To understand the benefits of executive coaching, I encourage you to read Harvard Business Review’s article on coaching to gain some insights into the three major reasons for executive coaching. They are:
1) Developing high potentials or facilitating a transition;
2) Act as a sounding board; or
3) Address derailing behaviors.
With this background, let’s explore the major benefits of executive coaching.
First and foremost, my clients report much greater self-awareness necessary to manage relationships and people more effectively. Being more self-aware is the most significant benefit of executive coaching. We frequently “see ourselves differently than how others see us”… and what they see is what counts in leadership.
Self-awareness, crucial for social and emotional intelligence, is the key to success in leadership. The Center for Creative Leadership, aka the “mecca” for the coaching profession, reports 90% of success as a leader is about managing social competencies. It is the “people stuff” that distinguishes remarkable leaders and allows them to achieve their highest potential, or settle in at a new job or employer.
Self-awareness is also critical to limiting an executive’s derailing behaviors. Derailing behaviors can end careers, halt promotions or limit one’s true potential. Being a perfectionist and expecting it from others, always having to be the smartest person in the room, or lacking the will to take risks are only three of the 18 behaviors that detail executives.
I frequently fill the role as sounding board or trusted advisor. After two decades of serving as a hospital CEO or division head supervising CEOs, my experiences adds a perspective that is important to every one of my clients. Exploring the options to resolve a problem or chart a strategic direction, occurs with nearly every client. My clients report being able to move forward with more confidence in their intended outcomes, when they have a confidential partner to “talk it out with.” The feedback they receive is unbiased, non-judgmental and serves only to further the growth of the client. This is another benefit of executive coaching.
Lastly, understanding best business practices and developing skill in key leadership competencies is a major benefit of coaching. For example, improving your listening skills, or learning to delegate in a more effective way. Or, understanding the importance of employee engagement or effective change management principles are business practices frequently covered in my coaching. It is about learning new concepts to lead more effectively.
The research regarding the benefits of coaching is becoming more mainstream and every client I coach understands how they have become more effective in their leadership roles. Many companies I work with ask about how to measure their return on investment… the “truest” measure of executive coaching’s benefit. Clearly measuring the return on investment in financial terms can be elusive at times, but measuring the improvement of the client’s leadership development is fairly easy. I encourage all my client companies to assess improvement via a second 360 to assess the growth of the executive. It reinforces the learning and accountability of the client to grow, and holds me accountable as the executive coach.
Here are three vignettes I’d like to share with you about the benefits of executive coaching.
Coaching for development and sounding board for a CEO: In the client’s own words: “Early in our coaching, we initiated the process of creating personal self-awareness and we began goal setting immediately. I knew of several areas I needed to improve in, but Craig also expanded my learning to include additional unexpected knowledge on how to do my job better. His previous experience as a CEO was essential and it helped me expand my thinking and improve my leadership. My company’s leadership team has improved dramatically and my role on the team is better defined and more effective. I have learned the importance of emotional intelligence as a leader, but also know how important it is for my teammates as well.” Additionally, year over year the client’s 360 assessment clearly demonstrated exceptional growth in EQ and the competencies to inspire, lead and build teams.
Coaching to address derailing behaviors: In the client’s own words: “My nine-month journey concluded this summer of 2014 has been the most revealing, eye-opening professional and personal experience of my working career. Craig engaged me in a very personal process of self-awareness and introspection through the use of multiple tools and real-life examples from his own working career. The coaching itself often took me outside of my comfort zone. I mean, after all, in 25 years you can become set in your ways which can be a major career staller. Craig pushed me to do a major ‘reboot’ with my team of direct reports and peers and the feedback has been tremendously positive.” In my exit interview with the SVP two rungs up the ladder from the client, the client’s ultimate supervisor, expressed tremendous gratitude and accolades about how the client had progressed.
Coaching through transitions: In his own words: “During the year I worked with Craig, I learned many things about myself and the importance of how I interact with others. I am learning to lead, rather than simply manage. I know I can achieve this through thinking more strategically and taking the initiative to make positive, progressive change when needed. I am more confident in my abilities as a leader thanks to coaching, and my assertiveness and ability to communicate based on different personality types, is much more effective. With the end of the coaching engagement, Craig and I worked on a clear path to further my professional growth so I can achieve the career goals I have set for myself.” Five + years later, the client is still with the firm and is thriving as VP of Marketing.
For even more stories told by my clients about the benefits of executive coaching, go to Coaching Testimonials.