Perhaps you’ve noticed or heard some of the following complaints about a leader in your organization, and you wonder what you should do:
- Controlling, micromanaging, or aggressive behavior
- Lacks awareness of leadership behavior
- Too tactical or strategic
- Recently transitioned to a leadership role
Five Benefits of External Coaches
For many organizations, when faced with such sensitive problems, external executive coaching has become a viable option because it provides several notable benefits including:
- An objective third party who provides analysis, feedback, and a “fresh” perspective.
- A person singularly dedicated to the participant’s development and success.
- Accountability to a structured coaching methodology and process.
- The establishment of clear boundaries including roles, responsibilities, and confidentiality.
- The ability to assess the coaching participant’s fit for the present role and the likelihood that coaching will mitigate the problem.
The Top Three Barriers to Performance and Leadership Behavior Change
Without a doubt, there are a number of barriers that prevent performance and leadership behavior change. When an executive coach thinks systemically, beyond just the individual being coached, he or she can often identify and anticipate potential obstacles that may derail coaching. Here are the top three barriers:
- The manager does not believe the coaching participant has the capacity to positively change his or her performance and/or behavior. The participant’s manager is a critical component to the success of the coaching engagement. If he or she does not believe in the participant, development will be difficult, even with the coach’s support.
- The participant resists coaching or change. Not all participants are coachable. Participants must open to feedback and willing to see themselves through the lens of others’ perspectives.
- Key stakeholders in the organization block the participant’s ability to change. The participant is part of a broader system and often other people in the organization are invested in the participant maintaining the problem.
Once you decide that you are working with a supportive manager, a participant who has the will and capacity to change, and an environment that gives the participant a chance to change, we recommend a structured yet flexible process to drive performance and leadership behavior change as follows:
- Hold discovery meetings the participant’s manager and/or organizational sponsor and the participant to appreciate the concerns;
- Evaluate participants’ strengths and opportunities using valid and reliable assessments. This data provides baseline metrics from which to gauge success and create personal relevance for the participant;
- Create a developmental action plan, and gain agreement on two-three action items;
- Engage in active coaching, meeting regularly with the participant to effect immediate and sustainable behavior change.
- Provide continuous feedback to the participant’s manager, and when behavior change has been achieved, transition to continuous improvement coaching to build upon achievements; and
- Reassess and analyze the results to goal in order to quantify behavior change beyond “mere” measures of satisfaction.
Executive coaching programs require discipline and commitment on the part of the coach, participant, and manager. It is important to start with small but meaningful changes and build upon successes over time to fuel improvement and avoid disappointment.
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Taryn M. Stejskal, Ph.D., Career Consultants OI Partners, has spent over a decade focused on coaching, leadership development and assessment. Dr. Stejskal serves as a strategic partner for her clients and delivers pragmatic solutions across the employment lifecycle from growth and development to retention and transition.