Executive coaching enables people to discover the tools, knowledge, and resources that they need for their development to become more effective. A one-to-one coaching programme is an individualised leadership development experience applied to work-related challenges and opportunities. The outcome of an executive coaching assignment is to enable a client to incorporate skills that address a specific issue in such a way that they become part of his or her permanent leadership or management style.
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Executive coaching is especially relevant:
- When big things in the organisation must change.
- Where support is needed for individual transitions.
- Where specific skill development is required.
- For resolving specific present-moment issues.
Executive coaching format
A small number of in person or virtual one-to-one client-centred conversations
- Your development priority
- Discovery conversation
- Pre-programme assessments
- “Future of you” dialogues
- Action planning
Contact Geoff to discuss further.
What is Executive Coaching?
Executive coaching is a leadership development process based on informed dialogue. The purpose of executive coaching is to facilitate new skills, possibilities and insights that benefit the individual being coached and their organisation.
The coaching relationship is built on trust, best demonstrated by the coaching skills of listening, sharing observations, non-judgemental questioning, providing space for solutions to emerge and action planning. The relationship with the executive coach is conducted one-to-one. Or through group settings for team coaching. Coaching can be an in person or in a virtual environment.
The coaches focus will be informed first and foremost by the what the person being coached identifies as their need. The coaching relationship may also be informed by external data, such as a 360-performance review and the wider organisational environment. A partnership approach between the leader being coached, who is often a senior manager, the executive coach and their organisation is usually best.
Executive coaching outcomes
Reduced to its essence, an executive coaching programme equips people with the tools, knowledge, and opportunities, they need to be both more effective in the short-term and to support their long-term professional development. This is good for the individual being coached, for their organisation, and taking a wider lens, it is good for society.
For something that is entirely self-evident, it is very often an ignored fact that by far the most important workplace skill is, and always was, getting along well with other people, colleagues, suppliers, customers and stakeholders. If executive coaching can help people to get along better, unimagined possibilities will emerge.
Candidates for Executive Coaching
There are exclusions – but here are a couple of thoughts.
Executive coaching is more effective when it seen as a benefit for high achievers, key people or senior managers who have been identified as high potential.
When coaching is seen as remedial and where the executive coach is deployed as the last resort for problem cases, then the coach in effect becomes the “undertaker” – the person who closes the exit door after an inevitable and often unhappy departure.
For coaching to be effective, whether it is delivered by external coaches or internal coaches, it must be framed as a benefit and a valuable development opportunity.
Coaching Senior Managers
The executive coach will typically get a call when a senior manager (or a senior management team) hits a wall. The wall will most likely have emerged as a result a pattern of behaviour that is detrimental to performance. The poor performance will feed frustration and the senior manager, and their team cannot see what has got them trapped.
This often happens when organisations select people for leadership positions based on an excellent technical track record and they assume that these individuals will be able to learn how to lead on the job. This is a false premise. Many technically accomplished individuals thrown into such leadership roles are not even aware that a distinctive set of essential leadership skills actually exist.
Essential Coaching Skills
Executive coaches have failings too. They are human after all! Many will fail in the fundamentals of active listening, empathising, probing, reframing, and contextualising even when they think that is what they are doing. Instead, they will have abandoned their coaching skills by reverting to advice giving, problem-solving and theorising.
This reflects our overwhelming human desire to fix problems once and for all. The challenge for the executive coach is to unlearn that culturally embedded directive approach, and to replace it with a coaching model that is more mutual, more collaborative, more centred on the needs and preferences of the person being coached and that creates space for discoveries, insights and learning to emerge.
The Ideal Executive Coach
There is no ideal, but some executive coaches will through their experience, their curiosity and their dedication to their own development be true “informed practitioners”. Such a person will have business experience and have held leadership positions over several years. They will have studied their craft, probably by being an accredited coach. They will have a knowledge of psychology, team dynamics, leadership development strategies, psychometric assessments, and organisational behaviour.
They will have learned how to apply helping skills and as a result they will have the capacity to bring a wide spectrum of knowledge, experience, and perspectives to bear in any coaching situation. An informed practitioner does not need to be expert in every coaching model and psychological theory. No one could be! But the better executive coach will know enough to understand the core concepts and how to apply them, without treading into areas they are unqualified to handle.