leadership coaching

Lessons Learned: Executive Coaching

March 8, 2023

About two years ago, I decided not to present or publish “lessons learned” since I felt I needed to remain wide open to learning from others. Well, I recently decided I can do both!

Five (plus four) simple things I learned acting as an external coach:

For the person receiving coaching:

  • Objectively assess the business context and organizational culture to assess what is controllable, uncontrollable or malleable/changeable.
  • Assess the limitations of the person you are coaching and, then, do not ask for what they cannot reasonably and realistically change (or improve).
  • Start with a tight plan that details the behavior and measures of the desired skill/competency improvement and/or change. Stick with goals that specific leadership behavior (and the intended/desired impact or influence of the person, team and organization.
  • Let the person struggle a bit in planning and, then, own their leadership development. Recognize the difference that exist when you allow others to “take ownership” of their leadership development.
  • Time box it! Leadership coaching is not life coaching…you and the participant will typically know when coaching is complete (and the burden of independence kicks in!)

For the business or organization:

  • Do as much as you can to assess the coaching the skills of the immediate manager (or sponsor of the coaching). When possible, have that individual do “your work.”
  • Encouraging two or three-way communication and engagement from the human resource business partners and the immediate manager leads to better support and coaching outcomes!
  • Be honest, when the application of coaching is not practicable or the prognosis of coaching is poor, frame the “true picture” for the client.
  • Drink your own Kool-Aid! Recognize that, as a coach, you need to constantly sharpen your skills in the assessment, development, coaching and measurement activities.

An observation:

  • Been there and done that is not coaching! While advice giving may be effective from an executive turned coach, you need to:
    • view matters through another’s lens,
    • avoid making the “similar to me error” with people and situations,
    • be able to “read the dynamics” that exist in the leadership team, and
    • recognize that “patterns change” in the challenges that humans face (and that past solutions might lead to different consequences).

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