Jan 16, 2012
by THERESA FREIHOEFER of Central Oregon Community College
How can an executive coach help you and your business? To get some answers I asked Matthew Jensen and Frank Wagner with ExecuFeed to explain.
1. What is an executive coach and what do they do?
The mission of the executive coach is to challenge and support organizational leaders in achieving goals that will enhance their personal and professional development. Much like a football or basketball coach works with star players to improve individual and team play, the executive coach helps key leaders to increase both individual and team effectiveness within the workplace.
Executive coaching is used where leaders need to increase their strengths, decrease weaknesses, and uncover blind spots to achieving outcomes that will help them be better leaders at work. Executive coaches often have a specific focus to their expertise. Some examples of this might include strategic planning, career transition, conflict management, or succession. An executive coach often has a background in business, management, communication or psychology.
Our specific expertise is to help effective leaders become even better, by making a positive lasting change in leadership behavior. Often leaders do not realize the impact their behavior has on the productivity and well being of their employees. And, even if they do have this recognition, they often feel powerless to change themselves for the better.
2. How can an executive coach help my business?
Executive coaching can positively impact your business when you have hit a plateau where you have implemented everything you know how to do in running your business and leading your employees. It can help solve problems that you are aware of, and can also help uncover and solve problems that you aren’t aware of. Coaching, when done right, shifts the look and feel of how your company is perceived on both the inside and outside. Research indicates that executive coaching has a significant return on investment and can increase your bottom line.
Different kinds of executive coaching will help with different types of organizational challenges. The right coach brings subject matter expertise to address those challenges. Also, a good coach is in the business of transferring that expertise into the organization where it belongs and then leaves. The coach is there to build the ability and willingness of the members of the executive team to operate at a higher level.
Our type of executive coaching impacts your organization through more effective leadership, better relationships with people both inside and outside the organization, better communication, reduced turnover and increased productivity. And, although the focus of coaching is on behavior at work, the impact often improves relationships outside the office. After all, it is highly unlikely that an executive who doesn’t listen at work, will become excessively open minded once they get home!
3. Is it only for executives?
While executive coaching has been proven to be beneficial for leaders at the very top rungs of the organizational ladder, it can also help other key individuals within the organization who are extremely valuable for its success. Companies have differing philosophies about which leaders should receive coaching, and when they should get it.
Organizations tend to keep an eye on their radar for individuals who show promise and have high potential to fill a top leadership position at some future point in time. Coaching is a great resource for these people as it makes sense to have them well prepared for the day they when are promoted into a top slot. This is often referred to as building “bench strength.”
Our executive coaching, with its emphasis on improving leadership behavior, is a learned skill that can move naturally down through the organization. When employees experience the new behaviors practiced by their leaders, they are often imitated. When our colleague Marshall Goldsmith coached Alan Mulally at the time he ran Boeing’s commercial airplane division, he worked directly with Alan and indirectly with his direct reports. As it turned out, not only did Alan improve, so did his direct reports and their direct reports as measured by their colleagues. Good leadership can be contagious!
Matthew Jensen, M.A. and Frank Wagner, Ph.D., MBA, are executive coaches with ExecuFeed in Portland, Oregon www.execufeed.com, 503- 522-1150.