Executive coaching is a precision tool for optimizing the capabilities of leaders.
Most often, the focus of that coaching is on the leader's individual effectiveness. In other cases, the coaching is directed more at the leader's effectiveness within a vital team environment, or on his or her capacity to drive organisational change. Regardless of where coaching occurs on the leadership spectrum, the executive coach works in close, trusted partnership with the leader, applying experience, know-how, and insight to key areas, judiciously pushing that individual beyond his or her comfort zone to reach levels of performance greater than would have been achieved alone, all within an accelerated time frame.
Coachees are almost always key individuals whose performance levels have a major impact on the ongoing performance of others. The coach who has been selected to work with that leader must be able to help him or her achieve superior results within the context of the organisation’s business goals, or the investment will have been a poor one.
What Is Coaching
The Orientation of Coaching
Coaching is not for problems anymore. Coaching was primarily focused on people with performance issues. Organisations now recognize that they must work with speed and precision in enabling key people to achieve critical business objectives. In response, coaching has embraced a whole new focus: how to take good people and make them the best they can be, positioning them to work more effectively and cohesively in their environments, thereby optimizing their capabilities and impact.
Coaching is now mostly applied to top performers whose leadership and growth potential is highly valued by the organisation. Of course, performance issues will always be encountered in any development plan or in the dynamics a leader must work through when trying to execute strategy or change. But coaching is not intended to hone in on those issues any more than is absolutely necessary. The orientation is always forward moving with a focus on efficiency, effectiveness and impact. In the process, the personal and interpersonal challenges a coach will encounter are no less complex than they were years ago, but the coach and coachee now work together with a different kind of urgency and creative energy to discover optimal solutions with the organisation’s objectives in mind.
Selecting the right coach is a challenge. Coaching is an approach, a viewpoint and a technique, as much as it is a profession. There are no defined sets of skills or backgrounds for coaches just as there are no defined sets of problems or challenges. The coach is a highly individuated resource of knowledge, expertise, intuition and experience. What he or she brings to the table is a dynamic ability to deal with a dynamic challenge. While this dynamic character makes coaching difficult to codify, it also ensures that a good coach with the right expertise can work with the coachee to find a path to success. That path may differ from coach to coach, but the impact can be just as positive.