The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.
— Ray Kroc
Executives work every day with the type of pressure the average person cannot handle.
C-suite leaders in Atlanta are those rare breeds of people who build teams, inspire others, and ultimately make million dollar decisions.
Yet within this small group of elite persons, there are some who thrive more than others. Why is this?
I’m sure you’re aware that the success of an individual is not solely down to their intelligence level. IQ is not an guaranteed marker of success.
I know what you’re thinking… That it’s EQ that makes the real difference, right?
Well, EQ does play a role in an executive’s success, but there is another level. A level which goes beyond both IQ and EQ. It’s a level that is attained by those who use an executive coach.
So, what does an executive coach bring to the table that can assist elite persons in reaching a higher level of performance?
In my experience, this question is best answered by qualifying what an executive coach is not and does not do. This then leaves a very clear answer of how a coach can help.
The Difference Between A Life Coach And An Executive Coach
Often times there is confusion between what a life coach offers in contrast to what an executive coach offers.
A life coach assists people in finding their path in life. Or put another way, a life coach is someone who helps a client assess and address personal issues in order to improve life satisfaction.
Most, if not all, executives already make an impact on the world each day, know what they want from life, and are financially secure. In short, they are beyond what a life coach can offer them.
An executive coach, on the other hand, is someone who works with talented individuals to help them plug professional development gaps.
These gaps may include becoming more self-aware, interrogating (in order to clarify) goals, and to identify the highest leverage development opportunities.
In my experience executives often come to me with two burning issues they want to resolve.
First, they want to understand new methods that allow them to figure out what they don’t know.
Because once a person can identify what they don’t know their careers tend to accelerate.
I’m sure you’re aware of the principle of working on the highest leverage task at all times. And that is what is a coach assists with. Putting tools and methods to work so any time you do devote to professional development training is always 100% productive.
The second issue a high percentage of people have is getting past old and stubborn ways of thinking, so they can then develop new ways to think about familiar problems.
Executive Coaches Can Help You Develop New Ways To Think About Familiar Problems
There is a scientific reason why coaches encourage and guide people to find the answers to their issues, rather than telling them. Here’s why…
I’m sure you’ve heard of neuroplasticity. As a quick recap, Wikipedia defines neuroplasticity as:
Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity and neural plasticity, is the ability of the brain to change throughout an individual’s life, e.g., brain activity associated with a given function can be transferred to a different location, the proportion of grey matter can change, and synapses may strengthen or weaken over time.
In short then, when we think in a new way, we create new pathways in the brain. The more we practice thinking in a new way the easier it is for us to adopt this thinking instinctively since the brain has literally created new pathways.
This goes way beyond lateral thinking.
This is developing new thinking patterns to deal with familiar situations, and given context that could mean inspiring a team to perform at their maximum capacity when up until now they operate at less than 100%.
Or for the people at the very top, it could mean having an instinctive decision-making matrix available instantly.
Executive Coaches Challenge You To Challenge Yourself
You’re now aware why coaches don’t parlay answers to clients. Why coaches make clients work towards their own answers.
The way a coach does this is first through listening to everything the client has to say. In fact, some clients have told me that this part of the session is one of the most rewarding. Simply having someone listen to them. Someone who acts like a sounding board. Someone who passes no judgment and does not feel an urgent need to ‘fix’ every issue with a textbook answer.
And that ability to hold back, to refrain from jumping in and offering by-the-numbers advice is what makes a great coach great.
The point I’m making here is this. Every session with every client is unique. There are no pre-prescribed formulas. Each elite person whom I talk with gets a bespoke service.
Part of that service is to help executives reframe their thoughts around certain aspects of their work.
I listen, I suggest, then I sit back and guide you towards a solution. — That’s how neuroplasticity works.
It’s worth mentioning at this point what a powerful tool reframing is. Take coaching for example. Not so long ago if a person needed a coach it was seen as weakness. Today coaching is seen as a status symbol for those reaching for the very peak.
Those Times When A Person Or Company Absolutely Should NOT Hire A Coach
Executive coaches can only help those people who are willing and ready to help themselves.
We’re not in the business of convincing people who believe they already have the all the solutions they need.
And that is the first of four times that people should not look to hire a coach. If someone feels they do not need coaching, then it’s best to not start the process.
Second, if a person is looking for specific business advice for a specific problem they are facing, then coaching is not for them.
Remember, coaching is about steering people towards new ways of thinking about familiar problems. Coaching is about providing a new set of tools for high achievers to interpret both familiar and new problems.
Third, if a person is halfway out the door and thinks coaching is a final roll of the dice that can bail them out… Then sorry, no, it’s too late.
Finally, if a person has not yet attained a high enough position within the company to justify the budget for a coach, then we’re not a good fit.
At the end of the day, executive coaching is for executives who make hard decisions every day.
I’d like to draw your attention back to the third point we made. Which is when a person is half-way out the door and looking for a coach to bail them out.
Obviously, this person has left it too late. And that’s a shame. If that person had spoken with a coach earlier and identified professional development needs they might have stood a chance.
Without coaching they are facing the shame of dismissal. But worse still they have to carry a reputation that says they cannot handle it at the top. It’s almost impossible to shake off that kind of reputation. And the future is not bright. At best a mediocre middle management job with little to no responsibility, and certainly they will never feel the thrust of making million-dollar decisions.
What To Expect From An Executive Coach
In short, coaching is a series of intentional conversations that allow a person to live out their maximum capacity.
During those conversations, a coach does little talking. As you’re now aware a coach listens. A coach listens to understand so he or she can ask questions.
A coach asks questions instead of giving information. As you’re now aware each client gets a bespoke service. There are no preformulated answers.
During our session, I won’t brainstorm and generate a heap of ideas with you… What I’ll do is guide you towards the answers. That’s the most effective way to ensure you create new neural pathways aka neuroplasticity.
I won’t share my story with you. That’s my story. It has no place in our sessions. I want to know your story so I can tap in your experience and challenge you to think in new ways.
You’ll hear no solutions come from me. If you do, then I’m not doing my job well. My job is to expand your thinking, help you create new neural pathways and guide you towards finding the solutions.
Helping Leaders Lead Themselves
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.
—Alexander the Great
Even the most charismatic of leaders who appear to make the burden of command appear easy often submit themselves to appraisal and training.
If you like, you can think of our coaching sessions that way. You’re already a leader. I’m going to teach you how to lead, I’m going to give you tools so that you can develop yourself into a more effective leader.
Each session aims to make you a more effective leader, by helping you to help yourself.
And if you know a better way of helping yourself than working with someone who will assist in drawing the solutions to your issues out of yourself (because that is when the magic really happens) then please do drop me a line and let me know.
Before Speaking With An Executive Coach
Before you complete the initial contact form in full, there’s a question to ask yourself.
Right now you’re standing at a crossroads.
If you go one way you’ll keep on doing what you’ve been doing up until now.
I guess you don’t want to do that any more, that’s why you’ve read this article.
To continue along the same path only ever leads to the same outcome. Which at best is reaching a lower level than you want, and at worst is failing to perform and racing headlong towards failure. All those years of effort up to this point wasted.
You might even know people who’ve been where you are and they chose the wrong direction. How did it work out for them?
Where would they be in their career and life if they had chosen to do what deep down we know is best for us.
The other option is to take the road that leads you to your vision of success. Thankfully, if you choose this road you’re no longer walking the path alone.
You’re walking the path that many other smart leaders have taken. Leaders who invest in themselves in the areas they recognize would benefit from improvement.
Be that improved self-awareness. Figuring out what you don’t know and the steps to take to get to the next level.
Improved interpersonal relationships, listening skills, and empathy are also vital components of what makes up a person at the very top.
The ability to influence. Not persuade, because persuading is getting someone to do one thing, influencing people is when they buy into everything you say. That means having a team that will follow you.
Feeling confident about your ability to lead during times of change. That is when people below you need a strong leader.
All business, as you know is communication. Excel at communication to excel at business.
Knowing how to build and effective teams. Teams that want to work at their maximum capacity because you are their leader.
Having new tools in your arsenal to create a strategy and employ strategic thinking.
The ability to make and stand by the decision you make.
Mentoring those around you to develop their talent and success.
The choice is yours. Nobody else can make it for you.
If you’re ready to succeed then go ahead now and introduce yourself by filling out the short contact form.