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? 

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