Many top executives have accumulated years of experience making difficult decisions and developing their people. However, they don’t always take the necessary time to reflect upon their own development as a leader. In order to continue to improve individual, team and organizational results, it is crucial for these executives to also invest in the development of their own talents and skill sets.
Executive coaching is a popular solution that many leaders utilize to develop their professional capabilities. By learning to leverage their own existing strengths, leaders can empower their employees to achieve their most important goals. Bâton Global’s expert executive coach Denny Bole recently sat down for an interview to provide insight into the growing industry.
I ended up in a HR position at Principal about 15 years ago. Shortly after I started, we began to recognize how important coaching was, and could become, and wanted to coach more employees. From a sustainability standpoint, we couldn’t keep hiring outside coaches, so we selected certain people to become internal coaches. That was the start of coaching for me.
Executive coaching is really drawing out the potential in someone else to be their best.
Everyone needs a coach. Not everyone needs an executive coach. An executive coach is best for someone in the following situations:
a) Key Role: If someone has a key role at an organization, you absolutely want that person to be their best. Bringing in a coach who can help assess that person’s potential– that’s huge.
b) New Role: If an employee has recently transitioned into a new role, a coach will help that person start out as successful as possible.
c) Exiting Role:This gets at succession planning. Organizations need to think ahead and be proactive. A coach can help with the preparation for future roles.
We need strong leaders at organizations and this involves promoting transformational leadership instead of transactional leadership. There has been a tendency in the past for leaders “to tell” rather than “to ask.” Such an approach is not empowering or engaging for employees. To stay current and competitive, leaders must shift from a telling approach to an asking approach. This is essential because in a world characterized by VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity), you can’t as a leader know everything. Coaching helps to energize, engage, and empower employees to make their own decisions and discover their own solutions.
If you are an executive coach, you go into an organization and conduct the appropriate assessments, collect information through feedback, look for themes and examine profiles. You then formulate a development plan for your client – strengths to showcase, areas to work on, derailing behavior to address. After that, you coach your client through the plan, giving him or her the opportunity to apply new strategies and skills.Finally, you follow-up with your client to see how the action plan is working. This process should typically take 6-12 months to complete, depending on how frequently you and your client meet.
If someone does not want to be coached and you are doing all of the work, it’s hard to be successful. Your client has to want to work through the process and be open to feedback. You have to get them to recognize that even if they are successful now, they can still be better in the future. Additionally, coaching should not be assigned as a last-ditch effort to address performance issues. Coaching resources should be directed towards those people who are driven and show they have a real interest to continue to grow and be their best.
When I put together a development plan, one of the questions I keep in mind is “how doI know if I am successful?” Toward the end of the coaching engagement, I’ll do an assessment looking back to where the client started and compare what’s changed. Anecdotal incidents are another way to measure success. I’ll ask my client to tell me how certain situations went that I know we had previously coached through. If the person says it went amazing, then I know that was a success as well. Overall, as you create a coaching culture, you see engagement and organizational commitment scores go up. You see your people getting promoted because of the talent that was developed and you see employees staying longer with the company.
I think succession planning creates a great future opportunity for coaching – that is currently underutilized. Also, in an increasingly dynamic world, characterized by VUCA, getting people to think differently is huge to business success. Moving forward, the industry should do a better job highlighting the link between coaching and improved business results to demonstrate the value of this business solution.
Yes, who wouldn’t want to be their best?