The Case for Coaching

It’s lonely at the top – the need for executive coaching in senior roles

Let’s start with three facts:

60% of CEOs don’t receive coaching
50% of senior executives don’t receive coaching
100% say they want it.
So what’s going on, why are organisations choosing not to support those that have the biggest influence over their business?

The figures are from Stanford university research that’s been well cited throughout the business coaching world, and with good reason. But when it costs 400% of an annual salary to replace a senior executive or CEO, the risk of underperformance is sizeable, affecting not just the bottom line but also investor, employee and even customer confidence.

Your executives want coaching. Your competitors will provide it.

When you’re paid to make critical decisions that can directly affect company success, it’s no surprise you’d like a little support to make the right choices. 78% of senior executives that took part in the Stanford survey said they arranged coaching for themselves. This should be an very loud and piercing alarm bell for any business that doesn’t provide external coaching. At such a high level, training should be part of the package and senior staff are starting to see it that way.

The risk for those businesses that don’t share the same view is a six figure retention problem. In a world where headhunting and succession planning are the norm, don’t be surprised if your competitors see ‘development’ as a key differentiator. Simply providing coaching as part of a competitive package could be enough of an incentive to make your brightest and best jump ship.

See your executives as elite athletes

Backing the case for executive coaching, Stephen Miles, CEO of leadership strategists The Miles Group CEO, said: “Even the best-of-the-best CEOs have their blind spots and can dramatically improve their performance with an outside perspective weighing in”.And added: “We are moving away from coaching being perceived as ‘remedial’ to where it should be something that improves performance, similar to how elite athletes use a coach.”

Executives and CEOs aren’t robots or demi gods, they’re members of the team. The thought that you hired them because they’re the finished article or that they know much more than anyone else shouldn’t stop you from broaching coaching. As Stephen says, at this level, the benefits aren’t so much about being better skilled in your line of expertise, it’s more about enhancing performance through psychological improvements.

Start with a solid onboarding process

Even if you’re incredibly experienced, you can still be new. When a senior member joins, they may be highly skilled and confident in their abilities, but they’re still in an unfamiliar environment, around new people and learning new systems, approaches and cultural nuances. Like anyone, a company-wide introduction, induction and defined onboarding process is essential to clear the decks of any doubts, fears and uncertainty, allowing the individual to focus on delivering in their role.

The flipside of not taking care of this is, at best, a delay in them hitting their stride and providing a return investment, and at worst, they feel isolated, unsupported and unable to share concerns or feelings. And at very worst, they leave.

All you have to do is ask

Whatever the reason why you haven’t coached your top brass, forget it and start by asking your execs what coaching they want. Using an internal coach, whether it be an expert or a close team member is an option, but consider the privacy and expertise benefits of an external specialist. 60% of CEOs asked said they’d want to keep their training and progress private, which is much easier to achieve with the help of an independent coach.

Get it right and the result is an executive team that feel cared for, are more effective and can share skills across the business through leading by example. And the win/win is, the business sees an uplift in productivity. You’re only as good as the lessons you’ve learned and while the boardroom is far from the classroom, your high-level staff can still grow, develop and deliver more for your business. All they need is a little support.

Remember, even Roger Federer has a coach.

©Lumina Coaching Ltd