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   Executive Summary

Executive coaching is a personal and professional development process for managers. Through a one-on-one relationship with the executive coach, it focuses on helping an executive or manager develop their skills. It is used for developing high-potential managers and for helping a newly-hired manager to make a successful transition into the company. It can also be used for managers who have some performance problems that need attention. Coaching provides an opportunity for a manager to explore in an objective and professional way those issues, attitudes, and behaviors that are important to his/her performance and career. Dr. Lakin brings his background in clinical and organizational psychology to help facilitate this process.

What is Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching is an ongoing relationship between a manager or executive and the coach. It involves a commitment that can run as long as a year with frequent one-on-one coaching meetings, assessment, feedback from others, and focused performance counseling and monitoring. The "coach" often acts as messenger, teacher, facilitator, priest, and sometimes, provocateur to create change. Coaching provides an opportunity for a manager to explore in an objective and professional way those issues, attitudes, and behaviors that are important to his/her performance and career.

When is Executive Coaching useful?

Sometimes high-potential managers or executives can benefit from a personalized development program. They can grow faster through the focus and intensity of a one-on-one program. At other times, a manager or executive has a performance problem that is not likely to respond to a workshop or "charm school." Yet, that manager is talented. He or she is an asset that the company wants to keep and develop. Such situations are ideal for executive coaching.

What is the Executive Coaching process?

Executive coaching involves the following steps:

  • Assessment ("What is the problem? What can be measured to monitor progress?")
  • Feedback ("This is what you and others have said about yourself. What do you think?")
  • Action Plan ("What are you willing to do? How do you want me to help you?)
  • Action ("Here's the next step. What happened? What did you learn? What is next?")
  • Measurement ("Let's see what you have accomplished.")
  • Follow-up ("How do you keep the progress going yet phase out the psychologist?")

The assessment process can involve discussions with superiors, peers, and subordinates. It may involve an objective "360-degree Survey" instrument as a source of initial information and an excellent standard for assessing progress in the measurement stage. Personality and style tests may also be used to learn as much as possible about an individual.

The results of the assessment process are shared in the feedback step. Sometimes the feedback can be gentle and help the individual accept the need for change. In such cases, it is fairly easy to gain a psychological contract between the manager and the psychologist to work on specific issues. However, sometimes the feedback process must be direct and almost confrontational to awake the individual to the seriousness of a problem and to provoke the manager into action. Ideally, such "tough love" is not the desired approach, but in reality, it is not uncommon. In such cases, the coaching role can be passed to others if the manager blames the "messenger". In those situations, the psychologist often becomes the coach's coach.

The next three steps involve determining actions, encouraging through the process, and measuring results. Usually, the coach will meet monthly with the executive. These meetings are face-to-face and additional communication can be done over the phone. The goal is to keep the executive focused and involved in making personal changes. The measurements are also intended to reinforce positive change while pointing out possible trouble areas.

Finally, the coaching relationship must end. The executive must learn to fish, as the old proverb goes. At this point, the coaching role changes to teaching the executive how to continue the learning process without direct coaching. Sources of learning and personal support are identified. Short and long term needs are identified. The goal is to help the manager commit to the concept of continuous personal and professional development.

Last modified: October, 2014
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