There are several key concepts that drive our Executive Coaching work.
1. Hold up a mirror
The partnership between client and coach is characterized by an unusually high level of trust. There is a degree of honesty and vulnerability that occurs between client and coach that is rare in the business world.
Coaching is most successful when you genuinely want to learn about yourself and are willing to see yourself in ways that may not be fully obvious to you and also may not be communicated by other colleagues.
As a coach I am committed to growth and success for my clients. My intention is to create a compassionate, non-judgmental environment to explore sometimes difficult, but necessary, issues.
Holding up a mirror does not, by any means, imply that most of the news is going to be bad. On the contrary, coaching often focuses on helping a client own strengths that he or she may be taking for granted or undervaluing.
2. Say what needs to be said
One of my key strengths as an executive coach is to facilitate essential conversations that clients haven’t had before.
The client and key stakeholders (for example, managers, reports or team members) start talking to each other in new ways. They get clarity so that the right feedback can be given so that the client can really hear it.
I’m focused on making sure we have the real conversation and not just the ‘nicey-nice’ conversation.
Often the feedback I get is: “Wow I’ve never had such a good conversation with my manager.” Or “I’ve never been able to talk that directly with my employee.”
People get afraid and they hold back. I teach clients how have difficult conversations in a way that people can hear. Appropriate feedback is not about being blunt. It’s about creating a mindset where the client feels: “I’m not afraid to say what needs to be said.”
I’m willing to be honest. Sometimes it’s messy. But the fact is you’ll get the truth from me. We’ll stand in the fire together and we’re going to work through it.
3. Build relationships to build leadership
A significant focus of coaching is helping clients to build relationships – and the skills and personal qualities that enable executives to build relationships.
These relationship-building skills enable to the executive to become more effective inside and outside of their organizations.
Business relationships are built like other important relationships: by engaging in authentic dialogue about what matters most. When you approach conversations with those you work closely with as open exchange – being open to learning something new or seeing things in new ways, you have the conversations that really matter.
My strength is helping clients figure out how to have conversations, how to relate to people, and how to connect to people. I help clients stand in the other person’s shoes: what would you want to hear if you were the other person? What would help make the other person more effective?
4. High performing executives know how to give, receive and utilize feedback.
Successful executives are particularly adept at understanding what the organization needs and know how to communicate to others what needs to be done to achieve goals. Often that takes the form of providing feedback – to those who report to you as well as those who do not.
Giving direct, honest feedback is one of the key tools of becoming a powerful leader. You have to be able to give people feedback to improve their performance. It’s important that you’re able to be direct about what you’re working on without wondering if the other person is going to get angry or you feel “I can’t say that.”
I work with clients to help them to clarify the right feedback to provide and teach them how to do it in a way that is safe, professional and effective.
5. Expand your comfort zone and act with courage.
A large part of my role as a coach is supporting clients while they stretch into new areas or learn new skills that might be uncomfortable or unfamiliar to them – often things they were never trained to do, but need to learn how to do with excellence if they are to fully realize their potential.
Areas might include helping technical experts to think more strategically and consider what being a true leader looks like and how they need to act to fully step into a leadership role. It might also include learning how to hold others accountable, provide feedback and coaching, and to have difficult conversations when needed.