So what is Executive Coaching and how is executive coaching helping Executives get results? Written by, Nick Roud, Executive Coach at Roud Career Coaching (September 2018)
To partner, and work closely with an Executive (CEO, General Manager, Managing Director, Leader of today or Leader for the future), is firstly a huge privilege and an honour, over the next 30 years I am going to put a dent in the world and along with you the executive we are going to do amazing things!
Thank you for taking the time to read my article today I sincerely hope it helps you take the first step.
Executive coaching is not for everyone, but more on that later! A point I am keen to make from the start.
Executives don’t invest in coaching they invest in results!
Executive coaching may be regarded differently by different people.
To some people in the world the whole concept of “coaching” may carry thoughts of standing in a school hall while a sports teacher barks orders at you! To others it may carry thoughts of remediation. To others it may carry thoughts of being “told what you should do” To others it may carry thoughts of feeling weak!
To me coaching is first and foremost a “partnership” built on trust. Without this “partnership” of trust you and I are not going work
Executive coaching, is assisting seniors executives, leaders, managers and high potential individuals to perform, learn, stay healthy and balanced and effectively guide their teams to successfully reach goals and exceed individual and corporate expectations. Enabling leaders to really “unlock and unleash their full potential”.
Over the last wee while I have had the privilege of working with the #1 Executive Coach in the World, John Mattone. John has been coaching CEOs and Executives for the last 30 or so years, he has coached Steve Jobs and some of the best senior executives that this world has to offer. My purpose for working with John was to validate how I work with executives as we all know - “everyone needs a coach”, Bill Gates.
When an executive decides on executive coaching for themselves or perhaps the Board of Directors have recommended this, the sense of positivity is very common among the executive. What this tells me is the board, believe in you as an individual and believes your abilty to do great things. They are willing to invest in executive coaching for you so you can fulfil your true potential and we as an organisation can then all enjoy the benefits.
It should not be seen as a sign of “weakness”. When you take a very close look at all the worlds top athletes around the world, they typical have a number of “coaches” that work with them on specific areas. Those athletes want only to be the very best at what they do, exactly the same for an executive when he or she decides on executive coaching, they want to be the very best at what they do and lets face it nobody can do it all on their own.
Like many things in life, executive coaching doesn’t come cheap, and not one single organisation is going to make this investment in a top executive, leader, manager or high potential individual for a person they don’t believe in, or lets put it another way ‘hope to be rid of in a year or so”. So, without question if your company wants you to have an executive coach, you can take it as a huge vote of confidence and that they want you for the long-term and like I said before they believe in you.
It can be seen as a bit “scary or risky” for an organisation to bring in a coach. An executive coach is expected to be unbiased, have no judgment or favouritism, this level of honesty can sometimes create sensitivities among the executive team. But, most forward looking business recognise that investing in their leaders will produces a positive, lasting return on its investment.
So what are the differences between coaching and mentoring?
While there are similarities, a coach and a mentor do different things and have different motivations and end goals. In some cases, mentoring can help an individual to shape professional values and beliefs, typically a mentor will come from someone in the industry or same organisation who has been there, (I remember my very first job, working in a Chartered Accountancy firm, when you joined you were assigned a buddy or mentor and he or she would be of great support, you could go ask them so many questions and they would direct, tell and help in anyway they could) I am still in contact with my first mentor from all those years ago.
A coach helps an individual to improve, improve self-awareness, set goals, work toward them and improve specific aspects of his or her performance. Ultimately as I said at the very start - to get results.
I want to explain here what a mentoring relationship can look like: the relationship is generally an ongoing relationship that may last for many years or even a life time. It can involve informal parting of information when the person being mentored needs support, guidance, or advice. Mentors are often more experienced compared to the mentee. The focus of mentoring is development of the mentee’s career and personal development, with the topics largely set by the mentee.
Coaching relationships “differs” in that they usually have a set staring and finish point. In my coaching business confidentiality is first and foremost agreed and a coaching agreement is drawn up. Meetings are very structured and focused between client and coach, and focus on specific, developmental or leadership issues all the while trying to move forwards. Coaches can be hired by the individual or by the organisation but there will always need to be an element of trust that what is discussed between the Coach and individual stays that way, all the organisation need to see is progress and results.
When a coach is bought in from outside the organisation it is very important for the Coach to meet a variety of stakeholders and even carry out 360 reviews in order to bring the very best from the Executive who is being coached. Again non of this is rushed but very much planned out during agreeing the coaching agreement.
I think it is fair to acknowledge that a “thirty-ish” executive who has successfully reached the executive seat has different coaching needs than that of a 60 year old who has been in the industry since “birth”. Sometimes, the younger leader needs more nurturing and more directness, while the older leader is often very much aware of deficiencies that need to be addressed (but again, not always).
Who Uses Executive Coaching?
A question that so often comes up - Nick, who do you Coach, what organisations use your services, well thats all very confidential and it would be extremely wrong of me to start listing out names and organisations here so I won’t. What I think is more important is this questions.
Who is executive coaching for? Well, its for Executives who want to:
- get better results
- improve self confidence
- gain better work life balance
- become a more effective leader
- thus becoming the very best, most authentic version of themselves.
For any organisation looking to bring in a coach - it has to be a priority to the business. Executive coaching should never be treated as an “afterthought” or the last resort. Plan this into your key leadership plan (succession plan) (evaluation plan) etc. It can be so very powerful for your organisation in developing and maximising your leadership potential.
Try not to overuse coaching as I said mentoring is a life long relationship coaching is for specific times out outcomes. Coaching is not a quick fix, solve any problem, sort out him or her, no coaching can be remarkable powerful, but is can’t do the impossible (or can it)?
People ask me and I am sure fellow coaches around the world - what are the benefits of Executive Coaching, well here are some benefits that I have been fortunate to receive back from my clients.
- Result to the situation
- The lightbulb moment to the situation
- Increased self - awareness
- Greater empathy and Emotional Intelligence
- More effective in my leadership approach
- Flexible thinking towards my self and others
- Becoming the person I want to be not what others want me to be!
Look every outcome or benefit is so different and these are just a few common themes but the one I hear a great deal post working with me is becoming the person I want to be not what others want me to be! and this is pure gold to me as I continue to push the boundaries of coaching. No one size will benefit all!
Just to finish on Coaching benefits, the specific improvements that a coaching client should expect as a result in his or her coaching journey will very much have to do with their initial goals! In helping the client develop those goals, a good executive coach will put plans in place and tools to progress forwards so all the while progress can and should be measured. As an example an executive has difficulty “communicating” the coach may interview a number of people who work daily with the executive or at various levels of the organisaiton to define and really understand the scope of the difficulty, help the client define what “better communication” means and how it can be truly measured, and then follow up at the end of the coaching agreement with those same people to measure progress towards the goal. Without identifying what it looks like, without putting measures in place and without following up on progress you might not see a change.
When an executive wants to work with me they aren’t looking for the answer or the solution rather they want results! If Tiger Woods invests in a swing coach, he is not asking his swing coach to give him the answer to his current swing situation or for the swing coach to show him how to swing a club, no Tiger Woods wants results so his swing is the very best it can be for him to get the results he needs in his profession.
With my clients, I use a wonderful tool developed by #1 Executive Coach in the World, John Mattone. He has called it, Intelligent Leadership (IL) Executive Coaching. I spent months researching how I can bring a specific tool to my coaching business, and I spent a great deal of time really making sure what ever I was going to use was in line with my values, my beliefs and sat well with me. When you hear one of John’s view it was smack in line with me “I want clients to unleash their full potential” A match made in heaven for those of you who know me well!!
But does Executive Coaching work for Everyone?
This is one hell of a question, my gut feel and I will explain more is - if a person has no interest in being in the room it will never work. Sometimes executive coaching doesn’t work, for example, an executive doesn’t want coaching - are they really going to progress? and if the client’s superiors aren’t invested in the coaching process it will be even worse!
Another really important point to mention hear is, executive coaching can fail, if between us there is a lack of clear and measurable goals, or goals that the client developed thinking they represent what others want them to work on....The initial goals I feel need to be the ones the client wants (passionately) and if you are not really open or as I like to call it “lay it all out on the table” then coaching can go wayward! Its got to be driven by the individual and then well (anything is really possible).
Lets have a quick thought when coaching is used by an organisation as a last ditch effort for an executive who is faltering and needs “saving” the whole point of coaching has been missed. It may work but it is often ineffective. Bring coaching into your organisation early on and allow the results to work.
Results and recognising these.
What do you see when you think about your company 1 year from today, with 1 of your most promising executives having gone thru an amazing, structured, deep look in the mirror with a qualified coach? Maybe you see greater efficiency, less corporate politics, clearer thinking, better communication etc. Maybe you see the whole leadership group showing up to do there job with greater motivation and even more passion, commitment than ever before. Those are all brilliant thoughts, but its important to develop goals that can be assed at the beginning and when the coaching engagement has finished.
Work with the coach to get these goals right, take the time during those initial meetings and interviews. Don’t try and rush thru things remember coaching is not a quick fix.
Really communicate all the way thru, if things are not going to plan tell the coach or visa versa tell the client (I decided recently not to work with 3 clients, the first time I have ever done this, I felt crap for days, I felt that I had let myself down; but I did not feel a)my style of coaching was best for them b) they were wanting to do coaching for all the wrong reasons and c) I could tell they didn’t really want to be in the room working on being the very best they could be........I may always regret this call but you also need to do what is best by the client and you as a coach.
Find an executive coach who you want to work with - who you can trust - who you find inspiring but find that coach and get into it. Look for a coach who has both experience and passion to coach (not someone who is there just to collect the pay check)
If you or your organisation want to discuss my coaching approach then please do get in touch either on 021375630 or you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to continuing to work with Executives who want to get results.
Nick Roud - Executive Coach
Roud Career Coaching