IS EXECUTIVE COACHING FOR ME?
As a business person, you can prosper with help from an Executive Coach if you are:
- Too busy putting out fires every day, rather than purposely building a team that will run effectively and efficiently.
- Stuck - and can’t seem to make any progress.
- Overwhelmed with too much to do, and would like to find CLARITY.
- Frustrated that your employees come and go, don’t do what they are supposed to – and they don’t have the same passion that you have for your business.
- Confused about how to navigate corporate politics and communicate effectively at all organizational levels.
- Frustrated at not advancing your career as quickly as you would like.
An Executive Coach enables you to make progress in your business and life and grow at a pace that is reasonable for you.
Two Ways to Get Better
Linda Richardson in her excellent book Sales Coaching writes: “There are two ways to get better: work harder and/or change. Coaching is about how to change by doing things differently. Every organization and person has blind spots. The power of coaching lies in turning those blind spots into perspective.”
Executive Coaches coach by looking at what the business person is doing now to determine what to change to make tomorrow better. As Richardson says: “There are two ways to get better: work harder and/or change.” Most business people are already working as hard as they know how; it’s how they’re working that is causing them the problem, not how much they’re working. That means change is needed. She goes on to say, “Coaching is about how to change by doing things differently.” The implication here is that those who are doing what they’re doing today can become better if they do things differently. That is a key principle of coaching.
Richardson’s statement: “Every organization and person has blind spots” is so true. Executive Coaches use coaching as a way to get executives to see their blind spots and change.
The Value of Coaching
How valuable do the world’s top performers in sports and the world of entertainment consider coaching: So valuable that every top performer has a coach. Whether it is Tiger Woods, number one golfer in the world, or Luciano Pavaratti, the outstanding operatic tenor, or Julia Roberts, the academy award winning actress, each has a coach. Luciano Pavarotti was born with a wonderful voice, but he also has four coaches (one for music, one for voice, one for acting, and one for language). When Julia Roberts won her Academy Award for best actress in Erin Brockovich, after two previous nominations where she did not win, she attributed her win to Steven Soderbergh, her director (coach). Julia said, “I have an Academy Award now, and nobody else has brought that out. It’s indescribable.” Steven Soderbergh certainly can’t play the parts that Julia Roberts can play, but he can help her play those parts to the best of her ability. That speaks volumes about the value of coaching.
Successful business people also consider coaching to be a valuable practice for them and their employees. Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft and one of the richest men in the world uses Warren Buffet as a coach. Larry Bossidy, Chairman and former CEO of Honeywell International, used Ram Charan as a coach. Bob Nardelli, CEO Home Depot said in an article in the 07/01/02 issue of Fortune Magazine, "I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities". And John Russell, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson Europe Ltd said: “I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable."
Why doesn’t each of these top performers merely attend training instead of turning to coaching to insure that they stay top performers? Because training, without appropriate coaching follow up, is notoriously ineffective! Xerox Corporation carried out several studies, one of which showed that without follow-up coaching, 87 percent of the skills change brought about by the program was lost. That means that for every dollar invested in training, the return was thirteen cents! Or, another way to say it is that for every dollar invested in training, eighty-seven cents was lost! Yet, study after study shows coaching to have a significant return on investment. One such study, conducted by Michigan-based Triad Performance Technologies, Inc. studied and evaluated the effects of a coaching intervention on a group of regional and district sales managers within a large telecom organization. The third party research study cites a 10:1 return on investment in less than one year. Or, as Fortune Magazine in its 02/19/01 edition wrote: “Asked for a conservative estimate of the monetary payoff from the coaching they got, these managers described an average return of more than $100,000, or about six times what the coaching had cost their companies.” Whereas training without coaching follow up shows a significant loss on ROI, coaching shows a significant return. That’s value.
Two Important Coaching Points
There are two important points about executive coaching that need mentioning:
· First: executive coaching is not an event. It is a process; it is on-going. Executive Coaches don’t just have a coaching session once and everything happens the way the executive/company wants from then on. Executive Coaches have many sessions where they coach the same skill over and over, often focusing on the basics. Look at spring training for professional baseball players, or pre-season training for professional football players. Here are professionals who have been playing the sport for most of their lives, and yet the focus at these training camps is on basics. It is this constant reinforcement that brings about improvement. Reinforcement shapes and builds desirable behavior. That means, as the business person slowly builds skills in some particular area, the Executive Coach continually reinforces by feeding back observations in a positive manner. Executive Coaches don’t just hold a one-hour session, cover all the important points then turn the individual loose to do his thing. Coaching takes time and repetition.
· Second: Coaches don’t play the game; they watch how the game is being played. They let their players play. That is very hard for some executives to understand. The Executive Coach doesn’t play the game; she observes how the executive plays the game, then coaches for ways to play better. If you watch sports events, especially football or basketball, where are the coaches? They’re not out on the field but on the sidelines watching everything that goes on. In fact there may be several coaches on the sidelines watching and feeding information back to the players. And that brings up one of the most important skills that Executive Coaches utilize: feedback. As Ken Blanchard, in his book the One Minute Manager says, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” It’s also the breakfast of coaches.
Feedback: The Critical COACHING Component
What is feedback? Rick Maurer, a management consultant specializing in organizational change explains: “On a flight from the East Coast to the West Coast, an airplane goes off course about ninety percent of the time. But it reaches its destination because feedback mechanisms get the plane back on course.” The same principle applies to business people. To reach their goals, they need constant feedback on their performance. Ongoing feedback performs two functions: It helps keep the executive on track with regard to business goals, and it lets people know where they stand.