Are You Ready for Executive Coaching?

While managers often coach their staff because it’s a core requirement of their job, coaching provided by an external professional is a newcomer to the talent management process. It has given birth to a plethora of coaches, including life coaches, personal coaches, career coaches, and conflict coaches – to mention a few. As an executive or senior manager, how do you know if this is right for you?

Let’s start by understanding what coaching actually is. Coaching is a process used to develop the abilities of an individual and tends to focus on the development of a specific skill or set of skills as part of an overall development strategy. Coaches create a dialogue with their client that allows patterns and solutions to surface. This assistance lies somewhere between mentoring and training, and can include some elements of counseling. This definition also helps us identify what executive coaching is not.

It is not a corrective action tool, but is designed to help individuals build their capability in a particular area that will help them move to the next level. This can mean sharpening particular skills for their current role, or building their capability for their next role. This makes the process learner-centered and, for executives who may be struggling with certain behaviors, confiding in an external coach offers a wider perspective – and brings better results.

It does not involve simply asking questions or presenting solutions. Instead, it is a form of guided discovery, where the individual identifies how they react, deal or respond in particular situations and targets what they believe they can do to change that behavior or response. A good coach balances questions with steering the discussion and knows how far to challenge the individual so they come up with their own solutions.

Coaching is a process – not an add hoc event. So linking the coaching objectives to talent management objectives and providing the coaching over a period of time is a critical aspect. This is what prevents coaching from being just feedback. The process of experimenting, reviewing and trying different behaviors on a  “little and often” basis is key to a successful coaching engagement. To prevent a coaching dependency, where the client begins to lean too heavily upon the relationship with their coach, the coaching engagement should not exceed 6 months.

So when asking yourself, “Am I ready for this?” here are six questions to consider:

  1. Do you have a good understanding of what is expected of you in your current role?
  2. If not, do you know where to find this information?
  3. Have you received adequate training to help you be successful?
  4. If not, what training do you need?
  5. What is required of you to make the next move up the leadership ladder?
  6. Do you know what you need to work on?

These questions will help you decide whether you need information, training, or coaching. If you have the information you need and the appropriate training, but have specific areas where you could use more help, then a focused, learner-centered coaching program offered by an external coach is the next step.

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