Successful, high-performing organizations have two things in common: They continually evaluate how they are doing, and they make informed decisions to guide their daily operations. Likewise, strong leaders prioritize their own performance improvement. They understand it has a direct impact on the engagement of their people and the results of their organization. Executive coaching is one way to drive performance.
Executive coaching fundamentals
According to the International Coach Federation, coaching is a client-driven partnership in which coaches use a thought-provoking and creative process to inspire individuals to maximize their personal and professional potential. Executive coaching is unique because of the person being coached—a senior leader such as a director, president, or member of the C-suite, for example.
The main goal is to help a leader gain greater self-awareness by examining his or her real and perceived behaviors, uncovering possible blind spots, and exploring goal achievement. Questions are the main tools to bring improved clarity to these objectives. Clients are expected to do the hard work of self-examination and use the coach as a sounding board along the way. Assessments are key to the process; 360-degree, personality, and leadership style evaluations guide the coaching process.
Executive coaching is different from counseling. A therapist often provides advice to clients. However, coaches typically do not tell a client what to do. Instead, they enable the individual’s journey of self-discovery through the art of listening and questioning.
Similarly, executive coaching is not mentoring. Mentorship often is a longer term, mutually beneficial, and self-directed relationship between two people. The goals are different, too. Executive coaching drives human performance improvement; mentorship is a tool for career development.
Finally, executive coaching is not always about improving behaviors. For a systems-minded organization, coaching is used to increase both individual performance and organizational capability. Therefore, it could describe the process of coaching high-potential leaders as part of a broader succession planning effort, for example.
Executive coaching in practice
Every coach follows a slightly different path, based on the individual’s and organization’s goals. According to The Balance Careers, the journey presents a repeatable cadence that includes intake, assessment, goal setting, and development planning. This process takes anywhere from six months to a year.
Executive coaches adhere to strict confidentiality with their clients. However, many organizations involve a client’s direct supervisor to ensure the goals of the coaching engagement are clear, and the executive is accountable to pre-determined objectives. In cases when the top leader of an organization is the coachee, a Board of Directors may receive periodic updates about the coaching process.
Executive coaching only works when the coachee wants it to. The process is driven by the individual, so this person must buy in to the benefits it incurs for his or her own leadership capability, as well as the capacity of the organization.
Take the next step
Are you ready to work towards increased performance? Brighter Strategies provides leaders with an overview of their current performance and strategies for improvement. We use the appropriate executive coaching assessments, tools, and systems to see where your performance is now, and based on our findings, we suggest solutions that will benefit leaders and their entire organization over both the short- and long-term. Learn more today.