“I worked with a leader who was recognized as a high-potential employee. He was a strong performer, but feedback indicated he didn’t have the illustrious ‘executive presence’ expected in his position,” said Eileen Garger, vice president of strategic client partnerships at BlessingWhite, a global leadership consulting firm. “We implemented a 360-degree feedback tool which provided specific evidence of what he needed to change.
“He had been assigned to lead a major project with high visibility throughout the organization, and perception was that he was not in control of the interdepartmental meetings. We identified that one of the key milestones he needed to achieve involved building individual relationships with team members for them to get to know him and vice versa. We distilled the big idea of ‘executive presence’ down to tangible pieces and worked together through regular coaching sessions to achieve these goals. We developed action steps and measurable milestones. If these aren’t in place, coaching becomes a luxury that an organization just can’t afford.”
Coaching is also most effective when an organization’s culture supports it as a productive developmental initiative in an atmosphere of learning and shared relationships where information and ideas flow easily to points of greatest utility. Organizations need to avoid situations where knowledge is hoarded, activities are compartmentalized, silos are the norm and people are competitive and motivated only by self-interest.
“It’s commonly understood that many senior leaders today have coaches,” said Stephen Sass, managing partner and COO of CoachSource LLC, a global, virtual coaching firm. “When a CEO stands up on stage and says to the employee group ‘let me share what my coach and I have been working on,’ then it becomes culturally acceptable in the organization. Even a perk, perhaps.”
In organizations with superior performance, here are three skills managers consistently used in their coaching engagements.