches to embed sustainable changes.
- It provides a valuable perspective. I met with a CEO this past week who was buried in his business. He clearly had many issues and problems swirling around in his head. Much like the expanded vision related to people in the first bullet point, my value as his coach was to help him expand his peripheral vision for business issues. Through active listening and poignant questions, he could gain context, compare and contrast, so that the “swirl” subsided and clarity appeared related to prioritization, problem solving and decision making.
I’ve talked to enough senior executives to know that the leadership journey at the top can be lonely and isolating. Adding an executive coach to the mix is both an easy answer and a quick ROI to move the leader’s game to the next level and far beyond.
What is your experience with executive coaching? Do you work in an organization that values executive coaching as a developmental tool?
Evan Roth is a certified Executive Coach and Consultant for Innovative Career Consulting, the Denver- and Cincinnati-based OI Partners firm. He enjoys helping senior executives to thrive in the corporate world. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-855-865-4400.