I was recently talking with one of my Emerging Leader clients, whose CEO informed him that he had been selected to receive Executive Development Coaching. He had recoiled in horror, thinking that the CEO must think he’s an idiot or a screw-up. He seemed forlorn about his humiliation and couldn’t escape the thought that his career was destroyed or at least significantly damaged. I tried to reassure him that coaching isn’t just for screw-ups, that it’s REALLY a sign that his CEO, the intelligent and forward-thinking woman that she is, believes in his potential. I assured him that if she didn’t see potential, she wouldn’t be investing her precious resources in coaching someone she considered a screw-up. Fortunately, since our discussion, this young Emerging Leader is beginning to come around.
Why Does Coaching Make Sense? CEOs, senior executives, and emerging leaders all benefit from engaging with a strong executive development or business coach. The reasons why coaching makes sense are many. More about those later…
When everything is going well, it’s pretty easy to run a department, or a line of business, or a company. But what about when things aren’t going so well? How do Leaders perform in identifying gaps and blind spots? Having access to a regularly engaged trusted advisor (your executive coach), provides a strong perspective from an interested, motivated outsider. That insight can provide an objective reality check. (Sanity check, anyone?) When the coach works hard to ensure a safe environment for the client, without judgment, the client can work through their thoughts on the challenges that impact their team and their results. The client can also work through potential alternative solutions and gain experienced feedback and validation. A great coach will be honest and tell you what nobody else will because their job is to tell it to you straight. The coach must be candid so that they can help you to move forward in a positive direction at all times. A strong coach is solely concerned with the success of the client as the leader of the department, line of business, or company.
What Is The Biggest Executive Blind Spot? In my experience, executives, whether they’re a C-level executive or an emerging leader in their first management role, always need someone to help them deal with conflict. When a leader is reluctant to deal with conflict (and you KNOW you occasionally are…), the lack of willingness to confront the conflict stalls forward progress and proactivity. Decisions are deferred, delayed or denied entirely. The organization can come to a screeching halt. Problems fester as they sit in the parking lot, and while they sit parked, they gain in impact, size, cost and complexity. Failing to deal with conflict sends a message to the team that dysfunctional behavior is tolerated in this organization. Yikes! Is that the message we want to send to our team? Of course not! A skilled leader, working with a coach, will learn to identify the conflict, to sense it, even when it’s not obvious. That skilled leader and coach will jointly develop the leader’s skills and confidence to confront challenges constructively. By courageously taking on issues, leaders get to the cause of the problem and address it while the problem is young and easier to resolve. By showing the entire team how to drive proactively toward solutions constructively, they accelerate the development of teamwork and create a culture of positivity and appropriate aggressiveness.
What Can I Gain From Investing In My Coaching Program? Once you’ve gotten over the notion that coaching somehow signals that you are on the underachiever’s list, you can set your insecurity aside. Recognize that coaching is a wonderful tool to improve your already strong performance. Coaching helps the top performers to strengthen their game. With coaching, they can consistently build on their strengths, gain clarity of purpose, and develop a strong sense of self-awareness. They can refine a very sharp focus on the most important priorities, and learn strategies and tactics to get more done with less stress. They can make greater forward progress and significantly improved results. Coaching is mostly about helping good people to become even better. Coaching is about helping people to take action themselves, that make the world a better place. My Emerging Leader client should be thankful and appreciative (and he is…) that his forward-thinking CEO is investing in accelerating his career development. Now that we’ve been working together, he understands some of the things that I work on with my clients. He has started to see improvement with Time Management, Conflict Management, Improved Communications, Driving Revenue Growth, Leadership Development, and Planning Skills.
I’d love to know what you think. Is coaching just for knuckle-heads, or is it maybe something that the most innovative companies provide to their executives and emerging leaders as a competitive investment that leads to a competitive advantage? I know what I believe, but then again, I am a Business Coach, and it’s hard for me to be objective. If your company tells you that they’re investing in a business coach or an executive coach for you, I will start doing cartwheels down the hallway. I’m just saying…
Please, let me hear what you think. If you add a comment below, we’ll send you our MBCC Best Practices on how to Coach your associates. Keep it positive out there, my friends!