Should leaders in corporate jobs look for coaching? In 30 years in corporate leadership coaching was never considered. Is this normal?
I am now a coach, but one still looking for answers. I spent 30 years in leadership in retail corporations.
I believe corporate execs need coaching to achieve peak performance and results and in 30 years I never encountered a colleague who looked at coaching. They relied on company training and informal networks and mentoring. I am looking to canvass thoughts to understand this better. Was my experience common?
I have come from the corporate world and many leaders don't look to invest in themselves via personal development or coaching. They look to the company to provide for them. Are their compelling reasons to change this view?
Hello, Tony. This is a very valid question. Some executives need coaching. My background is in counseling psychology and I have provided guidance/coaching to many professionals and aspirants alike. It is true that numerous leaders do not seek coaching for themselves, but recommend it for their direct reports. What I have observed is some execs think they do not need coaching while others embrace it. Coaching and training can help exes enhance performance. Depending on the company for this type of development, however may prove ineffective depending on the quality of the leadership programs that are offered in house.
I was amazed at have a coach helped me in my business and in my personal life. Remember if you decide to hire one. Do your research, interview them, and make sure you they can contribute to your success. A coach keeps you focused on task and goals. If you talk to a coach and they start by telling you some of the deficiencies they see in you with out meeting you run!! A coach is there to inspire and help you to reach your goals.
The other idea would to find a mentor. Similar but this can be someone that is on our field that had done well for themselves or who you would like to be like.
One of the differences between the corporate work and the private work is the difference in resources. Large corporations have more money to spend. If I need something, I would order it from the company.
When I worked at several companies in the 1990s, we would get all this personal development training through the company. Now that I have my own company, if I want training like this or a coach, I have to provide it myself.
Also, when I am my own boss, my success or failure rest squarely on my shoulders so I am more willing to invest in my success. At a corporation, I am not a free agent with his own career at stake.
Personally, if any of the coaches are reading this, this a great opportunity to pitch an personal coach wellness plan to a corporate entity. For X dollars a month, you would be on retainer available to coach the employees of Y company. Kind of like concierge medical service.
Tony in my experience there seems to be two factors that inhibit coaching. First, people are just not aware coaching is an option. In our Train the Trainer courses we discuss coaching as an option to consider when there is a performance problem. In virtually all cases, the students will comment they, and the managers sending students to them, had never considered coaching as a way to improve performance. By educating our students about the value of coaching, they return to their companies aware training is not the best solution to every problem.
Second, I have noticed it seems to be an ego thing with males…asking for help is a sign of weakness. Women appear to be much more willing to accept coaching for themselves and offer it to their subordinates.
Hi Tony, I'm a leadership advisor, helping leaders to be more influential with those they lead and serve.
And from my perspective, I also agree with Nigel, most men (and many women too) have a natural desire to feel and be seen as powerful and successful and Its very unnatural in our culture to be honest about how you really feel and whats actually happening behind the scenes.
For this reason it requires us as coaches/advisors to be much more intuitively alert and switched on and able to communicate and build trust with leaders, so that they are able to be real.
This is how I've been able to build my business, by learning how to cut through the BS and get right to the core of the person often within 30 minutes of meeting them and empower them to see and be honest about their personal and professional challenges, weaknesses, wants and desires.
I've had to put my needs second and put my prospects needs first and REALLY care about them and in doing this its been incredible what has happened. I've been in networking events, on planes, trains, you name it and within 30-60 minutes of causally chatting with a person, by the end of the conversation they've asked me if I can work with them. I always ask them what inspired them to want to work with me and they always say it was the depth of authenticity and honesty with which you spoke to me that inspired me to want that for myself.
So from my personal experience, we need to put our best foot forward as leaders and role model how we lead. And in doing so, we can define a new culture.
P.S, Also bare in mind I'm from the UK and we are VERY reserved and what I'm doing is working here!
Bottom line, coaching has been seen as something that organizations could not afford so it was not pushed as much as training. However, now there is much research to show there is significantly higher return on investment from coaching than training.
Just one point... the main role of coaching is to get feedback, and the number one criteria is that it come from someone not emotionally involved. Metaphorically, when I flew my 6-passenger airplane and both fuel gauges read empty while I was 5,000' over northern Colorado, they weren't kidding. They gave me accurate feedback, and they didn't care if I would like it or not. They just told me exactly what I needed to know. Right up to the moment the engine quit and I was flying on Fumes and a Prayer!
Corporate coaching will do the same... tell you that you're climbing great, soaring to new heights... or that you'd better pay attention to the quality of your product or service, or to your cash flow.
I think coaching for company and business leaders is essential because you can be too close to your own game to see how your swinging. It's your baby. Rather than hearing what people thought he wanted to hear, what the emperor really needed all along was what he got from the boy at the end of the parade... someone to tell him the truth. He had no clothes!
Certainly, executives need a coach. This is different from a mentor which is also valuable. It is better if the coach is from outside the organization in order to maintain objectivity. Can you imagine an elite athlete without a coach? People at the top of their game need still need to be held accountable. Think about the difference when you work out with a trainer and without one. Which workout was better for achieving your goals? Same in business.
I have been a leader for 30 years and I got my first of 12 coaches when I was 25. I have reached executive level, done some amazing things, and still have 2 coaches now. I contribute my success to my wonderful coaches. I tell you this not for ego reasons but to give you an example that coaching works, if leaders just reach out. In fact I now have my own leadership coaching business. Leaders that are looking for more have reached out to me and I have helped numerous leaders reach higher levels of success then they thought possible.
When I have asked them why the reached out to me they say things like:
- I was fed up with getting passed over for a promotion, raise, bonus...
- I am stuck
- I know something is missing.
But you are right, Tony leaders don't ask. They believe they are good enough or are just fine. There real reason they don't reach out... it's FEAR.
If you find out what they are afraid of then you can help them, but that is the trick, they are afraid to admit it to you so you can't get to them.
To break through the outer layer you need to build a trusting relationship with the perspective client, which takes time and patience. When you have build this relationship you then put your detective hat on and begin to peck away at the FEAR question slowly. Once you get there the rest falls in place. They will be better for it.
Hope this helps,
Thanks Amara and I appreciate your thoughts. Education is definitely the key to unlocking the benefits of a coach to many in the corporate world.
Coaching is definitely key to success. Despite the functional role, everyone benefits from coaching. Coaching is nurturing!
Having been in the corporate arena the label of "coach" has gotten somewhat of a bad rap. Coaching is about personal development whereas training and executive have a focus on development of skills. While the two are closely aligned since personal development cannot be measured it is difficult for businesses (and their executives) to justify hiring a "coach".
We have heard of "mentors" in the corporate world that serve a similar support role as a coach, but the thought of compensating a mentor would transform the social role into a market role. A paid for service of this type still seems not acceptable in the corporate arena to date.
It's a tough nut to crack... and I believe until the belief systems and structures of the corporate world change... the role of the "coach" will have difficulty being accepted.
relevant metaphor: airline safety at start of every flight has been consistent for decades: When air masks drop from ceiling, you put yours on ... 1st, before helping anyone else. Why? Because you are of little good to anyone when not breathing.
And so Tony, for eons the most successful people on earth (since Adam!) have all had a coach. Without exception. And you accurately described the rest ;-) who wonder/point/blame/label/judge why it is so hard (for them) doing it all on their own. Funny, as everyone knows we all write our own scripts for the movie that plays in our head.
I work exclusively with the 1st group. And there is no competition there, as they are ready, willing, able and enthusiastically pay full fee and on time. Yes, in another post on this site, I did admit it took me decades to realize what and how to change in my system. Never looked back since.
Tony, How soon will you let me know how I can be of service to you now?
Coaching - as the question refers to - is about personal development. Some leaders bring high levels of personal attributes to an organisation. Some don't.
One would feel that the incumbent met the required attributes at their interview.
If things change internally that generate the need for NEW attributes (larger team to lead, more responsibilities, etc), then the company should provide the coaching to meet those attributes.
If, however, the leader is falling short in some of the prescribed attributes for the position, then the leader should bring themselves up to the required standard.
A simplistic, but effective way of looking at it.
I think for many it maybe ego and the feeling of 'Ive made it!', I have had to eat my fare share of 'humble pie' over the years, much of it served to me cold and by people I would have previously considered unimportant, THEY schooled me in how to open my mind, and that everyone has something to offer....take Susan Boyle as an example!