For many people working their way up the corporate ladder, it’s a lot of learning as you grow. Executives and senior leaders invest in professional development with leadership coaching, and we’d argue it’s essential to their success. But what is an executive coach exactly, and how do they help executives achieve results?
What is Executive Coaching?
Executive coaching is a kind of professional development designed to help senior-level and executive employees learn how to be more effective at their job. Executive coaching is a personalized process that far surpasses simple one-size-fits-all programs and team-building exercises. Leaders work one-on-one with an executive coach who custom tailors their advice and training based on their client’s organizational, team, and personal needs.
Coaching vs. Mentoring
There is a distinct and important difference between coaching and mentoring. A mentor is someone who works alongside or above their mentee. A mentor offers guidance and advice since they have often been in their mentee’s shoes before. A coach, on the other hand, is a facilitator. They are not necessarily an expert in their client’s business, but they are familiar with the basic methods required to lead executives, leaders, and managers to growth.
What Is an Executive Coach?
An executive coach isn’t just anyone. An executive coach should have specialized training that allows them to uniquely analyze you, your organization, and your team so they can craft an integrative plan for achieving your desired outcome.
This person is there to analyze where things are going right, where they could be streamlined, and what needs to be added or discontinued in terms of behaviors or policies. Many coaches follow a prescribed method (such as the GROW method established by John Whitmore in 1992) to ascertain your goals, evaluate your work, and advise you on the next steps.
What Does an Executive Coach Do?
Like a gym trainer, an executive coach is there to push you and make you stronger. They may do this through a variety of methods such as:
Surveying those around you for feedback on your performance
Using assessments and insights tools to ascertain your personality
Tracking your working habits and productivity
Observing how you interact with others at every level of the company
Helping you determine your goals and priorities to see where they don’t align
Performing one-on-one skill sessions with you to teach and practice new competencies
Recommending books, podcasts, and articles for you to absorb and study
Providing anecdotes from their professional life or past coaching experiences
Encouraging you to break through your comfort zone
What Does an Executive Coach Not Do?
There are certain things it would be unreasonable to expect of an executive coach. As we already looked at, coaching is not mentoring. A coach will not be making decisions on your behalf or telling you exactly what business decisions to make. In other words, a coach won’t give you the answers—they lead you to figure them out yourself.
What to Expect from Executive Coaching
It’s essential to go into a coaching program with the right mindset and set your expectations correctly. Many of the benefits of executive coaching might not be “tangible” or trackable to calculate a true ROI. The best way to ensure everyone gets enough out of their coaching is to set coaching goals for leaders or yourself. The benefits listed below are great goals to reach for during your coaching program.
What Are the Benefits of Executive Coaching?
Leadership coaching aims for results. These results might be personal or organizational, but they will no doubt be beneficial to you and your company. In a study by HR.com, 56% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that coaching is important while 68% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that coaching has “had a positive impact on organizational performance.”
Some benefits of executive coaching include:
Increased Self Awareness—The whole idea of executive coaching is to bring you greater self-awareness. Being more self-aware leads to better interactions with others, higher self-esteem, and a more inclusive environment.
Better Communication—Because leaders become aware of themselves and how they come across to others, their communication style may change, which results in better clarity of the message and creates a psychologically safe space for employees to communicate back.
A Goal Mindset—Sometimes, leaders spend so much time leading that they lose sight of what they are leading their team or themselves toward. Executive coaching realigns goals with behaviors and can result in achieving those goals.
Organizational Efficiency—Coaches can often find bottlenecks in your process or within a team. Your organization will operate more efficiently by setting yourself up with better systems.
How Does Executive Coaching Make Us More Successful?
When we look at the benefits of executive coaching, we see that these are integral parts of a well-run business. Only by cooperating with and communicating with others can we foster creativity. Only by being aware of ourselves can we lead our teams to better solutions and outcomes. And only by focusing on our goals will we ever reach them.