Gone are the days of paying someone well and expecting them to be engaged in their work. As organizations are re-examining their psychological contract with employees in the wake of the pandemic to keep key talent engaged, they are re-visiting their employee value proposition because they understand that engagement results in improved customer experience. For organizations to capture this benefit, they need to listen to the desires of their employees who want meaning, purpose, and growth. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that acknowledges their desires and actively works with them towards achieving these goals. For leaders, an engagement differentiator to help their organizations win the talent war is investment in leadership development. A key way to achieve this is through executive coaching, which yields many benefits.
What is Executive Coaching?
Executive coaching is a collaborative process between an executive and their coach in which the focus is on improvement of a specific leadership opportunity area. Focus areas vary based on the opportunity areas of the client, however, some typical goals include: increasing capacity to innovate, the ability to lead one’s team through change, the ability to paint an inspiring and motivating vision, or the ability to lead a diverse and inclusive team.
Benefits of Executive Coaching: Innovation, Managing Change, Team Leadership, and Better Decision-Making
The benefits of executive coaching are numerous. Executive coaching can lead to increased effectiveness because of an augmented ability to create more trusting relationships with colleagues, which can result in accelerated team innovation. Executives oftentimes report better decision-making and problem-solving capabilities. Additionally, executives find that they are better equipped to guide their teams and organizations through change and turbulent times. A byproduct of executive coaching naturally occurs as positive leadership norms and behaviors can have a cascading effect across the organization. Leaders role model what “good” (inclusive, productive, agile) looks like and reward their teams for following suit.
Types of Executive Coaching: Individual, Team, & Group
Executive coaching can come in several forms, including individual coaching, team coaching, and group coaching. At GeniusMesh, we focus on all three core coaching offerings, but a common thread that runs throughout is our focus on building executive capability in team leadership because teams are the engines of organizational performance. One of the most important skills executives need to be adept in today is the ability to lead teams effectively, and only 20% of leaders actually do this.
Individual Executive Coaching
Individual executive coaching is a powerful tool in one’s toolbox. When it is focused on helping executives maximize their goals, there is a 7x return for businesses. Additionally, 70% of executives report an increase in performance. Change, however, does not come about overnight. Executive coaching oftentimes requires a longer timeline (6-12 months) to help executives really see progress.
Executive Team Alignment
Executive team alignment is a form of team coaching that focuses on the executive team as a group rather than as individuals. It is designed to help the team develop its collective capabilities and effectiveness by addressing issues such as communication, collaboration, conflict-resolution, decision-making, and alignment of goals and priorities. Executive team alignment can increase team performance by 50%. Unlike individual coaching, executive team alignment is a collective effort that addresses the needs and challenges of the entire team. It usually requires a longer-term commitment (6-12 months) to yield the most beneficial outcomes.
Executive Group Coaching
Executive group coaching is a scalable solution for leadership development. Group coaching is usually shorter-term than individual executive coaching or team coaching. It is usually very focused in scope and helps leaders build capacity in a group setting over a series of days or weeks. It might focus on specific areas like deepening self-awareness of leadership strengths, opportunity areas, and development planning. An added benefit is that executives have the ability to learn from each other, as well as from their coach.
Credentials and Experience: Finding the Right Coach
The market is awash with people who sell their services as executive coaches. However, it’s important to find a coach who has the requisite credentials (e.g., coach-specific training, graduate-level training in psychology). Anyone can call themselves a coach, but only those with experience and credibility can make a tangible impact on your executives and your company’s ROI. Additional training at the graduate level is often necessary because the best coaches are adept at understanding human behavior and helping their clients change over time. Some coaches have this training as well as executive experience themselves, further enabling them to empathize deeply with the contexts their clients are in. Finally, high-quality team coaching requires a unique and highly-trained skill set, which requires additional training.
It’s important to find a coach that not only has the requisite experience and knowledge, but that is also the right fit for your organization. Trust is the bedrock of any relationship, so first and foremost, an executive must feel that they can “gel” with their coach and develop a mutually trusting relationship for the engagement to be a success. A coach who is formally trained understands that confidentiality is a critical tenet of this relationship.
How Much Does Executive Coaching Cost?
Depending on the length of the engagement and target audience, executive coaching can range from several hundred to several thousands of dollars. On the lower end, group coaching can be leveraged on a short-term basis for those who have never worked with a coach before. On the higher end, long-term executive team alignment engagements can be utilized to ensure the health and performance of the executive team is maximized.
In our own work, executives and their teams have increased their performance significantly. Oftentimes, executives are dealing with extremely complex issues in a volatile and uncertain environment. Executive coaching has helped them cut through the noise to zero in on where they can maximize effectiveness both individually and with their teams as they navigate through an ever-changing environment.
Real-Life Examples of Executives Who Benefited from Executive Coaching
Well-known executives have benefitted from executive coaching including Steve Jobs of Apple, Marc Benioff of Salesforce, and Brian C. Cornell of Target Corporation. These executives are said to have focused on self-reflection in their work with coaches, which yielded increased performance and innovation.
Conclusion: The Value of Investing in Executive Coaching
GeniusMesh’s executive coaching services — individual, executive team, and group coaching — are powerful tools that can help organizations achieve their goals and objectives faster than they would otherwise. GeniusMesh’s executive coaching services take a holistic approach to leadership development, recognizing that the effectiveness of growing capacity in team leadership is critical to the success of the enterprise because teams are the engines of organizations.
Dr. Ginevra Drinka is an organizational psychologist, leadership development expert, and executive coach with over a decade of internal and external consulting experience. She completed her PhD research in 2018 at Columbia University. Most recently, she advised a Talent Management team at Nike, Inc. to adopt best-in-class leadership assessment and development practices to enable succession planning for the future. In her Executive Coaching practice, she focuses on building client capacity to become more learning agile which helps leaders increase innovation, navigate change effectively, and build high performing teams who will embody their organization’s mission. She is currently the Head of Leadership Development at GeniusMesh and leverages the lessons from her PhD research and consulting experience to build an executive coaching practice that serves EMBA talent. She lives in Portland, OR with her husband and son.