Recently I was speaking with a coach on my team about one of her clients. We were discussing how this client, I’ll call him Steve, was much more reliable than he’d been in the past. Initially with his coaching, as with other areas of his professional life, he was inconsistent: sometimes coming prepared, sometimes missing a call, sometimes doing work between sessions and sometimes not. This of course was no surprise to his supervisor, since this is part of what she had suggested get addressed during his coaching. But in this recent conversation, my coach remarked that Steve was actually now on track with his coaching goals, had a development plan in place, and was reliably attending his sessions and doing the work. When I remarked that that was wonderful, she said “Coaching works!”
Well of course coaching works, I thought. But I also realize that my team and I get to see that every day, so we perhaps take it for granted. So today I want to share with you some of the ways in which we have seen coaching impact the clients and companies we work with.
Let’s start with Patrice in Chicago. Patrice was a reliable Vice President at a large media company. She was known for being the go-to person for everyone’s answers; she’d been there so long she knew all the ins and outs. But Patrice’s boss wanted her to step her thinking up to a more strategic level and stop being the individual contributor, and to start leading her team more. Along with this, she’d need to step up her level of Executive Presence. After gathering data from a 360 assessment, and working with her over a period of time, Patrice gradually found that thinking strategically could utilize her tactical skills. She identified a media format that, if standardized, would save the company millions of dollars. Over the course of three months, she held meetings, influenced those inside and outside her company, and got the format standardized. In doing so, she saved her company money, as well as gave herself the practice and confidence that strategy was not out of her reach.
Next, Gary, an SVP in New York who had the opposite issue. This CFO was so strategic that no one could understand what he was saying. He spoke in large concepts that his team found impossible to translate into day to day tasks. Through the course of coaching, he learned techniques to speak in a new way, recognizing that he needed to be the one to convert some of his thoughts to more concrete items his team could then implement. He found that as he did this, he was able to have more effective meetings with his team and its individual members. Their productivity increased many times over, which in turn created a much more satisfied team, retaining a high potential member of his team who had previously been so disgruntled with Gary’s communication that he’d been on the verge of leaving.
Lastly, Max in Denver. Max was recognized by his peers as a dedicated and valuable member of the national leadership team. He was responsible for the Denver office, where his team didn’t seem to have any relationship to him. The office was losing employees to competitors and when polled, they just didn’t have a sense of what Max was up to or that he truly cared about them. Now, in speaking with Max individually, none of that came through to his coach; on the contrary, he cared very much about his people. But Max was an introvert and just not great at being related to his staff, so they saw him as this corporate guy off in the corner. Through his coaching, Max found some ways he was actually comfortable with in reaching out to his staff. He practiced being curious about them and asking questions: not just of the people he felt close to, but to the whole team. In short order, the employees were more engaged and had a lighter attitude around the office. One of Max’s direct reports went from an “I need to replace her, she’s just not working out” to a star sales performer because Max was able for the first time to have a deeper conversation with her and mentor her in the way she needed, being new to her role. Not only was Max pleased with the results for his team, he also felt more comfortable in his own skin, which meant he was more approachable to his team. He started to discover all kinds of information he’d never had access to before and his team thrived as a result.
“Coaching works!” Indeed. Certainly the experience and expertise of our coaches contribute to that, but ultimately it is the willingness and persistence of the clients that make coaching successful. Bringing an openness and curiosity about oneself to the process will accelerate any coaching process. We’re always thrilled to work with clients who have that drive to be more, to do more, and to maximize their abilities while learning new things.
If that developmental mindset describes you or someone in your office, contact us for more information on engaging an executive coach.