Coaching and Mentoring : Executive Coaching : A Leadership Development Tool for Top Performers
“Coaching” used to be a popular approach for derailing executives or professionals whose performance needed a lot of work. Got a problem ? Get a coach. However, increasingly, coaching is being sought by some of the most successful executives in their field – those who want to get even better at their business game. So the new thinking is…Got a goal ? Get a coach.
Executive coaching has evolved quickly over the years. Some consider it a field in itself; others consider it a form of consulting. There are many interpretations for “executive coaching”. No matter how you define it, coaching can be a useful tool for executives who want to develop as leaders.
Rather than debate the definition of coaching, it’s more important to consider the type of coach and approach that’s most appropriate for you given the results you want to achieve. Some executives have difficulty articulating concrete desired results, but a skilled coach can help. Often executives simply haven’t taken the time to slow down and think things through.
Coaches come in the form of business professionals, psychologists, trainers, consultants, authors, etc. They come from all walks of life. Some are tough, challenging and direct. Some are sensitive, encouraging and indirect in their style. Some impose a particular process. Some are more flexible.
A consultant with expertise in communication may focus on executive coaching that emphasizes presentation skills. A fashion consultant may offer executive coaching with an emphasis on professional appearance. Other executive coaches focus on leadership skills or business strategy. The approaches are as varied as the professionals who deliver coaching services.
Selecting a Coach
Ultimately the most important factor in selecting a coach is the coach’s track record and his/her ability to establish the kind of relationship with you that helps you achieve results.
Senior leaders who have few peers seek out coaches to discuss business and professional goals. It’s a decision that should not be made lightly.
Coaching relationships can be structured a variety of ways. Consider whether you want to work with a coach in person, by phone or both. Know what’s most important to you in selecting a good coach.
Finding the right fit is everything. You’ll know you have the wrong fit if you feel you’re wasting your time, dread your coaching conversations, or focus on issues that aren’t directly relevant to your goals. Listen to your instincts and find the best fit.
- Staying focused on top priorities
- Increasing accountability for follow-through
- Building skills in particular areas (such as communication or decision making)
- Dealing with organizational politics
- Thinking strategically
- Handling stress & avoiding burnout
- Managing teams & dealing with sensitive personnel situations
- Influencing others
- Brainstorming new ideas/creative thinking
- Personal career planning
- Life-work balance issues
- Establishing clear goals and action plans
In addition to finding the right coach, here are a few success factors to keep in mind for those who engage in a coaching process.
- Establish clear guidelines for the relationship and coaching process on the front end. Don’t make assumptions.
- Share feedback. If something is not working, discuss it.
- Acknowledge progress and successes along the way. This helps build momentum.
- Involve other stakeholders if necessary. In some cases, others in the organization can participate in the process to share input and feedback.