Executive coaching can be defined as a facilitative one-to-one, mutually designed relationship between a coach and a key contributor who holds a powerful position in an organisation. The coaching is contracted to benefit a client who is accountable for highly complex decisions with a wide scope of impact on the organisation and the industry as a whole. The coaching usually focusses on organisational development or performance, but could also include personal components as well.
The thing that makes executive coaching differ from other types of business coaching is the scope of the top manager’s job. Top managers have to look at the organisation from a higher view point, so to speak. They need to see how everything in the business links together. It is from this height that they can see further ahead and steer the business in the right direction.
But what is the ‘right direction’? Top managers are charged with making decisions regarding the direction the company will take. And this involves a lot of decisions, many of which are not made on a rational basis but on the decision maker’s experience and intuition.
What this means is that top managers need additional cognitive skills not always required by others, skills that are seldom learnt in a classroom. Top decision makers need to reflect objectively on the way they handle issues and make decisions since their own motivations and experiences have a great influence on the failure or success of a business.
And this is where executive coaching comes in. It may come in various flavours, but the ultimate goal is to help you be the best version of yourself as an executive, leader, and person. Executive coaching strides the line between consulting and therapy: meaning you can’t separate the business from the person.
(Infographic source: https://hbr.org/2009/01/what-can-coaches-do-for-you)
Now that we know what it is and what it entails, let us look at the benefits your business stands to gain from executive coaching.
Benefits of executive coaching to your business
- Talent development. Executive coaching gives businesses a way of developing their senior staff inexpensively – in terms of money and time. Coaching sessions are not like lengthy training courses that consume a lot of time by concentrating on a lot of irrelevant things. Coaching is direct, to the point and focuses on the issue critical to performance without the fluff. This enables your top manager to continue being productive as he/she develops.
- Building self-awareness. I am sure you are wondering how your executive’s self-awareness fits into all this, so let me explain. The higher up you go in organisations, the more you are dealing with both rational and psychological issues. Successful leadership requires one to understand others: their emotional and strategic personal drivers; their self-interest. These relationship capabilities are built upon a foundation of self-awareness. It is only through knowing the truth about ourselves that we can know the truth about others. An executive coach helps top managers build self-awareness from honest self-evaluation on emotional vulnerabilities and strengths; personality traits, attitudes and values and unresolved conflicts.
- Improved communication. Effective communication is important to any business organisation. A top manager needs to communicate with his/her juniors, other top managers and CEO. It is communication competence that helps top managers articulate their strategic vision for a motivated and energised organisation. An executive coach will help you or your team of top managers communicate better with those around them for improved productivity.
- Empathy. Empathy is important for employee retention. Canadian researchers (1), by looking at the brain activities of leaders, found that power diminishes the ability to be compassionate and empathetic. According to their observation, power appeared to affect the brains “mirror system”, the part wired to mimic other people’s experiences. They found that even the smallest amount of power affects the brain’s ability to empathise with others. Empathy is essential for a leader to be successful. An executive coach will help your top people get back in touch with their juniors
- Improved conflict resolution. Conflict management is a combination of both hard skills and soft skills and is critical to the top manager’s role. Just about everything that gets to the desk of executives has an element of making one person unhappy while pleasing someone else. An organisation could shut down if the CEO avoids conflict: decisions will not be made and problems will fester. This will create a domino effect and affect productivity down the ladder. Thus conflict cannot be avoided, only tackled head on. A CEO who is good at conflict resolution will get to the root issues and apply to his/her teams’ thinking, to drive the best outcomes. Cultivating this skill can be a powerful tool for the whole organisation. An executive coach will be able to guide your top people to better conflict resolution.
According to a new study from Stanford and executive coaching firm The Miles Group:
- Almost 80% of directors said their CEO would welcome coaching
- 100% of bosses wish they received executive coaching
So if the directors and the CEOs themselves are up for it, and the benefits are clear, why aren’t you getting executive coaching for your top people? Let CDL Insight, through our team of experienced executive coaches, help you improve the quality of your top talents for your businesses’ prosperity.