Saturday, May 9, 2015

Executive Coaching

By Ann Rosser, Consulting Senior Advisor at Plexus Consulting Group, LLC

The coaching process helps executives improve their performance and personal effectiveness while reducing stress. It offers the executive a rare opportunity to stand back and take a fresh look at the experiences and assumptions of a lifetime. The process enables the executive to …
• Identify inner resources.
• Target areas for growth.
• Promote a healthy balance between career and personal life, so he or she can sustain the vitality necessary for effective leadership.
• Uncover specific behaviors that need to change in order to enhance short-term and long-term performance.
• Challenge underlying beliefs and values, and offer possibilities for fundamental change that will enhance the overall quality of life.
The coach offers direction and assistance, but the individual retains freedom of choice. He/she is responsible for discovering the self-knowledge that forms the foundation for continued growth.

The executive can freely confide in the coach because the coach has no internal links with the company. The coach brings a variety of skills to the relationship by assuming different roles, such as supporter, co-creator, political confidant, and skills developer. A coach provides many positives to the process:
• Independence
• Impartiality
• Objectivity
• Different viewpoint
• Wide knowledge and experience
• Experience of weighing opportunities, risks, and rewards

The coaching process can take a number of forms depending on the needs of the individual and the desires of the client who requests the coaching. The process typically unfolds as follows:
• Client and coach meet to discuss the need, and to make a decision about whether coaching is the best approach to achieve the desired objectives.
• The coach and the executive meet to become acquainted and to decide how to handle matters of confidentiality.
• Based on the results of these meetings, the coach and client design a process to meet the agreed upon outcomes.
• The coach questions the executive in depth, possibly giving him or her questionnaires to complete. The coach may observe the executive at work and in other situations, perhaps interviewing bosses, peers and subordinates.
• The executive and the coach will identify key strengths, weaknesses, and developmental needs, and put together a plan.
• The executive and coach work together to achieve the agreed upon objectives.
The process generally ebbs once the executive has established momentum toward acquiring enhanced leadership abilities, and has developed an organizational support mechanism for ongoing growth.

Coaching yields a multitude of benefits. The exact nature of these benefits depends in part on the precise form and style of the coaching relationship, but some of the most common are listed below:
• Coaching helps people order priorities. They gain confidence in their current positions because the coach helps them think matters through thoroughly. True to the old adage, “a problem shared is a problem halved,” the coach does lighten the executive’s burden. But this has nothing to do with devolving responsibility, and everything to do with gaining clarity.
• The coaching process helps the executive identify the skill-sets he/she needs to move up to the next step on the career ladder, to acquire the resources, and take the actions that are needed in order to get there.
• Executives tend to think their problems are unique, but that’s rarely true. The coach often can bring a wealth of experience gained from other similar situations, which the executive will value as enlightening and refreshing.

Potential outcomes from a coaching relationship can include:
• Greater Clarity
• Greater Focus
• Improved Decision Making Skills
• Enhanced Creativity
• Improved Balance in all Aspects of Life
• Greater Effectiveness and Better Performance

Executive coaching often is the best way for an individual and an organization to grasp the nettle of change in today’s increasingly demanding world. The decision to hire an Executive Coach is highly personal. It must be based on trust and commitment. Only when both are established can the relationship begin to move forward in a positive and successful direction.

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