Why do C-level executives need coaching?

Is there a simple answer to why the failure rate for executives is increasing? The numbers say, according to a Harvard Business Review study, that 2 out of 5 new CEOs fail in their first 18 months on the job. A Center for Creative Leadership,  study alarmingly points out that in the past two decades, 30% of Fortune 500 CEOs have lasted less than 3 years. Top executives failure rate is as high as 75% and rarely less than 30%.  

Would it be safe to say that the business environment has become more challenging in recent years? Sure, but isn’t also true that what were historically considered “soft skills” have now become more important? Could be. Yet, it’s equally possible that upwardly mobile junior executives might not be getting sufficiently schooled in the ability to communicate effectively. Research shows that 82% of newly appointed leaders derail because they fail to build partnerships with subordinates and peers. Communication is key to building trust and fostering commitment and engagement with the key members in the organization. 

The most cost effective and quickest way to create and develop skills to enhance performance is to engage an executive coach. It’s like having a personal trainer who can help you identify areas that need to be worked on and, determine the best way to develop those skills. That's what's hard for a high power executive to embrace. As an old country western song by Mac Davis said: "It's hard to be humble when you are perfect in every way."

What are some of the skills that C-level executives need today?

A recent study by the Stanford Business School found that nearly 43% of CEOs ranked handling conflict as the highest area in which they need the most personal development. "How to manage effectively through conflict is clearly one of the top priorities for CEOs, as they are juggling multiple constituencies every day. When you are in the CEO role, most things that come to your desk only get there because there is a difficult decision to be made — which often has some level of conflict associated with it. Stakeholder overload is a real burden for today's CEO, who must deftly learn how to negotiate often conflicting agendas." 

Another recent 2015 study by the American Management Association, "Business Skills That Set High-Performing Organizations Apart,”  details the skill sets necessary for C-level executives to raise the bar on company performance. Here is the list:

  • Conflict management,
  • Sharing leadership/delegation,
  • Influencing others,
  • critical thinking,
  • problem solving,
  • decision making,
  • execution, and  
  • coaching.  

If you think about it, all of these skills involve people and communication. Successful CEO leadership requires astuteness about others: their emotional and strategic personal drivers; their self-interest, overt and covert. These relationship competencies rest on a foundation of self-knowledge, self-awareness. And you can’t know the truth about another without knowing it about yourself. It also requires a higher level of communication effectiveness.

Can executive coaching help you? 

The decision to engage an executive coach can be both a personal and business decision. If you are engaging a coach for yourself, it's a very personal decision. If you are engaging a coach for one of your key team members, then it's a business decision.

Coaching can help you grow and improve performance, reduce or eliminate your blind spots and be open to constructive feedback. You will not only reduce the likelihood of failure, and premature burnout but a coach also provides an atmosphere in which you can express fears, failures and dreams.  

The process can be as varied as there are executive coaches and leaders. Yet, although I always individualize my coaching to the needs of the executive, the process always includes five basic phases which help achieve the agreed upon objectives. I see them as phases of coaching. But they are not linear. Many of them go on continually, like the weaving of a tapestry.  

What is included in my coaching?

In my coaching I help you define your core challenges, see where you’re starting from, and where you want to go. You will not only gain you new skills, but I will support you in transferring those skills back into your everyday work performance. I'll give you feedback on your progress and help you untangle your most challenging issues. Here is a description of how I design a typical executive coaching program.

1.  Becoming partners. The essence of executive coaching is the forging of a trusted relationship in which the executive coach and the leader become conversational partners. A dialogue develops, a systematic process of inquiry, discovery, reflection, and learning that helps the executive get unstuck from their dilemmas. This includes different kinds of assessments, feedback, contracting, and the setting of measurable goals.

2.  Action Planning. It goes beyond understanding of dilemmas. It includes helping the leader get to action, become unstuck, addressing challenges, having a plan.  

3. In the moment coaching. Many executives find this most useful, others shy away from it. It requires the coach's presence alongside the executive while conducting business activities and interactions to offer coaching in real time and real challenging situations. It includes a private reflection on the interactions.  

4. Weekly or bi-weekly coaching sessions. This can be done in person or over the phone or other electronic means. Coaching opens a space for inquiry and reflection. This is one of the most important parts of coaching. It includes evaluating the leader’s effectiveness, strengths, competencies and challenges, as well as acknowledging gains and planning next steps.

5. Evaluation of gains and ending of the contract. Although evaluation is an integral part of each coaching session, there are specific planned times for evaluation of the coaching process. Progress is measured by where the leader is in relation to those goals. Also, by how others see progress. After the agreed upon term comes to an end, a broader evaluation of what has been accomplished happens. 

Smart CEOs and progressive organizations realize the value of good executive coaching and invest in it. When you factor time saved in ineffective meetings, misunderstandings, conflicts, lack of engagement, and resistance, executives tell me they calculate the ROI in their investment at at least at 150%. If you include the stress and emotional toll it takes away, and the relationships and connections gained, it becomes priceless.

Take Action!

What about you? Are you being successful? Are you going to last in your position? Or are you blind to issues that could derail you? Do you have all the skills that are needed to be excellent in your job?  Explore a customized program based on the latest neuroscientific and leadership development knowledge. It's created to meet your individual challenges, needs, and goals. It includes an evaluation process that will highlight your strengths and weaknesses. Together we will be able to craft the best development path tailored specifically for you. 

If you are considering engaging in improving your performance, you can learn more details about my Executive Coaching Program. Please give me a call or CONTACT me to discuss your goals and expectations. I'm currently offering an introductory evaluation session at a reduced rate. Let's explore if  we are a good match for executive coaching. I would love to be your coach.

For the next two weeks I'm also offering a FREE 1/2 hour call to the first 10 leaders that CONTACT me. We will explore your present biggest challenges and gain clarity on what you could do about them.  

Remember, engaging executive coaches like me is what successful executives do.

Don't wait longer. Take action NOW!