Why Executives Absolutely Need Coaching

Why Executives Absolutely Need Coaching
September 8, 2015 Linda Murray

Successful business woman holding document folder

You’ve no doubt heard the saying ‘If you’re not learning you’re dying’, and this is just as true for high level executives on top of their game and reaching for the stars as it is for young people learning their craft from the bottom up.

Just because you’ve made it to executive level doesn’t mean your learning is over and you don’t require further coaching. Chances are you’ve had some mentoring or support along the way and it doesn’t end here.

One of the main reasons coaching is essential is that despite the perks, status and remuneration that come with an executive role, it can be extremely lonely at the top. This is an even greater issue if you are a woman, with an under representation of females in the top jobs. The number of people you can bounce off reduces as quickly as the pressure and responsibility increases. Your co-workers, team members and subordinates are less likely to be honest about your performance so feedback and open discussion will potentially dry up.

“If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely.” – Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

New executive appointments face pressure to succeed instantly. Unlike lower rungs of the corporate ladder, there is no opportunity to ease into the role and find your feet. Positive results and immediate impact are an expectation.

The Harvard Business Review published that 2 out of 5 new executives fail in the first 18 months of the job. Performance expectations are high and coaching can be the difference between longevity and failure.

Successful executive coaching provides an opportunity to step back and review personal performance, learn from prior experience and adapt and change to satisfy the needs of the new role and the rapidly changing business environment. New executives in particular, can be struggling to adjust to the responsibility making clarity and self-review even more difficult, bearing in mind they have fewer people to seek guidance from. A coach is a perfect team member and sounding board, and not just in the early stages of an executive career.

Finding the right coach is important, and agreeing on a customised coaching plan is also key. The coach and client need to be clear about what, how and when the coaching is be delivered, and the client prepared to accept and implement the learning. Coachability is also essential. If the executive is not willing to accept feedback and commit to change the process is unlikely to be successful.

“I never learned from a man who agreed with me” – Robert A. Heinlein

The benefits of executive coaching for high level roles isn’t just about reducing burnout and improving the chances of longevity in the role. Enhanced skills and learning will also create gains in performance, improved relationships and increase leadership effectiveness. Not only will the executive have significant personal gains and success but the goals to make immediate impact and achieve positive results for the organisation will follow, positively effecting performance, morale and reputation within the industry.

If you are on the pathway to executive appointment, or have achieved that goal but recognise you could do with a sounding board, please consider coaching as a valuable tool to increase your chances of not just success but further progression in your career. Contact me to arrange an obligation free initial consultation to discuss your needs and goals.

Comments (2)

  1. John Downes 9 years ago

    Couldn’t agree more, Athena.

    The first 100 days of any Executive’s new appointment is “make or break”. So, getting external assistance with, and internal validation of the 100 days plan is vital.

    Having a coach to support you to cover all your bases during that period is also very helpful while you are dealing with: new stakeholders, new and often competing initiatives, new team dynamics, new reporting lines, and new levels of accountability.


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