Hundreds of resources reviewing the benefits of executive coaching were published last year – in peer-reviewed journals, in personal and business blog posts, and in the media. In recent years, coaching has become a buzzword, something that many organisations offer to employees who are identified as having a high potential to succeed.
Despite its popularity, executive coaching is often misunderstood in terms of how it differentiates from performance management and other leadership development offerings. The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment.
As a development process, it can be hard to define what coaching is as it happens largely behind closed doors. The coaching process is highly personal, and structured to meet the needs of both the leader taking part as well as the sponsoring organisation. Different leaders focus on different goals, different approaches or methodologies are effective for different leaders, and different coaches are needed for different leaders.
In order to understand more about executive coaching directly from its providers, a team from the Harvard Business Review developed an online questionnaire that was distributed to coaches and consultants. The 140 individuals who responded to the survey provided feedback and insight into their own practices and the realities of coaching. In reviewing the feedback from the survey, it was found that are three factors critical to the success of a coaching engagement:
Level of motivation of the executive
According to the survey, executives who get the most out of coaching are those with a fierce willingness to learn and evolve – these individuals are often referred to as ‘coachable’. Leaders who are motivated and prepared to make changes are more likely to take advantage of the opportunities offered in coaching.
Chemistry between coach and leader
The relationship and dynamic between the coach and the leader is critical to ensuring success. Allowing the leader the opportunity to meet several coaches in person, or to consider their biographies, allows the leader to determine which coach is best suited to working with them. There are many factors that are involved chemistry on the part of the coach – background, advanced degrees and training, expertise and experience. This alliance will allow the coach and leader to build trust and rapport.
Commitment from top management to developing the leader
The final key element to a successful coaching engagement is support and commitment from the organisation. There must be a desire to develop and retain the leader who is taking part in coaching; at the same time, there must be alignment on the goals and objectives that the leader is undertaking during the coaching program. Conversations with key stakeholders, such as the leader’s manager or Human Resources business partner, ensure buy-in and support.
These elements are just three of the many factors that are critical to support the coaching engagement. Others include utilising appropriate assessments to understand personal leadership capabilities and environmental dynamics; creating an individual develop actionable plans and goals; and having an underlying methodology or process to follow, with milestones to track progress.
This article was originally published by Career Partners International. Directioneering is a member of the CPI network. Visit their website here.