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Let’s face it: None of us started our career as expert leaders, but these people play a crucial role in the success of teams and enterprises, and theirs is a challenging job. Additionally, many find themselves in such positions with little training or support, and even given the myriad of books, courses and other training materials devoted to the subject, it can still be challenging to know if you’re on the right path and how to apply training lessons in everyday decisions. That’s why I’m a believer in executive leadership coaching. I’ve benefited from it significantly, along with many of my team members.
Having an executive coach is much like looking at yourself in the mirror; what’s reflected are things that might otherwise be impossible to see. Through their eyes, you can more accurately assess your management style and strengths and then receive honest and constructive feedback. Gifted coaches help you see your traits and actions objectively —including areas where you need improvement — then make an effort to hold you accountable for doing so.
Executive coaching of this type can take even the strongest leaders and turn them into something greater — visionary thinkers, great coaches, and more fulfilled individuals overall.
Six ways it can accomplish just that:
1. Develop ideas and provide guidance
Executive coaching sessions give you the space to air ideas and struggles and then receive feedback. This can be extremely valuable when you’re trying to make a difficult decision, whether it’s moving forward with a new endeavor or handling a conflict between employees. A good coach can talk you through possibilities, then provide valuable insights to help address the current situation and learn from it to make more confident decisions.
2. Assistance with goal setting and achieving
Setting benchmarks and working toward them is vital to any coaching relationship, but a capable executive coach is specifically adept at helping with business and leadership goals. They might start by helping you discover your motivations, set achievable goals and devise pathways to reach them. Once you’re on your path, they will be a source of regular accountability to help ensure progress.
3. Build strategies that address both strengths and weaknesses
Personality, acquired skills and natural aptitudes play a significant role in each person’s leadership style. A coach can help identify areas in which you’re most confident and capable, help maximize those strong suits, and work on areas in which you’re weak.
4. Boost emotional intelligence
Excellent leadership requires high emotional intelligence, a skill that can be difficult to develop (especially without guidance) but often distinguishes great leaders from average ones. Executive coaching helps increase “EI” by nurturing better self-understanding through various interpersonal situations and scenarios. Your coach will help determine how to solve conflicts and understand the motivations and feelings of team members, which will markedly improve just about all outcomes.
5. Encourage new ways of thinking
Everyone has cognitive biases — assumptions and other ways of thinking that we rarely stop to examine, which lead us to make certain decisions and lean on the same kind of solutions. A winning coach will point out and challenge flawed thought processes, opening paths of thinking to develop fresh ideas.
6. Training towards becoming a better mentor and coach yourself
The role of a leader is broad, and good ones are much more than simply “manager” or “boss,” but guide others to grow and perform their best. Unfortunately, many have not had the privilege of being led by such people. And even if you have, continuous coaching will still be highly beneficial. A gifted executive coach provides a model that helps you learn to be a better coach yourself, and by exemplifying good leadership, you encourage and foster the same from team members.