Executives and senior managers are increasingly turning to business coaches to help develop their careers, improve their own performance and get better results from those that report into them.
High quality executive coaching needs skilled, experienced coaches who can quickly build a bond of trust, mutual respect and openness. It needs the experience to know how hard to challenge and when. It needs the intuition to know when things are not as they appear. And it needs the skill, tact and care to guide and inspire people to lasting change.
The role of a good coaching programme must always be to make a significant difference to the way the executive thinks and ultimately acts. To do this effectively, clients must be led to their own conclusions and focus on their own motivations. Over many years we’ve identified the 5 key tenets which enable this to happen.
The coach should enable the executive to get clarity and focus on what’s really important to them. The client should be able to paint a picture of themselves in 3 years time. What will they have achieved at work? What might they have achieved personally or in their home life? What will they be aiming to achieve in the subsequent 3 years? This process enables the client to stop believing self-limiting thoughts and focus on what’s really important – to them.
As the vision unfolds, the next step is to look at the gap between the desired outcome and the current position. This is powerful because it enables the individual to assess just what choices need to be made. Do the work goals impact upon the personal goals? Do any goals require new skills and knowledge? Does the client really want the changes identified?
One of the harsh realities of life is the wake we leave behind us that impacts others. In fact, the impact can be both positive and negative but our friends, colleagues and family only normally give us feedback they think we want to hear. We fear hurt feelings or upset and many people steer away from potential conflict or painful conversations.
Skilful coaching enables a different way of learning about ourselves that is less personal, less hurtful but deeply impactful. Building self-awareness helps us map out how we think and do things, and provides powerful insight into how our behaviour impacts others. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, which means our powerful positive behaviours may be seen differently and more negatively by others.
The coach’s work comes to life at this stage by providing clarity of thought around which action becomes not just obvious but inevitable. Amazingly, the answers are usually within the grasp of the individual and if they aren’t, an experienced coach should help get them. What stops action is lack of clarity around the benefits, risks and the behaviours which need stopping, starting or building. One of the most important elements of this stage is a clear focus on the cost of inaction. How many of us ask the question ‘What happens if I don’t make these changes?’ Rarely is the real answer unobtainable, it just needs processing and filtering through skilled questioning.
Thinking isn’t doing, talking isn’t doing, only taking action is doing. If activity doesn’t change, then coaching has no purpose, reason or end game. The need for action creates a responsibility for commitment to bring the benefits to life, whilst mitigating any risks. Feedback in post-coaching reviews shows the biggest personal satisfaction of any executive (who we assume has a fascination on self-actualisation) comes from having identified and acted on changes to the way they do things.
This process of focusing on what the client wants, how they can get it and supporting them through experimentation and trial, is not only satisfying for coaches but it’s empowering for those being coached. Clarity enables action, action causes change, change requires leadership and leadership is how executives esteem themselves. Coaching is a route and path to higher self-esteem and self-realisation.
We provide executive coaching throughout the UK using our teams based in London, Cambridge and Cheshire. We help managers and executives of all levels improve their own performance and get better results from their teams.