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ALL THINGS COACHING SERIES: Executive Coaching Checklist (PART 3 OF 4)

Monday, November 26, 2018 9:43 AM | Kevin Smith (Administrator)

by Ryan Panzer

Thanks for joining us for our Live Facebook Event for All Things: Coaching. If you missed it, you can still see the posts here

So far in this blog series, we’ve focused on Internal Coaching and External CoachingPart 3 focuses on Executive Coaching.

If there is a “traditional” model of  in the business world, it would be that of the executive (or, manager) coach. Executive coaching is widely utilized in North America - which is part of the reason that business coaching is now a ten billion dollar industry in the United States. The International Coach Federation, the industry group for professional coaches responsible for issuing one of coaching’s highest accreditations, had 17,500 certified coaches in the US as of 2016. Some 95,000 professionals across the United States work on business coaching in some capacity.

If your organization is looking to get started with coaching, executive coaching may be the place to begin. While integrated coaching conversations (which we will review in an upcoming blog post) have the power to unlock broad cultural transformation at all levels of the organization, executive coaching offers the benefit of simplicity - one coach, for one promising leader, at one time. Moreover, providing your leaders with a high-quality coach can provide your organization with a model for effective coaching conversations that work at all levels of the company.

But before you sign on the dotted line with a coaching provider, consider this checklist of a successful Executive Coaching Program.

CHECKLIST ITEM 1: EXECUTIVE COACHING MUST BE SUPPORTED AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THE ORGANIZATION. Coaching is an intentional commitment towards goal attainment. In order for coaching to have impact, the leadership of your organization ought to have a clear sense of goal direction and shared agreement on the prioritization of these goals - as well as an honest awareness of what might be blocking goal attainment. Moreover, coaching-ready organizations are willing to explore alternative ways to achieving their goals.

CHECKLIST ITEM 2: DECIDE ON THE COACH EXPERIENCE YOU REQUIRE. The executive coach is an appropriately skilled and qualified professional who engages business leaders for 7-12 months of goal-directed conversation. According to a 2009 Harvard Business Review study, executive coaches are most often hired (most are hired/brought in externally) to “develop high potential or facilitate transitions, act as as sounding board, or address derailing behavior.” 

Not every organization has the same coaching needs. Some organizations need coaches who are adept at helping leaders to work through interpersonal conflict or communication challenges, while other organizations need coaches who can play the role of counselor, or even therapist, at times of transition or ambiguity. Some organizations need a coach with industry experience and demonstrable industry results - while other organizations might prefer a coach who can quickly pivot a conversation for all lines of work. Get clear on your goals and outcomes in order to determine what you need in a coach. 

CHECKLIST ITEM 3: DECIDE BETWEEN OUTSOURCING OR INSOURCING. Once coaching experience and needs are determined, many organizations decide to outsource their executive coaches, bringing in external resources who have been trained in consulting and psychology and accredited in business coaching. External coaches have the ability to remain neutral, perhaps even more objective than in-house employees. Still, many organizations lack the cash to hire an executive coach at $250-400 an hour for each of their leaders. The cost of an external partner is not a dead-end to executive coaching, but an internal tact does require the pursuit, development, and maintenance of business coaching skills within your organization. 

Executive coaching is perhaps the first tablestake of a coaching culture. Organizations certainly should support coaching for their leaders - but leaders are not the only ones who need the support of a coach. In the next blog post, we’ll turn to coaching as an integrated practice, and how coaching conversations can permeate all levels of your organization.

Ryan Panzer is a trainer and instructional designer at Zendesk's Madison office where he is currently working to launch a coaching program. Prior to working for Zendesk Ryan trained sales and customer support teams at Google's Ann Arbor office. Ryan is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently working on ATD's CPLP certification. He is passionate about Badger football and building cultures of learning. 

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