Mirrors are generally coated with only a 100-nanometer-thick layer of aluminum or silver, but are excellent at helping you search deeply within yourself. Executive coaching’s main benefit, according to most CEOs, is this self-reflection. The guided self-discovery provides clarity and helps the executive to focus energy. Get the most out of this powerful service by leveraging your investment in executive coaching.
An executive coach isn't brought into a setting to correct fundamental behavioral flaws. Where once executive coaching was a polite way to usher a toxic personality out the door, today’s executive coaching sessions require active engagement. The executive must be in agreement with the idea of changing, growing and improving. The best executives will be fierce advocates of self-reflection, making personal growth, and learning about themselves for their own benefit and to better their organizations.
This means carefully selecting the executive to receive coaching. Harvard Business Review says the executive needs to realize the coach is a sounding board for the executive. If you have executives who are unwilling to look inside themselves, you cannot exert much leverage through executive coaches. Have an executive who is enthusiastic about growth and development? She or he is your better candidate. This enthusiasm to be introspective, to clarify oneself, will spread to other members of the organization. This is real leverage.
2. Appreciate Differences
The magnifying glass the executive coach brings to sessions must be completely neutral, the better to celebrate differences within the organizational culture. This is a real benefit, since the coach is not representing a particular department’s or C-suite executive’s viewpoint.
This outside perspective may not arrive full-throated on the first day of coaching. The coach and executive have to develop a rapport and confidence in each other as the coach seeks to help the executive look inward. The coach is a professional who seeks to ask the right questions. The executive is a professional who must trust the coach to ask tough questions even when the questions elicit painful answers.
The difficult questions the coach asks that lead to meaningful growth and personal self-reflection prove the value of the coach. With the personal growth in the executive, hard decisions may become easier, for the good of the entire organization. Stagnation yields to contemplation and action. That, too, is leverage.
One of the most effective times to provide executive coaching is during transitions, such as promotions, job changes, or hiring new organizational leaders. A major study pointed to five areas most affected by executive coaching:
- Better relationships with managers
- Effective people management
- Improved goal setting and prioritization
- Increased engagement and productivity
- More effective dialogue and communication
When the emotionally intelligent traits are amplified—and indeed celebrated—through the careful work of an executive coach during potentially difficult transitions within the organization, the executive and managers are more introspective and productive. The executive suite operates in synchrony. That minimal investment in executive coaching to support transitions produces organization-wide leverage.