We are often asked, “What exactly happens when an executive coach is brought in to work with executives or high-potential employees at my company? What do company coach sessions really look like?”
We admit that it can seem a bit mysterious. There are different approaches to executive coaching — there are even differences in what it means to be an effective, successful executive leader. But there is no magic here. Celebrity coaches do not have a secret formula; there are no mystical gurus or sensei.
Start with a knowledgeable and experienced certified executive coach (we recommend certification from the International Coach Federation). Talented company coaches help leaders, teams, and high-potential employees clearly define their goals, assess their strengths and weaknesses, change behaviors, strengthen leadership characteristics, and improve performance. At Arden Coaching, we organize our work around three essential steps:
- Executive coaches engage with their clients in company coach sessions to increase their awareness about current and possible beliefs and behaviors.
- Leveraging this new-found awareness coaches work with clients to build a tangible and specific plan of action
- Coaches continue to work with their clients as they work through the plan, and achieve their desired goals — with measurable results.
The actual structure of your coaching sessions can take many forms, so It is critical that your needs and overall goals be defined BEFORE you begin company coaching sessions — e.g., do you wish to improve communication skills? Strategic planning skills? Develop the ability to manage difficult conversations effectively? Strengthen executive presence? Build emotional intelligence?
Here are two common company coach session scenarios.
1-on-1 Company Coach Sessions for CEOs and Senior Executives
First, the executive coach, the client(s), and often, their supervisor, meet to discuss and define the specific goals of the coaching engagement (see above). Arden company coaching engagements are designed to be results-oriented. Therefore it’s critical that the purpose and the goals of the coaching be clearly established — and that everyone involved agrees on the direction.
Our coaches typically conduct a 360-degree assessment to assist the client in gaining insights about their behaviors and leadership skills. Depending on the situation, Arden Coaching uses either a quantitative tool called the Leadership Circle Profile or a structured series of stakeholder interviews.
Your company coach expertly (this expertise is important!) interprets and translates the results of the 360-degree assessment. The results serve as a jumping-off point for the client’s process of self-awareness and discovery.
Then a development plan is created by the coach and the client. The plan serves as an evolving narrative — telling the story of the client’s journey of awareness, discovery, and transformation.
Now, we “work the plan.” The client and the coach work through the personalized development plan and the strategies they’ve established together during the engagement. They meet regularly to discuss actions taken, challenges, successes, and best practices. The coach reflects patterns of thinking and behavior back to the client so they can see themselves more clearly. Coaches also introduce innovative and effective alternative ways to approach challenges and explore new opportunities.
Executive Coaching in a Group or Team Setting
A lot can be achieved by smartly fusing executive coaching with group work. The focus is on individual development but it’s accomplished in both group settings and 1-on-1 sessions. And individual goals can be aligned with organizational goals — this approach moves the needle for individuals as well as the company.
Typically, a structured program is offered to a larger group of people at the same level of the organization — for example, all of the regional managers nationally, or all team leaders, or a defined cohort of high potential employees.
The program (at Arden, this program is called the Arden Coaching Leadership Academy) includes a group component — a series of workshops that develop leadership and performance skills among all members — and a staggered series of 1-on-1 executive coaching sessions during and following the group work for each person in the cohort
Our program revolves around a DiSC assessment, building emotional intelligence and leadership skills, providing expert feedback, and developing personal action plans for each person in the group.
What’s the biggest benefit for the company? Everyone is on the same page. All the participants will be using the same language, applying the same practices, and moving forward together with improved skill sets — a huge performance advantage for your organization.
One Caveat: Coaching is NOT Training
It is vital to understand that company coaching is NOT the same as company training. Training is a one-way “download” of knowledge. A trainer delivers a pre-determined package of information to those being trained. A trainee digests that information and then shows that they understand it and are able to apply it.
Coaching is a two-way “exchange” of knowledge and insight. Coach and client are partners — coaches do not tell their clients what to do. Coaching helps the client examine their beliefs, assumptions, and mindset in order to break old habits, establish new behaviors, develop their leadership characteristics, reach new goals, and accomplish the results they are seeking.
Grow Leadership and Team Performance at Your Company
To learn more about how company coaching will help you improve your organization’s leadership skills and performance, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.