Why Would A Good Leader
Need a Coach?
By Jennifer Eggers, Andersen Alumnus, and President
of LeaderShift Insights, Inc.
You think you’re a pretty good senior
leader. Your people seem to like you (at least they say they do). Results and
performance reviews are good, and you receive the occasional accolade. Maybe
you’ve even had a recent promotion or two and there isn’t a lot of negative
feedback. Why would you hire (or ask for) an executive coach?
Having coached from the director
level to the c-suite for over nearly 30 years, I can definitively share that
people in this position see some of the best results from coaching. Generally,
at this level, you’re expected to know what you’re doing and be pretty good at
it. Often, these leaders are confident. They don’t spend a lot of time thinking
about personal development because they don’t have to. Neither do their bosses.
Leadership feedback is scarce because numbers and results speak for themselves.
But do they, really? I would argue that this is one of the biggest missed
opportunities in business today. Even good or great leaders can improve. And
research has proven time and time again that moving an “A” player to an “A+” player
has incrementally greater impact than moving a “C” player to a “B” player. That
means if you are in HR trying to figure out where to allocate development
spend, you will earn far greater ROI by investing in your “A” players. Not in a
classroom, but in individual coaching.
If you are that great senior leader, ask.
Focusing on your development is not only good for you, it will reap great
rewards for your organization.
So what on earth would a coach help
a great leader with? For starters, feedback. A good coach… one that is used to
working with and building champions (not the kind that only gets the call when
a company is making one last effort to save a leader who’s partly off the
rails), will start with detailed feedback. Our interview-based approach begins
with identifying issues the coachee wants to know about, designing a set of
questions that provide balanced information we can work with, and conducting
interviews of a cross-section of stakeholders that can help narrow down areas
for development. This allows us to surface the “unspoken” opportunities and
impressions people have that the coachee may not be aware of. Not everything is
a surprise, but there are always a few nuggets we can leverage to help someone
move from good to great.
Once armed with the feedback and an
action plan, we start working on situations that arise. Here are some of the
situations we have worked through with coaching clients in the past year:
- Helping a senior leader
integrate into a new role…assessing the team, the opportunities,
clarifying key messages, vision and setting them up for success
- Determining whether to pull
out of Russia during the war with Ukraine…and figuring out what to do with
the employees in country who depend on them for their livelihood
- Helping a President figure out
what to do with multiple expatriates completing international development
assignments when there were not roles for them to come home to after a
- Helping a “rock star” head of
sales figure out what she needed to develop to be promoted to a much
larger P&L role
- Helping an established leader
figure out how to get the most out of a more junior team
- Setting up a new product
incubator function to buy time to drive innovation and take more risks
than usual at a Fortune 100 company with very established ROI expectations
- Helping a new CEO implement
major changes and set himself and the team up for success as the
larger-than-life founder stepped down from leading an established company
- Setting up and sustaining a
revenue growth management center of excellence and shifting the company’s
mindset to view it as an opportunity to add value vs. oversight
- Role playing difficult
conversations with senior leaders who needed to manage performance and
upgrade their teams
- Helping a President decide
when is the right time to step OUT of an organization …for them and for
- Working through what do when
20% of an organization left due to COVID vaccine mandates
- Helping a new CFO integrate into a team with very different styles to his, virtually
These kinds of complex,
multi-faceted (adaptive challenge) issues are the norm today. Even great
leaders need to flex development muscles to get better, but putting them in
“training” isn’t always the answer. A great senior executive coach can quickly
get a handle on how to help a leader get laser focused on what will take their
performance to the next level, while at the same time making progress on real, relevant,
and complex issues.
If you, or someone on your team would like help thinking through if a coach is right for them OR if you would like help selecting a coach, call us. It’s what we do.