Leadership or executive coaching is aimed at professionals who are achieving a high degree of success in their current endeavor and are looking to improve upon that success… to be the best that they can be. Executive coaching is also valuable for the individual who has achieved success in the past, but is now asked to deliver a much greater or differing work product, thus, requiring a higher level of performance.
The competitiveness in the marketplace drives businesses and individuals to deliver heretofore unheard of levels of productivity in less time with fewer resources. Stress is high. Productivity-enhancing tools are available, but it may take more than these tools… new ways of thinking are required. The individual must be hitting on all cylinders to keep up, not to mention move ahead; business today requires immediate achievement. Relying on traditional methodologies, approaches, and strategies will, most likely, not generate results to the desired level.
Compounding the increased demands on performance is the concurrent decrease in training and development. One might still experience some skills-based training or some on-the-job training with systems and processes, but leadership development is not invested in as it once was. The increased movement of workers between organizations may also mean that critical developmental experiences were missed in the transition. Also, in some industries, a scarcity of talent leads businesses to decide to promote from within or add individuals who are not up to previous standards of experience and/or skill. Greater spans of control per manager all add up to a longer productivity curve as the individual struggles to come up to speed, if ever.
Leadership coaching can help bridge the gap. It is an individual, customized approach whereby a collaborative relationship is established between a leader and a coach, the aims of which are to bring about sustained behavioral change and to improve performance and transform the quality of the executive’s working and personal life.
The process of coaching, whether the individual is at their peak or reaching higher, is one whereby the coach and professional determine what developmental levers are available to drive even greater performance. What behaviors and thought-processes aren’t conducive to producing the desired outcomes and which ones are? How does the individual become aware of these opportunities and stay aware, allowing for the best and desired outcome?
Through dedicated one-on-one sessions with a coach, the individual and coach will identify areas where the individual would like to focus. This is initially accomplished by identifying what the client is committed to — professionally, personally, and physically. This distinction will set the tone and direction for the coaching and determine much of the approach.
Coaching provides an unbiased sounding board, advisor, and coach to aid the successful individual in identifying opportunities and pathways to achievement through the synergy of the client’s knowledge base and the coach’s perspective and tools. As designed, coaching is developmental so that the awareness gained can be utilized far beyond the coaching relationship. The analogy to a sports coach is applicable to the successful business leader.
Though seldom focused on, coaching also looks at helping the individual achieve balance in their lives. Despite talent, dedication, and honed skills, the individual may not be able to fulfill on their work requirements without falling out of balance in their family, social, physical and community spheres. Burnout, anxiety, ill health, discontent and more… may be the outgrowth, thus systemically impacting results. Recognizing the integrated individual, coaching also works to restore balance for stronger and more sustained performance.
This relationship is conducted confidentially, in person or virtually, depending on distance and preference. Coaching is three-four times a month for one hour. There is an initial 2-4 hour coaching intake session at the establishment of the coaching relationship. At that session, the coach will begin the process of understanding the client’s frame of reference, their desired outcomes, and the beliefs and behaviors which support or might be in the way. The coaching relationship is also established—trust, understanding, and mutual commitment to the process. The client must be open to the possibilities for even the promise of a performance shift. It is essential.
Coaching is an investment in the individual to derive results far greater and far sooner than if support had not been present. The investment is both short- and long-term as seen when the client applies the new awareness across a variety of situations beyond coaching. In addition, if leading people, the client will transfer their coaching and leadership development to their relationship with their team so they also can develop from the application of the coaching principles. The organization as a whole gains from the energy and leadership modeled by the coached individual.