In Rhode Island, many companies work with OI Global Partners – Lifocus for Executive Coaching. “Authentic Leadership” Executive Coaching is a self-awareness coaching partnership which provides valuable feedback, insight, mentorship and guidance from an outside vantage point.
Executive coaching once carried a stigma, much like psychotherapy, in part because it was mainly employed to solve a problem or to “fix” difficult personalities.
Now, it’s become so common for top executives to be coached that it’s viewed as a perk, a sign of having arrived at the top.
Executive coaching has grown into an industry with an estimated $1.5 billion in annual revenue and more than 20,000 dues-paying members of the International Coach Federation. Surveys indicate that most of the biggest companies now use coaches. What their executives most often talk about in these sessions isn’t their business strategy, but themselves.
In a recent survey of coaches, “self awareness” was the No. 1 topic the coaches worked on with CEOs. The second most popular? “Interpersonal relationships, listening skills and empathy.” In Rhode Island, many companies work with OI Global Partners – Lifocus for Executive Coaching
Many executives rose through the ranks on the strength of their technical skills, intellect, and ambition. Once they reach the top of the organization, they can no longer manage people through force of will—they need a new set of skills to persuade and influence.
“There’s been a huge change, and we no longer see the same the rigid hierarchies and structures. “With globalization and technology, we’re seeing companies operate across boundaries, across borders, and people are being asked to influence across boundaries and borders without authority.”
A coaching engagement usually starts with assessment period to understand the executive’s strengths and weaknesses. The coach will often interview co-workers, and even the executive’s spouse if possible, to gather feedback. After developing a plan to attack the weaknesses, the coach and executive will meet once a month for several hours, ideally away from the office and its distractions.
One executive worked with would be short-tempered and overly critical with employees when he was under stress, and react angrily when presented with new information. As a result, his lieutenants withdrew and avoided him. We urged him to develop relationships with his employees in more relaxed settings, whether chatting in the hallway or meeting weekly one-on-one with his direct reports.
We also makes suggestions about how to begin conversations, recommends regular exercise and yoga routines, and hands out reading assignments.
Whether coaching actually works is hard to pin down. While one 2001 report conducted by a coaching and consulting firm pegged the return of coaching at 5.7 times the investment, a figure frequently touted by the industry, another academic study was critical of its methodology, stating “the ROI metric is of very limited validity.”
Given the murkiness of human relationships, and the complexity of large organization, calculating how much a company really profits from a kinder and gentler CEO may be impossible.
But, “at the very least, their self-awareness is higher.” Contact OI Global Partners – Lifocus in Rhode Island for Executive Coaching.
Thomas Wharton is President of LIFOCUS, Inc, a human resources consulting firm in Rhode Island, providing Career & Transition Coaching, Outplacement, Executive Coaching, Assessments andLeadership Development. Tom can be reached at 401.884.7959 • firstname.lastname@example.org. • www.lifocus.com•@careercoachTW