Executive coaching is an intervention process that enables leaders to improve performance and grow conceptually and behaviorally. When entering a coaching process, an executive must understand it takes time to create long-term, sustainable change. Coaching must capture leaders’ aspirations and create pathways for them to reach their potential. Coaching is not about training, consulting, or mentoring; instead, it is best described as a dynamic and flexible iterative process for change that moves leaders from their current state to a desired state. Because coaching is a dynamic process, the issues and conditions being addressed at any given time may need to be reframed to focus on the future. This, in turn, may alter the original goals of coaching.
As an example, let’s talk about a hypothetical CEO who is dealing with a marketplace downtrend that is impacting the longevity of the company’s core product. The CEO knows it is crucial during this changing time to concentrate on both maintaining the company’s current customer base and developing a strategy for the future. The coaching process enables this CEO to think strategically and focus energy on the competencies that are needed to make the organization successful. Once this strategy is identified, the CEO is able to re-focus on researching the potential of other markets, which leads to a shift in the organization’s strategy.
In this instance, the CEO has reframed the current situation by projecting into the future and leveraging the organization’s core competencies to develop new products and services with greater potential for growth. This intervention has kept the CEO focused on the marketplace, the organization’s core competencies, and strategies for the future instead of only on damage control.
Why Is Executive Coaching Growing So Rapidly?
What is happening in organizations today to drive this current growth in executive coaching? Several factors are at play.
First, the role of CEO has become more difficult and complex, thereby requiring specialized skills. In addition, a growing segment of younger executives are starting new companies or taking leadership roles in established companies. These new executives may be entering senior-level roles with or without previous executive leadership experience or institutional political savvy. Executives today appear to be more open and less self-centered than their predecessors. They are more aware of the impact their emotions—and the effective management of them—has on their ability to be an effective leader. They are also cognizant of the importance of empathizing with others within the organization and relating to their needs. This has made them more receptive to learning and skill-development opportunities. They are ideal candidates for the benefits of executive coaching.
Secondly, some horrific failures in large companies today have raised a red flag to the business world and corporate boards. Company executives are becoming wiser, and time periods for newly hired or promoted executives to demonstrate competence and capabilities are getting shorter. Because of these factors, businesses are becoming more open and the performance of their executives more visible, which makes it more difficult for performance issues or fatal management flaws to remain hidden. Executives today are subject to both increased scrutiny and a finite timeframe for them to demonstrate their capabilities.
Thirdly, executive coaching is growing rapidly because the challenges facing today’s businesses are emerging so quickly. Some of the challenges for CEOs and companies in this changing environment are technology, new markets, and fierce competition, which include the rise of global industries. The life-cycle of products and services has been reduced to a length never seen before. The time to market is shorter, and new products are becoming commodities much more quickly. The result of all these factors is that organizations simply cannot afford to become complacent about their product offerings. The current market is more turbulent, which means CEOs must stay focused and strategic rather than reactive and tactical if they are to lead their companies successfully today.