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How Leaders Utilize Executive Coaching for Better Business Acumen and Organizational Development

By | Executive Coaching, Executive Life Coaching | No Comments

While it’s imperative your executive coach can help you develop self-awareness and lead you down the path to continuous self-development, there’s one element that’s equally crucial…

Your coach needs to have a thorough grounding in real world business experience.

Let’s face it, you’re a leader and an expert in your field. You don’t want to be explaining the nuts and bolts of running a business to your coach when you should be the one being guided.

Luckily, the most effective executive coaches can help you to sharpen your business acumen and organizational development. It’s just a question of finding the right coach.

The Key Benefits of Business Acumen for Your Organization

Business acumen is not just a necessary evil for someone running a business of their own.

As a salaried leader of an organization, you’ll notice some distinct and tangible benefits from improving your know-how in this area…

  • Increased efficiency should lead to enhanced profitability
  • By understanding the trade-offs involved in various actions, you’ll be able to make more logical and more strategic decisions
  • Not panicking in the face of threats and problems ensures you make more level-headed and superior decisions

These are all areas where a solid coach can help out.

How can they be of even further assistance, though?

How Can a Coach Help Polish Your Business Acumen and Organizational Development?

In order to help you refine your business acumen, a coach needs to understand how your organization makes money, and how it uses that money strategically. Your coach needs to be fully aware of how you contribute to your organization’s bottom line if you want to make an even stronger impact.

Better business acumen translates to better business decisions so which areas need working on?

While I’ll highlight financial literacy first, I want to make clear that business acumen is about far more than formal training in the intricacies of a balance sheet.

Where your coach will help you most is in interpreting this data and thinking at a higher and more strategic level. This, in turn, can improve organizational development where necessary to further drive profits and improve performance.

Do not underestimate the need for coaching in these areas either. Even if you’re already at the top of your game professionally, a solid coach can always fine-tune your business acumen but how is this so?

Well, business acumen is not an innate ability. You’ll need to develop skills you already have in the below areas and learn any skills that are not in place. Your coach is an invaluable part of this journey.

These components are all central to great business acumen:

  • Financial Literacy: If you want to manage budgets and improve ROI, you’ll need to understand the financial metrics of your company. The more you know about how cash is generated, margin and profitability, the better you can drive processes to improve profits. An effective executive coach will be familiar with all these areas. Your coach can step up your financial literacy by helping you probe into what creates growth in your organization and the reasons behind this. Your coach can help you determine what makes customers buy from your company so you can better attract more customers.
  • Leadership: Perhaps the area your coach can work on with you most easily is leadership. You should already have natural abilities in this area if you’re an executive. Your coach will simply bring out the best in them
  • Marketing: Since your coach will be marketing their own business, they’ll be able to assist you with the overview required to make better strategic decisions based on how your organization carries out its own marketing. And we’ll round out
  • Strategic Alignment: The most critical of these core competencies, an understanding of your organization’s overall strategy can help you and your coach to pinpoint gaps and identify areas where improvement can drive the bottom line

Assuming your coach has the ability to nudge you in the right direction of improving your knowledge of the above areas, what kind of elements can you work on during coaching?

Sharpening Business Acumen for Strategy Through Coaching

You can enrich your business knowledge by training in all the above areas. While your coach can assist you, that won’t be the prime focus.

Here, instead, are 3 fundamental elements your coach will work on with you so your business acumen naturally develops.

  • Your Thought Processes
  • Your Management Style
  • Your Leadership Skills

Your Thought Processes

By understanding the overarching frameworks of your organization, you’ll be better placed to evaluate decisions and steps you’re thinking of implementing, particularly useful for organizational development.

Your coach can dive deep with you into what drives your own decision-making process. By increasing your awareness of the scope and complexity of situations with the guidance of your coach, you can assess more clearly how your decisions will affect outcomes.

Your personality is pivotal here and this, again, is an area where your coach will be instrumental in guiding you.

Fluidity counts, too. Your coach will stress the importance of remaining able and willing to improvise when necessary.

Your Management Style

Any good coach will easily pinpoint your management style. They can readily identify any weaknesses here and push you gently toward making positive changes.

From strategic planning to measuring performance, from dealing with employee problems to managing an unwieldy department, how you get things done can directly affect the outcome.

Thinking about your management style is one thing. Working on it in tandem with a sharp executive coach is another entirely.

For both overall business acumen and the ability to affect organizational change, working on your management style is vital.

Your Leadership Skills

Simply mastering people and leadership skills can have a dramatic influence on your business acumen in general. A great coach will excel in these areas.

In addition to sessions with your coach, developing a mentorship network can also help you to drill down on how other executives lead and manage teams.

Working through a range of approaches with your coach can help you establish which would be most effective within your particular organization.

What To Do Next

As you should see by now, strong business acumen leads to wiser judgments and more impactful decisions. This inevitably translates to business success.

The bad news is that business acumen is not very easily acquired.

The extremely good news is that it can be taught and can absolutely be strengthened. Learning along with experience can get you so far. Why not give yourself the extra edge and speak with an executive coach to see how, specifically, you can push to the next level?

You can schedule an appointment if you’d like to talk through any of the aspects I’ve covered today.

How Executive Coaching Can Teach Emotional Intelligence

By | Executive Coaching, Executive Life Coaching | No Comments

As a leader, your personal behavior and emotions can directly impact business results.

If you’re a leader ready to commit to executive coaching, chances are both your behavior and emotions are on point. There’s always room for improvement, though.

One of the most common natural traits of influential leaders is an innate emotional intelligence giving an executive coach a strong platform to build from.

Is it possible to teach emotional intelligence, though?

Before we look at this question, a quick snapshot of what, exactly, emotional intelligence consists of…

Emotional Intelligence: The Basics

According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence is the ability to first identify then manage your emotions and also the emotions of others.

Daniel Goleman’s seminal text Emotional Intelligence – Why It Can Matter More Than IQ outlines 5 key pillars of EI.

In this book, Goleman touches on Hay Group studies that show up to 85% of exceptional performance in C-suite leaders is due to emotional and social intelligence rather than raw cognitive ability.

Here are the 5 areas Goleman identifies as key metrics for success in the executive sphere…

  • Empathy: Recognizing how people feel is crucial if you’re hoping to lead and manage them. With strong empathy, you’ll also better understand the dynamic underpinning relationships, specifically the balance of power. This awareness is useful at all levels of an executive role
  • Motivation: Clearly, you need to be self-motivated, driven and able to show both initiative and optimism when you’re faced with the challenges of an executive’s day-to-day
  • Self-Awareness: Being able to both recognize and understand your own emotions will go a long way when you’re trying to build upon them. Self-awareness generally translates into enhanced realism and self-confidence
  • Self-Regulation: Remaining in control of your emotions when faced with challenging situations and demanding personalities is another benchmark of heightened emotional intelligence
  • Social Skills: An ability to communicate confidently and successfully involves picking up on verbal and non-verbal cues. With emotional intelligence at the required level, you’ll be able to accept and act upon feedback. You’ll also have the ability to persuade and manipulate others using nothing but words

How, then, can executive coaching improve upon these foundational areas of emotional intelligence?

A coach will encourage you to become more empathetic by making a conscious effort to look at the other person’s point of view. You can run through some exercises where you look back at a situation with full focus on the feelings experienced by the other person rather than yourself. If you fired someone, how did it make them feel and why? Perhaps you passed someone over for a promotion. Again, take the time to understand how it made them feel.

While it’s not easy to teach motivation, you can certainly make a concerted effort to confront challenges more optimistically. Your coach can help you with this. Along with your coach, set goals continuously and hold yourself accountable to them. Rather than blindly fixating on an outcome, double down on the why. After all, if you don’t have a genuine reason for doing something, the chances of success are slimmer than if you’re clear on why you’re committed to that goal.

Drilling down on your strengths and weaknesses is a simple but classic approach your coach can guide you through to improve self-awareness. Be honest about how you manage your emotions. Do you respond poorly to conflict or confrontation? How does this manifest in your behaviors and actions? An effective executive will enable you to turn those weaknesses into strengths with better management of your emotions.

Linked to this is the way in which you self-regulate. Your coach can help you determine how quickly you react to negative emotions since these are usually the most damaging to react instinctively against. You can learn to stave off major decisions until you’ve ridden out a peak of high emotions. If you find yourself complaining or experiencing negative emotions, your coach can push you into planning decisive action instead, show you how you can improve the situation rather than unproductively moaning.

Your social skills, specifically communication, can be sharpened in many ways through executive coaching. You can learn to listen more fully rather than simply waiting for your next opportunity to speak or formulating your answer without giving weight to what the other person is saying. You can practice conflict management and learn a great deal about feedback from an executive coach. Act on the feedback they give you as a direct method of improving your social skills during your sessions.

So, these are some very simple methods in which a coach can help you to hone your emotional intelligence but how does incisive executive coaching actually teach emotional intelligence?

Real Coaching Teaches a Behavior Not a Skill Set

Throughout the 70s and 80s, Sir John Whitmore and Tim Gallwey pioneered a style of transformational performance coaching combining the tenets of sports coaching with the core components of transpersonal psychology.

In Whitmore’s Coaching For Performance, he describes true coaching as “the practice of emotional intelligence”. He goes on to add that it’s a “behavior not a skill set”.

So, if your coach is worth his salt, he’ll be embodying the core concepts of emotional intelligence himself. He’ll also be guiding you to develop better behaviors that will translate to influencing others and working confidently with them at all levels.

Pivotal to improving your emotional intelligence is awareness. It is, indeed, the bedrock of emotional intelligence so we’ll glimpse at how a coach can coax out your potential to optimize performance beginning with awareness…

The Triple-Pronged Power of Awareness

Your executive coach can help you to fine-tune and uprate your emotional intelligence in these 3 broad areas of awareness:

  • Being Self-Aware: You need to understand why you do what you do. By better self-management in the face of internal obstacles, and improving the way you self-manage reactions, emotions, and judgments, your overall performance at work will spike. These are all areas an executive coach can work through with you
  • Being Aware of Others: To manage relationships successfully, it helps if you can clearly and rapidly identify strengths and weaknesses in others. By better understanding their motivations and desires, you can inspire them more readily. You coach can teach you to listen more carefully and to develop these skills to great effect
  • Being Aware of the Organization: By learning to keep individual and team goals fully aligned with organizational goals, you’ll have a team and company in harmony and increased performance along with more enjoyment in the workplace. This is something you might be subconsciously aware of but not implement all the time. An executive coach can pinpoint any weaknesses in this area and help you to focus more fully on aligning these goals

How Can You Learn Emotional Intelligence?

Luckily, this is an easy enough question to answer succinctly…

Implementing the solution is where the hard work lies, but that’s something for your coach to work through with you.

Emotional intelligence is not a hard skill. This means traditional methods of didactic instruction would be an exercise in futility. You would be trying to learn something that can’t be learned using that approach and doomed to failure.

Instead, your coach will employ techniques based on real issues rather than role-play with extensive training and practice using experiential facilitation. In plain English, you’ll be central to the learning process with your coach facilitating.

So, executive coaching can absolutely help you develop superior emotional intelligence, and you shouldn’t underestimate the way that can improve your performance in the workplace.

If you’d like to arrange to speak about executive coaching, make an appointment right here.

10 Ways Executive Coaching Can Help Hone Effective Communication

By | Executive Coaching, Executive Life Coaching, Goal Setting | No Comments

Clear and effective communication underpins the running of any successful organization.

If you’re in an executive role, communication takes on many forms. Mastering the art will give you a precious edge in performance so don’t be afraid to engage a coach to bring out the best in you.

With research showing that either written or verbal communication is involved in fully 90% of business transactions, neglecting the art of communication is ill-advised.

Whether you’re communicating internally or with your client base, whether you’re interviewing or trying to get departments to work collaboratively on a project, getting your message across is only half the battle. You need to make sure that message is understood.

10 Ways a Coach Can Help You To Communicate More Effectively

As with any skill, the best executive coach can help you hone your ability to communicate.

We’ll outline 10 key areas where a solid executive coach can work with the skills you already have in place and help you to communicate with devastating effect, an effect that can dramatically impact the bottom line of your organization.

1) Accept Full Responsibility for Breakdown in Communication

Communication is not communication unless the transmission is fully understood.

In your leadership role, you’re invariably the primary communicator. You’re not only responsible for sharing a message, but also making sure that message hits home.

Beyond this, communicating is about more than simply imparting information. You can better understand the people you work with through effective communication. You can also improve your relationships both within the organization and with clients.

With this in mind, if your message has not been adequately understood, communication has been incomplete. You have failed in your job.

If this happens, don’t pass the buck. The easiest thing is to blame someone else. The much tougher but far more effective approach is to ask yourself what you did wrong, and to bear full responsibility for this breakdown in communication.

In terms of remedying the issue, take a leaf from Michael Jordan’s book. He assiduously reviewed all his past games to identify and work on mistakes. You don’t need to go to the lengths of recording your conversations, but take any failures in communication to your coach and he’ll help you work through the problem, help you to achieve a better outcome next time around.

2) Are You Really Listening or Just Waiting for an Opportunity to Speak?

This is an area where an executive coach can really drill you.

Have you heard the expression, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason”?

I’m saying this not to be rude but it’s a truism well worth bearing in mind when you’re communicating in the workplace.

Ask yourself if you’re genuinely listening to the other party or simply waiting to slip your next point in. Without listening attentively, you’re unlikely to get the optimum outcome for both parties from any interchange.

Your coach can help you here by making sure you feed back what you’re hearing. Not only does this crystallize and clarify things in your mind, it makes the other party feel like you’re really listening to them.

3) Ask Yourself What’s In It For Your Audience

It goes unsaid you need to think about your own needs when you’re communicating. You shouldn’t neglect what you want from any given exchange, but neither should you overlook what’s equally important…

What’s in it for your audience?

Whether you’re talking one-on-one or presenting to a large group, you should always keep the needs and different perspectives of your audience uppermost in mind.

I mention perspectives because these differ according to someone’s position in an organization, their motivations and their various needs. A one-size-fits-all solution rarely works.

By remaining fluid and ready to switch up your style when required, you’ll be better placed to cater to everyone’s needs without compromising your own.

4) Keep Conversation a Two-Way Street

This might seem like a statement of the obvious but it bears keeping firmly in mind.

When you’re communicating, you should pay close attention not only to the words you hear, but you should also drill down on whether or not you fully understand what the other person means.

Equally as important as what someone says is what they don’t say. Reading between the lines is a crucial skill your coach can help you develop and sharpen. You don’t need to be a mind reader but your coach can make sure you don’t miss out on subtle pointers where someone might be implying something by omission.

Delivering a monologue is a surefire way to bore your listener and put them off interacting fully. Your coach will make absolutely certain your listening skills are equally polished as your spoken delivery.

5) Never Be Afraid of Repetition: I Repeat, Never Be Afraid of Repetition

This might seem like the antithesis of clear and effective communication, but I’m talking about a very specific type of repetition here…

By repeating the way in which someone has interpreted what you’ve said back to them, you can ensure that they really have understood what’s been asked of them.

You can also flip this neatly on its head by asking your audience to paraphrase what you’ve said to them. This will make it clear whether or not you’re on the same page. You can then plug any gap in comprehension by drilling down with more precision.

6) Non-Verbal Communication Counts

Non-verbal communication, according to this study, accounts for more than half of an audience’s perception of the presenter. This holds true whether you’re communicating to a group or an individual. It also works in both directions.

You should never underestimate the value of learning the basics of body language. Proper posture, eye contact and movement can seriously enhance the impact of your words. This is another area where your coach can give you a helping hand.

7) Over-Communicate When Sharing New Ideas

It’s commonplace to overestimate just how much a listener understands, doubly so if you’re talking about a complex or unfamiliar topic.

Just because you see a nodding head or hear a “Sure”, that doesn’t always equate to your message hitting home in full.

While you should communicate clearly and concisely, don’t confuse this with needing to gloss over important details too quickly. Over-communicating an idea followed up with summarizing that idea is a solid strategy to guarantee your audience absorbs the full weight of what you’re saying.

An executive coach can work through a number of exercises to check you get this skill on lock.

8) Remain on Point At All Times

While I’ve talked about repetition used strategically and also about over-communication, keep in mind that you should also stay on message at all times. Avoid verbiage. Resist the temptation to add anything extraneous to the conversation.

Your coach can assist you here by keeping you fully focused on the goal or goals of your communication. 

9) Skip The Visual Aids Where Possible

Steve Jobs famously banned all PowerPoint presentations at Apple.

Facebook also instituted a similar veto on visual aids.

Needless to say, both of these global giants communicate brilliantly at the very highest level.

When you sidestep relying too much on props, you’ll be forced to draw your audience in with words alone. Combining the art of storytelling with non-verbal cues can be far more impactful than rolling out a few tired old slides.

10) Think About Whether What You’re Saying Really Makes Sense

Feedback is pivotal when you’re trying to ascertain whether your message is really punching home.

The listening skills you’ve polished with your coach will come fully to the fore here, along with your ability to take on board what your listener is feeding back to you verbally, non-verbally, and with what they are not saying. Put all these elements together and you can determine how much your message is sinking in.

You can say that communication has been truly effective when all parties can agree that “It makes sense.”

What To Do Next

If you’re looking to enhance your communication skills through the power of coaching, put it into practice right now.

Get in touch and schedule an appointment. I’ll help you to help yourself and, in turn, your audience and your organization.