Originally, executive coaching was approached as a remediation effort to correct senior leadership problems. It has evolved into a process that focuses on assisting executives with meeting business and personal goals.
— By Ingrid Johnson
The executive coaching process has transformed over the last two decades. In the past, it was a remediation program designed to help executives overcome leadership deficiencies. Now the coaching process is about helping executives successfully lead while maintaining personal balance and high performance. Coaching is about realizing full potential as a leader in order to meet organizational and personal goals.
The transformation from a process that was largely negative to one that is mostly positive is in response to the changes in the marketplace and advancing technology, and changes in the workforce as new generations enter with different expectations and work styles. It could be summed up as: Executives are coached to successfully manage change.
Coaching to Make an Impact in an Ever-Changing World
Change is continuous as companies adopt new technologies; become globalized; and develop diverse, multigenerational workforces. Senior leaders are the people who set the tone for the organization's culture, direct the company through major upheavals like mergers and acquisitions, and guide the strategic direction for ongoing success into the future. The overwhelming amount and speed of change in every direction requires executives who can stay resilient and personally balanced.
Coaching is about realizing full potential as a leader in order to meet organizational and personal goals.
The need for personal balance and resiliency is a major driver of the transformation that executive coaching has undergone. Once a "problem correcting" or remediation effort to correct identified leadership problems causing organizational under-performance, it is now a positive process for helping leaders embrace continuous change as a source of opportunity to fulfill the company's vision while maintaining personal balance. Executive coaching also assists top managers with identifying their personal vision and its relationship to organizational success.
What does this really mean? Executive coaching is used to help business leaders improve self-confidence, achieve better work-life balance, and effectively lead a diverse workforce to meet strategic goals.
Research has shown that executives who are successful leaders have certain qualities that traditional coaching never addressed. These qualities include the ability to self-regulate and not get overwhelmed; increased self-awareness; a high level of emotional intelligence; and the ability to maintain an open mind to new ideas, perspectives, and approaches.
The intended results of successful coaching can lead to higher organizational productivity, improved competitiveness and improved working relationships. The executive enjoys benefits like improved focus, emotional stability, and better ability to balance work and personal lives.
How it Works
Executives, like CEOs and VPs, usually are coached by an external coach. Ultimately, the organization needs to create a coaching culture in which all managers coach the leaders at lower levels and talent with a high potential to become leaders in the future. External coaches meet with the executive client to establish a rapport. Coaches use a variety of processes and tools to assess client needs and capabilities. Commonly used are 360-interviews, but these interviews are conducted with a variety of stakeholders who include board members, staff, other executives and some employees.
To increase self-awareness, the executive will explore his or her personal vision and core values. These are critical to achieving emotional balance. The coachee develops a personal statement that identifies personal and organizational goals, and what is needed to reach the goals. Starting in this manner gives the executive a foundation for guiding reactions and behaviours.
The executive's development plan is co-developed, and the coach and executive work from the plan. Executives meet with a variety of stakeholders during the coaching program to enhance self-reflection and better understand organizational needs. The information gathered from the various meetings is used to refine and target the development plan. It is important for the goals to be personal goals for becoming an excellent leader, and these goals must reflect what the client wants and not what everyone else wants. The development plan supports the personal goals.
Coaching success depends on the willingness of the executive to be coached and to be honest with the coach and to himself or herself. Normally, at the executive level, external credentialed coaches are used because they bring knowledge and diverse experience. A one-on-one relationship is developed, and the program is a blend of coach-client discussions and formal development opportunities. The International Coach Federation and PricewaterhouseCoopers research reported in the “2016 Global Coaching Study” that other positions are coached and, in fact, the top two positions held by clients are manager and executive, followed by business owners, team leaders, and staff members.
Developing the ability to adapt to change is often one of the top goals of executive coaching today. The purpose is to help executives stay on course despite the intense pressure and stress associated with frequent change. Self-regulation is one of the most important skills that senior managers should develop because it puts the leader in control of his or her responses.
Coaching strategies will continue to transform, and internal coaching will likely increase as organizations grow to understand the importance of developing a coaching culture. There is an upward trend in the use of executive coaches. There is also greater use of activities like mindfulness meditation because it promotes emotional intelligence and successful interpersonal relationships. Older executives may be uncomfortable with these types of strategies, but as they make way for younger leaders, these types of programs will likely grow in numbers.
Today there is much more awareness of the linkage between behavioural and organizational psychology and executive leadership skills. Executives must understand human nature and dynamics in order to lead people through change.