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The Benefits of Adding an Executive Coach to Your Team

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-Karen Orlich/

Do you feel distracted from reaching your goals?  Not sure how to develop an actionable plan and/or do not have time to assess the results of current performance to make improvements?  If so, executive coaching may be a good option to help you become better focused and excel in the future.

According to The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®), a global provider of executive education, ‘executive coaching’ is defined as “a formal engagement in which a qualified coach works with an organizational leader in a series of dynamic, confidential sessions designed to establish and achieve clear goals that will result in improved managerial performance.”

The relationship between an executive and a coach is a collaborative one with the coach not only focusing on improving performance through overall skill assessment but also evaluating organizational position (i.e. examining the client’s role within the organization), assisting on execution of tasks/responsibilities, and assessing the results.

A primary initial task with a coach is to create a developmental action plan to achieve your goals.  After you execute the plan, you and your coach will review the results regularly and define new action plans to further your development.  Like a coach in sports, an executive coach ‘plays back the tape’ and provides guidance on how to improve your existing skills.

M. Nora Klaver, author of Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need and CEO of MNK coaching, takes an introspective approach when defining executive coaching, “People always talk about getting “out of the box.” Our boxes are built of all our preconceptions and existing perceptions.  The way we view life, our lives and our jobs can be incredibly limiting to us — no matter how successful we are.  An executive coach shows you how to blow up the box through insightful questions — ones you’d never ask yourself on your own — and offering new perspectives.”

Coaching is no longer negatively viewed as a way to help correct underperforming managers.  Instead, it is much more widely used as a benefit to support top producers.  Organizations worldwide spent over $2.0 billion on coaching in 2011, reported International Coach Federation and Pricewaterhouse Coopers in the 2012 ICF Global Coaching Study.  The study found that 41,300 coaches are active globally with the majority of coaches in North America and Western Europe.

Why is coaching so widely utilized?  “Because there is a great demand in the workplace for immediate results, and coaching can help provide that by providing feedback and guidance in real time,” says Brian Underhill, a senior consultant at the Alliance for Strategic Leadership.  “Coaching develops leaders in the context of their current jobs, without removing them from their day-to-day responsibilities.”

Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, GE, and Bank of America have embraced the concept and some have added coaches as integral employees of their Human Resources department.  The belief is that, under the right circumstances, one-on-one interaction with an objective third party can provide a focus that other forms of organizational support simply cannot, according to Harvard University in the Harvard Management Update.

The experiences of MNK coaching have shown that when people work with a coach they find themselves more excited about who they are and what they are doing which leads to stronger engagement, more energy, and improved performance.  The focus of coaching is to help clients “be more fully themselves by giving them new skills, tools and ways of perceiving situations.”

In order to be most successful, the client and organization must be committed to coaching and receptive to the unbiased feedback provided by the coach.  Unlike consultants, a coach is not brought in to independently assess and ‘change’ the organization or employee.  Their role is to improve the skills that already exist in high-potential individuals and leaders of the company.

Coaching is effective for executives who can say, “I want to get over there, but I’m not sure how to do it,” says James Hunt, an associate professor of management at Babson College and coauthor of The Coaching Manager.  “Coaching works best when you know what you want to get done.”  Perhaps, in spite of your outstanding track record, you haven’t yet gained the full interpersonal dexterity required of senior managers—for example, you’re not yet a black belt in the art of influence, which is so important in the modern networked organization.  Honing such a skill might be an appropriate goal for a coaching assignment.

As reported by Harvard University, coaching can be particularly effective in times of change for an executive.  That includes promotions, stretch assignments, and other new challenges. While you may be confident in your abilities to take on new tasks, you may feel that an independent sounding board would be beneficial in helping you achieve a new level of performance, especially if close confidants are now reporting to you.  More so, you may recognize that succeeding in a new role requires skills that you have not needed to rely on in the past; a coach may help sharpen those skills, particularly when you need to do so on the fly.

“One of the big benefits of a coach is that they aren’t tied to the organization, your friends, or anyone else,” says Washington, D.C.-based executive coach Linda Finkle and CEO of incedo Group.  The coach’s focus is with you only, so they support what you want and where you want to go.

“Even our families, who want the best for us, can’t be unbiased or totally objective. What you do or do not do impacts them, whether it’s positive or negative. A coach is not impacted by your decisions, your wins or losses, or anything else,” Finkle notes.  However, this does not mean that company goals are not supported by coaching.  In actuality, a coach is usually hired by the company to support the executive’s efforts to achieve those goals.  Even so, the role of the coach is not to represent specific company needs or interests.

The benefits of working with executive coaches are best summarized by their clients.  David Zimmerman, Manager of Infrastructure Engineering-Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group, states “A good executive coach provides straight forward, insightful, and honest feedback at all times.  My coach has helped me immensely and has been able to help me see myself and others in a different light, which has completely changed how I deal with each in many situations for a positive outcome.”


Written by entrabanker

March 12, 2012 at 3:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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