So what is executive coaching?
AT the recent International Coaching and Mentoring Annual Award Ceremony some one asked me: “What is executive coaching?” This could be the question in your minds most of you and I felt I should take this opportunity to clarify this relatively new phenomenon in Zimbabwe.
People Management Issues Robert Mandeya
Executive coaching is a detailed process designed to help facilitate leadership development and personal growth resulting in improved performance of executives. Executive coaches lead their clients towards the fulfilment of specific professional goals.
Today’s executives are experiencing unprecedented change. They are inundated with changing business models, employee discontent, high turnover rates, meetings galore, and too many emails and voice messages.
Does this sound like you?
Are you dealing with unprecedented organisational change and complexity?
Are you finding the challenges in a “doing more with less” environment stressful?
Are you proactively developing your abilities and developing the people around you?
Executives realise that the higher you move up in an organisation, the harder it is to find honest feedback. You are expected to have all the answers, yet how do you know you have the best solutions? An executive coach can help you work through the challenges you face, provide you with honest non-judgemental feedback and setup processes that create success. This is according to comments from corporate leaders about executive coaching.
The Chicago Tribune recently rhetorically posted the question; “Who exactly, seeks out a coach?” and the answere was “Winners who want even more out of life.” Also in June 2016, the Fortune Magazine remarked that: “The hottest thing in management today is getting a coach.”
In a related story Bob Nardelli, the CEO of Home Deport exclaimed that: “I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.”
The roots of coaching
Champion athletes know that the best way to improve performance, achieve greater success and become the best they can be is by working with a coach. It seems plausible that if coaching is integral to success in sports, why would not the same principles work in leadership? The question then is could a sales executive benefit from working with a coach? My answer is easily, how could a sales executive not benefit from coaching!
Here is a story
The new leader viewed himself as the saviour of the organisation. This was in spite of the fact that the leader had no leadership or management experience leading large organsations. (He once held an elected position in a small city government. The rest of his career he was in staff positions). He had initiated a whispering campaign designed to undermine the previous leader’s credibility with those above him (before being appointed CEO he had been a staff person in that organisation). There is some question as to whether he was placed in the organisation by the board chair for the purpose of undermining the previous president. The new president believed that his one primary mission was to implement the board chair’s vision. There was never any push back on what the chair wanted. Because he wanted to be the sole conduit of communication to and from the chair, the president guarded zealously his relationship with the board chair. Anyone else going to the board chair was viewed with suspicion.
The leader categorised everyone on staff into two groups: those who were with him and those who were not. This categorisation was not based on any specific data but rather on the leader’s perception of the staff member’s devotion to the previous leader (a negative) and to agreement with his ideas (a positive). Excitement about the leader’s ideas was viewed as competence.
Eventually this leader received personal feedback from a senior direct report on the destructiveness of his behaviour and what it was doing to the organisation. His response? He ostracised that leader by removing authority, work assignments, and a position on the senior leadership team as one of the president’s direct reports.
The human resources director was instructed that HR policies and procedures did not apply to the senior leadership team. HR was to carry out the president’s wishes in terms of new hires, pay and promotions without HR guidelines interfering. Any push back against management prerogative was viewed as bureaucratic behaviour. The policies did apply to those below the senior leadership level.
Early in his tenure the CEO learned about several good leadership practices that the organisation had been in the process of implementing. He indicated that those practices were academic, theoretical and would not work in the real world. (What he meant, of course, was that rules did not apply to him and he did not want to be held to those standards).
Coaching helps successful executives achieve greater success:
The truth is everybody needs a coach. It only makes good business sense. A good coach helps you focus and remove the obstacles that are blocking your growth. But not everyone is ready to be coached. Ask yourself the question, are you ready for success, are you ready to be coached?
Enlightened leaders need both energy and a laser focus to achieve strategic goals. Leaders who lack clarity in their communication will find followers frustrated and the execution of the strategy of the organisation difficult.
Robert Mandeya is a senior executive training consultant and communication in management advisor, a personal coach in leadership and professional development at the Institute of Leadership Research and Development. You can contact him on email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.