Coaching Articles

What is Executive Coaching?

By Jeremy Robinson
Executive Coach
Robinson Capital Corp.

Coaching is a one-on-one development process formally contracted between a professional coach and a manager to increase the manager’s leadership performance.

The coaching relationship is a partnership between a coaching client, and a professional coach.

The different phases of Executive Coaching include:

  1. Initial contracting and information gathering:  the coach and client work to understand shared expectations, goals and agreements.
  2. Assessment and feedback: the coach uses different assessments and gathers data about the client, and then provides feedback to the client using this data.
  3. Development Planning and implementation:  coach and client move from interpretations about data to action plans.  The client might meet with his sponsor to discuss the Development Plan.  Adjustments are made to original goals, and implementation meetings are held.
  4. Evaluation and Follow-up: all parties review progress and lessons learned, and plan next steps.

Some key elements of Executive Coaching are that self-awareness is linked with business results; an action plan is put into place, tested and modified; goals are based on both personal need of the client and organizational need; the coaching process is structured and uses proven assessment tools and feedback from key stakeholders to make it work.

Your Executive Coach uses powerful questions, active listening, observation, assessment tools, feedback from bosses and organizational stakeholders, hypotheses about their own understanding of a client as well as observational and assessment tools, to make the process work.

Executive coaching targeting emotional intelligence is aimed at increasing emotional intelligence skills and behaviors of client to improve self-awareness so they can be better leaders, communicate and self-manage better.

Robinson Capital’s approach using EI (Emotional Intelligence) in coaching is practically based.  First we help you become a keener self-observer.  Using self-observation skills, we help you increase your already robust strength areas of emotional intelligence that impact job performance.

As you learn what increases your emotional intelligence, you also learn to anticipate people or work tasks which most test you.  We teach you how to apply EI in either extinguishing or diminishing those behaviors that are holding back performance.  By both increasing your EI strengths and helping to extinguish non-EI deficits, executives find they are far more effective, and not surprisingly, happier, in their work.  Even more convincingly, stakeholders like bosses and other organizational leaders, are pleasantly surprised by the behavior changes most of our clients make using our practical, straight-forward approach.

One-on-one coaching is at its heart, a facilitated helping relationship.  The coach uses his skill to understand the client. The coach holds the client accountable for making changes actionable that the client talks about.  Coaching is both personalized learning and leadership development training.  Coaches both support and challenge clients, calibrating where to challenge, where to support and what works best with this clients.

Executive Coaching is different from Personal Coaching in that it is contracted by an organization to support the development of a manager or leader in order to both help that executive develop and drive business results forward.  Whereas Personal Coaching is a two-person relationship, Executive Coaching is a triadic relationship involving the boss, organizational stakeholders and the organization. The coach uses assessment data from surveys such as the Myers Briggs MBTI Q Interpretative Report or the Bar On Emotion Intelligence EQ i 125 report to deepen the clients’ self-awareness and hone in on specific steps the client needs to take to get to the next level in his development.

Coaching sessions are conducted mostly in person, although sometimes on the phone if the client has a busy travel schedule.  At first, your coach will lead the way in asking questions and facilitating the learning process.  As you become more invested in the coaching process, you will take more risks in talking about personal or career frustrations, and challenges, as well as some of the bigger dreams you have. Your coach is not on board to rescue you from your dilemmas. Your coach partners with you to meet these challenges in working smarter.  Applying coaching can raise the level of your game to heights you might not be able to reach alone.

Great coaching requires not only an excellent coach who fits well with a coaching client, but clients who are committed to making the coaching an exceptional experience.

For further information, read “How can I be a great coaching client?” by Jeremy Robinson.

How can I be a great coaching client?

By Jeremy Robinson,
Executive Coach
Robinson Capital Corp.

How can you be a successful coaching client?  Prioritize coaching.  Prioritize coaching. Prioritize coaching.  Indeed, it’s like the old joke in the real estate world about location.

Prioritizing coaching will greatly increase the odds of your coaching goals being accomplished.

Prioritizing coaching works two ways.  You can prioritize it intellectually and emotionally by owning it and truly making it yours.  We’ll discuss that in a moment.

On a logistical level, you prioritize coaching by scheduling coaching sessions when you are at your most receptive.  Turn off the blackberry, cell phone or computer.  Don’t allow interruptions from your administrative assistant or others.  For your coaching session to become an island of self-reflection you need to keep yourself away from those interruptions.  If your coaching session is on the phone, don’t spend your session talking with your coach while you are simultaneously checking your email, surfing the web or proofing work documents.

Clear your mind for each coaching session. Since it helps to remember what you discussed in the previous session, take notes either during or after your session or if your coach keeps notes ask him to send those to you under the Private Option in Outlook email.

Plan for your coaching session in advance.  Think about your short and long-term goals.  Communicate early on in the coaching session what your agenda is for that session, to help your coach manage time for that appointment.  Be open to your coach’s agenda.  Tell your coach about achievements and accomplishments you’ve experienced since the last conversation.  Talk about what you might be procrastinating on or any frustrations you’re experiencing.  Take risks in what you’re saying.  Don’t avoid important work topics.  Every avoided work topic of importance is a potential leak in the coaching boat. If you avoid too many topics, you will spring so many leaks your coaching boat won’t make it to your desired destination.

As you talk, own the conversation.  Don’t be afraid to talk about big dreams or challenges you’re experiencing.  There are no dumb questions in this process. It’s important to have definite goals but sometimes it’s also important to wonder about things. Your coach is there to partner with you in both the goal-setting, goal achievement process and the wondering.  Allow your coach to become an expert on you.  Your coach’s expertise will grow as you talk in more depth about your work and life experiences.

Coaching is different from other forms of management consultation. Most management consulting is about collecting data and providing information.  The management consultant is an expert. Coaching is more about providing inspiration than information.  The coach is an expert on the coaching process and what coaching involves.  But in terms of the coaching content, the story of your work life and your career, your coach is a co-expert along with you, on where you are going and what is going on with you.  Your feedback to your coach about what is working and what isn’t will help your coach do an even better job. Honest feedback from both the client and the coach continues to refresh coaching and keep it dynamic.

Your coach will ask you questions about your life. This is not done to turn coaching into an interview.  This is done to help you and your coach understand your strengths as well as your challenges.  In learning a client’s habits and patterns, it is often useful to have data from across that person’s life.  For example, if procrastination about getting projects done is a coaching issue, your coach will want to know what other areas of your life include procrastination, and how you have been successful in breaking through some of these procrastination patterns, either inside or outside of work.

Coaching involves assignments and home work.  Your coach expects you to complete the assessments which are part of this engagement.  There are usually targeted reading assignments. Your coach may offer additional assignments, customized to your development.  Because this is a coaching partnership, you do not have to comply with every assignment your coach requests.  You can say no. You can also counter-offer to do or read something else.

As stated at the beginning, we can’t say enough about the importance of prioritizing coaching appointments. If you need to move the date or time of your appointment, please notify your coach by email or phone 48 hours in advance.  Failure to provide 48-hour notification of cancellation may mean you will forfeit that coaching session depending on the type of agreement you have with your coach. More importantly, too many moved or cancelled sessions usually is a sign that coaching is not being given enough priority.  Too many cancelled or moved coaching appointments will work to defeat any development goals you are trying to achieve, and your coaching won’t be able to gain the necessary traction for success.

What you say in the room to your coach, stays in the room.  Your coach will keep the private and personal details of your coaching conversation confidential.  The exception is that your coach may be required by law to report any illegal activities you describe in a coaching session.  You should also be aware that any written or audio records of your coaching sessions can be subpoenaed in any legal action. If you are worried about this, you can ask your coach to turn over all his notes to you at the end of your coaching engagement, or ask him to shred that information.  The other exception to confidentiality is that your coach will ask you to share a development plan he writes with you with your boss and possibly, HR sponsor (depending upon the organization). At the outset and through out the process, your coach will ask you to share business short-term, long term and development goals with your boss or HR sponsor.  Your boss and HR sponsor will be kept in the loop about the coaching process. Being kept in the loop means details will be communicated about when you have been meeting with the coach, what assessments have been conducted, and if coaching is going well or not well.  If things are not going well, your coach will discuss this with you before any contacts are made with boss or others to give you a chance to repair this problem.

The big idea here is that coaching is designed to be a plus. Coaching should be something which benefits your career.  Coaching works best when Clients are high performers.  Coaches are in the business of acting as accelerators in Executives careers.  At the very minimum coaches are in the business of first doing no harm.

Now that you’ve heard what it takes to be a great client, make it happen.  Let yourself own the coaching process.  Research on ROI and Executive Coaching shows that it generates more than 100% return on each dollar invested.  Let your coach into all those short-term and long-term career plans and goals that have been floating through your brain.  Bring all of yourself to coaching.  If you have a relaxed or playful side, engage that part too. For most work to be successful, we’ve found it helps to relax and be somewhat playful. If your grip is too tight on the bat, the racket or the club in any sport you are competing, you will cut down on your effectiveness and power.  Please keep this in mind as you are working with your coach.

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