Ancient royals had their right hands, politicians have their advisors, and executives have their coaches. The act of seeking guidance from consultants is not a concept new to the world. Where executive coaching differs, however, is that the guidance is delivered from an external source with a view to developing leadership skills, which will make decision-making easier going forward. Political consultancy, on the other hand, is directly related to the decisions needing to be made at a given time.
This distinction represents not only a difference in coaching between corporate and other categories, but also a difference in coaching within the corporate sector when compared to its earlier forms. While executive coaching took a recognisable form around the 1940s, its modern form is far more refined. In fact, the approach pertinent to modern executive coaching is notably different from that of only a decade ago.
Executive coaching used to be associated with reform, and was used to correct skewed approaches exhibited by certain business leaders. This, unfortunately, gave coaching a negative connotation amongst executives. Modern executive coaching, however, takes a far more positive approach, and is used to realise potential through the proper channelling of leadership strengths. Fortunately, this approach is resonating well with executives, causing many to seek coaching of their own free will.
CEOs and business leaders are now gaining more insight into the positive features of executive coaching, which is greatly expanding the industry. Executives are increasingly embracing the fact that coaching is highly beneficial in the pursuit of leadership excellence.
Executives may have once shunned executive coaching because they believed it alluded to certain inabilities, but now they are willingly seeking it based on the fact that it can boost the skills necessary for better performance.
The Benefits of Executive Coaching
Executive coaching has many benefits in that it strengthens the skills necessary for excellent leadership, as opposed to simply helping with isolated issues as they arise. Because of this, many executives are experiencing growth in the following areas:
Effectively managing conflict is a large part of many executives’ jobs, which is why it is one of the primary areas of assistance offered by executive coaches. Harmony and collaboration lead to productivity, and conflict can greatly inhibit these factors. Mounting resentment, condescending attitudes, and personality clashes thus need to be dealt with in a way that creates or restores accord, and does not merely redirect conflict. Executive coaching does not only equip leaders with the tools necessary to alleviate conflict, but also provides insight into the very nature of conflict with a view to creating a better understanding of it in executives.
Once again, synergy creates the best possible productivity. Through coaching aimed at the development of leadership teams as a whole, executives can both benefit personally and develop the skills necessary for grooming the subordinates which will perpetuate the company legacy.
One of the biggest challenges that senior managers at small to medium sized businesses face is that they become too close to the business, especially the ones who’ve been with the company for quite some time and therefore are unable to come up with solutions or answers without bias or subjectivity creeping in. Whether it’s taking hiring decisions, thinking of new markets to enter or coming up with marketing ideas. External coaching can help you sidestep some of these common obstacles.
The skills necessary for talent development are important for business leaders, but this is not to say that executive coaching cannot be directly applied to the level of future successors. Grooming can ensure that mid-level management is nurtured for eventual executive status. This is particularly important in the case of possible underperformance, as business coaching can minimise the distance between actual and required performance levels.
Development of Immeasurable Skills
Executives who create performance through abuse can be toxic to a company’s collaborative efforts. Preventative measures can thus be taken through the development of interpersonal skills in these executives. Taking action before any situations turn sour could prevent numerous careers from imploding, and maintain the positive momentum of the company in question. The outcomes of these skills are not necessarily measured on paper, but are felt in the company’s momentum.
Transitions between management levels or positions are sometimes daunting for employees. Thus, facilitation of this transition by executives is important for the sake of the company’s prosperity. Executive coaching equips business leaders with the skills necessary to properly handle refocusing or change, as well as identify and minimise the possible dangers associated with any transitions.
Factors Influencing an Excellent Coaching Relationship
The ability of executive coaches to nurture the above skills is certainly facilitating a change in the mindsets of business leaders. The negative connotations of past eras of coaching are fast disappearing and executives are approaching coaching with completely positive attitudes. This is excellent news, since leaders who crave the tools for excellence react exceptionally favourably to executive coaching.
The following is true of successful coaching:
- Enthusiasm is Beneficial: The executives who ultimately benefit from coaching do so as a result of their desire for betterment. Those who approach coaching from a defensive standpoint do not extract the full potential of their experience.
- Chemistry is Important: While there are many executive coaches on the market, not all of them have the ability to properly guide executives. The best coaches can adapt their craft in order to suit the executives they are coaching. It is thus important for executives to research their coaches and determine their level of proficiency before entering into a coaching relationship.
- Fluidity is Vital: Many executive coaches will be brought in for a specific purpose, or to address several factors. However, as the relationship develops, and the executive grows in skill strengths, the initial objectives may shift to other areas. This is not only a natural course, it is important in creating leadership excellence. A fluid coaching relationship is thus as natural as it is crucial to success. Having said that, the approach to each objective should be clearly indicated by the coach prior to the shift, so as not to blindside the executive. In fact, clear methodology is one of the most important factors to companies looking for executive coaches.
Consultancy is a concept that has long been the norm relating to positions of power. Regrettably, executive coaching has not always been viewed as such. However, the shift in approach signified by recent years has led to a more positive outlook regarding executive coaching. More business leaders are now looking to coaching because of its many benefits. The positive results currently being recorded are leading industry experts to project that, going forward, executive coaching will not only be a staple in the business world, but a vital asset to business operations.
This article was contributed by Shirish Agarwal from Flow20, who offer web design, SEO and other digital marketing solutions.
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