An executive leadership coach has become an increasingly popular approach for developing leaders in recent years, particularly among senior leaders and executives. Galvanized by trends like the Great Resignation and quiet quitting, organizations are realizing the importance of investing in their leaders’ development to enhance their performance and effectiveness. Executive leadership coaching provides a structured and tailored approach to help leaders identify and address their strengths and weaknesses, build new skills and capabilities, and navigate the challenges and opportunities of their roles.
To properly appreciate the value of executive coaching and its benefits for both individuals and organizations, it’s important to first understand that employees are craving engagement and grasping to find ways to combat hybrid fatigue while simultaneously adapting personal life strategies.
Life, wellness, and personal coaching emerged as a possible solution, with many consulting companies commoditizing “fast coaching” to respond to employees’ appetites for their organization’s attention.
As the dust settles, it’s important to recognize that, just like fast fashion, “fast coaching” has a limited shelf life. Truly effective coaching, managed strategically over time, connects leadership behaviors to the mission, vision, and strategies of the organization to drive results.
Let’s briefly look at five ways in which effective executive leadership coaching can provide meaningful and lasting value to organizations as well as the individuals working in them.
Effective coaching can and should lay the groundwork for the organization’s long-term health, fueling the leadership pipeline and making succession planning less difficult and stressful. It’s far more cost-effective to recognize, retain, and promote good talent than it is to recruit new leaders from outside the organization who must adjust to a new culture. Coaching can help organizations maintain a competitive advantage by catalyzing them to invest in people development and improve team cohesion. Coaching ensures executive leaders are contributing to the strategy and execution critical to the growth of the company.
Executive leadership coaches power culture change
By working with leaders to identify the need for change, define a desired future state, develop leadership skills, and provide ongoing support, an executive coach can power culture change and help organizations to achieve their goals. An organization with leaders who can quickly recognize and adapt to changing market dynamics becomes a competitive advantage and drives greater innovation. Executive coaches that have both industry expertise and business experience managing organizational transformation are well equipped to support leaders through change.
Sensemaking is the process of creating meaning out of information or events. It involves organizing and interpreting data, identifying patterns and connections, and developing a coherent understanding of a situation. Sensemaking can be thought of as a cognitive process that helps individuals make sense of complex and uncertain situations. It is a key component of decision-making, problem solving, and learning. The pandemic demonstrated that sensemaking is key to organizational agility, which is why executive coaches have focused on helping organizations become better at this process and use the results to discern what their organization development and change should look like.
Measuring and accelerating performance
Most organizations care about metrics – or at least profess to. But not all employee and organizational performance data is equally valuable. Coaching combined with an assessment such as a 360 leadership assessment can help organizations measure the change in an executive’s behavior and performance. Coaches use these tools to help executives understand where they are now and help the leader recognize where they want to be and how to get there. Coaches act as a force multiplier by helping to amplify the impact of an individual or team’s efforts. By providing targeted support and guidance, an executive coach can help to accelerate progress and achieve results that might not have been possible otherwise.
Empowering the enterprise to thrive through better goal alignment
When leaders are engaged in 1:1 coaching and considering their own leadership behavior across the enterprise, it creates an organic process of enterprise learning and culture change. Learning is social: People learn from one another through social interactions and experiences. Human beings are social creatures who learn by observing and imitating the behaviors of those around them, as well as by engaging in social interactions with others. Coaching doesn’t look the same for everyone, but it can be available at every level of the organization, and it can guide leaders and employees to achieving the alignment they need and crave to realize their potential.
While the primary value of executive coaching lies in its power to strengthen organizations, coaching also makes financial sense. The data is compelling: A study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) found that organizations that invested in leadership coaching realized an average return on investment (ROI) of 5.7 times the cost of the coaching program.
A separate study by Manchester Inc. validated that ROI and raised it to 6-to-1 ratio.
From a savings perspective, the cost of implementing an executive coaching and cohort experience for ten leaders is roughly equivalent to the search fee for replacing just one of those ten leaders who leaves due to a lack of significant development opportunities. And costs don’t end there: Losing a key executive can result in hidden costs for the organization, including loss of institutional knowledge, operational disruptions, and damage to employee morale and retention.
It’s a reality that not all organizations prioritize resources for leadership development. Leaders who prioritize their own development tend to be more effective and can positively impact the organization’s performance. An investment in coaching is an investment in securing the talent an organization will need for its future success.
If unlocking the true value of executive coaching is important to you and your organization, the bluSPARC™ team would love to connect. Founded by doctors in adult education and leadership, our team offers a wide array of organizational behavior experts committed to the science of leadership. By coaching leaders to align to organizational goals, we are the catalyst to accelerate business growth and deliver organizational transformation. We believe that when coaching ignites leaders, the enterprise thrives. Please reach out to start a conversation!
Dr. Kim Villeneuve is the co-founder of bluSPARC™ a learning and development company with coaching at its core. Drawing on extensive experience in executive search, coaching for succession, Kim specializes in working with entrepreneurs, business executives, and those enhancing their capacity for complex leadership. Kim holds a doctorate in Human and Organizational Learning from The George Washington University. Kim can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.