Most companies understand the importance of training. They teach new hires best practices for succeeding in their roles and some partner them with mentors that can help them achieve the best results and position themselves for growth — but the higher employees climb up the organizational chart, the less access they often have to professional coaching. Executives in the C-suite often don’t recognize the benefits they could gain from continuing to learn and develop their leadership abilities.
To coach is not to teach
This is a common misconception: When you’re at the top of your game, what can you possibly have to gain from a teacher? The answer to that question can obviously seem like “not a lot.” However, executive coaches are not teachers, or even mentors. While teachers share information with students, coaches ask questions and give executives access to the insights already within them to become even better leaders.
Think of it as therapy for careers and companies. Psychotherapists do not give their patients checklists and assignments to reach self-actualization; they ask the right questions to help people get there on their own. Similarly, coaches open doors to perspectives and realizations that give executives the ability to reach their highest pinnacles of success. That filters down to the entire company to awaken the best in everyone.
Motivation to keep your eye on the ball
Goal setting is encoded into the DNA of successful executives. They know exactly where they want to go and often have a detailed plan to get there. But, the grueling responsibilities and requirements of their daily duties can easily get in they way of the best laid out plans, and cause them to fall by the wayside. Executives striving to reach personal goals are accountable only to themselves and it is easy for them to forgive themselves for procrastinating efforts to reach them when more immediate problems need to be solved.
Executive coaches play the role of great motivators, providing a source of external accountability for achieving leadership goals. This accountability is the primary reason that successful firms hire executive coaches, along with their expertise for helping their high-powered clients stay on track. In this regard, executive coaches are akin to personal trainers. Their clients know how to do the necessary exercises, but the trainer’s job is to keep them accountable for showing up to the gym and making sure they push themselves to squeeze in that last rep or keep going on the treadmill for one more minute.
Leadership is a process that easily founders when ignored.
Driving personal growth mindshare
With so many distractions at work, it’s easy to push personal development aside and stop thinking about it. Coaches help executives make sure to schedule the “me time” that is necessary to achieve personal growth. There are a million other business problems and emergencies that occupy executive mindshare and make personal development seen unimportant or unnecessary. Coaches are trained to help these executives keep focus on how continually developing themselves gives them access to better tools to solve those daily problems that compete for their attention.
Leadership is a process that easily founders when ignored. It requires continual nurturing and learning. Executive coaches are excellent sources of outside perspective that identify patterns and blind spots that their clients can concentrate on addressing over time. When executives achieve professional power, they often lack confidants that can have the tough conversations with them that keep them on a path of continual improvement.
Bolstering emotional intelligence
One of the key areas professionally coached executives can expect improvement is on their emotional intelligence. This measure of self-awareness and perception of others’ feelings is a bigger indicator of business success than IQ. Executives that cultivate and maintain strong relationships achieve more throughout their careers, and people with higher emotional intelligence have better relationships. It is naturally much easier to lead when you are surrounded by people cheering you on versus those who want to stand in your way.
These are the reasons why companies spend more than $15 billion on executive coaching. When used proactively to help top performers achieve even more instead of reactively to correct toxic behaviors, companies that employ professional coaches enjoy happier employees, less turnover, and healthier bottom lines.