Why Executive Coaching Works
By Carl Robinson, Ph.D.
Failure rates for senior executives have been pegged at up to 33 percent. More recent research shows that executives who are rated high on Interpersonal Effectiveness (Emotional Intelligence) outperform low rated executives by 15 – 20% on yearly revenue targets. In this fast paced highly competitive business environment the value of capitalizing on that kind of edge is obvious. Executive coaching is "the" method to provide enduring results for executives who want to play at the top of their game.
The essential first step of any executive coaching process is the assessment phase. It’s impossible to develop a top-notch coaching plan for anyone without first assessing who they are and what they need. The assessment phase generally consists of three components:
A first rate executive assessment can help any executive more objectively identify his/her own leadership strengths and weaknesses so that they can create a customized development process for him/herself. The same process can be used to help a management team work better together by understanding more clearly how to work more effectively with their differing personalities, etc. The components of the assessment process are:
An in-depth assessment interview by a trained professional (e.g., consulting psychologist) will help clarify strengths to build upon and uncover hidden roadblocks from early and more recent learning experiences that often derail an executive. Humans, no matter how much they want to grow often run up against barriers to personal change to which they may be oblivious, but are all too well seen by others. Detecting and understanding roadblocks is the first step to developing new more effective skills.
Developmental feedback from key stakeholders: It’s imperative to solicit input from peers, direct reports and other trusted stakeholders that is then collated and analyzed by an objective third-party (coach) who protects the confidentiality of the raters. Without the guarantee of anonymity – people rarely give honest answers. The feedback helps discover any disconnects between self-perception and the perception of others (our blind spots) and zero in on important areas for development.
Leadership Personality Assessment tools are used to identify and compare an executive’s leadership personality profile to validated personality traits of effective executives. Typical well-validated assessment tools used by consulting business psychologists include: ASSESS, 16PF, Firo-B, Myers Briggs, etc. Using these tools will help the executive identify and understand more objectively their strengths and weaknesses so that they can capitalize on the strengths and develop the weaker points. Understanding your basic underlying personality can help you know what you can improve and what you need to work around.
The Second Step: Debriefing
With the additional data gathered during the debriefing you are ready to proceed to the next step of Executive Coaching: Action planning and behavior change - Putting knowledge into action to achieve enduring results not possible through the classic cookie cutter weekend workshop or university post-graduate course.
Third Step: Action Planning
Then they look for real-time situations where the executive can practice new behavior that he/she has learned through the coaching process. A time frame for completion of specific tasks is developed (without firm dates for completion people tend to put off practicing difficult new behaviors), and implementation begins. The action plan becomes the tool to compare what is wished for to what is achieved. When I am asked “how will I know if I changing,” I tell the candidate to refer to the action plan. Are you meeting your objectives?
When striving for personal excellence, a continuous development process becomes a part of daily living for high-performing executives, just as it is for professional athletes. A first class executive coaching process can help you accelerate your professional development.