Why is it critical to hire the services of an executive coach, particularly when an organization is not growing?

Strategic management in a no growth environment requires decision making that will not only address the organization’s current situation but also help senior executives get in shape for the upturn that is bound to come. In a slow growth environment there is an urgent need to shift the focus of strategy from growth in market share to growth in profitable market share. There is a world of difference between the two and often requires serious realignment of company culture and operating structure. As CEOs focus on reducing costs they cannot give up the drive to grow the top line profitably. The market is still full of opportunities and leaders need to find ways to help the organization achieve profitable revenue growth.

When the process of strategic thinking is combined with coaching it has a very powerful impact. One of the greatest challenges of executives is how to keep up with so much change, in relation to themselves, their team members and their clients. Through a better understanding of the strategic shift, they can work with their coach to identify their blind spots and find out how coaching can support them in dealing with the challenges they face.
Business coaching will help senior executives (one on one) to maximize their potential. In a complex and changing environment executives will need a resource that will help them become more self-aware in a purely non- judgmental way and help them address the growth challenges they face.

How do you measure the return on investment (ROI) from executive coaching?

By measuring the actual results co-developed with each client. Thought is incipient action. The action is the response from your subconscious mind that corresponds to the nature of your thought. Fill your mind with the concepts of harmony, health, peace, and goodwill, and wonders will happen in your life. A good coach will be able to ensure that you get your desired results. Hence goal setting with the coach is critical and then setting appropriate structures to induce action will deliver the results both are looking for.

More importantly, the coachee’s stakeholders will be requested to observe the declared intent of change in behaviors. The coach will pulse the stakeholders three times over a six month period which will provide a clear indication if the coaching is indeed producing the desired results.

What are the main benefits of coaching as per the methodology of Thought Perfect?

The single biggest benefit is achieving clarity of thought and purpose. Clear thinking is what leads to changes in behavior that produces desired outcomes. It is not possible to change people, but we can change their beliefs and consequently their behavior. Thought Perfect makes leaders appreciate the law of life which is the law of belief. As a person thinks, feels, and believes, so is the condition of his or her mind, body, and circumstances. Aligning the heart and the mind is a very important aspect of decision making. This is the very crux of the Thought Perfect coaching process.

What is the difference between coaching and consulting?

Individuals who engage in a coaching relationship can expect to experience fresh perspectives on professional challenges and opportunities, enhanced thinking and decision-making skills, interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence in carrying out their chosen work and life roles. The coach will help the executive establish his own values, develop his goals, get an appreciation of his own capabilities and limitations, fine-tune his thinking, establish behavioral changes required, build appropriate structures and identify actions for implementation. All the time there is a constant process of providing feedback, shifting perspectives, and developing understanding that will lead to the implementation of necessary actions.

All this is done in a non-judgmental way that inspires trust and confidence. Unlike consulting there is never any advice given- all the desired outcomes are achieved through the ideas and decisions that are drawn out of each individual executive. This is the reason why unlike consulting- where somebody tells them what to do- they take full ownership of their decisions and implementation to succeed in deriving the appropriate outcomes.

When is a CEO or a business leader ready for coaching?

CEOs (or for that matter any C level executive/ business leader) need to recognize that coaching can help them perform better. Not only do they need to perform better but they also need to perform consistently better. This puts a lot of pressure on them; they generally cannot confide in anybody and end up making wrong choices that impact them negatively. People who are in trouble often have difficulty in thinking and acting reasonably. Their problems overwhelm them and block their ability to listen and understand.  This impacts their thinking further and makes them do things that bring totally undesired results. Once a CEO understands this, he/she should be ready for coaching.

What should the mindset of a coachee (client) be for coaching to be most effective?

A client should essentially be ready to be coached. This means they are open to the idea of sharing their thoughts- their fears, doubts, and dilemmas. They must be willing to open themselves up and trust their coach to help them out. Sometimes clients come in with a closed mind and then they experience a self-fulfilling prophecy in action where they do not get any benefit from the coaching. They must believe that positive outcomes will result from the interaction. They must essentially be open to the idea of changing themselves.

How important is it for executive coaches to have been CEOs themselves?

It is not necessary that coaches should have been CEOs themselves. They need not be subject matter experts (that would be consulting) at all and can produce better results sometimes by not really knowing anything at all about the CEO’s world. However, as mentioned above, if a coaching relationship has to be successful, CEOs need to trust the coach. And they invariably tend to trust those with whom they have shared beliefs, or shared experiences so that they feel comfortable and become more willing to open up and share their dilemmas. That is why a fellow CEO (“one of our own”, with presence) will be more successful in drawing out a CEO faster and achieve better results sooner. Once again, there are many good coaches who have significant presence without being a CEO and they can be successful too.

Why do CEOs normally use coaches? What kinds of issues do they face?

CEOs usually use coaches for a specific issue where they are faced with a dilemma and they need some help in thinking it through. In such cases, it is a more immediate response that they are looking for. The interaction then is probably limited to one or two sessions depending on the complexity of the issue.

CEO & business leaders also seek coaching when they are looking to improve their overall performance and want a strategic interaction. In such instances, we would work over at least 10 sessions to drive lasting change. CEOs face issues related to Financial, Operational, Human Capital, and Growth initiatives that they struggle with in the execution of their responsibilities to shareholders.

Would coaching apply to entrepreneurs- owners of private businesses?

Yes of course. Entrepreneurs are business leaders and like CEOs they have pretty much the same challenges. In fact, some of them have bigger challenges depending on the stage of life of their businesses. Coaching would benefit them greatly.

Are there cultural differences that can impact the success of coaching?

Yes, most certainly. It is critical that the coach should be able to appreciate the cultural differences between himself and the client. Getting too friendly too soon, or being too aggressive, or just asking for trust too soon, can at times be a setback to the coaching relationship. Knowledge of local culture and practices is very important, particularly in Asia.

Building trust with people of different cultures is an art, and that is why age and experience of the coach is crucial. Wisdom is an ingredient that must come into play when dealing with C- level executives who are all high achievers and can easily be put off if you do not establish rapport by demonstrating the appropriate understanding of local culture. This aspect takes on even greater significance when talking on the phone.

What is most critical to the success of a good coaching relationship?

Empathy, listening skills, and the six principles of Reciprocity, Credibility, Liking, Consistency, Consensus, and Rarity. Good coaches must know exactly what the client is saying and feeling.  They must be able to demonstrate that that they have listened well and have put themselves in the client’s shoes. For more on the six principles, read my article on building trusted relationships.

There are so many coaches- how do we go about selecting the right one?

Yes, indeed. There are many different types of coaches. You need to know what you are looking for. Experience or youth? Go to their website and assess their personality. Look at the kind of testimonials they have. Do they have intellectual depth/ are they sincere?  But most importantly, see who amongst the people you know recommends them. Finally, there is nothing like a trial session. Some coaches are willing to give you a free trial session. The more established ones may not, but then you can terminate the relationship after the first session. In fact, there have been times when I have myself felt that I was not the appropriate coach for a client. Then I recommend who I think will work best for that client. Coaches are generally people with a high level of integrity who always keep your best interest at heart.

Why do some coaches charge so much more than the others?

Some coaches charge more because they are confident of the kind of impact they can make on their client in terms of delivering results. They know that they can deliver consistently good returns on investment (ROI). In fact, that is how to view it- as an investment and not a cost. They have a great deal of experience and excellent listening and probing skills. Most importantly they build trust based on their credibility, reliability, and complete lack of self-interest.

The question is not whether you can afford a coach. What you need to ask yourself is, “Can you afford not to?”. Particularly in today’s environment where there is such a strong pressure to reduce costs, leaders must not be afraid to make the right investments that will deliver the value they are looking for.

Who pays for the coaching- is it the company or the individual?

Enlightened organizations led by enlightened CEOs and heads of Human Resources function will almost always pay for the coaching of their employees. But individuals too can take a decision to hire the services of a coach. They could do this because they do not want their colleagues to know that they are seeking coaching (an Asian phenomenon) or they have already made up their mind to quit the organization, or sometimes because they just do not like any of the coaches provided by their company.

How can international clients pay for the coaching service?

We accept payments by wire transfer. Usually our payment terms require 50% of the fees to be paid upfront and the balance in two equal installments before the coaching ends.

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