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Do High Performers Need Executive Coaching?

According to the Harvard Business Review, one hundred percent of the c-level executives surveyed were either receptive or very receptive to making changes in response to executive coaching. Clearly, these top leaders remain open to leadership enhancement, but do high performers need executive coaching?

Many executives enjoy coaching simply because it’s lonely at the top. Why should this matter to companies? Isolation among c-level executives means it’s easier for them to develop blind spots when it comes to weaknesses or areas that need growth. It also means that leaders are more likely to plateau and remain unable to propel themselves and your company to the next rung on the ladder.

However, as the survey suggests, only one-third of these high performers get the coaching support they desire and require to thrive as leaders.

So, let’s breakdown exactly why high achievers benefit from executive coaching – and what it means for the companies who employ them.

Got a Goal? Get a Coach

C-level executives embrace leadership enhancement – because they’re go-getters. Their motivation drives their success, and when they reach a milestone, they’re ready to set their sights on the next one. In other words, they’re goal-oriented and want to up their business game.

These high performers need executive coaching to help them achieve more - not necessarily to find answers to specific problems. They seek to increase their effectiveness as a leader and to rise to the next level in their career. When a company facilitates the professional needs of c-level executives, they reap the benefits of innovation and growth that are initiated from the top down.

Executive Coaching Advances High-Level Leadership

Remember those blind spots we mentioned earlier? High performers need executive coaching to provide a neutral, safe place to assess and manage them. This is especially true when a high-level leader seems to have plateaued and grown complacent. Oftentimes, they recognize this and want someone to point out what they cannot see.

Even c-level executives who maintain career momentum realize their need to keep it going. In these cases, executive coaching provides tools for leadership enhancement – meeting them at their level and helping them to break through to the next.

Leadership areas where coaching can help executives sharpen their edge:

· Establishing clear goals and action plans

· Providing accountability concerning goal progress

· Managing stress/preventing burnout

· Maintaining focus on top priorities

· Influencing others

· Managing teams

· Thinking strategically

· Negotiating

· Brainstorming

· Building leadership skills (i.e. communication, decision making)

Top 5 Types of Coaching for C-Level Executives

According to The Conference Board’s Global Executive Coaching Survey, coaching engagements among executives are future-focused – which is especially true for rising leaders. This is consistent with the idea that many high performers seek out resources like coaching to aid in goal attainment. (See our article, 6 Ways Executive Coaching Can Maximize Your ROI.)

So, what kind of executive coaching do CEOs and direct reports receive most often, according to the survey?

1. Development-focused coaching – 67.3%

Expand capabilities for future roles, succession planning

2. 360 Degree Assessment Tool with Coaching – 52.7%

Gain feedback on behaviors and perceptions, create an action plan with coach

3. Transition coaching – 33.6%

Accelerate transition to a new role, develop an action plan

4. Performance-focused coaching – 29.1%

Changing behaviors, building new skills, align leaders with teams and stakeholders

5. Onboarding coaching – 25.5%

Accelerate onboarding of new executive from outside, develop an action plan

The top two types of coaching – Development-focused and the 360-degree assessment – reveal that more than half of top performers surveyed received future-focused, goal-attaining types of coaching.

Selecting the Right Coach for Your High Performers

Your c-level executives don’t want to start with the ABC’s of leadership. Instead, they want to meet with a coach who understands where they are in their career, the challenges they face, and the pathway to achieving their next goal.

Choosing the right coach for your top performers means considering the type of coaching needed, the personality or style of the coach, and the coach’s track record.

Most executive coaches specialize in certain areas like communication, executive presence, or aspects of emotional intelligence. Therefore, choose a coach who specializes in the type of coaching your leaders need.

Additionally, not all personalities mesh well together. Consider these opposing traits and what works best for your leader:

· Direct vs indirect

· Challenging vs sensitive

· Strict vs flexible

Of course, some coaches blend these styles, but typically they’re easy to distinguish during your research and conversations.

Above all, consider the executive coach’s track record. If you find a coach through a referral, ask the person more about their company’s experience with the coach. Did they see the desired results from their high achievers? Were their leaders satisfied with their coaching sessions?

Be sure to look for reviews and ask for references. Schedule at least one phone call with prospective coaches, and when you narrow it down, talk with them again to discuss any remaining questions.

External Executive Coaching Most Popular at C-Level

Most c-level executive coaching involves an external company that specializes in high-level leadership enhancement. The current corporate trend reserves much of the external coaching for high performers while providing internal leadership coaching programs for lower levels of leaders. This keeps costs down, as the company doesn’t have to pay external coaching prices on a broad scale.

As companies provide external coaching for their c-level executives on an individual basis, they also seek to create a culture of coaching through their internal program for lower-level leadership. According to the Global Executive Coaching Survey, “Organizations have been

intentionally integrating coaching elements into various talent management processes

(i.e., leadership development, promotions, performance review, succession planning, etc.).”

This approach allows companies to invest in more targeted, specialized executive coaching for their top performers. Internal coaching programs lack the individualized experience necessary for success with higher-level leaders.

Interested in executive coaching for your top performers? Book a free consultation.

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