What is Executive Coaching? The Benefits, Why Even Good Leaders Need Coaching & How to Find the Best Coach

What is Executive Coaching? A Guide for CEOs and Leaders
by SkylineG

As a leader or HR professional who supports leadership development you're constantly being challenged to meet objectives & grow a successful business or support leaders who have this responsibility.

Knowing how to lead effectively is essential to ensure your organization reaches its highest potential - but even great leaders can become stagnant in their growth.

While hiring experienced or specialized employees may seem like the obvious solution for productivity gains, there's another solution: executive coaching. Executive coaching is the most effective way to accelerate the performance and ability of any level of leader looking to adapt and grow along with their rapidly evolving world.

Whether you feel like your, your team's, or the capabilities of the leaders you support are failing to reach their full potential executive coaching can accelerate the skills, strategies and actionable steps needed to achieve greater potential & creating monumental outcomes, sustainably.

What is Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching is the formal process of guiding leaders through exercises based on the core 28 fundamental leadership competencies with the intent to rapidly accelerate the development & evolution of a leader’s skills, achieve goals & maximize their potential as leaders.

The executive coaching process typically involves a 1:1 relationship between a coach & a leader and includes a series of structured, data-driven coaching sessions where coaches work hands-on with leaders to identify the leaders' weaknesses & strengths and how they pertain to organizational goals.

Coaches use a variety of tools & techniques such as assessments, feedback, and comparing current performance to company goals to gather actionable data. Once the benchmark-able data is created coaches & leaders work together to improve weaknesses, set professional goals, success metrics, and develop personalized strategies to help leaders achieve those goals.

Why Executive Coaching is Important

Executive coaching is a critical component of any thriving organization.

In today's dynamic & constantly evolving business environment, leaders must possess a range of leadership competencies. Competency definitions may vary and Skyline Group Intl has researched and developed a 28 essential leadership competency model that has been benchmarked and delivered results to thousands of leaders. It can be challenging for even the most talented & experienced leaders to continuously evolve, develop and refine their skills, and remain at peak performance year after year. This is where executive coaching becomes essential.

Through personalized executive coaching leaders can identify their individual strengths & weaknesses, set clear performance improvement goals for themselves, and receive expert guidance to help them overcome their weaknesses or areas where their skill level may lack.

By investing in leadership coaching organizations can not only help their leaders grow and succeed but also help their teams achieve their objectives and create an organizational culture of continuous improvement & excellence.

Even the most accomplished and seasoned leaders can struggle to consistently develop and refine their skill sets. Our Executive coaching program ensures ambitious leaders continue to grow & evolve their skill sets year after year.

Executive Coaching Impact: What are the Benefits of Executive Coaching Services?

Investing in executive coaching is the most effective way to accelerate the performance and ability of any level of leader adapt and grow to their rapidly evolving world. Proactive leaders and their organizations look to help their leaders & individual team members achieve goals, develop skills & create to enable an environment of peak performance.

What to Expect from Executive Coaching

A leader can expect several things from leadership coaching engagements:

Gain Powerful New Insights & Perspective

Through coaching leaders can uncover blind spots, identify strengths & weaknesses & gain greater self-awareness, helping them develop as a leader into a more effective approach that's better aligned with their goals but more importantly - the needs of their team & organization.

Set & Achieve Measurable Goals Faster

An already effective leader will save time, costly mistakes, and achieve goals faster through the right leadership coaching. The right executive coach will work with leaders to identify their objectives, create an actionable plan & most importantly - hold them accountable for making progress toward those goals. This accountability helps leaders stay focused and influence them to achieve their goals in a more timely and effective manner.

The right leadership coach and firm will ensure that your coaching investment is backed by data including impact and ROI of the coaching engagement.

Develop Lasting Leadership Skills & Capabilities

An executive coach can provide specific feedback & support to help leaders improve their communication, decision-making, delegation, and other critical leadership skills helping leaders become more effective in their role, build stronger relationships with their team, and create a more positive & productive work environment.

Ongoing Support & Guidance

A coach can act as a trusted advisor providing guidance, feedback & support whenever needed to help leaders navigate challenges, overcome obstacles and continue to grow & develop in their roles & personal life.

Why All Leaders Need Executive Coaching

All leaders can benefit from coaching regardless of experience level or position within an organization, but coaching is especially valuable for leaders facing challenges outside their skillset, leaders looking to rapidly accelerate their growth, or leaders transitioning into a new, unfamiliar leadership role.

Develop New Strategies & Approaches to Face Challenges

Leaders facing new challenges benefit from coaching because coaches can help them develop new strategies & approaches for new challenges. Coaches can help leaders identify blind spots, act as a sounding board, and help them gain new insights into how to overcome new challenges.

Accelerate Personal Growth

Leaders looking to rapidly accelerate their growth benefit from coaching as it's a crash course on the whole spectrum of leadership, helping them to first understand the entire technical spectrum of leadership. Coaching services can help them identify areas for improvement but most importantly develop an actionable plan to increase their skills, and achieve their objectives.

Transition Into a New Role Smoothly

Finally, leaders transitioning into a new role benefit from coaching as executive coaching services can help them navigate career transition more effectively. Coaching can help leaders understand their new role and the skills needed to succeed, which allows leaders to laser focus and develop the skills needed to earn the respect of their peers faster, build stronger relationships with their team members & establish clear goals and performance expectations.

Even Successful Leaders Need Executive Coaching

Why do even successful managers need leadership coaching you ask?

There are so many reasons even successful business leaders still need executive coaching.

Break Bad Habits

Even successful leaders have bad habits or patterns of behavior that are holding them back from consistent peak performance. An executive coach can help them identify these bad habits and work to break them, which can lead to even greater success.

Stay Humble

Success can go to a leader's head which can lead to overconfidence or arrogance. By seeking coaching, a leader can stay grounded & focused on continuous improvement. Overconfidence and arrogance rarely help team performance.

Fresh Perspective

When leaders are successful or see a series of successes it can be easy to become complacent, stuck in a rut, or re-iterating above - arrogant. Coaching can help leaders gain a fresh perspective and see new opportunities for growth & innovation.

Avoid Complacency

When leaders become too comfortable in their role, they may start to overlook important details or lose sight of their goals. Coaching can help successful leaders stay focused, challenge themselves, continue to grow & strive for excellence.

Develop Emotional Intelligence

While many leaders may have strong technical skills, assertive character, and expertise in their field, they may struggle with emotional intelligence which can severely impact their ability to lead effectively. Coaching can help leaders develop their emotional intelligence by providing feedback on their communication style, helping them recognize & manage their emotions while improving their ability to empathize with others.

Team Performance

When leaders become more emotionally intelligent and more technically proficient, they're better equipped to create a positive work environment for their team members leading to improved morale, higher levels of engagement but most importantly - better results for the organization as a whole.

Navigate Complex Political Environments

In many organizations leaders must navigate complex political environments to get things done. Coaching can help leaders develop strategies for building alliances, managing conflicts & communicating effectively in politically charged situations.

Challenge Assumptions & Biases

Even successful leaders have blind spots. Coaching can help leaders become more self-aware of their assumptions and biases, and provide a safe space for them to work on these blind spots, challenging their assumptions & exploring different perspectives.

Enhance Creativity & Innovation

Leaders who've been successful in the past can find themselves stuck in a rut, relying on the same strategies & approaches that worked in the past. Working with executive coaches can help leaders break out of their comfort zone, think creatively & develop innovative solutions to complex problems.

How Does Executive Coaching Work?

The leadership coaching process typically involves several stages. See below:

The Process from A to Z

First, the leader should work with a firm that can offer a range of many executive coaches and offer an intake and coach matching process tailored to each leader's needs. Once the right coaches have ben identified the leader should meet with approximately three coach options to find the right executive coach, one who is a fit both in relevant skills & personality.

Leadership Assessments

Then the engagement typically begins with an assessment of the leader’s competencies using a 360 assessment or other leadership competency assessment tools. These tools identify various personality traits & aspects of personality that are helpful or hindering to a leader’s performance. Interviews can also be a helpful way to gather and support 360 data. The assessment sets the benchmark for engagement. Other personality assessment can also be used to identify perspectives and beliefs a leaders has that will be important as part of the leaders coaching process.

An executive and leadership coach may use a variety of tools & techniques, like assessments, role-playing, and feedback, to help the leader develop new skills & behaviors.

Next, the executive coach & leader need to build rapport and establish a relationship based on trust and mutual respect. This involves establishing clear goals and expectations for the engagement and identifying the leader's strengths, weaknesses & areas for improvement.

Plan of Action

After the leadership assessment and building rapport, the executive coach and leader work together to develop a plan of action. The plan of action involves identifying specific strategies & tactics that the leader can use to achieve their goals and overcome any specific challenges they may be facing.

Data-based Support & Guidance

But most importantly, throughout the engagement, the coach provides ongoing support and guidance to the leader based on data. This may include regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and additional coaching sessions as needed. The executive coach helps the leader stay on track and accountable for making progress toward their goals.

How to Maximize the Impact of Your Coaching Initiative

To maximize the impact of the executive coaching experience the leader needs to be fully engaged & committed to the process. This means being open to potentially brutally honest negative feedback and being willing to try new approaches.

It's also important for the leader to be honest and transparent with their coach, sharing their challenges & concerns openly so that the executive coach can provide the best possible support & guidance.

This level of intensive training takes leaders out of their comfort zone, leaving them feeling extremely vulnerable so the rapport & trust stage between coach & leader is paramount to success.

How Much Does Executive Coaching Cost?

The cost of executive coaching varies depending on several factors:

  • Coaching company
  • Coach experience
  • The duration of the engagement
  • The frequency of the engagement
  • The specific services provided
  • The number of leaders being coached

While the cost of executive coaching services can vary wildly it's important to view coaching as an investment in leadership development & success of an organization's leaders.

While the cost can potentially seem high at first glance, the long-term return on investment can be invaluable for organizations,

When leaders develop new skills & capabilities they're better equipped to lead teams to success & achieve organizational goals like increased revenue, reduced turnover & improved customer satisfaction, among many other benefits.

Organizations just need to ensure they can track & measure the impact of the investment.

Measuring the Impact of Leadership Coaching and Your Coaching Investment

Measuring the impact of executive coaching services can be challenging but there are several approaches that companies can use to evaluate the effectiveness of their coaching investment.

Track Specific Metrics Related to the Goals of the Coaching Engagement

For example, if the engagement is focused on improving the communication skills of a leader, the company could track metrics such as employee engagement scores, productivity & customer satisfaction ratings. By comparing these metrics before & after the engagement, the company can gain insight into the impact of the coaching on executive leadership performance and the performance of their team.

Gather Feedback from the Leader, Team Members & Other Stakeholders

This feedback can be collected through surveys, interviews, or other methods. By gathering feedback before & after the engagement the company can assess changes in the leader's behavior and the impact of those changes on the people around them.

Use Coaching Assessments to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Their Coaching Investment

Assessments provide hard data. The assessments may include surveys, interviews, or other methods to measure the leader's skills, capabilities & performance. By comparing the results of these assessments before & after the engagement with the executive coach, the company can gain insight into the impact of the coaching on the leader's personal development.

Measuring the impact of investment into soft skills via executive coaching should not be challenging.

But by working with data-driven firms who use data & metrics to drive their engagements & offer tools for data collection, analysis & reporting, you can evaluate the impact & value of your executive coaching investment and companies can make informed decisions about investing in the development of their leaders in the future.

How To Find The Best Executive Coaches For Your Needs

How to Find an Executive Coach

Identifying the best leadership & business coaching firm for your specific needs is a challenging process but there are several key factors for you to consider when evaluating firms & coaches that can help you arrive at your final decision.

Determine Your Needs

Ultimately which coaching firm is the best needs to be based on your organization's specific needs and goals. Do you need 1:1 coaching? Team coaching? Coaching for a certain industry? Coaching for a very specific skill set or outcome? Understanding your specific needs is the first part of the process and you can then begin to identify which coaching service is right for you.

Experience, Expertise & Qualifications

Perhaps most importantly you need a coaching firm with a proven track record of success & experience working with leaders in your industry or field. The firm should have professional coaches, with relevant credentials, such as certifications in coaching or other specific areas.

Approach to Coaching

Find a coaching firm that takes a customized approach and tailors their services to meet the specific needs and goals of each leader they work with. The coaching firm should also have a clear methodology & process for coaching, with measurable outcomes and a focus on continuous improvement.

Reputation & References

A potential coaching firm should have a strong reputation for quality & effectiveness. Ask for references from past clients who can speak to the firm's impact on their leadership development outcome.

Culture & Values

Find a coaching firm with a culture & values that align with your own organization's values & goals. This can help ensure a fit and successful engagement.

Communication & Collaboration

You need a coaching firm that communicates clearly & collaborates effectively with you and your organization throughout the engagement. The firm should be transparent about its process & progress and provide regular updates & feedback.

Identifying the best leadership coaching firm involves carefully evaluating the coaching qualifications of the firm based on the factors above. By doing your due diligence you can select a coaching firm that'll help your leaders achieve their goals & drive better results for your organization.

Executive Coaching When it Fails: The Top 4 Reasons Executive Coaching Initiatives May Fail

Executive leadership coaching is not fail-proof. It can fail under certain circumstances. Below are four of the most common reasons leadership coaching engagements fail.

1. Lack of Full Commitment

The first & most daunting sign of potential failure is a skeptical leader not fully committed to the coaching process. If the leader isn't open to feedback, not willing to try new approaches, or not actively engaged in the process it's unlikely they'll achieve meaningful results with an executive coach. Leaders must believe in the capability to improve and be willing to do the hard work.

2. Mismatch Between Coach & Leader

Secondly, if the executive coach isn't a good fit for the leader's personality, learning style, or goals, it's going to be difficult to establish a fruitful coaching relationship. To avoid a mismatch between coach & leader it's important to invest time into the initial selection process and choose the right executive coach, with the expertise & approach that compliments the leader's needs, learning style & goals.

3. Lack of Follow Up or Support

If a leader doesn't receive ongoing support & guidance after the initial coaching engagement ends it can be difficult to sustain the gains made during the coaching process. It's just human nature to fall back into the path of least resistance. To avoid this, you must schedule ongoing support & follow-up such for regular check-ins, feedback sessions, or additional coaching training sessions as needed.

4. Lack of Alignment Between Coaching Goals & Organizational Goals

If coaching goals aren't aligned with the organization's strategy & priorities it will be difficult to achieve meaningful results. To avoid this, ensure the engagement is focused on achieving outcomes that are relevant and impactful for the organization.

By being aware of the most common reasons coaching initiatives fail, organizations can ensure successful coaching engagements that drive transformational results for their leaders & their organization.

Executive Leadership Coaching Can Transform Your Organization

Mentorship just isn't enough. Leadership coaching can transform a company in a multitude of ways. Besides on an individual level and influencing leaders to make better decisions, improve performance, increase overall productivity, and better results for the organization as a whole coaching can:

Create a Positive & Productive Work Environment

When leaders are more effective they build stronger relationships with their team members, foster greater collaboration & innovation and create a culture of trust, respect & engagement. This can lead to higher levels of employee morale, satisfaction & retention.

Identify & Develop Future Leaders.

By investing in coaching for current leaders, organizations can identify high-potential employees & develop their leadership skills & capabilities, helping to create a pipeline of future leaders who are equipped to drive the organization forward and achieve its long-term goals.

Adapt to Change & Stay Competitive

By developing leaders who are agile, adaptable & innovative, organizations can respond more effectively to changing market conditions, new technologies & evolving customer needs. This can help the organization stay ahead of the curve & achieve sustainable success over the long term.

In Conclusion

Executive coaching is an invaluable resource that can truly transform your organization.

According to a study by the International Coaching Federation, coaching clients who worked with a professional certified coach with a seasoned executive coaching career reported “positive coaching impacts” including significant improvement in: communication skills, self-esteem, self-confidence, productivity, individual & teamwork performance, business management strategies, onboarding into new professional roles

By investing in executive coaching CEOs and business owners create a culture of accountability, understanding & goal-oriented accountability which can help organizations drive better results, achieve their goals, and create a culture of continuous learning & improvement.

From seasoned executives to those just starting their careers, for leaders looking to become better versions of themselves and to manage a successful organization, executive coaching may be the missing piece of the puzzle. If your team or organization might benefit from investing in executive leadership coaching services, please contact us today to learn more about how Skyline G can help create better leaders.