A common question I get is, “what does an executive coach do”? For many people, they picture a little league coach; someone who explains demonstrates and corrects actions and behaviours in sport. Well, this doesn’t quite tell the full story of what an executive coach does. First off, the executive coach, in all likelihood, does not have the same skillset or experiences that you have in your industry. It’s possible, but unlikely if they are working with a cross-section of industry leaders. The strengths that a certified executive coach brings to their executive client: enable their client to grow towards their desired goals and outcomes while improving their leadership skills.
An executive coach enquires about the challenges high performing executives experience while listening to their client’s experiences, then helps the client take new steps to improve each challenge more effectively. A strong executive coaching relationship is built on great, curious questions, empathy and tactful determination to serve their executive client.
What Does An Executive Coach Do?
1. Help Create More Self-Awareness
An executive coach guides the leader in understanding themselves better. The better that one understands themselves, the quicker they can catch their judgements and assumptions that may be hindering their ability to act effectively. The increased self-awareness helps the client detect the behaviours and thinking patterns that impede their path forward.
2. See Others More Clearly
The executive coach will build off the leader’s self-awareness to help usher them into seeing others more clearly. The benefit of seeing others more clearly is: 1) seeing what their strengths and weaknesses are; 2) the motivation of the other; 3) the ability to interject when the individual is taking an ineffective course of action. The better you can understand another, the better you can address that person’s needs. The top advertising and marketing executives around the world understand this – it’s what makes the sales world go round!
A great line that I’ve taken in over the years is: “the world is as it is, not as I see it.” Meaning that the lens we default to may not be as accurate as you assume. Our judgements and assumptions can greatly hinder us.
3. Handle Situations In More Effective Ways
The executive coach will tactfully challenge the viewpoint and assumptions that may be having a less than desirable outcome. Once the situation is seeing more accurately, and practical solutions can be developed and implemented.
4. Increase Your Current Strengths
All leaders have great strengths (in fact, everyone has great strengths). These strengths have allowed leaders to move up the ranks over time. The strengths are built off of during the coaching relationship – a useful type of leadership development. What got you here is incredible; what will get you there will require additional strength, awareness and skills.
5. Build Powerful Relationships
Strong relationships are built on trust and empathy. As a client develops these leadership skills, they will find that their work (and personal) relationships will be transformed. Salespeople will also find that “selling” becomes much simpler. The more that someone feels seen, heard and understood, the deeper the relationship becomes.
6. Achieve Your Goals
Achieving goals through coaching does take time. It’s a partnership, one that requires the coach and the client to focus and take the necessary actions along the way to grow. The more actions that are consistently taken in the direction of the goal (with the above five points in place), the greater the chance of achieving the end goal. A great coach will also tactfully provide feedback if the executive is off-track.
The above list of what a coach does is by no means exhaustive. A great executive coach takes the time to understand the leader’s needs and goals each step of the way. The coach acts as a thinking partner that offers more than just a sounding board – but someone who effectively challenges and provides accountability with each step of the way towards the client’s goal.