Executive Coaching is respected in businesses around the world for optimising the skill set of high performing C–suite executives (C-suite is a term used to identify the top level of management executives in an organisation; CEO, CFO etc.). Much of the process focuses on the development of emotional intelligence skills to improve self-awareness, develop mechanisms to manage ineffective behaviours and to maximise opportunities through better leadership & change management.
These are not hard skills but businesses now recognise the important of soft skill development of their leadership teams and senior managers. Emotional intelligence (EQ) based executive coaching has a proven track record of improving a huge range of life and work skills so it is often the method of choice.
It’s Not Easy
It is personally very challenging as it requires the Executive to develop skills for critical self-analysis. How many of us really want to look at ourselves critically and be honest about our weaknesses and toxic behaviours? Most of us are pretty poor at this; either vastly overrating our competencies or failing to value our skills.
The EQ Coach guides the Executive through a series of tools and techniques that help them accurately answer questions like; What am I good at? What do I need to be better at? How do I communicate with others? Do I motivate or bully? Do I build Rapport? How effective is my public speaking? Do I listen well? Do I articulate my points effectively? How do I respond in situations of stress? Am I able to deal with conflict well?
The Coach provides a necessary challenge to the Executive ensuring they are evidencing their assessments and drawing accurate conclusions. The process often involves collecting the views of others on how they see the Executive. The Coach will also help the Executive build up the skills and processes to ensure that they can collect this information from others in the future and proves it in a positive way.
Choose Your Coach Carefully
A good rapport and trust in your coach is important to making the process work. Executive Coaches do not have an official qualification so you need to look for someone with experience and good references.
Philip Gimmack the lead executive coach from EQWorks advises this; “Top executive coaches should be focussed on bringing out your best. To do this we fit the coaching style to your needs. Coaching relationships are personal and can differ depending on needs, context and the relationship. For instance, you may prefer a more directive approach depending on how much and in what way you wish to be supported and encouraged. Directive coaching can feel more dynamic and push you, but it may not allow you to learn the most from your experience or take maximum responsibility in the long run. The coaching style may also affect the amount and type of contact between sessions. Generally weekly sessions strike the right balance.”
You will probably find that you want to discuss confidential matters with your coach – your views of your boss or your relationship with your spouse. If you don’t trust your coach you will be less inclined to do this and your coaching will be less effective. If you find that you don’t trust your coach after a number of sessions then simply try a different one from the same organisation or a totally different provider.
It’s Not All Critical
Although it can be pretty painful acknowledging that you have some poor traits the Emotional Intelligence coaching route is actually very positive. Much of its power comes from identifying an Executives strengths and ensuring that these are fully leveraged, which they rarely are. Learning how to bring your strengths fully to bear is a truly empowering experience.
Do You Understand Others?
Our ability to influence decisions, manage conflict, change and stressful situations requires us to guide and influence others. Good leadership requires the ability to understand others. We can’t do this if we do not see others clearly and many of us do not! We make assumptions about others behaviours often assuming they will, or should, think and behave as we would. If course other people have had a life time of different experiences and have different personal lives which means they are actually highly unlikely to think and behave as we would.
The ability to be able to assess others behaviour, their emotional state, their level of stress and understand their triggers (for both positive and negative emotions) is crucial. Why? Because only then can we accurately predict how a person will react in a given set of circumstances. If we can accurately determine that their response will not be what we want then we can develop alternative strategies to elicit the behaviour we do want.
It is also true that we all have prejudices and make snap judgements which are nearly always inaccurate. Being better at assessing and valuing people on their true performance and skill set is crucial if we are going to utilise our workforce in the best possible way.
This sounds rather manipulative however it does not need to be. It can actually be a positive supportive action that can build trust and a better relationship. Simply understanding people are going through a tough time or certain things are important to them and respecting this will build trust. A busy executive might feel they don’t have time to build this king of rapport but Executive Coaching will help instil the importance of this.
Are You Getting What You Want?
This is rather a fundamental question no? First it assumes we know what we want which is often not the case. Do we want to be a CEO before we are 55? Do we want to manage people or do we prefer a technical role? Do we want more time for our families? Or do we want to be able to retire at 50? Do we need to reduce stress or are we hungry for more pressure?
The answer to these questions will determine how we develop the roles we have and what we look for in the future. Executive coaching will help us make these decisions with confidence and give a real sense of focus to our activities. This is incredibly motivating not just in pour professional spheres but also in our social lives.