Monday, July 11, 2011

Have You Considered An Executive Coach?

by Virgil A. Carter

How does a senior executive develop their volunteer leadership? Have you considered an executive coach? An article in the Summer 2011 Plexus newsletter Horizon, edited by Douglas Kleine, CAE, and titled “If Coaches Are Good for Executive Directors (and Basketball Teams), Why Not for Board Chairs?”, by Rick Moyers, makes the case for executive coaches, both for non-profit executive directors, and, wait for it…for board chairs! Yes, board chairs!

In for-profit corporations, and more frequently in non-profit organizations, executive coaches are recognized as valuable resources to develop and enhance important leadership capabilities. The ability of the experienced coach to tailor a one-to-one learning relationship is a powerful growth tool. It can be used to develop new strengths, as well as to address areas of needed improvement.

Mr. Moyers points out the opportunity for positive achievements with volunteer leaders by using a coach for the board chair. He points out that as volunteers, board chairs come to their role from a variety of experiences and backgrounds. Volunteers in non-profit organizations are frequently subject-matter experts in their field of endeavor. Seldom, however, are the volunteers experienced in top corporate executive leadership. And few volunteers have a well-balanced understanding of the overall non-profit organization that they lead.

Of course, it’s difficult or impossible for the executive director to act as a “coach” for the board chair. In most cases the executive director reports directly to the board chair, making positive “learning opportunities” few and far between, at best. Thus, making executive coaching an annual, budgeted resource for the board chair provides a most important resource for the chair, for the executive director and for the organization. The chair and the coach can work out their own annual program each year, giving the chair an invaluable developmental resource and communications channel.

The author notes that if coaching can produce successful athletic teams, it can also produce successful volunteer (and staff) leaders. For the full article, click here.

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