Frameworks

Willingness to Commit to Executive Coaching Self-Development

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Placing the Best
Leadership Coaching Bets

Maya is on the succession plan to be ready to fill an executive role in another year. You are going to provide her with a coach to get her ready.

Flying below the radar, you’ve got your eyes on Sunil. You believe he needs a coach so that he develops the skills and presence to get the attention of the executive team.

Your company needs to put their money where their mouth is, so you are looking at the people of color in the upper ranks. You have a plan to provide coaches to those who have not yet been given development opportunities.  

These are common and legitimate rationales for providing executive coaches to your top talent. The hope is that at the end of the process these leaders will be more adept at your core competencies and will be ready to take on new responsibilities. Sadly, this happens only about 50% of the time. You end up disappointed, the participant wonders why everyone sings the praises of coaching and the company questions the value of the expenditure. 

Which leaders are committed to their own development and are willing to do the hard work required to grow?

After decades of experience, we can tell you that there is a vital question that must be answered before doling out coaches. Which leaders are committed to their own development and are willing to do the hard work required to grow? Most people who are assigned coaches are simply on a list: succession map, next in line for one-on-one development, underserved constituents, high potentials. Often these same people demonstrate many of the company’s competencies. None of these criteria assess a participant’s likelihood of significant growth as a result of the coaching experience. We can help you decide how to invest your precious development dollars.

The Messy Truth Leadership believes the best leaders are self-aware, understand other people and connect in meaningful ways. These are the essential areas for examination and growth during the executive coaching. We have found eight patterns for how leaders show up in the coaching sessions. These range from completely resistant to wildly curious. When these leaders return to work, they exhibit distinct styles as well. The spectrum goes from head-down workhorse to humble promoter of others.

You know your people and can probably identify which leaders sit in which category. If you aren’t certain, ask yourself if you have observed behaviors that indicate a willingness to commit to personal growth. Have they asked for a challenging assignment that scares them a bit? Have they made themselves vulnerable? Have they asked for help? Do they read about many subjects or attend conferences? Do they acknowledge their blind spots? These people will take full advantage of coaching. For those who exhibit the opposite of these actions, save your money.