All leaders face challenges and roadblocks. Some of these obstacles and difficulties stem from managing direct reports effectively, being able to prioritize multiple conflicting responsibilities, or the desire to keep growing with an organization. Executive coaches can help address the challenges that most managers and leaders face, along with the unique roadblocks and obstacles individual leaders may be facing.
But, what exactly is executive coaching and why do leaders need it? Executive coaches work on developing the leadership and interpersonal skills of mid-level managers and executives at the C-Suite level. These coaches serve as part mentor, part guide, part confidant, and part challenger. The objective is to develop the leader as a whole person and as a complete, capable manager.
Reason #1: Gain a Clear Outside Perspective
Like most individuals, leaders often do not perceive themselves as others do or in a clear fashion. Working with an executive coach helps remove the blinders that leaders may have regarding how they communicate, come across to their direct reports, view their own skills and capabilities, and perceive their organization’s challenges. Developing and gaining a more accurate perspective is important since an accurate perspective is highly associated with achieving success for an organization.
Part of the work an executive coaching firm like Leadership Alliance can accomplish is assembling data and feedback from direct reports and colleagues. Although 360-degree feedback can sometimes be difficult to process if it is largely negative or critical, it can help identify areas where a leader is not necessarily accomplishing what he or she intends to achieve. For instance, a leader may intend to achieve greater collaboration among direct reports to increase productivity but may actually be hampering that productivity by encouraging competition among team members. The leader’s actions and lack of actions may actually be undermining his or her goals. An executive coach can pinpoint what behaviors a leader needs to change.
Reason #2: Establish Competitive Advantage
Working with an executive coach does not have to be viewed as a weakness or an admittance of defeat. Rather, it can be seen as an opportunity to identify and strengthen leadership competencies. Further developing strengths and competencies that a manager may have overlooked about him or herself can catapult an organization into greatness. Executive coaches can not only help develop leadership skill into a competitive advantage but also help identify ways an organization can stand out. Opportunities are often missed by those closest to a situation or problem. An outside perspective can open up possibilities that may have previously been dismissed.
Reason #3: Build Effective Teams and Relationships
People often gravitate towards others that are similar in personality or perspective. Working with an executive coach can help a leader broaden internal relationships with colleagues and team members that have different personalities, perspectives, and work methods. This can widen a leader’s perspective, helping the leading to make more inclusive decisions and become more productive. It can also help a leader gain insight into team dynamics and work toward repairing interpersonal issues that have been holding a team back.
Reason #4: Increase Confidence
The goal of an executive coach is to bring out the best in a leader. However, if a leader lacks confidence in his or her abilities or is unaware of the potential positive impact those abilities could have, the leader may be missing opportunities to be effective. Coaches help identify strengths and capabilities, but they also help leaders develop strategies for leveraging those strengths. By showing leaders ways to get the results they are looking for, a leader can receive validation that his or her ideas and strengths can work.
Reason #5: Continuous Support and Accountability
Executive coaching firms are always there to provide emotional, strategic, and mental support when a leader needs to navigate a new challenge or overcome a formidable obstacle. Executive coaches do more than provide support and resource, they also make sure a leader stays on track. This means that coaches provide support in formulating goals, accomplishing them, revising them as needed, and finding ways to keep working towards those goals when things go sideways. If a leader isn’t sure how to best measure progress towards goals, an executive coach can make recommendations and keep track of those measurements.
Reason #6: Establish Trust
One of the main reasons organizations, leaders, and teams fail is a lack of trust. Although trust is established over time, communication barriers, misunderstandings, and a lack of follow-through are often reasons why trust is broken. The inability to move quick enough on promises and commitments is another reason why trust can be broken between organizations, its leaders, and its stakeholders. Executive coaches can help leaders learn how to not only build trust between themselves and their direct reports, but also learn how to trust their team.
A lack of delegation and a tendency to want to micromanage a team are indications that trust is lacking within a leader. However, leaders must realize that their success is not contingent on their own accomplishments but on the accomplishments of their direct reports. The only way to help a team succeed is to actually let them work on the tasks and responsibilities that need to be done. Relinquishing control can be difficult for many leaders, and working with an executive coach can help them overcome the impulse to maintain a tight leash.
Reason #7: Achieve Goals
Leaders may experience difficulties with being able to articulate exactly what they want to accomplish. Working with an executive coach can help translate an overall vision into smaller, obtainable steps. An executive coach can also help identify what resources a leader will need to bring his or her vision to life.
Executive coaching is an asset that any leader can reap benefits from. Many roadblocks, challenges, and obstacles leaders face are complex, dynamic, and elusive. Bringing in an outside perspective can open up leaders to new ideas and possibilities. Developing one’s effectiveness as a leader is an ongoing process that requires the support and built-in accountability that only an executive coach can provide.