Effective executive coaches train their clients to focus on improving awareness of their thoughts and actions. This awareness can lead to a reduction in missed opportunities, the ability to deeply connect with others, and most importantly increase effectiveness as a leader. So how do coaches work with their clients to do this?
Coaches are just as much teachers as they are trainers. They help executives identify their strengths and focus their efforts on helping them build on those strengths.
A basketball coach doesn’t just say, “bring your elbow in!” They explain why the elbow needs to be “in” in the first-place. By understanding the fundamentals of a technique, every step of the process can be owned by the executive and built upon in the future. Just like a basketball player, the executive needs to maintain a level of awareness to recognize their technique, so that if they make a mistake, they can recognize what went wrong and know how to make changes.
Recognizing when that elbow starts to aim outward, and needing correction is the only way to maintain form and continue to improve.
The coach will not always be available to remind the executive to act from their strengths. Therefore, the executive will need to maintain awareness of their behavior, what they are doing, and most importantly, why they are doing it in the first place. An executive coach is able to provide this awareness training and education. Obviously, it is up to the executive to maintain awareness of their actions, and whether they are productive within their skill set, or if they need to work on their technique.
While technique provides a mold in which to build a base, after the fundamentals have become second-nature, adaptation that maintains the principles of the technique, always occur and makes each player unique. A good coach is able to teach and guide each individual to build upon those fundamentals. This process is called individualization, and it is a cornerstone of executive coaching.
Discovering and growing the unique strengths of the executive, benefits the entire organization by diversifying strengths, and the effectiveness of each executive.
As an individual, you must maintain awareness of your behaviors, in relation to your strengths, in order to maintain optimal productivity and fulfillment.
How would an executive know if they were moving away from using a good technique? One of the benefits of having an understanding of the fundamentals, is that it allows individuals to reconnect with the process. Are you struggling to connect with your peers? Are you not as decisive as usual? Are you losing your passion for your work, causing you to no longer be fulfilled? Without practicing awareness, and understanding the basics of the skills that you use on a daily basis, you will struggle to identify what is getting in the way. Many times it is because you are missing a step in the process, thus throwing yourself out of the technique that you were taught. When communicating with your peers, are you truly listening or have you begun to try to anticipate what they will say next? Are you starting to focus more on what could go wrong with each choice, rather than focus on how to make things work regardless of the conditions? Have you focused too much on making the sale, and getting a commission, rather than focus on what you love to do, and how you make a difference?
Awareness is one of the greatest tools for an executive. By improving the ability to objectively connect with your own process, you will be better prepared to maintain good technique in your leadership skills. You will steadily improve your personal strengths, making yourself more of an asset to your team.
Lorna Hegarty, an Internationally Certified Master Coach, is the author of “The Seven Essential Practices of Great Leaders”. She is the President of LCH Resources Limited, a Human Resources Coaching and Consulting Organization.