Executive/Leadership Coaching

Growth and Development of Talent Through Executive Coaching

For many senior executives and managers, the expression “It’s lonely at the top” rings true. They are hungry for a neutral advisor that is focused on understanding their unique circumstances – someone who can offer them wise counsel that enables them to maximize their performance and career advancement.

As the popular saying now goes, “Even Tiger Woods has a coach” who helps him improve his golf swing, an executive coach should be able to do the same for an executive’s performance.

What is an Executive Coach?

In our view a coach is a catalyst or facilitator of individual growth, development and performance. An effective coach is viewed as a strategic business partner whose business acumen, diagnostic ability, and proactive guidance offer significant value to a leader. Adding value and having good rapport with the executive are keys to a successful and productive relationship.

A strong coach gains credibility and trust in a way that allows an executive to manage their ego to benefit from diagnostic insights, ongoing feedback, performance improvement ideas, career and family advice. The challenge for the coach is to keep the interest and commitment of a busy executive in a process that requires considerable time and emotional energy.

Why Choose Executive Coaching for Your Organization?

Coaching is not a panacea for all executive development challenges. There are other options available to you, such as learning events (seminars and Executive Development University programs), internal mentors, in-house training, and performance coaching. Our view is that coaching is only one development alternative, but one that must be used for the right reasons. Coaching is an expensive and time consuming, intensive process – it is simply judicious to use a coach when they offer an optimal developmental experience for a specific individual and the return on investment will make most sense.

There are three key situations in which an executive coach will add significant value to your organization:

• Coaching for career or role transitions.
• Coaching to address a specific challenge or problem.
• Coaching to avoid derailment.


Coaching For Career or Role Transitions

Key career transitions. In our view supporting an executive through their career transitions is an area in which a coach can add significant value. An example of a key transition is an executive making an important mid-career move into a new assignment or a seasoned executive wanting to transition into retirement and re-balancing home and work. The major value a coach offers during these transitional times is helping the executive to pause, assess the situation, identify alternatives and figuring out a plan to proceed in view of their skills, interests and commitments.

On-boarding. Assisting an executive assimilate into a new assignment, whether from an internal promotion or an external hire, is one of the best uses of an executive coach. An example of the value a coach offers is helping a new comer learn the ropes of his/her new organization. If the environment requires a quick, hit the ground running assimilation or one must quickly show their “surefootedness” a coach can offer special value to and perhaps even “save” the credibility of the new hire. Although the newcomer might well learn the ropes in their own good time, without the help of a coach, they might be too late to gain the respect of the organization that is closely watching their early performance.

Coaching can reduce the “start-up” time required of a new hire. This type of coaching might include the coach learning more about the key business plans and relationship dynamics through interviews with key executives, observations of teams, and a detailed understanding of the individual relative to the new job, environment and expectations.



Coaching To Address A Specific Challenge Or Problem

Overcoming interpersonal and relationship issues. This is the classic coaching engagement – polish up the otherwise promising executive who is perceived as abrasive, insensitive, or politically incorrect. The skilled coach can “get through” to the executive who will improve their likelihood of success if the can improve specific relationship skills. Typically a coach in this situation will observe or shadow the executive in meetings or presentations and then offer alternative behaviors. This is an especially difficult job for those executives that lack good emotional intelligence, i.e., they are not aware of how their actions affect others.

Building a specific skill or competency. In this case the coaching assignment is straight forward, facilitate development of a targeted skill or competency. Often times the coach will assist an executive or manager with improving their professional impact or presentation skills when they need more polish and presence.

Executive facing team issues. When an executive is facing a team issue, a coach can partner with that executive to address the challenges that are diminishing his/her teams performance and effectiveness. A coach can help the executive diagnosis the root cause of the rifts and conflicts and assist them in regaining their confidence and empowering them to address these challenges.

Reluctance to accept feedback. The coach has an advantage in this situation because they are seen as a neutral third party without an ax to grind. The executive will be more open to candid and direct feedback from the coach who otherwise might not “be able” to hear the message from a boss or peer. A respected coach (outsider) might offer insights that carry more perceived credibility than the same message delivered by an insider. This is particularly true when there is a lack of trust within the management ranks, or when there are no dependable observers who can provide specific examples of problematic behavior, or when an individual has historically resisted meaningful feedback.



Coaching to Avoid problem areas

Avoiding derailment. What is meant by an executive derailer? In one sense it can be thought of as having too much of a good thing. Confidence turns to arrogance, conscientiousness and dependability evolves into rigidity and risk aversion, and assertiveness manifests itself as defensiveness or being argumentative. Thus some executives are derailed by the same behaviors that gave them success at a different level of responsibility.

Highly political, competitive, or high-pressured cultures. The tougher and more complex the companies culture, the more likely individual managers and executives will need help navigating it. An effective coach offers his client valid suggestions for dealing with other’s competing agendas and to avoid any behaviors that might reduce their interpersonal effectiveness.



Factors That Increase The Likelihood That Coaching Will Work


The Desire to Change

Individuals who have no interest or desire to develop themselves will not see the need or value of personal development and will be far less likely to show improvement. An executives resistance to coaching is not necessarily a “deal breaker” because their resistance can be overcome with a skilled coach.
This issue of resistance speaks to a common question organizations ask of the coach: Should coaches be assigned or chosen by the executive? The answer is, it depends on the purpose of the coaching assignment. In the situation that a particular skill (e.g., presentation skills) needs to be developed, assigning the coach is acceptable. When an executive or senior manager requires a broader objective, such as a major job transition or restoring a reputation after a failed assignment might require a close personality match between coach and executive.



Simply put, the individual executive’s boss must be involved in supporting the changes that need to be made. Coaching in a “vacuum” does not work because most development strategies require the involvement and input from the key sponsor. A triumvirate consisting of the executive/manager, coach, and boss all working together to support the development strategy is required if performance is to improve.


Accurate Diagnosis of Development Needs

Knowing what needs change and/or developed is the first step to a successful coaching engagement. A productive coaching relationship begins with reliable and valid information about the executives development needs. Secondly, but also critical to success is the acceptance of the feedback by the executive. Einstein said a “problem well defined, is half solved” and the work that follows has a greater chance of being effective. The real work of coaching begins once both parties have reached agreement on the developmental priorities. Once the priorities are agreed upon, the developmental action plan can be implemented.


Clear Plan with Clear Objectives

Simply stated, no coaching engagement should be launched without a clear plan and objective measures of success, as well as a good sense of the expected outcomes.


Business and Strategic Links

The bottom line of coaching is an expected return on the organizations investment of time and money. The best way to realize that return is helping individuals appreciate the business impact of their personal development. A seasoned and effective coach as well as a few key stakeholders can make this link. Lastly, collaboration between the executive coach and the individual’s manager is essential to achieving the maximum impact from coaching.


Hayden Consulting





11676 Perry Highway

Wexford, PA 15090






 Hayden Consulting - 239-494-4949
26171 Grand Prix Drive
Bonita Springs FL 34135