Supporting your executives through coaching

Let’s face it, if you’ve reached any kind of executive level within an organisation, you can’t be too bad at what you do!   It’s also probably true to say that over the years you’ve had your fair share of management training.  You’ve seen the different models come and go, you’ve adopted some, adapted others and thrown out those that haven’t worked, and finally you’ve settled into the stylistic groove that has worked best for you.  

That’s all good, but it can leave a bit of an unknown concerning the next step of learning, what I might call the next ‘development frontier’.  What can you teach the person who’s been there, done it, delivered it, and all with a modicum of genuine success?  

Well, step forward coaching!  Coaching is the frequent intervention of choice for executives, because it is so utterly suited too scenarios where the individual is already very competent at what they do.  Coaching is the tool that can help your executives understand the next development frontier, and then aid them on the journey towards achieving it.  The gains are very real and utterly tangible. See our blog post ‘How coaching can help your organisation thrive’ for some amazing statistics on how coaching benefits people and organisations. 

In this world where execs have to constantly navigated change, their ongoing development is just as crucial as the least experienced member of your organisation.  Really!  If your top team members are stagnating, then the organisation will soon follow.  There are constant forces for change at work in the world that mean standing still will always result in going backwards!  Rather like the leaning tower of Pisa that had to have years of expensive work to underpin its foundations in order stop if becoming the Pisa pile of rubble, exec’s that stand still find the forces at work around them results in them getting left behind.  Staying developmentally fit is up there with staying physically fit, it tones capability for the ever changing demands of the world we operate in.  

As learning professionals we need to remove the barriers to exec development.  I’ve often seen senior managers and leaders criticised by their workforce for being stuck in the ways, being ‘old school’ or not listening to their direct reports.  That will not always be the case, but some execs really do need some developmental support and they are not getting it!  I’ve been running an extensive management development programme with a client recently that’s targeted supervisory, middle management and senior management groups, yet one of the senior execs hasn’t attended.  I think for some experienced seniors, the prospect of attending ‘training’ with the team simply doesn’t ring their bell.  In these situations we find that coaching is a much more acceptable route.  Of course the coachee needs to understand what coaching is and be receptive to the intervention, but often they become strong advocates once they’ve got their heads around it and experienced the benefits it brings them.  

Our post ‘How to prepare to be coached’ takes you through a simple the journey that will get the most out of coaching if followed.  

How many of your organisations executives have coaches?  It’s a good challenge to ask yourself this.  Are you ensuring exec growth in the same way that you are working at growing the skills and competencies of the team below?  These senior individuals are arguably amongst the most influential in the way the organisation will progress.  Finding great coaches for them should be a real priority for us all.