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Executive Coaching: Good, Better, Best!

Posted by on March 22, 2012

Every executive, at some point, will be faced with making a career change to either a new company or new position. In some cases, the change will be made voluntarily and in others it will be required. In either case, the use of executive coaching can broaden the marketability of the candidate, strengthen their leadership skills, and advance their career.

The use of executive coaching should not be viewed as a remedial exercise, because it’s really an exercise in self-improvement and career advancement. Self-analysis is often difficult, especially for those who rarely hear an unbiased view from their peers or subordinates. In short, constructive feedback is the essence of executive coaching and leads to greater self-awareness.

Finding the Right CoachExecutive Coaching

The use of executive coaching is a soul searching journey that will require some demanding insights from both the coach and the person being coached. For this reason, it is extremely important to find a coach who can not only make fair criticisms of your abilities and suggestions for improvement, but can communicate these effectively.

There are 3 key considerations in the hiring of an executive coach:

  1. Competence
  2. Chemistry
  3. Flexibility

First, competence is important so that you, as an accomplished professional, feel comfortable accepting their appraisal. The coach must have extensive experience in their field, working with professionals at your level, and be well-versed in a variety of coaching methods and tools. You should ask about past coaching engagements in general terms and evaluate your potential coach’s background. Do they have a track record of success? If your coach doesn’t possess the “right stuff,” executive coaching is simply a waste of time.

Secondly, as in any other occupation, coaches have different personalities—and their personality may not mesh well with yours. Since executive coaching is about effective revelations of (sometimes painful) information, it is imperative that the coach can deliver the message in a positive and professional manner. If the executive and the coach do not establish a good rapport, enlightenment cannot follow. The sessions will seem interminable, yield little in the way of results and, ultimately, fail.

Lastly, executives lead full business lives in which they are routinely asked to deal with emergencies or to reprioritize their time. Most take for granted that their carefully prepared schedules can be interrupted at any time. A good executive coach recognizes this fact and will have a reasonable degree of flexibility in their schedule to accommodate the executive.

To this end, executive coaching can also be effectively performed by phone or video conference. Often a quick session is all that a busy executive needs to get them through a key presentation and the coach should be available for this need. A superior coach should put the needs of their client ahead of their own convenience.

The Benefits

Executive coaching is an investment in your career. Valuable insights can be gained that will maximize your strengths and provide real solutions to minimize or eliminate any weaknesses you may uncover. Coaching adds significant value to your skills as a communicator, negotiator, and leader. Perfecting these skills will also enable you to strengthen your team to be more effective, more responsive, and more independent.

The career benefits are as obvious as your talents will be! You’ll find your new skill set is in demand across a wider variety of positions and industries. In addition, the value you bring as a leader will benefit the organization as a whole. In short, executive coaching is an excellent opportunity for even the most capable executive to increase their career opportunities, earning ability and leadership potential.

Crucial Conversations: Performance Coaching

Posted by on February 29, 2012

Performance CoachingIf you’re a manager, you probably know that performance coaching is often seen by employees as a form of punishment. From their perspective, “coaching” equals “discipline.” Frankly, in business environments that use this approach, that perception is accurate. However, if handled in a rewarding and supportive manner, fear and resentment will automatically disppear from the coaching process. The importance of handling it properly cannot be underestimated. When coaching is fully understood and trusted, it can then become the positive force it is intended to be.

Management Responsibility

Since coaching is within the jurisdiction of management, managers naturally set the expectations of employees throughout the process. As a manager, it is imperative that you demonstrate that coaching sessions are intended to help the employee further their career and not as an indication of dissatisfaction with the employee’s overall performance.

All employees, regardless of tenure or performance, should undergo the performance coaching process. To ensure maximum effectiveness and develop trust, coaching methods should incorporate positive advice and feedback, not negative criticism.

The Essence of Coaching

Coaching is a journey, not a checkbox on a form. Employees can intuitively feel when their manager is just “going through the motions.” Simply complying with corporate policy on performance coaching is probably more detrimental to the morale of the organization than merely ignoring it as it fosters contempt for every other corporate initiative.

In fact, coaching is fundamental to the optimum functioning of an organization. Instead of merely informing, it is essential that a coach ask the right questions to help others understand their current thinking and behaviors. Armed with this knowledge, an employee can improve themselves.

Coaching Styles

None of this is to say that there is one ideal method of coaching. There are as many successful styles of performance coaching as there are successful managers. Many managers still ascribe to the “command and control” formula. In this paradigm, the manager does the thinking, designs the game plan and enforces its execution. This might work well if your coach is an Albert Einstein or Steve Jobs, but can suffer with other personality types.

A more proactive method of performance coaching involves the AOLA method; Awareness, Ownership andLearning. Once a problem or opportunity is identified, ownership is assigned and accountability follows later. The most beneficial aspect of this method is that both the manager and the managed learn.

At CGWA, we believe that our Coaching for Improved Performance workshop should be part of your Professional Development toolbox. Through the application of our unique coaching model, targeted case studies, and face-to-face feedback, managers are able to achieve resounding success with their employees. Although we know the classroom experience is priceless, we don’t want you to leave this blog without a free tool you can use today. Use it as your springboard to coaching greatness!