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Adults are almost universally attracted to babies because they are pure potential. We see in them every possible future. The same can be said of individuals in your organization who are being groomed for future leadership roles. One vital part of nurturing high-potential leaders is providing executive coaching to these rising superstars.

Six Principles

A recent article in Inc. identified leadership behaviors to inculcate in high-potential employees, and among them was this gem: "They are good coaches and believe in the power of coaching."

To illustrate, they draw on the experience of Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen, who describes six principles of getting people in any organization to work together: 

  1. Passion
  2. Listening
  3. Planning
  4. Coaching
  5. Accountability
  6. Humility

Bachelder develops her leaders to be coaches. People, she says — especially millennials — gravitate to leaders who will coach them to success.

Willingness to Be Coached

Executive coaching makes a difference in transforming potential into product, a future leader into an actual leader. As Henna Inam points out in Forbes, high-potential leaders reach their potential when they fully accept the gifts executive coaching brings. She cites qualities that are conducive to executive coaching:

  • High-potential leaders take personal accountability.
  • Transformational leaders connect with their values (most of all), their strengths, and their self-perceived (intrinsic) purpose.
  • High-potential leaders experiment with new behaviors and take action.
  • While they are firm in their core, high-potential leaders are agile in their behaviors, willing to stretch and accept the benefits of executive coaching.

Inam ranks personal accountability above all else. In working with high-potential leaders, she finds those getting the most from executive coaches are constantly gauging how they can best contribute to their organization’s goals. They do not look for external changes in some hazy future; they work with what they have, doing what they can to get the greatest benefit.

Allocation of Resources

The American Management Association’s global study found that 60 percent of respondents used executive coaches to reach those high-potential employees. These companies will enjoy a competitive edge for several reasons:

  • They allocate resources where they will provide the greatest return on investment (ROI), with high-potential leaders who will most benefit from the coaching.
  • They develop skills in these high potentials that will provide both immediate and long-term benefits for the organization.
  • Their high-potential leaders in turn instill (at little to no additional cost to the organization) a spirit of success and emotional intelligence throughout the organization.

Internationally, the study found, companies rely on executive coaches to reach high-potential leaders in even greater numbers, at 72 percent.

Room for Improvement

One key takeaway from examining the value of executive coaching is that, even with high-potential leaders in an organization, the expectation is that everyone has room for improvement. The dynamic executive may be the envy of other C-suite inhabitants, but nobody is perfect. Everyone can do their job just a little better than before. Everyone can benefit from the power and support executive coaching provides. 

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