Organizations wishing to improve the abilities – and value – of their rising stars often offer them executive coaching. The use of this type of coaching is now fairly wide spread. Coaching programs are no longer only for executives who are ‘problem leaders’. Executive coaching offers an opportunity to leverage leadership talent as well as resources. Senior executives such as CEOs and Chairmen – who understand the role their executives in the growth of the companies – frequently seek coaching arrangements for them. Yet sometimes coaching just does not seem to work. Why?
In nearly all cases, executive and life coaches form very strong bonds with their clients. These relationships are based on honesty, trust, assurance and success. In order for the coaching process to work, the relationship between an executive and their coach must be solid and the coaching program must function with very clear ground rules. Sometimes these bonds are difficult to achieve. Some executives do not like change at all. They are either afraid of change or lack the motivation to see a coaching engagement through to the finish. Despite the expertise and professionalism of the coach, failure to make progress may occur for several reasons:
1. Ownership: Executives need to take ownership in an executive coaching engagement in order for it to achieve success. Executives who feel that they do not have a choice or feel that coaching is being forced upon them often adopt an adversarial attitude towards the coach. Since these executives do not have any ownership or commitment to the coaching process, they are not able to take full advantage of all that executive coaching has to offer them.
2. Time: Some executive who are very time-conscience and therefore quite adept at setting and achieving goals, can underestimate the time commitments and effort required to reach the goals set through the coaching process. These executives are usually extremely impatient. Oddly enough, these are usually the very executives who would benefit the most from a personal executive coach.
3. Disruptions: The majority of executives today underestimate the distractions and competing objectives that will consistently appear throughout the year. By planning for these distractions, they will be able to set very realistic expectations for change and, as a result, will be less likely to give up on the coaching process.
4. Benefits: Executives usually believe that improving their skills and leadership abilities will lead their companies to immediate short-term profits, promotions and/or recognition. They can become disillusioned when these things fail to materialize immediately.
5. Preservation: Executives, who truly wish to utilize the services of executive leadership coaching, sometimes fail to understand that the new skills need to be sustained. In order to be an affective leader, executives need to realize that leadership involves relationships, and through time, relationships will change. Maintaining positive relationships require a long-term effort on the part of the executive.
Following through on the advice of an executive or life coach can be intimidating for some executives. They must be prepared to feel exposed and be open to learning new skills. This can be extremely challenging – even for those who welcome and commit to changes set out by their coach. Executive leadership and business coaching can be difficult for some executives who feel that achieving a few goals takes too much time and effort. They need to realize that a long-term adjustment in their individual leadership style does take hard work and genuine effort on their part.
© Earl R. Smith II, PhD
I provide mentoring to those who have both the courage and determination to make a truly transformational journey. My approach is heavily influenced by core principles of Zen Buddhism. I also provide advisory services to CEO and senior teams – particularly mid-market companies. I don’t offer quick fixes or follow the latest fads. If you are willing to make the long journey – if it’s time for you to come to know the person you really are and the path you should be following – if you want to start living life you were truly meant to live – then perhaps we should talk. Send me an e-mail and we can arrange a time to chat.