Archive for June, 2013

Executive Coaching from the Executive’s Perspective

Not long ago I invited several CEOs and Presidents to share what executive coaching is as they experience it and define it. To continue this Series, here are their thoughts and commentary to Question 9.

Q 9:  What parameters or conditions need to be considered when executives from the same team are engaged in executive coaching?

“I don’t think you can take a standard formula and apply it to each person. Each person is going to need their own strategy and structure around which to be engaged in EC. Different things will work for different people; one size will not fit all.”

“The degree of respect, the degree of trust, the degree of fellowship among members of the group will influence people’s readiness and willingness to participate in EC.”

“The President should not be inquiring about them; like asking the coach, “What did they say”, or asking them how come they are not meeting with you (the coach) more regularly.”

“There needs to be a non-defensive attitude by the CEO. Not everyone is going to be pleased by everything the CEO does. This may come out in their coaching sessions. The CEO can’t give undue concern to this.”

“The CEO has to trust the process, trust the executive coach, and make it easy and OK for people to participate (in EC), or perhaps to not participate.”

“Define the roles and the process up front. I think they are different for a coaching engagement with an individual versus a team. Just think of the complexity involved regarding confidentiality when engaging a team…it is immense. So, the rules have to be different and clearly explained up front.”

“I think as the senior person who understands and values the EC process, I need to make sure that people don’t somehow feel unfairly punished if they have chosen not to engage in EC. Everyone grows and moves at their own pace…I have to help them find something to help move them developmentally forward that fits where they are at the moment.”

Next K&S: Leadership Alchemy blog entry Q 10:  How important (or relevant) is it that an executive coach be trained in business? …in psychology? …in human resources? …in some other discipline?  Why?

Executive Coaching from the Executive’s Perspective

Not long ago I invited several CEOs and Presidents to share what executive coaching is as they experience it and define it. To continue this Series, here are their thoughts and commentary to Question 8.

Q 8:  How important (or useful) is it for all members of an executive team to be simultaneously engaged in executive coaching?  Why? 

“If you have some members of an executive team who don’t want to participate, or are unwilling to participate, then I’m not sure it’s worth forcing them…they’ll just go through the motions and nothing worthwhile will happen.”

“I think that it tells you something about your team members to the extent they are not willing to engage with an executive coach.”

“One of the challenges that hadn’t occurred to me before is how difficult it must be to coach someone in isolation, divorced from first-hand knowledge of the context the person is in, and seeing the rest of the organization and the peers and colleagues and subordinates and superiors, and so on solely through the eyes of that individual.”

I would think that the hardest thing to pull off in a coaching context is where a coach ‘parachutes’ into an issue and is dealing with one individual executive and has to learn about and sort through the biases, the blinkers, the blind-spots, and the prelims the individual is seeing with. I have to wonder given the impediments and inhibitions that that puts on effectiveness, whether that is even ever worth doing…which is a thought that hadn’t occurred to me before.”

Next K&S: Leadership Alchemy blog entry Q 9:  What parameters or conditions need to be considered when executives from the same team are engaged in executive coaching?

Executive Coaching from the Executive’s Perspective

Not long ago I invited several CEOs and Presidents to share what executive coaching is as they experience it and define it. To continue this Series, here are their thoughts and commentary to Question 7.

Q 7:  What should the nature and extent of feedback to the organization be when executives are engaged in executive coaching?

“I think there needs to be some way of structuring feedback to the organization so that it doesn’t become personal or awkward for people, and still protects the confidentiality of any uncensored discussion the coach had with people.”

“I do think that coaches have some responsibility to the organization to report back. If we’re having an organizational issue that we are trying to solve, and some senior managers are not working in concert with our effort…that is, they are not representing the president’s message or position the right way, we ought to know that…that’s what we are paying for.”

“I think there needs to be a balance between what managers think they can do in an autonomous way and what they need to do to reach our company goals or to go in the direction that the President wants. If that is out of balance, then the president needs to know that. Hence, there needs to be some channel of appropriate and respectful feedback about what is perceived or thought about elsewhere in the organization.”

“Who invited the coach to the table? If it was the Board, then the coach needs to say up front to the Board that the engagement is between the executive and the coach, and then try to define the scope and limits of feedback to them up front about the executive…and the executive needs to know what the parameters and expectations are before engaging with the coach.”

“The coach has to be very skilled and alert so to avoid being trapped in the middle and/or manipulated into being a messenger between parties, especially when it’s the Board and the CEO. That’s why I think this whole notion of executive coaching, for me, requires very talented and uniquely prepared individuals.  Everybody is putting it on their resume now, and I’m going, “Wait a minute, this is a lot harder and more complicated than you think.”

Next K&S: Leadership Alchemy blog entry Q 8:  How important (or useful) is it for all members of an executive team to be simultaneously engaged in executive coaching?  Why? 

Executive Coaching from the Executive’s Perspective

Not long ago I invited several CEOs and Presidents to share what executive coaching is as they experience it and define it. To continue this Series, here are their thoughts and commentary to Question 6.

Q 6:  What is the nature and scope of confidentiality in an executive coaching engagement?

“Confidentiality is the foundation upon which an executive coaching relationship is based. Without confidentiality, the whole process does not work…it falls apart.”

“Confidentiality has to be at the absolute highest level and you (the coach) really only get one shot at that. If at any point I tell you something and somehow it leaks out and I find out, we’re done…absolutely done…you don’t get a second chance. And you will never be back to where you were.”

“Confidentiality means that the executive coach should not be carrying messages for anyone up or down the organization…not from the CEO and not to the CEO. The coach is not a communication link.”

“There are, I think, special circumstances when the coach should be released from confidentiality. I’m sure that your own professional psychology association has a Code of Ethics that contain guidelines about honoring, preserving, and breaching confidentiality. That’s part of why I trust someone with your background in this type of work.”

Next K&S: Leadership Alchemy blog entry Q 7:  What should the nature and extent of feedback to the organization be when executives are engaged in executive coaching?

Executive Coaching from the Executive’s Perspective

Not long ago I invited several CEOs and Presidents to share what executive coaching is as they experience it and define it. To continue this Series, here are their thoughts and commentary to Question 5.

Q 5:  What are 2-3 ‘pitfalls’ that executives should keep in mind when considering whether or not to participate in an executive coaching relationship?

“That the client isn’t me. The client is the company and its agenda. The executive coach is here to help me serve that agenda in the role I have to the best of my God-given ability.”

“They should remember that the executive coach is not an answer person, or a friend, and doesn’t solve problems. The executive coach is not Dear Abby…the executive needs to figure out how to solve the problem him or herself.”

“Don’t just assume that the caliber of available coaches is always good. There are a lot of people calling themselves executive coaches who are really unfit professionally, morally, and ethically to do this work. The coach is in a very powerful role; he or she needs to have their own internal guidance system so that they don’t cross the line…and it is a very thin line between good and bad coaching.”

Next K&S: Leadership Alchemy blog entry: Q 6:  What is the nature and scope of confidentiality in an executive coaching engagement?