Executive coaching: Get help with key global trends affecting your business
This article first appeared in Smart CEO Magazine.
Executive coaching is no longer a trend, but a viable tool in talent and performance management for organizations. Sixty percent of organizations with strong coaching cultures report that their revenue is above average in their peer group, according to a study conducted by the Human Capital Institute and the International Coach Federation.
Clearly coaching has an impact on an organization’s financial performance. Additionally, coaching can help with employee engagement: 65 percent of employees from companies with strong coaching cultures rated themselves as highly engaged.
Just as athletes have coaches who provide feedback, encouragement and performance assessment, many executives and entrepreneurs hire coaches to help them become more effective leaders. Everyone has blind spots, behaviors and patterns of thought that they cannot see for themselves. Leaders need someone to point out the behaviors that keep limiting their potential. Coaches serve that purpose, and can also act as thinking partners for executives who don’t often have someone they can confidentially share feelings, ideas and concerns with.
Future trends affecting leaders
Another advantage of coaching is that it can help executives take advantage of key societal and global trends, including:
Remote workers: I have several clients who manage teams not only in other countries, but also here in the U.S. Teams are dispersed in different states and often work out of collaborative work spaces or the home. Team leaders are challenged with maintaining cohesion in their teams and communicating effectively and quickly. Information-sharing platforms become extremely important. Coaches can help their clients hone their message and create new delivery models for that communication.
The need for resilient leaders: Resiliency is built before a crisis hits so that the leader can manage emerging situations decisively and thoughtfully. Tired leaders are ineffective leaders. Coaches are challenged to encourage, if not push, leaders to maintain health and well-being. Mindfulness, exercise, nutrition and sleep are essential elements to maintaining resiliency, yet often those are the first things to be sacrificed in a fast-paced environment.
Global cultures, language and values: Many of our clients work in global organizations and either reside abroad or are managing teams that reside abroad. Leaders underestimate the need to be careful about language. Behind the words is a set of cultural values that may not match the American one, and must be learned and considered for leaders to be effective globally. Executive coaches provide an alternative perspective that challenges our cultural assumptions.
The generational see-saw. Leaders will be faced with the challenge of how to manage a millennial generation of workers who are breaking all the rules of traditional work, yet have so much to contribute through their ingenuity and optimism. Second, they will have to decide how to recover the organizational wisdom and tacit knowledge held by the boomers now leaving the workforce. A greater emphasis on mentorship programs that can build bridges between the generations and their experience will help retain this wisdom, while encouraging diligence and intention in a younger generation that can at times be impulsive.
Leadership by authenticity: In his book Authentic Leadership, Bill George persuasively demonstrates that authentic leaders of mission-driven companies will create far greater shareholder value than financially oriented companies. He speaks about five essential dimensions of authentic leaders — purpose, values, heart, relationships and self-discipline. People are tired of listening to false promises and glamorized spins. They are looking for leaders who demonstrate courage and humanity in their leadership, with a focus on people.
Retiring workers: About 44 million people in the U.S. are now 65 years or older. By 2050, the Census Bureau expects that figure to double, as the largest generation in American history lives longer than any before it. A handful of companies and institutions, such as the National Institutes of Health, offer ways of letting older workers return on a part-time basis after retirement. This takes advantage of their expertise, while easing them into their post-employment lives. Teaching coaching skills to these older workers will help them coach newer managers to build skill sets appropriate to the organization.
Hi Tech combined with Hi Touch: We are living in a time that requires organizations to marry purpose and profit. New technology drives the fast pace of innovation but cannot continue without a nod to social endeavors that sustain a healthier planet. Companies such as Worldreader (helping low literacy in emergent countries), Samasource (addressing global economic equality through the power of technology) and CareMessage (focuses on enhancing patients’ ability to self-manage their health, expanding health literacy, and improving care in general in under-served populations primarily through text messaging) are fueling social entrepreneurship. Successful social entrepreneurs work with mature coaches who have a business mindset and share their insight into the value of social impact.
The 21st Executive Coach
What do these trends mean for those of us who coach leaders facing these kinds of challenges? The 21st-century coach is a global citizen, knowledgeable about cultural differences and experienced in living or traveling in other countries. This gives the coach enough perspective to challenge the assumptions on which leaders build a vision and direction for their organizations. As coaches we need to develop our own capacity for global perspective to best serve our clients.
Alicia M. Rodriguez is founder of Sophia Associates Inc., an international executive and leadership coaching practice. www.sophia-associates.com. We work with visionary leaders, executive women, social and creative entrepreneurs and change agents.