The science of managing and developing teams to ensure higher results has evolved in the last century. From the fabrics of Dale Carnegie and Ford, through the Intel hybrid management-leadership style up to today’s model of supporting teams to achieve better results. Mangers have turned from control freaks to leaders whose most important responsibility become to achieve results by helping others to reach the goals set in a certain period. The level of the person defines the coaching approach to be used. Still, in the hierarchy of needs, people are positioned differently. What is relevant as a coached operational employee, may not be suitable for the manager above or the C-Suite team member.
The C Suite, or executive level people in the companies need a different and more sophisticated approach when taking part in a coaching plan for growth and development. The level of complexity they have to deal with makes it obligatory for them to learn constantly and search for new and innovative ways to achieve wider company goals. They read a lot, share experience, and search for help from people holding similar to their roles. The executive person is hard to convince, about what they need. He/or she is having a strong understanding that in good or bad times It is his/her responsibility to not show weakness. Still, this group of people needs help to improve and help the organization to achieve better results.
Some coaches are afraid to coach people holding executive positions because they cannot predict how hard it will be to convince them to start and finish the process positively. If you are one of the coaches that have to help an executive person to take the positives for him/herself and the company from a coaching process you can structure your approach, by looking for these 4 factors:
This first factor can be seen in two dimensions. But you need to accept that commitment is not something that just comes and goes. Commitment is built during the time in three different places
THE HEAD – People with high-level commitment have strong insight and are open to new ideas and reflections. In opposite, these who show low commitment in this element demonstrate a high level of need to be accepted in their behavior
THE HEART – People with high commitment believe by heart that change is possible desirable and will happen. Instead, low committed people believe that people are stubborn, not ready, or willing to change and want to keep the status quo if they can.
THE HANDS – I am sure you have seen both groups representatives of these scene place. The hands are core associated with the energy and level of willingness to finish the job, to change, to move forward. People with a high level of commitment are always ready to experiment. They take risks as a needed element for change and progress. The low committed people on the other side of the scale often stop change. They are stubborn, do not support changes, and try to not execute or plan any activities that can change the established status quo.
Another factor you must focus on is the level of trust built between the coach and the coached. Trust is hard to build and can be easily destroyed with one or several not coordinated actions or activities. Building trust, when you start a coaching process can be achieved only by carefully defining what is crucial or matters most and what is not important or does not matter in your behavior and actions as a coach. When coaching an executive, the important element to win trust for the coach is to position him/herself as a competent advisor for the challenges the executive faces person. What is important for a coach to show to help him/her build a better relationship with the executive is experience. But experience is often seen in two different points – Experience as a coach and Experience in leadership positions that can bring some expertise to the table.
What executives don’t care about is if the coach has experience in the same area or if he/she has the same approach in a face to face or online meetings. Don’t get me wrong, having a similar experience in the same industry can help you as a coach to better understand, but what an executive who is coached needs is someone who has dealt with as complex as his/her challenges, to help him build a better understanding and a winning approach to the situations he or she is involved in at his/her current company.
Many coaches and executives fail to build a better and successful future because of the environment. Imagine you are a part of an aggressive and unsupportive environment, that makes you feel uncomfortable and demands things you are not able to deliver. You will be pushed to the wall, just to realize, after a certain period that you have burnt out and do not see any reason to stay in your role at your current company. To ensure that you can bring the best results on the table you will need a supportive environment. How this supportive environment looks through the eyes of the executive coached. Here are some of the characteristics of the supportive and non-supportive environment:
Supportive environment – the main characteristics of the supportive environment defined by the openness and readiness to support feedback in the coaching process. Feedback helps not only the executive to grow, but also makes people around feel more comfortable. The enabling and supporting environment also is the one that gives time for implementation of what is learned
Non-supportive environment – in short, this environment has all the characteristics of the toxic place. There is no room for change, no comfort in time to implement what is learned, people don’t give feedback and there are ultimate and, in most cases, non-realistic deadlines for steps after coaching often ending with the threat of dismissal.
One of the most overseen elements in the coaching process is the executive itself. Coaches, as any other professional follow a model they have built and have worked with others. They ask questions, plan with the executive on the job activities, and share results from feedback on assessing improvements. There is nothing wrong I that. It helps the executive to focus and plan better next steps and achievements in its plan for development and change.
But what executives may also need is something many coaches forget to offer. If you look at the executive coached as a student, walking his/her path to excellence you will need to:
- Equip him/her with tools and knowledge to use in their environment to succeed
- Teach him/her by using sound feedback to train the need to ask for it after the coaching period is finished
- Give advice and guidance on progress and how to continue forward, after the end of the formal sessions period
The most challenging part of a coaching process is to learn to feel the pulse of the coach and adapt your style to it. The executives are no exception. But if you want to be successful l in executive coaching you will need to upgrade your knowledge and skills on the level of complexity this group of potential coached. Considering the different factors and adapting to the specifics of the potential executive coached can easily build trust and help you become the best version of the coach you are.