In order for an executive coaching experience to reap the most rewards and be considered a success, a few key factors have to come together. Coaches are loyal to both the individual being coached as well as the company at large, but the key player contributing to the success of the experience often lies in the hands of co-workers.
At the end of the day, the productivity of the coaching process will be hindered if one of the puzzle pieces isn’t fitting correctly. The individual executive, the company, and the important colleagues each play a necessary role.
The Company is Successful
If a company or an individual are heading in the wrong direction, coaching may be considered as a last-ditch effort to save the sinking ship. But coaching doesn’t fix what is broken, or what will inevitably break.
In fact, a coach will likely just speed the process of either the company or the individual coming to terms with the inevitable end. The best a coach can do in such a situation is to provide the insight and knowledge to recommend the best way for the company or the individual to call it quits.
Coaches’ jobs are to strengthen what is already strong— to make good things even better. In order for executive coaching to be effective with lasting results, the company and individual coach must be heading in the right direction. The company should be comfortably established and bringing in revenue.
The Executive Wants to Change
Trying to change someone who doesn’t want to change is nearly impossible. If you’ve tried before, you know how excruciating the situation can be. For coaching to truly work, the person being coached must want to change. Many people may say that they want to be better and put in the work, and then when push comes to shove, they do the minimum of what’s expected to”pass.” Coaching is looking to make lasting results, not short-term fixes. What you put into coaching is what you will get out of it.
Listening to a coach’s insights is not enough. A coach can give as much feedback and wisdom as they can, and the experience could still be a failure. The executive being coached needs to act upon the feedback by admitting mistakes, being open-minded, and working on weakness. A personal trainer can give you exercises and recipes, but they can’t physically workout for you and make you eat healthy. That’s on you. The relationship between a personal trainer and a student is similar to a coach and an executive in this way.
In a Harvard Business Review article, 30-year psychotherapist and coach Steven Berlas says, “I can assure you that acting the role of a ‘participant in a change process’ is not nearly the same as being committed to actually changing yourself.” Berlas sees a huge difference between participation and commitment. Simply participating in the coaching process really means going through the motions, holding yourself in ambience, and suppressing yourself, which does not lead to positive change. Completely investing yourself and being dedicated to your own improvement will affect positive change.
The Co-Workers are Supportive
The individual needs to be bought in to the coaching process, yes— but so does the organization around them. The people surrounding the executive being coached determine much of the process’s success. If colleagues and bosses aren’t open-minded and creating space to welcome the executive’s change, the person being coached doesn’t stand a chance. Just as the executive being coached has to want to change, the people around the executive have to want the individual to change and improve, too.
Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith refers to the important people at the executive’s workplace as “key stakeholders,” and when he coaches any new client, he interviews key stakeholders and makes a few requests of them. He asks that they let go of any wrongdoings the executive did in the past, for they cannot be changed, and grudges will only hinder future success. Stakeholders should also be supportive and positive as well as honest, verbally recognizing progress as well as points of weakness. Lastly, stakeholders should also choose something to personally work on. That way, everyone has something they’re trying to do better, and they can help each other along the way.
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