Article - Executive Coaching

Executive Coaching

by Rich Kolodgie


Executive Coaching can measurably improve the business performance and professional growth of senior executives. The Manchester Survey of 140 companies shows 9 in 10 executives believe coaching to be worth their time and money with the average return being more than $5 for each $1 spent.

When accomplished effectively Executive Coaching can measurably improve the business performance and professional growth of senior executives.

What Is Executive Coaching?
Executive Coaching is an executive development strategy that builds leadership and management strength. Executive coaching leverages existing strengths to help people become more successful in their current role, as well as the next level. There are also times when it is necessary to build certain skills, minimize, delegate, or even outsource non-strengths. It may also be helpful to change ineffective thinking patterns or ineffective behaviors.

Executive Coaching is really about understanding where you are today, where you want to be, and learning what is necessary for you to successfully get there.

All Executive Coaching involves action learning and working in partnership with a coach. It is a confidential, personalized learning process. By partnering the coach’s experience, observations, and insights with current skill sets, executives are able to achieve success more quickly and generally with superior results. A coach is a resource for support, feedback, and accountability. The executive’s success is the coach’s only goal.

Who Benefits From Executive Coaching?
Certain senior level executives, such as Directors, VPs, and C-Level individuals who have had a history of success in their current or past roles can all benefit from Executive Coaching. These individuals have expertise the organization values and they are seen as having the potential to contribute at an even greater level than they are currently contributing. However, organizations often see these individuals as having greater potential only if they could increase specific skills or reduce limiting behaviors.

In some cases, the executives themselves are dissatisfied with their level of effectiveness or progress in the organization. They sometimes know what is lacking in their performance, but do not know how to go about fixing the issue. They may not be getting enough feedback or lack role models within the organization. They expect coaching to give them a return on their investment of time and money. 

Should you consider ROI of Executive Coaching?
Yes. Since Return On Investment is such a critical consideration to justify an investment in time and money in today’s business world, organizations have the right to expect an ROI in the Executive Coaching process. Therefore, it is best to begin the Executive Coaching process by defining clear business goals that will improve profitability and effectiveness.

The coach is a partner in helping to create a solid ROI as a result of accomplishing the executive’s goals more effectively. As a business partner, the coach will help to:
  • Clearly identify leadership behaviors that can be built upon to help the executive contribute to greater levels of effectiveness.
  • Increase awareness of blind spots that may reduce success.
  • Provide constructive feedback that redirects behaviors.
  • Identify new behaviors and improvement strategies.
  • Develop action plans to maintain forward movement.
Research studies reveal the following recommendations to maximize the business benefits from Executive Coaching:

Manage the entire coaching process to ensure consistency and quality. Coaches should follow protocol and leverage the best practices in the field. The coaching discussions are confidential between the coach and the executive being coached.

Prepare executives in advance for coaching and do not force coaching on anyone. Coaching is an investment that an organization makes in the talent it wants to retain. Executives need to understand how coaching will help them and they must be motivated to receive and benefit from the assistance of a business partner.

Offer executives the ability to select their coach. Chemistry is critical to an effective coaching relationship. Make sure your coach provides biographies, credentials, functional expertise, and coaching style information. Also, make sure to meet with your coach before committing to work with that individual. If the fit is not right, select a different coach.

Provide strong organizational support for coaching. The immediate manager of the executive being coached must be involved in the process. Everyone has a boss (e.g., Directors report to VPs, VPs report to C-Level individuals, C-Level individuals report to the Chairman, and the Chairman reports to the Board.) That person needs to be an advocate for the changes the coached executive will be making in the organization. Executive Coaching should be positioned as part of an overall leadership development strategy.

Ensure that coaches are grounded in the company’s business and culture. Executive coaches have diverse backgrounds. However, they should have one thing in common---in addition to strong coaching credentials, they should have significant working experience at the senior management level within large organizations. If they do not, you should require that the coach learn as much as possible about the organization before beginning coaching.

Allow each coaching relationship to follow its own path. Because the issues may be different for each executive, the coaching may take a different tactic. Some executives may benefit from videotaping, while others will learn through role-playing and others learn through discussion and study. A major difference between coaching and training is that coaching allows the coach and the executive being coached to determine the areas upon which to focus.

Build performance measurement into the coaching process. Coaches should design assessment of the value of the coaching into the beginning of the process. Outcomes should be quantified so that the coach and the organization are clear on the value of change and improvement. There should be an expectation that the coaching will deliver those results and an evaluation at the end of the process.

Has Executive Coaching become the competitive advantage for executives?
Three recent surveys of managers who had completed Executive Coaching in Fortune 1000 companies reported that the benefits they received were between two and six times the cost of the coaching. 

Specifically, the results of these studies identified that coaching contributed to organizational improvements in the following areas:

  • Leadership effectiveness
  • Bottom-line profitability
  • Organizational strength
  • Top-line sales
  • Retention
  • Cost reductions
  • Quality of products and services
  • Overall Productivity
  • Customer Service
Benefits attributed to the coached executives included improvements in the following areas:

  • Leadership skills
  • Conflict resolution techniques
  • Working relationships with employees
  • Job satisfaction
  • Work-Life balance
  • Working relationships with peers
  • Time management
  • Organizational commitment
  • Relationships with clientsTeamwork