By Pete Tosh, Founder of The Focus Group

Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps and Peyton Manning had coaches. Tiger Woods had several coaches. And as one client said to me – indicating his interest in having a coach – “Even Tom Brady has a coach.”

In today’s demanding business environment leaders have limited opportunity to address their personal development needs. And making matters worse, leaders are often somewhat isolated from meaningful feedback.

An Executive Coach becomes a partner in a leader’s learning process – providing pertinent techniques, perspective and experience. Executive Coaching is a proven means of accelerating leadership development – so increasingly, businesses are engaging Executive Coaches to:

  • Assist managers and leaders in dealing with the increasing complexity of their business environments
  • Work with leaders on the positive side of coaching – developing their high-potential talent. In fact, 140 leading Executive Coaches surveyed in a recent HBR study reported that they are hired primarily for that reason
  • Help technically-proficient individuals who have been promoted into a managerial role but are not particularly skilled in dealing with their direct reports. As managers climb the corporate ladder, their interpersonal skills become increasingly more important than their technical expertise
  • Retain leaders and follow through on succession plans – showing the organization’s commitment to investing in the development of its key talent
  • Shorten the time it will take a leader to address his/her developmental areas and sustain the change

Executive Coaching is useful to both accelerate the development of managers with high potential and to help those who are experiencing performance challenges. But it always involves individuals whose leadership and growth potential are highly valued by their organizations. As Executive Coaching has become so common, any stigma attached to receiving it at the individual level has disappeared. Now, it is often considered a badge of honor.

Executive Coaching is:

  • An enabling relationship between a manager and a Coach who assists the manager in achieving performance improvement goals – which consequently enhance the performance of the organization
  • Helping leaders get unstuck from and work through their challenges to make behavioral changes which transform themselves and their teams
  • Assisting managers in becoming as effective as they can be, making the most of their capabilities – faster than they could do on their own

Executive Coaches while being confided in serve in the roles of supporter, co-creator, confidant, accountability colleague, catalyst and a partner who shares the goal of achieving the desired business outcomes. Coaches need to be focused and determined but

caring. “Does coaching work? Yes, good coaches provide a truly important service. They tell you the truth when no one else will.” Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric.

Executive Coaches:

  • Facilitate the pace and direction of the coaching engagement to accomplish specific business goals
  • Emphasize a defined results orientation to a manager’s skill improvement plan
  • Identify and manage any conflicts and resistance to change while getting the ‘real issues’ on the table
  • Cause the leader to be aware of the perspectives and behaviors that are holding him/her back – their blind spots
  • Provide assistance in improving specific skills – communication, delegation, the management of interpersonal conflict, team building, persuasion, etc.
  • Utilize employee climate/engagement surveys, 360 feedback, interviews, performance appraisals, competency and personality assessments, workplace application exercises, confrontation interventions, etc.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to Executive Coaching. It requires a customized plan that addresses the needs as defined by the organization and the leader – and that the leader will commit to implementing.

The Focus Group’s Four Step Executive Coaching process includes:

#1 Developing an Executive Coaching agreement:

  • Establishing the focus and specific objectives
  • Identifying and agreeing on appropriate Coaching methods

#2 Building a Coaching relationship with the manager

  • Setting confidentiality agreements
  • Agreeing on a commitment of time

#3 Establishing and managing a process of providing Coaching assistance related to the pre-established objectives while:

  • Identifying and managing any resistance to change
  • Utilizing the appropriate Coaching methods, techniques and interventions
  • Getting the ‘real’ issues on the table
  • Providing feedback during sessions and as follow up to Coaching application assignments between sessions

#4 Evaluating the success of the Coaching experience

  • Gauging the individual’s behavioral changes and accomplishments – through observation, metrics and stakeholders’ feedback

Executive Coaching can be one of the best people investments a company can make. We’d enjoy discussing how Executive Coaching might benefit a manager or leader in your organization.