What characterises life in the corner office? Stress, lots of it; demands from those above and below; questions about meaningfulness; questions about work-life balance; time pressures… the list goes on.
Indeed, the people who operate at executive level in businesses and organisations face very unique challenges. Often they find themselves in a politically charged environment where it can be difficult to get accurate facts about what is really going on.
Enter the executive coach. While they don’t have to have been executives themselves, these specialist coaches do need to know the kinds of challenges that face those who have successfully climbed to the top of the corporate ladder – and how to help solve them.
Here are five of the most common issues that those destined to lead deal with daily, and why these CEOs, managers and business owners really need (and want!) to be coached
1. To have someone in your corner
Executive cost: It can be lonely at the top. Employees keep a business-like detachment from the boss and, on rare occasions when honest feedback is offered, you can bet it’s been liberally sugar-coated.
Coaching return: One of the most important benefits of coaching to senior-level professionals is the candid feedback they get from an objective observer. While everyone likes to hear about their strengths, a coach will also discuss the executive’s weaknesses. And because coaching, by its nature, is welcomed instead of seen as a threat, the coach has the advantage of being able to speak openly to peers and subordinates, allowing “hot button” issues to be aired and productively discussed.
2. To boost productivity
Executive cost: While having particular personality traits – resilience, perseverance, passion – may have helped them rise through the ranks, the burden of responsibility and constant distractions can leave top-level managers feeling like they’re chasing their tales.
Coaching return: It’s been said that, to be a good leader, you cannot major in minor things. To help high achievers deliver quality leadership, within reasonable work hours, business coaches arm their clients with the specific tactics and tools to manage workflow, minimise distractions and determine priorities so that better productivity is the end game.
3. To enhance interpersonal effectiveness
Executive cost: They’re expected to interact at a strategic level with employees and stakeholders, but not all executives are comfortable in this capacity, or find that it comes naturally.
Coaching return: Whether it’s building team morale, making tough decisions or developing high-level relationships, working with an executive coach helps CEOs and business leaders identify how they can improve their so-called “soft skills” – interpersonal effectiveness included – to achieve both business and personal goals.
4. To set aside self-limiting beliefs
Executive cost: They may have advanced beyond the realms of mere mortals, but that doesn’t make them super-human. In fact, many CEOs and business managers share the same self-limiting beliefs as the people they lead. And like their subordinates, whose fear of failure might see them missing out on amazing career opportunities, the executive’s inner critic may prevent him or her from pushing through comfort zones, erring, instead, on the side of playing things safe.
Coaching return: Not only does an executive coach provide an objective perspective and a clear forward plan but, through collaboration, can help high-level professionals determine what’s holding them back (and why). Those self-limiting beliefs can be replaced with light-bulb moments of clarity. What’s more, empowering beliefs boost confidence, and this is good for both those at the top and the colleagues they manage.
5. To improve leadership
Executive cost: High-achieving perfectionists by nature, many CEOs and business managers hang onto the belief that they can do it all. But knowing your areas of weakness does not make you weak; on the contrary, it allows you to delegate to others who have those abilities, in order to achieve the common goal.
Coaching return: Great leaders hire people who complement, rather than supplement, their skills. In order to do this, however, they need to know their specific areas of weakness. The self-awareness that comes from coaching helps managers identify the deficits in their skills so that they can recruit others to make up for these shortfalls. Self-awareness is also a key to improving one’s emotional intelligence, and being able to recognise, understand and manage the emotions of self and others is a trait all great leaders share.
Do you have a desire to make a difference in the workplace? If so, why not consider becoming a business coach? The South African College of Applied Psychology offers a range of accredited coaching courses, including a Postgraduate Diploma in Coaching, a part-time Coach Practitioner Programme and an Advanced Coach Practitioner Programme, aimed at deepening one’s coaching development. For more information, enquire today.