What do people like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Eric Schmidt have in common? Obviously, they are exceedingly successful, all CEO’s and leaders in their fields – titans, you might say. Another thing they have common though, is that all of them have sought the help of an executive coach.
Coaching is not just for the rich and powerful, or CEOs, however. It is for anyone who wants to grow – whether it is to get to the next level of your career, to improve as a leader, to sharpen management skills, or change your image, coaching can help you get there. As Bill Gates says in his 2013 TEDTalk, “Everyone needs a coach. It doesn't matter whether you're a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player. We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve.”
Eric Schmidt said he once thought, “Why would I need a coach? Am I doing something wrong? …How could a coach advise me if I’m the best person in the world at this?” But as Schmidt goes on to say, “That’s not what a coach does.”
There was a time, when coaches were brought into organizations to “fix” people but that is rarely the case anymore. Executive and leadership coaches work with clients to help them achieve their goals, unlock potential, gain self-awareness, and act as a sounding board. Coaches help those who are motivated to improve their performance, not to provide advice on how to do their job.
Here are some specific leadership benefits coaching can provide:
Heightened self-awareness: Coaches help people uncover their blind spots and see themselves how others see them. In fact, as leaders rise in seniority, their self-awareness is likely to diminish because they get less performance feedback than they used to. Coaches help them gain clarity on areas for development.
Improved communication – When you increase self-awareness, you have a better understanding of how others see you and that positively impacts the way you communicate
Greater resilience – Coaching helps you broaden your perspective by having a sounding board to bounce ideas off of or having someone that asks questions that take your thinking in a new direction. When your perspectives open up, you see greater possibility and this builds resilience because it becomes clear that opportunities abound.
Agility – Coaches help leaders cope with change and transition. They enable clients to discover and explore opportunities and harness their imagination to create new options, which enables faster, better decision making.
Improved motivation – Coaches help build self-control and discipline, empower clients to be responsible for their own success and increase their emotional engagement.
Higher levels of empathy and improved relationships – In addition to greater self-awareness, coaching helps leaders strengthen other areas of emotional intelligence like recognizing and responding to social cues and building connections with others, which in turn, increases empathy.
Goal achievement – As in sports, coaches help clients keep their “eyes on the prize.” That is, whatever the long- and short-term goals that are the clients’ stated objectives, coaches can be there to hold their feet to the fire, or merely ask the questions to keep them on track.
Beyond the benefits to the individual leader, coaching offers immense benefits to the organization. Coaching has a compounding effect. A leader’s performance of course, affects their team. The better a leader, the higher performing team they will have. In research done by one Fortune 500 company*, they found that overall productivity and employee satisfaction were the areas most impacted by executive coaching (which then impacts everything from customer satisfaction to employee engagement to financial results.)
Executive and leadership coaches come in all types and sizes, just like the clients who hire them. The one thing we all have in common is a strong desire to see our clients succeed.
Whether you see yourself as a titan of industry like Bill, Oprah and Eric, an executive ready for the next challenge, or someone who just wants to improve their performance and be better, coaching may be for you. Just one question: How motivated are you? If the answer falls somewhere between very and as much as I have ever been for anything in my whole life, click here and let's see if we are a fit for each other.
Executive Briefing: Case Study on the ROI of Executive Coaching, Merrill C. Anderson, Ph.D., MetrixGlobal, LLC