Executive Coaching comes in different forms. It’s critical that you match the form of Executive Coaching and the different types of Executive Coaches with your particular situation.
Performance Coaching is the most traditional form of coaching brought in by Senior Managers and HR Professionals to support and guide an executive who is or is likely to be overwhelmed in a role that requires significant stretch beyond their current capabilities.
When you match your role at about the 70% mark, there is a good balance between current competencies and professional growth. However when this approaches 60%, then a Performance Coach is essential. Incidentally when the match of a person’s capabilities and their role reaches the 90% mark, most executives will get bored.
Performance Coaching focuses on performance in your current role. It helps you get your mind around the results to be achieved, the priorities to address and how best to engage with other people involved in producing the required results.
It's generally intensive, weekly or fortnightly, for a limited period of time such as 3-6 months. When the time is up you’ve either managed to get to the 70%+ mark and can continue to operate independently, or you may be let go or have the role reshaped to better match your current capabilities.
If the achievement of “results” is the main coaching goal, then Performance Coaching fits the bill. By nature it is transactional, focused on the work rather than the person and designed to shift the mindset of a technical or functional Specialist to that of an Achiever.
Executive Coaching is for executives who are already Achievers but lack strategic thinking, business acumen, interpersonal skills and/or emotional intelligence. They have been strong performers but now occupy a more senior role or one dependent on team and peer engagement to generate the desired outcomes.
Executive Coaching can help you see the bigger picture, provide you with strategic frameworks to better appreciate the business model and your role in the larger organizational dynamic. You may need support to develop complex budgets, allocate resources, set priorities in an ambiguous context and/or adopt a multiple-stakeholder engagement process to focus on shared business outcomes.
Executive Coaching also enables you to navigate and negotiate interpersonal dynamics so that you are both assertive and empowering, comfortable with advocacy and inquiry. It provides you with a new perspective around your current behaviour be it self-sabotaging, disrespectful of others and/or particularly sensitive to others' behaviour towards you.
Some Executive Coaches can cover both strategic business dimensions as well as human dynamics but often they specialise in one or the other. The outcome is to become a more fully rounded Executive who can effectively balance the demands of the business and its customers with their own aspirations and the needs of their people.
Leadership Coaching is focused first and foremost on realizing the potential of the executive to rise from being an effective transactional leader to becoming a more transformational leader in preparation for and when occupying a Senior Executive role. They may already be a high performer but are seen as an executive with significant potential to rise within the organization.
Leadership Coaching by its nature integrates both strategic business acumen and interpersonal dynamics. It covers the broader field of internal and external stakeholders and invites the Senior Executive or would-be Senior Executive to become more visionary and aspirational, strategic and dynamic, in the face of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (the VUCA world we live in).
Many more factors can come into play such as cultural diversity, remote geographic locations, the tensions between global policy and local operations, as well as leading significant transformations such as mergers and acquisitions, substantial restructures, technology innovation and/or a revolution in the business model.
Leadership Coaching facilitates a 1-3 year journey based on monthly coaching meetings for the individual Executive to become an agent of change based on their inner sense of equity, integrity and capacity to build trusted relationships inside and outside the organization. They learn to navigate uncertainty and develop the self-validation to chart strategic direction and lead a diverse array of stakeholders including but not limited to employees, into a visionary new world.
Leadership Coaching is transformational and therefore requires a Coach with transformational leadership capacity to guide a Senior Executive how to lead into an unknown future. This requires proven strategic leadership methodologies and processes as well as a known pathway to deepen self-awareness, resolve dilemmas, heal reactivity, exercise integrity, demonstrate confidence, vulnerability and courageous authenticity.
Career Coaching is focused on making a career transitio
n in either a transactional or transformational way. From a transactional perspective, it’s about gaining a new role. From a transformational perspective, it’s about clarifying personal aspirations and directing purposeful endeavour to make a more significant contribution through your career.
Transitional Career Coaching is similar to Performance or Results Coaching. There is a specific focus, a new role, and a series of steps to realize this goal. This will include Resume preparation, Interview preparation, and how best to market and network to promote yourself to potential new employers.
Transformational Career Coaching is more extensive. It includes significant work upfront to develop crystal clear clarity around your purpose, prospects, value proposition and promise, your vision and values, your signature strengths and style, all in the context of the current business climate and social context across all sectors of business - private, public, conscious, NFP and NGO.
It involves stepping up as well as out into a new role so that you optimise the opportunity that a change in organization and role presents. Transformational Career Coaching is also a leadership journey to enable you to reflect on your past and embrace the highest possibilities for the future. It develops self-awareness, an objective view of your capacity to contribute, and places you on a strategic leadership pathway that demands greater authenticity and commitment.
This is also an intensive form of coaching, weekly or fortnightly over 3 months, to facilitate a speedier performance by an executive in a new role. The main focus is to quickly developing a birds-eye perspective on the demands of the role, immediate concerns – red flags, and to rapidly appreciate the interpersonal dynamics and cultural norms that surround the role.
The Executive Coach has a proven step-by-step methodology over a 100-Day period for the new Executive to accelerate their grasp of the most critical strategic business and leadership challenges. The new Executive is guided and supported to follow a step-by-step process which reinvigorates their new team or division – sometimes including a restructure – towards a new shared vision and set of aspirational outcomes as well as revised cultural norms.
The methodology includes strategic planning, organizational design, developing a trusted relationship with their new manager, getting to know their new direct reports to get a feel for their capabilities, preferences and aspirations, wide stakeholder engagement to get the lay of the land and the development of an orchestrated approach to the year ahead that sets new behavioural norms.
This intensive cycle of Executive Coaching ignites accelerated performance and strategic leadership development. It often follows with ongoing Leadership Coaching to guide and support the Executive to resolve personal challenges, overcome external obstacles and generate a high performance culture.
In small group coaching, the Executive Coach is also a facilitator of shared learning and spread wisdom amongst the members of the group. Groups may range from 4 to 9 and generally all fit a certain set of membership criteria that creates some alignment around the challenges they will face and opportunities they will field.
Groups may be based on gender, executive level, type of role, functional area or those who are dealing with a certain type of problem such as bullying or rejection. The first type of membership criteria generally suggests an extensive program of a year or more, while problem-contingent groups are generally more intensive and short term focused.
Small group coaching can also be extended to larger peer groups of 15-25 to spearhead innovation in organizations. They are often drawn from multiple functions and divisions to provide a microcosm of the organization. They are often asked to engage, explore and respond to a particular dilemma or disruption in the business model, market dynamic or technology platform.
In this case the Executive Coach is again both coach and facilitator, setting and protecting a safe open space process for engagement and exploration. The focus is not just on the particular strategic challenge but also on the organizational culture that is implicated in the resolution of the major concern, and the interpersonal dynamics within the group that inhibit genuine engagement. Thus this is once again a transformational experience that can equip these aspiring executives to take up Senior Executive roles in the near future.
Large Group Coaching takes the form of a Leadership Development Program that is content focused first and foremost. A series of workshops on a range of strategic and leadership topics are run on a repeating cyclical basis, often more than once to accommodate a large number of people while still providing a personal experience.
It is an ideal way to promulgate a particular strategic framework to create alignment across the organization while also investing time in developing personal authenticity and the development of leadership skills to navigate and resolve disruptive interpersonal dynamics. Whether such a program incorporates horizontal (skill-oriented) or vertical (leadership capacity) depends on the transformational leadership capacity of the Executive Coach/Facilitator.
The broader and deeper the content, the greater the opportunity to expand the leadership capacity across the group as a whole. Customized Leadership Development Programs may include organizational business processes such as strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, account management and performance management as well as emotional awareness, courageous authenticity, mindfulness and spiritual intelligence.
In large group coaching – often organization-wide – I do recommend some level of voluntary participation. The empowering nature of choice ensures active involvement. While the strategic business side of things generally needs to be mandatory, I suggest that executives have choice of subject matters from a series of leadership workshops run concurrently. This also has the advantage of offering elementary, intermediate, advanced and mastery levels of workshops to meet the current stretch zones of participants.
All Coaching Programs have merit. To be honest, I believe every Senior Executive should have an Executive Coach matched to their current situation and stretch zone. The benefits to the organization are immense in terms of realizing the substantial latent leadership capacity within. Most Executives take little time to reflect and learn from their life experiences whereas with an Executive Coach, this becomes a routine part of their personal development.
My view is supported by my PhD research findings where every single research participant, also an executive coaching client, moved a full stage in their leadership capacity in a single year. They also achieved remarkable results externally that they, in their own words, did not think were possible or even conceivable at the outset of their Leadership Coaching Program.
In my experience there are significant impediments to leadership growth in organizations that can be overcome through Strategic Holistic Leadership Coaching of Senior Executives. This will in and of itself not only result in organizational development but has been proven to lead to organizational renewal, personal transformation and extraordinary business performance.
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Antoinette Braks is a Transformational Executive Coach in Strategic and Holistic Leadership with 25+ years global experience.
In recent years she has coached more than 50 Senior Executives, designed and led many Strategic Off-sites for Executive Teams, and Leadership Development Programs in organizations with outstanding results.
Antoinette has an MBA from London Business School and is currently completing her PhD at the MGSM in Leadership Transformation. Previously she has led Leadership Capital Solutions with Korn Ferry Asia Pacific, People and Culture with Shell in Latin America and Africa, and as GM People with Vector in New Zealand.
Antoinette is also the bestselling author of Executive SOS outlining the 7 Proven Steps to Set Up Your Own Strategic Operating System. This book shows you how to rise above the noise, get off the treadmill and lead your division and stakeholders as an Inspiring Strategic Leader, showcasing a number of success stories from her executive clients.