The right executive coach can accelerate your business transformation. In this blog, we discuss how to get the most out of your coaching sessions.
One of the most effective, and cost-efficient, ways to achieve business transformation is executive coaching. The ROI can be enormous. CEOs use executive coaches to help their leadership teams lead business transformation efforts.
They also use executive coaches as an extension of themselves to elevate the performance and effectiveness of each direct report.
What to Expect in Your Executive Coaching Sessions
What happens when your vision exceeds your team’s ability to deliver? A good executive coach can work with your leadership team to increase their effectiveness. But often, executive coaching engagements are a mystery. To the outsider, a great deal of time is spent between the coach and the executive. Money is spent but the value may not be obvious.
Executive coaching is more than that — its purpose is to help the executive think and act differently as a leader to achieve desired organizational results.
An executive coach adds value by opening the executive up to new ways of engaging with others while increasing their capacity to be more effective. The measure of success is outward-facing. Those leaders and staff around the executive experience a noticeable difference in how the executive shows up in the workplace, and that difference is viewed as value-added.
Executives like yourself are responsible for the experience and livelihood of hundreds and sometimes thousands of employees, their families and countless customers. Your leadership role and the responsibility you have to your organization highlights the importance of you being a highly effective leader.
Executive coaching impacts the bottom line because its primary purpose is to help leaders get desired business results, transform business practices, get a new product to market or hit financial targets. But executive coaching helps achieve that and more. By shifting the way an executive shows up, the climate of the workplace, the spirit and sense of connection and teamwork can also improve. Executive coaching can help employees connect to a shared vision, tap into the mission of the organization and become stronger team members.
As you begin your executive coaching journey, here’s what to expect and how to prepare.
Come as You Are
Your coach’s role is to create a safe place for you to examine your own tendencies and habits by being genuinely curious about how you think, feel and work with others. As a result, you should come to your coaching sessions ready to be yourself — you’re a person, not just an executive. You should prepare to be heard, seen, understood, appreciated, respected and listened to without judgment.
A good coach will ask questions and listen intently to you — not to advise you, or to provide solutions or decide the right course of action that you should take. Coaches are meant to pick up patterns in language and in the descriptions of situations (as well as people), to determine the type of assumptions you make about how things work and what motivates others.
Don’t be discouraged when a coach takes stock of your pauses, emphasis or moments of reflection and insight. These reveal your sense of identity, your level of trust in yourself and others, and your degree of emotional intelligence. Over time, their work with you will reveal your personal values, convictions and non-negotiables.
The right coach will also bring attention to your:
- Eating, sleeping and exercise habits
- Overall health
- Care for yourself mentally and emotionally
- Level of appreciation toward others
- Expressions of gratitude toward others.
These areas of focus are within your control and set a strong foundation for working with others and helping them be successful.
Prepare to Connect to Your Role
How well do you know your role within your organization? In your executive coaching sessions, you and your coach will examine how well aligned you are to the organizational role you occupy and what you think is expected of you in that role.
During these parts of the sessions, your coach will listen and examine how well you honor the spirit of the role and live up to the general expectations of what it means to be a competent and credible executive. In these discussions, it’s vital you remember that you are 100 percent accountable for your scope of responsibilities, so you cannot blame others for problems or ignore lingering issues.
Your goal after these sessions is to show up to work with wisdom and accountability. As a result, your coach will spend a lot of time calling attention to your mood. You’ll learn how to influence your mood and regulate your response to triggers so you can stay balanced and in service to your responsibilities.
One point of having an executive coach is to learn how to maintain perspective and generate insights that move you forward in productive ways. This often means your coach must help you acknowledge reality so you can both stop focusing on the problem to begin finding solutions. They will also help you let go of what you cannot control nor influence so you can move forward.
Consider Your Goals
You might have goals that act as your defining contribution or legacy as a leader. As is the case for many executives, you may attach your goals to your vision for your department, function or organization or your career aspirations. Or, your goals might drive your personal mission to take care of something you think needs addressed in the workplace.
This is your most challenging work with an executive coach. Your coach must tell you when your goal is in conflict with the needs of the organization. By all accounts, you may believe you are setting the right direction and acting with good intentions, but sometimes your agenda is costly to others, and you may not even realize it. Let your coach reveal your blind spots. Use your coach to find a productive path forward for you and the organization.
Embracing an Executive Coach
A coach is meant to bring clarity to your vision, which includes establishing what your motivation is as well as the impact your vision may have on others. This means they must establish trust with you to help you accept full responsibility for the impact of your decisions and actions on others.
Their work isn’t always to change your thinking and actions, but it is always to help you accept full responsibility for the impact of your decisions and actions on others. The right coach will disrupt you as the executive to open you up to new possibilities. But if they push you too much, and you may become paralyzed, defensive or controlling — essentially, ineffective. The opposite of what you want a coach to provide.
Executives often find themselves with few people willing to be honest and direct with them. No matter what, even at the risk of serious repercussions, a good coach will always be honest. Over time, as you’ve worked with your coach and experienced this honesty, you’ll become a stronger leader, impacting your organization for the better.
Our next blog speaks to how coaching adds value to business transformation efforts.