Coaching – from a nice to have to a need to have for success-minded executives and organizations (and aren’t we all?)

July 5, 2018 12:18 pm Published by Comments Off on Coaching – from a nice to have to a need to have for success-minded executives and organizations (and aren’t we all?)

Coaching – from a nice to have to a need to have for success-minded executives and organizations (and aren’t we all?)

By Karen Bentley

Director of Sales, Executive Coach and Consultant

“The goal of coaching is the goal of good management: to make the most of an organization’s valuable resources.”

  – Harvard Business Review –

You know that executive coaching has gone mainstream when an executive is terminated, at least in part, for not hiring an executive coach.

University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro fired Beverly Davenport as Chancellor with a blunt letter of termination that outlined his reasons why. The primary reason included her lack of trust, collaboration, communication, and transparency in her relationships — something that is ironic given that she is a tenured communications professor.

In his second point of his termination letter he writes:

“2. You would have benefited from a professional coach, and your unwillingness to routinely engage one, despite my recommendation that you do so, has been frustrating.”

This letter, which you can read here, details what it looks like when someone at the top has gaps that can be addressed by working with an executive coach.  The case of Chancellor Davenport is a clear example of how others – in this case her superior – understand the significant value executive coaching can bring to professional development and that coaching is a gift and a privilege.  Unfortunately, instead of being open minded to seeking help, she was stubborn and uncoachable; costing her her salary, title, prestige, and also causing major public embarrassment by having her termination letter go viral. Meanwhile, Mr. Davenport has also had to face the hassles of dealing with this issue among his board and other constituents. [1]

Given the growing complexity of the marketplace resulting from technological advancements, changing attitudes of the workforce, fierce competition for top talent, and tightening margins due to regulatory burdens, it is more important than ever for CEOs to be receiving the best possible counsel, independent of their board, in order to meet the demands of today’s marketplace and to maintain (and improve) the health of the corporation.

Although executive coaching has become more widely accepted and utilized over the past decade, according to the 2013 Executive Coaching Survey conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Leadership Development and Research,  “nearly two-thirds of CEOs do not receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches, and almost half of senior executives are not receiving any either”, indicating that the vast majority of CEO’s are “going it alone”. While nearly 66% of CEOs in the survey were not receiving coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches, 100% of them stated that they are receptive to making changes based on feedback.

Feedback vis a vis a formal, outcomes-based, assessment-anchored coaching partnership addresses the biggest challenges CEOs face today – conflict management, sharing leadership/delegation, team building, and mentoring. Top on that list, according the Stanford survey is conflict management. CEOs juggle multiple constituencies every day and many of them experience overwhelm due to ‘stakeholder overload’.  The pace at which information arrives and the often competing agendas associated with it create an environment where coaching can provide significant value to leaders. An executive coach can help by utilizing frameworks designed to uncover the underlying issues driving the conflict and get the CEO comfortable with addressing issues head on.

Not only do CEOs recognize the need for executive coaching, Boards of Directors also understand the value an effective coach partnered with their CEO can bring to the table; addressing their most pressing issues of talent development and sharing leadership/delegation skills. According to David F. Larcker, James Irvin Miller Professor of Accounting and Morgan Stanley director of the Center for Leadership Development and Research at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, who led the research team, “Boards are placing a keener focus on succession planning and development, and are challenging their CEOs to keep this front and center. However, there is still a long way to go in the area of succession for most companies, especially as you get further down the reporting structure.”

This idea of succession planning is central to the long term financial health of organizations.  In her March 2015 article in Business Insider,  Jacqueline Smith rightly noted that companies are moving younger employees with less tenured experience into executive roles faster than ever.  The challenge is that those younger, high-potentials, are often not adequately prepared for what they will find at the top.

Lack of professional development opportunities for high potential employees is just one reason 50-70% of new executives fail within the first 18 months of promotion into an executive role says the Corporate Executive Board. Review of 2,600 in-depth qualitative interviews with Fortune 1000 executives, Navalent found that more than 75% of new executives indicated that the formal development processes of their organization were not, or were at best “minimally,” helpful in preparing them for their executive role and more than half (55%) indicated that they had minimal, if any, ongoing coaching and feedback to help them refine their ability to perform in an executive role. Utilizing coaches to bring highly validated assessment tools and tested frameworks, leaders can identify their learning styles, behavioral traits and career interests.  This approach reveals blind spots and allows the leader to understand how he or she can work most effectively with diverse teams and those with differing traits and behavior patterns; yielding a greater potential for individual and team success.

Imagine the strategic and cultural costs to an organization – lost productivity, C-suite disruption, potential collateral employee turnover and diminished employee engagement – resulting from CEO failure. Giving the gift of high quality, assessment-anchored executive coaching to your high-potential employees and yourself, is, from a pure return on investment perspective, a great bet.  A global survey of coaching clients conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Association Resource Center concluded that the mean ROI for companies investing in coaching was seven times that of the initial investment. A quarter of the companies in the survey reported an ROI of 10 to 49 times investment. Can you afford to not invest in this partnership?

Coaching is now not only mainstream, but it has gone from a nice to have to a need to have for individuals and organizations who are determined to succeed (and aren’t we all?).

Any further question contact us at this link


Karen Bentley

Director of Sales, Executive Coach and Consultant

[1]“Terminated (partly) for not hiring an executive coach – a must read termination letter”  Andrew Neitlich, Founder & Director, Center for Executive Coaching, 2018.

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