What can Executive Coaching do for you?
An article by Diane Coutu and Carol Kauffman in the Harvard Business Review (January 2009) identifies the main reasons (in order of most frequent) that Executive Coaches are appointed:
- To develop high potential
- To facilitate transition
- To act as a sounding board and to a lesser extent
- To deal with any derailing behaviour.
Additionally, they also make it clear that, whilst Executive Coaching is normally commissioned to address business issues, personal matters do ‘creep in’. That is inevitable, as no amount of work life balance can eradicate the interplay between the two; but good coaching can add the support needed to navigate healthily and successfully between them.
Coutu and Kauffman go on to explain that the typical coaching contract normally lasts for between seven and twelve months, which is sufficient enough time for it to be structured clearly to meet the goals of the coachee. It is not unusual for contacted sessions to be agreed monthly (in person with telephone and Skype support in between) in order to make best use of the busy schedule most coachees face. Of course, some issues can be addressed more quickly, but that is less likely to be Executive Coaching per se.
They also identify some of the key factors that impact on the effectiveness of the coaching. Firstly they assert that the executive (or coachee) must have a ‘fierce desire to learn and grow’. They state clearly that those with a victim, blame or iron clad fixed belief system are not going to be successful. Such stuck people simply will not wish to change ad may need to be told so, which is why the coaching relationship should be built on genuine rapport, not just the ‘reputation’ of the coach. It is not unusual for quality coaches to decline a client who does not have that fierce desire; why would they waste their time? The quality of the relationship should therefore always be individualistic and client focused, which good coaches will make the effort to ensure is the case.
But being in a good relationship also extends to include the relationship of the coachee (executive, aspiring executive or manager) with the business/organisations and (if any) the coachees supervisors. This is because although coaching can address behaviour, it should not be the means for ‘managing somebody out’, as the process needs to have success for the coachee at its heart. Therefore the business needs to be equally committed to the development program as the coachee. For this reason, as Coutu and Kauffman note, it is not unusual for feedback to be shared and given to the organisation too, which of course will be part of the pre-agreed coaching contract.
This kind of two or even three way and third party communication aides communications and is vital to allow the coaching goals and focus to adapt and change to the unfolding and developing process, if deemed necessary. The article authors explain that goals may can change because the coaching relationship will be achieving a conglomerate mix of consultant (advising) and therapeutic (healing) [see note1] objectives, whilst also adding that special focus that is coaching.
From a consultant perspective, Diane Coutu and Carol Kauffman explain that the coach will work with the coachee (and their organisation) on advising individual business leaders, setting business objectives and working from and within the ethics of the organisation (this factor should not be understated as ethics can and do vary and can be a source of conflict). This is why experienced business people, with training tend to make the more effective coaches (that is the kind of experience is what Coutu and Kauffman claim buyers of coaching contracts want above all else).
Similarly, coaching will address therapeutic issues such as asking the right questions about the coachee, exploring their subjective experiences, as well as addressing difficult issues in work and personal life, which often leads to supporting necessary individual behaviour change. That can be invaluable alone.
Coaching combines these consulting and therapeutic tasks and adds its key focus which is future focused, solution based on improvement of the individual in the business context and also in helping the executive find their own path through to meeting their organisational objectives.
That’s what coaching can do for you.
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