There is a pervasive myth that executive coaching only caters to senior management in organisations. But nothing could be further from the truth. This is because coaching is a very effective tool for employees on various rungs of the corporate ladder, especially for mid-level employees who may be eyeing that corner office (or one near it) but haven’t made it there yet. So first, let us understand what executive coaching is all about.
What is Executive Coaching?
Executive coaching can help managers, mid-senior executives as well as leaders identify and achieve their professional goals. An executive coach can help employees enhance their fundamental skills, grow their decision-making abilities, improve communication, and work on areas that require improvement, honing & polishing. They are also equipped to help organisations drive performance as per overall organisational goals and improve employee engagement, productivity and retention.
Executive coaching involves two journeys – an external one where the person being coached is trying to move towards a tangible goal that is meaningful for them and in line with the organization’s goals. The second is an internal journey where it is about the person’s inner transformation. Unless there is an inner transformation, external transformation is going to be very limited.
The process of executive coaching involves one-on-one meetings, learning assignments, assessments & feedback, developmental activities, progress reviews, and more. These are all aimed to help employees think more profoundly, become more self-aware, and uncover hidden potential – all with the aim of providing the organisation a favorable ROI on coaching.
Benefits of Executive Coaching
At the end of the coaching journey, most coachees are asked to share feedback on the impact that coaching has had on their leadership abilities and the benefits that the organisation has witnessed. Here are the key benefits of executive coaching that organisations can expect when investing in it:
1. Leverages strengths
Hiring employees who have the capability to take the business to the next level is only half the battle won; identifying and leveraging clients’ strengths to create tangible results is what eventually makes all the difference. Additionally, having an effective and supportive executive coach can help organisations see and leverage strengths that might be under-utilised. For instance, if an employee has a good understanding of consumer behaviour, it is important that they are encouraged to leverage that strength and use it more effectively for the benefit of their team and their organisation.
2. Improves job satisfaction & work engagement
According to Institute of Coaching the benefits of coaching are many; 80 per cent of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence and over 70 per cent benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills. 86 per cent of companies report that they successfully recouped their investment in coaching. (ICF 2009)
An executive coach’s contribution to the company can prove to be a critical factor in its growth because they will be able to concentrate a company’s collective development and improve upon efforts. A coach can observe the company’s functioning as a third person and thus is able to give objective opinions. For the employees, they can help to boost their job satisfaction and add meaning to their work.
3. Helps build productive relationships
To meet organisational goals, it is important that communication channels between the employees are open and effective. A good way to ensure this is to help employees understand and consider the outcome that they wish to gain through their communication and then use clear and precise language to ensure there is no misunderstanding. Executive coaches can help employees communicate effectively with their co-workers so that they can have productive relationships, which is an essential factor for the steady functioning of any organization. Overall, this will ensure that people in the organisation become better team players, communicate ideas and feedback better and in the end, become a part of a beautiful work culture.
4. Accelerates goal achievement
One of the essential aims of executive coaching is to help organisations achieve their goals in a strategic and timely manner. An executive coach plays a pivotal role in assisting organisations get a clearer vision about their goals and dreams and understand how to best achieve them. Additionally, executive coaches also function as a powerful and helpful support system – someone who understands the current position of the organisation and wants them to reach their full potential.
5. Encourages self-awareness
While this may seem like a simple task, self-awareness is not so simple. Research proves that when leaders are not self-aware, it can directly impact organisational effectiveness and profitability. Additionally, employees prefer to follow leaders who are aware of their team’s strengths and weaknesses to be able to leverage them in the best possible manner.
So, what is self-awareness? Self-awareness is an individual’s ability to focus on themselves and assess whether or not their actions, thoughts, and emotions align with their internal standards. Those who are highly self-aware can interpret their actions, feelings, and thoughts quite objectively
An executive coach gathers inputs about how the employees perceive their leaders and CEOs, and vice-versa. Throughout the coaching engagement, the client can share their perception about various levels of management based on their observations and interactions. An executive coach can help managers & leaders build their skill sets and become more self-aware so that they can strengthen not only their individual performance but also impact organisational performance.
By helping leaders and managers recognise their strengths, weaknesses and hidden biases as well as take accountability for their actions and consistently ask for feedback, an executive coach can help leaders unlock their maximum potential.
6. Heightened emotional intelligence & self-regulation
Employees with high emotional intelligence (EI) are more likely to get hired, promoted and earn better salaries. But what is EI, and why is it so important? According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence is the ability to first identify and then manage your emotions as well as the feelings of others. In a manager, high EI can help them build relationships, reduce team stress, defuse conflict effectively and improve job satisfaction. An executive coach can help employees of an organisation fine-tune and upgrade their emotional intelligence in these three broad areas of awareness:
a. Be self-aware
It is important to make clients understand the intent behind their actions. This is possible through better self-management, especially in the face of internal obstacles. An executive coach can help their clients improve the way they self-manage reactions, emotions, and judgements, thereby improving their overall performance at work.
b. Be aware of others
To manage relationships successfully, especially at work, it is essential that employees, particularly managers, can clearly and rapidly identify strengths and weaknesses in others. Managers can inspire their teams more readily by better understanding their motivations and desires. In such scenarios, an executive coach can help managers listen more carefully and develop these skills to a significant effect.
c. Be aware of the organisation
By learning to keep employees’ and managers’ goals fully aligned with organisational goals, it is possible to create a work environment that is infused with productivity and teamwork. An executive coach can pinpoint weaknesses in this area and help clients focus on understanding and then subsequently getting more aligned with the larger goals.
7. Improve employee engagement, retention & development
Employees are the backbone of any organisation and are one of the most critical aspects to the success of an organisation. When an employee loves their work and is positively motivated, their engagement is reflected in their job. This is true in the opposite scenario as well. When employees are unengaged, they often underperform in their tasks and projects. In such a scenario, coaching is an incredible way to empower every single individual in the organisation to set realistic goals while still challenging themselves.
Coaching increases employee engagement because employees feel involved and believe that they are part of a more significant cause. When business and employee goals are aligned, and individuals work diligently to achieve them, employee engagement and company culture flourishes.
8. Navigate change in a positive manner
When an organisation is navigating through change (both positive as well as negative), they deal with uncertainty on so many levels which can quickly become overwhelming.
An executive coach, during times of change, can become a powerful thought-partner for the management team and a safe space for them to move away from the chaos. When they are faced with a new challenge or an uncertain outcome, a coach can help clients look at the situation from different points of views to ensure that they create the best strategy to move forward.
A coach can help employees reconnect with their purpose and expand their vision, especially during a period of transition.
During this time, a good exercise for coaches would be to help their clients practise the techniques of developing their vision and narrowing their focus. This process allows them to see what is possible and get clear on the next step so they can step into aligned action.
1. What can executive coaching do for you?
There’s no doubt that future leaders will need executive coaching. As the business environment becomes more complex and competitive, the need to turn to executive coaches for guidance will only increase.
Executive coaches provide confidential and supportive feedback to organisations. Due to the individual needs that coaching offers for clients, exact responsibilities might differ from coach to coach depending on the goals of the organisation. Here are some common benefits of executive coaching one can expect:
- Help achieve clarity (in terms of goals & objectives)
- Challenge assumptions
- Provide resources to improve teamwork
- Help interpret behavioural assessments
- Conduct confidential interviews to aid clients in self-awareness
- Establish development goals
2. Why is executive coaching important?
Even in challenging business environments when company resources are under tight scrutiny, organisations still need to focus on growth. In times of uncertainty, leaders are responsible for making strategic decisions with far-ranging impacts that may change the course of their organisation. In this scenario, coaching provides a laser-focused approach specifically targeted to supporting and developing these critical people in the organisation.
Overall, coaching for leaders has been proven to result in:
- Better, more sustained, and accelerated learning
- Development of critical thinking skills
- Improvement in team leadership performance
- Increase in leaders’ self-awareness so they can use their strengths more effectively and manage their areas of weakness
Through executive coaching, managers and leaders can tap into powerful learning opportunities that arise from the hardships and disruptions they face. Additionally, coaching can help executives manage stress and better prioritise their emotional well-being in the face of uncertainty, thereby increasing their effectiveness.
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