What do Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, Salesforce.com founder, Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff, Target Corporation Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell, Pepsi CEO Roger Enrico, and Goldman Sachs all have in common? They all had executive coaches. Ok, great, but what do executive coaches do? And are they worth it?
Renowned organizations such as Goldman Sachs have even embedded executive coaching in their executive development program.
A study by Metrix Global showed that companies who invested in executive coaching for the soft skills development of their executives generated an average of 529% ROI with significant intangible benefits to their businesses.
Today, we’re going to discuss the world of executive coaching, and why it is important to have one – now more than ever.
What is Executive Coaching?
Executive coaching empowers high-potential individuals to unleash their best and lead and transform their organizations to greater heights. It strengthens leadership skills and improves an individual’s effectiveness, which in turn translates into life and work productivity that their organizations benefit from.
Some myths about executive coaching persist but they do not reflect current reality.
Executive coaching’s goal is not to fix problem employees but to develop high-potential ones. It is not for under-performing individuals but for high-performing and high-potential executives to enrich their talents and develop their potential. Think of executive coaching as an on-on-one customized tutorial and handholding on leadership skills and effectiveness
Executive coaching is not a cure-all either. It can be expensive and time-consuming, so it should be reserved only for people critical to your organization’s success now and in the future. Generally, they should be all executives at the C-level, the heads of major business units or functions, an organization’s key technical or functional top-performers, and high-potential next-generation leaders.
Simply put, it is a value-adding process, not a remedial last-chance
The executive coach is not a consultant, although they may have functional and technical expertise. A consultant analyzes situations and tells clients what to do. An executive coach helps people look within first and come up with their own decisions and actions in ways that make them more effective at work and even in their personal lives.
Executive coaches help executives think through and tackle their problems. An executive coach is not an answer person, nor an extra support person or morale booster for a weak leader, She aims at facilitating the empowered self-reliance and personal effectiveness of her clients.
Who is Executive Coaching For?
Forbes recommends 5 questions to answer before hiring an executive coach:
What are the actual performance and potential value a person brings to the organization?
Has an executive or high-potential young employee proven their contribution to the organization with a track record of performance and contribution to the organization, in both tangible and intangible ways?
Do you see this person as becoming more capable shortly, if only they were further coached and supported well?
Do you see this employee and your organization working together well and scaling new heights in the organization’s long-term future?
What is the challenge this person is currently facing?
Distinguish the difference between a high-potential “executive/employee with a problem”, or a “problem executive/employee”.
An executive or employee with a problem may just currently be hitting a snag in their career with you but who can be trained to work differently and think differently so that they become more productive and effective with their time.
A problem executive or problem employee who has an underlying attitude that pollutes the workforce, even if they are high-performing, and may stand to benefit more from psychotherapy first before executive coaching.
How willing and able is this person to work with a coach?
The executive must personally want to change. No matter how talented or full of potential he or she is, if he/she is not self-motivated, executive coaching will not work and will only be a waste of time, money, and energy. Look for a track record by the executive of unusually excellent growth under the guidance of mentors.
Coachability is important: the executive to be coached must be willing to share experiences, be realistic about their strengths and weaknesses, and be open to learning from others and apply the learnings so that they make the most of their time by flying higher.
What are the alternatives to coaching?
There are several other alternatives to executive coaching, which can be expensive and time-consuming:
- Personal reading and self-development;
- Special assignments;
- Job rotation;
- Attention from the person’s manager who is already paid to coach those under them anyway; and
- High-level, short-term training.
Consider first if these alternatives would help by discussing the executive’s or employee’s problems at work with them, and if they have already been engaged in these alternatives. If they have not, encourage them to do so, with a mutually agreed-upon performance review at the end of a specified period. If they have already engaged in these, but they’re still having problems, then they may be ripe for executive coaching.
Are key people in the organization ready to support this person’s growth and transformation?
It is difficult enough to change and grow on one’s own but if key leaders above or beside the individual are indifferent, suspicious, or antagonistic, it amplifies the difficulties. If this environment exists in the organization for the executive or employee intended for coaching, executive coaching will not succeed.
The key people in the organization and the people the executive or employee directly works with and affects must be made to understand the benefits of executive coaching not only for the individual concerned but indirectly for them and their work and the entire organization as well.
What About a Business Coach?
Business coaching builds leadership, teamwork, communication, and business acumen. Executive coaching develops leadership presence, emotional intelligence, influencing skills, strategic thinking, and work/life balance.
They are somewhat similar, but business coaching offers a more broad refinement of general business skills whereas executive coaching is more tailored to your day to day activities of an executive. Regardless, business coaches are still very valuable to executives.
Why Do Executives Need Coaching?
To see their own blindspots. When an executive is struggling with how to best manage themselves and others– like tech geniuses who resist others’ ideas and destroy team morale, or a vice president promoted to higher and expanded responsibility and now has to manage former peers, or a CEO struggling in working with the Board — they are good candidates for executive coaching.
Executive coaching is most effective for those preparing for a promotion, thrust into a new role with more responsibility in the organization, transitioning to an executive position, or who have hit a dead-end in their development.
Executive coaches help leaders develop the attitudes, habits, and strategies to successfully lead others. Over an average of 6 months, coaches help leaders create measurable goals and develop plans to achieve them in gradual phases as they work together on the executive’s attitudes and habits that better enable them to attain these goals.
Why Do Companies and Executives Hire Executive Coaching Services?
The benefits of executive coaching for individuals and the companies they work for are it:
(1) Facilitates more self-awareness, builds skills, and advances behavioral change
All change starts with greater self-awareness and executive coaching helps bring this about. With more self-awareness, an individual grows into better emotional intelligence, a more flexible mindset, improved reaction to failure, and increased resilience. With the guidance of a good executive coach, the individual further develops stronger communication and leadership skills which benefit not only the individual but those he or she works with, and the organization as well.
(2) Strengthens the high potential of people for increased responsibility
Executive coaching especially benefits companies and executives in terms of much improved skills in communication, leadership, delegation, and management.
High potential individuals in the organization are those who have an aptitude for leadership but who need more coaching for it to do it well. There’s a distinguishing difference between an individual who is a top performer or producer on their own, and an individual being an excellent manager of people.
Usually, those who are promoted to new leadership roles with greater responsibilities were superstars in their field as individual performers. Now that they are in a higher role managing other people, they would richly benefit from executive coaching in transitioning themselves from individual superstars to leading and guiding others to also become superstars in the organization.
(3) Enhances leadership engagement and retention
It is lonely at the top. The higher you go up, the fewer people you can trust and share your innermost thoughts and feelings with. When you are surrounded only by “yes” people, it can create a bubble around you that prevents you from seeing people, situations, and issues for what they are. This, then, skews your judgments, decisions, and actions, which is not good for leadership and retaining good people in your organization.
Executive coaches tell the truth about their clients, especially the truth about what’s blocking them from further unleashing their potential.
(4) Builds the organizational bench strength
Bench strength is the ability of organizations to fill critical positions with a talented, able, and ready internal candidate in case the position is suddenly vacated by an executive’s loss. If executive coaching is built into a company’s executive development program, it can help create a competitive talent advantage pool and increases the organization’s bench strength.
Limitations of Executive Coaching Services
Executive coaching is not without its risks and pitfalls, so you must also be aware of them. Coaches generally come from three backgrounds and perspectives: sports, the behavioral sciences, and psychology/psychotherapy.
Dating back into the 1980s, executive coaching evolved from performance coaching, using proven techniques and strategies used in sports coaching and success philosophy applied to the business world. This later gave rise to process consulting to facilitate people and teams. In the 1990s, the behavioral sciences’ neurolinguistic programming (NLP) for belief and behavioral change technique and the use of psychometric profiles as a development tool became immensely popular among non-psychologists.
Psychologists and counselors also saw the expanding coaching world as an extension of their practice and entered the field as well.
In 1995, the International Coaching Federation was founded to establish standards and competencies. Growth in coach training gave rise to personal/life coaches and executive coaches.
It’s recommended that you examine where a prospective executive coach is coming from in terms of their background and coaching perspective, so you will know what to expect.
A sports approach focuses on generating quick answers for time-bound results, subordinating deep, introspective processes to address unconscious conflict. A behaviorist perspective can overly focus on changing beliefs to change behavior, addressing symptoms rather than a potential underlying psychological disorder. A psychological perspective focuses on healing the deeper, psychological basis of outer world problems.
Attitude and deeper psychological issues affecting work performance are best addressed by a psychologist or psychotherapist first before executive coaching.
The important thing is for the executive coach to be aware of the benefits and limitations of their background and to have been able to develop these into a more holistic perspective and approach of their own for the ultimate benefit of their clients.
At a minimum, before executive coaching, clients should first have a psychological evaluation to screen out employees not psychologically prepared to benefit from executive coaching. This also avoids putting them in uncomfortable to potentially deeply damaging processes. It’s also recommended for organizations to hire independent mental health professionals to assess coaching outcomes.
What is Executive Function Coaching?
Executive function coaching helps people in self-management.
Executive functions are the basic skills of self-management, in setting goals and achieving them. They include areas like managing emotions, taking initiative, staying focused, prioritizing, planning, recognizing when they are off-track, and figuring out how to recover.
In general, executive function coaching is employed to help students how to self-assess and study better. In general, it can be utilized by anyone who needs better self-management skills. As the world becomes increasingly complex, people who are better equipped to navigate the challenges of life will thrive more.
What is Executive Leadership Coaching?
Executive leadership coaches work with companies and organizations to train their executives and high-potential employees in leadership and help create and maintain strong and healthy organizational cultures so that teams can work better, more effectively, and more productively.
What to Look For in An Executive Coach?
Bottom-line, an executive coach must have credible experience and expertise to quickly grasp a leader’s situation, challenge the leader’s assumptions and choices, and bring credible, fresh ideas in. Given a coach’s influence on the executive’s mindset, decisions, and actions for at least the 6 to 12 months they are working together, — you don’t want just any bargain coach
Since the work of an executive coach is mainly about people, relationships, organizations, and behavioral change, then look for their proven expertise and track record in these areas.
Also, check for their:
- professional certifications as a coach;
- experience for at least 8 to 12 years as an independent coach;
- a related advanced academic degree;
- corporate experience;
- a variety of coaching experiences and outcomes with references from previous clients; and
- someone you, and the intended client, like and trust as it’s difficult to work with a coach one doesn’t even like nor trust.
During the interview, ask the prospective coach about a case-study scenario and how they will go about addressing it. This will give you an idea of the prospective coach’s background, coaching perspective, and approach.
A good coach helps bring out the best in people, whether they are executives, athletes, or everyday people struggling with life challenges. The prospective coach should be able to show you this, even before you engage in their service.
MIa Hewett, the co-founder of Aligned Intelligence® with her partner, Michael Della Volpe, offers a more holistic approach to executive coaching using alignment coaching. Utilizing brain-based methods, they help clients with stopping self-sabotage, live their real potential, be their best selves, to make 6-7 figures in their businesses doing what they were meant to do, without feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or struggling in life.
Using their Aligned Intelligence® Method that shows the individual what’s holding them back so that they can consistently achieve their results.
Leaving the individuals feeling their value, and expressing this true value in their life and work.
Mia has written the best-selling book, Meant for More, to help people learn how to reprogram their minds to create and business of their dreams.
Mia emphasizes, “This is not about coping mechanisms. It truly solves what has been stopping you from achieving your potential in business, relationships, and in life.” Michael calls it unblocking the “spiritual paralysis” of our times.
In their The Awakened Entrepreneur Program, which uses a self-coaching model, they invite people to join so they can learn through 8 weeks- to 1 year, skills like:
- how to heal their trauma;
- how to free their minds from negative self-talk;
- how to truly and unconditionally love, value, and honor themselves;
- how to stop fearing other people’s opinions and judgments;
- how to process their emotions and live in integrated alignment;
- how to stay in their power regardless of differences with other people;
- how to stop surviving and start thriving;
- how to communicate effectively;
- how to make effective decisions from alignment; and
- how to create life from flow, with ease, peace, and joy.
A self-coaching model is a tool for solving any problem in your life by healing the inner conflicts and blockages that translate to your outer problems and challenges. When you’re healed and cleared inside, you naturally flow into healing and clearing your life circumstances outside.
In their 5-day Live Intensive program, you get to learn and stop the self-sabotage that’s keeping you stuck from the bigger life you were meant for. Specifically, you will learn:
- why you’re still stuck in this cycle of self-sabotage;
- what you can do about it; and
- how to stop trading your time for money to build real, abundant wealth and success.
Read about Jack Canfield’s, Mia Robbins’, and many others’ testimonials here.
Aligned Intelligence® methodology and programs are highly recommended for influencers who have a vast reach and following– business owners, executives, online course creators, and coaches — because the more they can unleash their best gifts, the more people they can also help with unleashing their best gifts.
Mia and Michael believe in going all in, leading with integrity, holding a “We, not me” attitude, always caring more, not less; being of service, and focusing on progress over perfection. They specifically aim to “help 5,000 entrepreneurs awaken to the truth of who they are, make six to seven figures in their businesses, live their purpose, and make the difference and impact they are Meant to make.”
Sign up for the first three FREE chapters of Mia’s best-selling book, Meant for More, here.