Sports fans know how a good coach can impact a team’s performance. In recent years executives and leaders have come to view executive coaching as a similar key leadership investment.
The complexity of today’s business environment has fueled the rise of executive coaching from a practice once reserved for leaders on the verge of failing to today’s mindset that coaching builds talent potential, creates greater organizational capacity, and sharpens performance.
In my experience, executive coaching appeals to clients with an intense desire to grow, learn, perform and contribute to business success. They come from a broad range of situations looking for business-savvy thought partners to help them maximize their strengths, understand their derailers, address difficult situations, create strategy, and build high-performing teams. They want a coach they can trust, a guide who listens, questions, advises, and holds them accountable.
While each coaching scenario is unique, I see common themes:
- Resolving underperforming business results.
- Conflict management.
- Succession planning.
- Family business challenges.
- Navigating organizational culture.
- Developing executive presence.
- Reestablishing trust.
- Increasing self-management.
- Building credibility.
- Preparing for next-level assignments.
- Growing effective leadership skills.
- Operating more strategically.
Selecting a Business Coach
Selecting the right business coach is critical to a successful engagement. Consider the following questions when choosing a coach:
Are you able to interview more than one coach? Selecting from two or three potential coaches allows you to find the individual who is right for you. Consider the experience and characteristics that represent a good fit for you. Do you feel at ease with the coach? Does he or she have good listening skills? Does the coach ask powerful questions and provide meaningful insights? Most of all, are you responsive to the coach’s style and do you believe you can build a trusting relationship?
Does the coach’s expertise match your needs? Business coaches need executive coaching certification, a mark that they not only know the business world but also know how to deliver a quality coaching experience that drives results. Some clients might want industry experience. Others value functional experience. Evaluate your own coaching goals and ask questions targeted at your specific selection criteria.
Does the coach follow a coaching model? Certified coaches likely follow a specific coaching model. Look for someone who can deliver a personalized approach, maintain flexibility in the face of organizational changes, and navigate a purposeful process to get you where you need to go.
Can the coach provide assessments that will help you understand yourself and your behaviors? Formal assessments give you and your coach insights into behavioral strengths, triggers of ineffective attitudes and actions, and development needs. Assessments might include psychological insights, measurements of leadership style, and 360-degree feedback.
Does the organization/coach have a track record? Whether you’re considering working with an organization or an individual, ask about past corporate and individual clients. Inquire about how they measure success and the results they’ve achieved.
Does the coach focus on both organizational and individual goals? Will the coach help you develop in the context of organizational system? Leaders don’t operate individually. A coach focused only on you as an individual might be more suited to a life coaching engagement than a business engagement.
Does the process include a robust development plan outlining goals, development suggestions, and resources? While flexibility is healthy, having a development plan with specific steps to address up to three critical goals will keep you and your coach focused on results. You might choose to venture off road, but if you don’t know where you’re going it’s hard to get there.
Executive coaching has proven to be an effective leadership development technique, making it a preferred method of supporting senior leaders and growing the potential of others in an organization. Coaching is no longer about fixing under-performing leaders but unlocking their full potential to drive positive business results.