The Importance of Having an Executive Coach
I’m often asked why someone needs an executive coach. In my experience, it’s often a gravity event that leads someone to benefit from a coaching relationship. It could be a big presentation to the board, or having to terminate a long-term employee, or a problem with a peer, or even a big promotion with additional responsibilities. A coaching arrangement typically follows two parallel tracks:
- Having a thought partner or sounding board to help you think through your career and
- Skill building to help you grow as a leader
An executive coach provides you with someone who doesn’t have any political skin in the game and doesn’t benefit from the decisions made at the office. By having a coach who is outside of your environment, you have a neutral third-party to discuss highly confidential matters. This helps you navigate those sticky events throughout your career and helps put a strategy in place to think through the outcomes to success. After the event, it’s helpful to do a postmortem. We like to think through what landed well and what didn’t. It’s invaluable to have someone along the way to help navigate these major career events.
Executive coaching is also there to help you realize or become the best leader possible. To identify your leadership style, and prioritize where you’re strong and where you need to get better. This part of the process involves skill building. This could involve working on delegation, or time management, or team building, or presentation skills or planning/strategy. As coaches, we meet each client where they are. Every assignment is unique and each is different.
I often see the textbook situation where a technically gifted individual has been promoted to leading a function or department. Technical skills have little to do with leading a team. The best accountant isn’t always the best leader of accountants. The other example includes an individual who performs at a high level, but is wrecking ball in the department or within the team. They are often difficult to work with, hurt the feelings of their fellow team members and need to smooth out some of their rough edges. By having an executive coach, we are able to help these individuals navigate their careers and grow as leader.
Posted by Aaron Fulkerson, Partner and Chief Development Officer