Watching sports over the weekend, I was impressed by the recognition given to the coaches’ contributions. They had major impact on which team won or lost the game. In business, we have “executive coaches” for senior executives and for teams. What struck me is there is a significant difference in the perception of a coach’s role in business. Too often in business, a coach is viewed as a strategy only when an executive is failing but the organization is not ready to make a replacement. This practice certainly is effective but it should not be viewed as the only use of a coach.
A good coach should be able to maximize the effectiveness of an individual or team. Rather than use this resources on an executive of questionable talent, a business will attain a greater ROI by focusing the coaching efforts on high potential leaders or teams who will generate larger returns for the business.
One of my surprises as a new HR leader was the amount of time I spend coaching. My experience in all three organizations where I was the top HR executive was that 40 % of my time on the job was spent coaching the CEO and their C-Level executive teams. I had always assumed these individuals were squared away people, with histories of success to call upon who would be very confident in making each and every decision. Needless to say, I was wrong. These individuals were all human and needed coaching and feedback to enhance their skillset, improve their judgement, and help them make better decisions. Just like the “Emperor Who Had New Clothes”, everyone needs honesty and someone who will provide “constructive feedback” in a caring, straightforward manner.
When you are the “boss”, it often does not happen. People are guarded and often tell the executive what they think that person wants to hear. It is lonely at the top and this is even more reason for an effective executive coach. In today’s work place, there is a big demand for immediate results. Coaching could be part of the solution.