Executive Coaching: An Investment in Creating Masterful Leadership

 

As a result of the chaotic and transformational business environment of the last several decades, the art and science of management has also been radically transformed.  Consequently, executive coaching has become a highly valued resource within corporate life.  Our firm has been coaching top leadership since 1991.

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“I’ll bet most of the companies that are in life-or-death battles got into that kind of trouble because they didn’t pay enough attention to developing their leaders.” – Wayne Calloway
Chairman, Pepsi Co.

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The Management Landscape Has Undergone a Sea Change

The Industrial Age                                 The Information Age

•     Please superiors                                     Delight customers

•     Command-and-control                Empowering and participatory

•     Stable                                                                Agile

•     Meddle                                                             Enable

•     Conformity                                        Outside-the-box action

•     Need-to-know                                    Open and transparent

•     Fiefdoms                                          Interdependent networks

In the prior Age, management skills stemmed from a heroic military model — plan, control, delegate, coordinate, and motivate.  As the Information Age hurtles forward toward the next millennium, within a business environment characterized by permanent whitewater, the high impact leadership competencies are now dramatically different:
• The Explorer: Forges a vision and is an agent of change
• The Beacon: Instills trust and inspires passionate commitment to the vision
• The Advocate: Clearest voice in support of visionary, strategic, and values-driven behavior
• The Facilitator: Creates a consultative and teaming workstyle within the culture
• The Partner: Encourages a collegial, supportive, and collaborative workstyle
• The Coach: Brings out the best in the organization’s people, in terms of their aspirations, potential, performance, and contribution

This set of six leadership roles, when used, creates extraordinarily powerful leverage for the executive.  Do you know how far from criterion you are on each of the six?  Do you know the best ways to close the gap?

Well, just as in sports and in the performing arts, it’s now increasingly becoming the case in business that the more successful you are, the more likely it is that you will use a coach to deepen and extend your success.  Tune up your game.

High Performing Executives vs. Under Performing Executives
We now actually understand a great deal about what differentiates the successful leader from the under-performing one.  Successful people are aggressive learners.  They are individuals who:
• Constantly seek feedback and are extremely analytical about their successes and failures
• Possess a finely tuned capacity for self-reflection and self-awareness
• Seek a wide variety of experiences, out of both a sense of curiosity and the sense that experience is the best medium for self-discovery
• Constantly strive to learn something new and different by searching for comparisons, contrasts, and generalizable insights
• Find ways to apply new learnings to new situations
• Use strengths to modify weaknesses

The bad news is that only about 10% of us are by nature active learners.  The good news, though, is that much of what it takes to be an aggressive learner is coachable.

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“A key goal of successful introspection is authentic self-confidence.  That is, not the overbearing bravado of a command-and-control manager, but an openness to facing uncertainty, ambiguity, and paradox.  The most effective leaders are able to be both vulnerable and quietly self-confident at the same time, more open about their weaknesses than their strengths (which speak for themselves).”

– Mark Brenner, Ph.D.
Chairman, TGCP

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So, What Does It Take?
Much of what our coaching model focuses on is building a set of skills that helps the candidate become a more agile learner.  Increasingly greater agility is pursued in four different spheres, each of which has a marked influence on a person’s learning curve and on their performance as a leader.

I. Mental Agility.   The candidate discovers ways to more consistently:
• Embrace complexity
• Confront ambiguity
• Expand their interests and perspectives
• Pursue complexity out of heightened curiosity
• View penetrating questions as more important than answers

II. Interpersonal Finesse.   The candidate develops more techniques with which to:
• Self-reflect and augment self-awareness
• Catch their own counter-productive behavior and modify it
• Vary their role and style to the situation
• Embrace conflict and harness it for creative ends

III. Change Mastery.   The candidate’s executive repertoire is broadened when they:
• Learn how to behave as strategically as possible
• Employ hypothetical modeling in their thinking and problem-solving
• Embrace the underlying spirit of continuous improvement
• Come to understand how critical tenacity is in any change initiative

IV. Goal Orientation.  The candidate hones a high-impact results orientation by adding or refining the following capabilities:
• Create a presence and inspire others by consistently acting “on purpose” (i.e., acting strategically)
• Address their own performance and others’ in a systematic, developmental, and strategic way
• Differentiate among the various levels of priorities and act accordingly (i.e., the two-by-two matrix of Urgent x Important)
• Deliver on promises and expectations

Regardless of how you look at it, you are your primary instrument of interpersonal influence, organizational impact, and personal accomplishment and fulfillment.  So, elevate your game.  Get a coach.

© Copyright 2014, by BCG-WCG

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