From my consulting vantage point, it does appear that many organizations, in both the private and federal sectors, are embracing executive coaching as an option among the elements of their Leadership and Development Programs. As our workplaces become more fast-paced and complex, how does coaching fit with the future of work? We already realize that just as “instructor-led” training isn’t the best learning method for everyone, coaching has caveats to consider too. For example:
- What communication style is the coachee most comfortable with? As the workplace becomes more “virtual” what communication approaches will evolve as most productive for individuals in a coaching environment?
- As job responsibilities evolve and expand with continuous change, what assessments and self-reflection exercises will evolve to get to the heart of the coachee’s needs? Will new types of problems to solve, performance goals, personal issues, etc. influence the need for different types of coaching, assessments, observations, exercises and/or assignments?
- How frequently and through what channels will the coachee interact with peers, stakeholders, subordinates, customers, etc.? How will technology continue to help us with better connections?
- As our workplace cultures and positions evolve and continue to become more complex, it appears that more supervisors, managers and leaders will require a coaching competency skill set. Is it possible that having a personal coaching experience will not only offer the coachee an opportunity for development, but also provide an opportunity to learn what great coaching “looks like,” “sounds like,” and “feels like?”
Each involves a different approach to the coaching engagement, as well as a need for understanding how beliefs and goals relate to that type of coaching. For example, a “career coach” has a focus on career fulfillment where as an “executive coach” is focused on working with leaders faced with challenges in personal and professional growth, development, and change. Each involves a different approach and questions, as well as understanding of beliefs and goals. To get a better handle on where coaching might be in the year 2025, I’ve asked three of our very talented Executive Coaches to share their thoughts on the following questions. Here’s what they had to say:
How do you see Executive Coaching being integrated into the workplace of the future – 2025?
“The value placed on executive coaching, both by the executives and the organization as a whole, will continue to grow. Executive coaching will be considered an essential resource for mid to c-level executives and will continue to evolve from short-term professional development toward longer-term coaching relationships that span one or more years. Organizations will provide more assistance in identifying and contracting with executive coaches.” – Elaine Chaney
“Global Coaching Centers of Excellence will become more prevalent within organizations. Individual coaching engagements will be provided to high potential leaders and executives, using both internal coaches and external coaches. The focus will be to help leaders enhance competencies related to emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence, and executive presence. ROI will continue to be important.” – Nancy Corkle
“Executive Coaching will become increasingly common as a development option. Leaders may negotiate coaching as part of their “package” when they take on a new role, or when hired into a company. This is good for the company and for the individual leader – both during the 3-12 month leader assimilation time and beyond. The “stigma” that was associated with coaching several years ago is going away and the attitude toward executive coaching is much more positive. Additionally, I believe that companies will start to offer programs that teach their leaders and managers “managerial coaching” to support them being able to coach their employees as one of their approaches to management. The brain / neuroscience research suggests that the self-discovery that comes with a coaching orientation to management is more effective than simple “advice giving.” – Jackie Sherman
What do you think is the biggest benefit from coaching that will most likely continue to be a result of working with an Executive Coach in the future? Any new benefits?
“My experience is that “things / issues” move along / get resolved faster –something that will continue to be a benefit in the future. For example, someone with whom I am currently working would perseverate over a tough decision for a longer time if just working alone. The executive coaching forum gives an opportunity to both talk with someone about an issue and examine the parts of the situation together with what, in the client’s own psychology, might be getting in the way of moving forward with a decision.” – Jackie
“The biggest “ahas” are the identification of limiting beliefs (saboteurs) and how these are holding leaders back in all parts of their lives, and most importantly, their purposeful shifting to new habits and positive beliefs that catapult their movement forward, both as leaders and as human beings. In the future, executives who understand the power of using coaching skills as leaders will use them to create a culture of growth, development, and engagement in their organizations.” – Nancy
“Leaders are often surprised by the value they receive from having a coach who they can “think out loud” with, someone who is completely objective and not embroiled in the issues the executive is facing. In an increasingly fast paced world, executives find it more difficult to set aside “quiet time” that allows them to slow down and think through issues, strategies, and implications. A session with their coach gives them uninterrupted time to become clearer about the issue and identify when their assumptions or approach may be holding them back.” – Elaine
As more individuals “certify” or “declare themselves” as Executive Coaches, the pool of available coaches has the potential to become huge. What things should a leader be looking for when selecting a future Executive Coach?
“Coaching referrals continue to be a strong source for identifying effective coaches. In addition, a coaching Certification through a respected coaching organization ensures the coach has attended coach-specific training, developed strong coaching competencies, and is aligned with defined coaching ethics. I believe exploring the coaching fit through initial conversations with potential coaches is important to ensure a strong connection that includes trust, care, and partnership.” – Nancy
“Look for a coach who demonstrates the ability and willingness to share observations and to provide clear and honest feedback. An effective coach can help the executive increase self-awareness, but only if the coach is open and direct. Also, look for a coach who will ask you powerful questions that make you think. When you find yourself saying “that’s a good question” during your initial conversations it is likely that the coach is skilled at asking questions that help you explore issues more deeply.” – Elaine
“Ability and willingness to move between “pure coaching” and being a thinking partner. It’s my experience that the more senior someone is in an organization the more likely they are to appreciate a coach who can be a thinking partner when needed. It’s also important to consider the coach’s presence – their ability to truly stay focused on you, the client. While this is difficult to define, it is one of the most important factors distinguishing effective coaches. One of the most important factors in getting what you need from someone in a helping profession, which coaching is, is the helping professional’s presence. I also offer a few words of caution: I have often heard of people who are looking for a coach who has experience with the role the coachee is in. While this may be tempting as a criteria for selection, it comes with some risk. Someone who has done the job may have an understanding of the challenge, but may also have difficulty separating themselves from their own experience and biases and therefore may have difficulty supporting the coachee to come to their own conclusions related to any job related issues.” – Jackie
I appreciate the input of our coaches and hope these insights help you in your understanding of the benefits executive coaching can provide. To explore the topic further, please feel free to contact us at 770.587.9032.
This blog was written by Deborah A. King, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, RC with input from EMI Executive Coaches – Nancy Corkle, Jackie Sherman, Elaine Chaney. Ms. King is CEO and Sr. Organizational Effectiveness Consultant with Evolution Management, Inc. Debbie and her team are energized about transforming human performance through the evolution of workplace culture. Contact EMI for more information about how we can assist your organization or call us at 770.587.9032.