Executive coaching was once considered a last ditch effort for addressing toxic behaviour in the most senior level employees. Over time, the industry has evolved in such a way that now coaches are most often brought in to help leaders develop their skills and better perform their role. Companies have also found value in engaging executive coaching as a means of preventing the turnover of key employees, not just the ‘Executive’. As coaching continues to become more commonplace, old stigmas surrounding the practice will continue to dissipate and it will be sought after for its overwhelming benefits.
Develop High-Potential Talent
One of the key reasons that companies might decide to hire an executive coach is to develop their high-potential talent among middle management. When companies are faced with turbulent times, the risk of losing their top talent is something they may fear. To prevent this, they may instead choose to develop the skills of their high-potential employees. Usually, the individual is someone who is already making significant contributions to achieving results and will likely possess a sharp desire to learn and grow. Not only does this mean that employee turnover remains low, it shows the individual that their skills and talents are valued by top management and that they are committed to helping the individual to progress.
Creates Balance for Executives
When executive coaches are brought on board, it is usually to address a specific business problem or aid with transition to a new role. As time goes on and the coach comes to understand the client, they end up also addressing personal issues such as purpose and work-life balance. In a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, they found that while only 3% of executive coaches are hired to address personal issues, that number jumps to 76% over the course of the coach’s relationship with the client. This suggests that the value of what a coach can provide goes far beyond what they are initially hired to do. During times of uncertainty, this aspect of executive coaching could not be more valuable as the added stress of confronting challenges can take a huge mental toll on the individual. By having another reliable source with whom they can discuss such issues, means that executives are given the opportunity to resolve them. This in turn allows them to have greater clarity and focus when problem-solving.
Choosing the Right Coach
Just as it is important that the individual be willing to undergo coaching, it is equally important that the coach is the right match for the person who is being coached. After all the coach-client relationship often spans a three to twelve month period. It would be a wasteful use of time and resources if the client does not gain any value from the relationship. Great coaches understand that much of their role is simply to be asking the right questions and allowing the individual to discover their own path. Such coaches will put the needs of their client first and not allow them to become dependent on their coach to make decisions.
It is also important that executive coaches are able to help address personal issues, but there are boundaries, because after all a coach is generally not a health professional and it is not their role to play psychologist. This is not surprising considering how few coaches are hired to assist with personal matters, but interestingly, people often relate to problems at work in a way that by default helps them become better partners, parents and generally a better person in the process. There is some evidence to suggest that coaching those with unrecognised mental health problems can be counterproductive. Given the complexity and difficulty of identifying such issues without proper training it is worth organisations requiring that the coaches they hire have undergone some degree of mental health training.
Coaching for Future Leaders
As the coaching industry continues to expand and develop, we are beginning to see more and more executives turn to coaches to help them better understand their role and improve their skills. The constantly changing business environment means that the need for assistance in navigating it will only become greater. Executive coaches will become an essential part of the learning and development process for leaders across all levels of an organisation. The value and support that executive coaches provide to clients will be recognised as vital. One of the things that we have also found with coaching staff who attend leadership development programs and high performance team programs is that we can take a 3 x return on the development to sometimes as high as 10 x when underpinned by an effective coaching program to embed learning and apply it to business outcomes.
For more information about The Leadership Sphere and how we can help you unlock performance through leadership, by supporting your leaders at every level of the organisation with leadership development, executive coaching and high performance team programs please visit our website or call us on 1300 100 857.