Leading With Agility

What is executive coaching and why every leader needs a coach

As workplaces become more complex, leaders feel more pressured to maintain performance. You might be curious about executive coaching but is it for you? Get your answers here.

As a leader, all lot of responsibilities are on your shoulders. You have to have the answers for every concern your team has. You need to have a good grasp of what’s going on in each department and how they’ll affect your company as a whole. And yet, there are still some things that we can’t control – like our own thoughts or feelings or simple circumstances.

working with a leadership coach and lighten a leader's load significantly
A leader needs to communicate and influence effectively

In many cases, leaders don’t realize just how much pressure is on them until their stress starts affecting their performance day-to-day and work relationships start taking a hit. But, that’s not all – even their mental and physical wellbeing is at stake. When it becomes clear that they might need help from a professional, working with an executive coach can be highly beneficial.

You might have heard a lot of about leadership coaching or are considering coaching for yourself or your organisation. This article addresses your questions so read on for answers.

What is the definition of coaching?

We all have goals we want to achieve, challenges we’re striving to overcome, and times when we feel stuck. Partnering with a coach can change your life, job performance, and career success by setting you on a path to greater personal and professional fulfillment.

The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as ‘partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.’

Various professional bodies that govern professional coaching standards might define coaching differently, and that’s all okay. Different bodies have different definitions of coaching, so your coaching experience can be very different depending on your coach’s training. If you are considering coaching, clarify the definition of coaching with your prospective coach because your coach’s training, background, experience all have a big influence on his definition of coaching, so you want to ensure you know what you are getting into.

The coaching process can involve the coach and another person or group of people (client). Team coaching has become more popular recently. Almost all coaching begins with identifying the client’s goals and then, step by step, develop strategies that close the gaps to reach the goal and improve performance. The client will find his performance enhanced permanently as the solutions and strategies come from the leader or client himself. That’s the power in the coaching process and working with a skillful coach.

How do you know a coach is a professional one?

Calling yourself, a coach doesn’t make you a coach. This is a profession that requires many hours of training. Other than International Coaching Federation, European Mentoring and Coaching Council, other professional coaching bodies certify coaches as ‘professional’ or meeting their guidelines.

As mentioned above, find out the credentials about your coach because, in addition to having gone through a rigorous coaching training course, you want to make sure your coach has knowledge about ethics and is masterful to provide you a solid process that helps you achieve success and reach peak performance in your job.

Rigorous training differentiates professional coaches from other coaches

Look out for evidence that supports your observation that a coach is effective. For example, before being coached, you might want to check the reputation of the coach or some evidence like testimonials.

What ‘s the difference between leadership coaching and other types of personal development programs?

There are many reasons why executives come to coaching. Whatever the reason, you will find that this type of professional development can be quite different from other forms of personal development that are more well-understood. Coaching, unlike teaching, mentoring, counseling, advising and consulting, focuses on a specific way of “learning” for the executive and is believed to have long-lasting benefits because the learning becomes permanent.

Coaching also aims to help the coachee/client search for his own answers instead of being given an answer. This is the key difference differentiating coaching from teaching, training, advising, consulting, and mentoring.

This self-improvement method tends to bring about learning with a deeper personal understanding that leads to heightened self-awareness and much-improved leadership skills. When a leader works with a professional coach, the coach is an objective third-party whose sole purpose is to support the person to achieve his career goals by helping him develop his own answer and solutions.

The relationship between the coach, coachee, and sponsor is an interesting one. There could be many schools of thought. Some coaches insist that their sole purpose is to focus on the coachee/client; some would manage three-way expectations with the sponsoring organization. If you are a company-sponsored coachee, then this is something you definitely want to raise and align with your coach so that you can have a positive and successful coaching experience.

What’s the difference between this type of coaching and life coaching?

The short answer is – all coaching is related to life. Your job, dreams, promotion, career, health, and wealth are all aspects of life. The difference between leadership-oriented coaching is it’s more career or business-focused, while life coaching focuses on life as a whole. Both fall under professional coaching (as described by International Coaching Federation) and are future-oriented and less on the past.

So who is the executive coach and what does s/he do?

That’s someone who has deep knowledge of challenges faced by managers in organizations. S/he is a person who has been through rigorous training and coaches managers with a highly efficient process. S/he is also skilled in widening clients’ perspectives and development processes to overcome those obstacles. Removing the ‘blockers’ empowers and enables leaders to bring success and confidence back into their work and life.

Where/how is coaching conducted?

There are many different coaching methods. The most common is the one-on-one meeting, where a coach helps you reflect on your work and skills to find ways for improvement.

Coaching can also take shape as an occasional phone call, email, video chat session. If you are a team coaching program, you might have it face to face or virtually as well.

Your coach may use some coaching models that they have learned in the coaching training. Some coaches create their own models to enhance their practice, while some coaches may use a hybrid of models and frameworks. It is perfectly normal not to use a single model. If this is something important to you, you might want to include this question as you start speaking with different coaches before choosing someone most suitable for you.

What will you learn in executive coaching?

Different coaches offer clients different things. In my practice, these are the common things you could learn:

  • Discover your strengths and get coached to tap into them fully
  • Envision a future and create a course to attain your goals
  • Develop a robust personal strategy for success
  • Learn from past experience, increase self-awareness and make intentional choices in the present and create a positive future (personal mastery)
  • Gain expertise in influencing and connecting in the workplace, enhancing relationship and satisfaction in life
  • Brainstorm business strategy, people development skills
  • Get support and guidance to overcome common people or relational challenges
  • Establish strong personal credibility, authority, and executive presence
  • Accelerate personal growth leading to positive career outcomes
  • Maximize potential and achieving stretch goals

All of the above increases your chances of achieving success in any organization or business.

How will leadership coaching benefit your leadership development?

Coaching is a long-term relationship that can support you to become more confident and successful in the workplace. Many of my clients work with me for 6 months to years, depending on their life stage and the support needed.

The common benefits my clients name include:

  • Confidential space to discuss all the issues that are important to you (this is highly valuable if you are a senior leader) in our coaching sessions
  • Discover internal barriers and work through them
  • Increasing your self-knowledge and become more skillful in influencing methods

Coaching is an investment in your personal development. The rewards are far greater than the monetary and time investment. That’s why many forward-thinking organizations have put in place coaching programs for their employees.

Why should management personnel seriously consider coaching?

It helps you fulfil both personal and professional goals.

Business today is much more demanding in many respects. As a result, executives are often stretched to capacity, and they cannot seek the development necessary to be successful while staying on top of their workload, whether it comes from just managing or learning new things.

It’s an effective ‘training’ method that involves immediate strategizing and validating the effectiveness of your strategy

With new business environments and ways of working at present, managers need to widen their horizons. An external executive coach can offer a valuable perspective that unveils solutions previously unimagined. Traditionally chosen to correct or resolve problem behaviors or poor performance issues, many organizations offer executive coaching to managers that focuses on developing personal leading skills, strategies that aid organizational growth.

The best part of coaching in my experience is the focus on actions. You design a strategy under the guidance of your coach, and implement it immediately. In this way, you’ll improve rapidly.

It’s 100% responsive to your needs

With coaching, unlike training programs with a fixed agenda developed for a group, coaching is developed just for the client, and the client’s agenda matters the most. Hence, with coaching, as work demands evolve, goals that you set out at the beginning might not be the goals you eventually work on. Instead, you’ll get to tailor what you need at every session or even during the session itself so that you get coached on what you need the most every session.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Take advantage of Chuen Chuen’s extensive experience coaching leaders worldwide and her deep expertise in designing agile leadership corporate training solutions for your teams. No matter which stage of leadership you are at, we can partner with you and meet your business needs. Explore our executive coaching programs, corporate training courses, or hire Chuen Chuen as your speaker so that your organization will become agile and adaptive.

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