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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
The board room is no longer the sole domain of retired c-suites with time on their hands. Increasingly, board positions are being taken by younger professionals, working execs and women. And nowhere is this happening more than here in the UK, were mandated corporate governance encourages diversity.
Whatever your age, position or indeed, sex, there’s a difference between being experienced and being ‘board ready’. In this post, I’m going to discuss what you can do to prepare yourself for the leap to a board position.
‘Start strong and contribute confidently’
Whether you’ve already got the gig or are seeking your first board position, there are five important steps you can take to put yourself in a solid position to start strong and contribute confidently throughout your board career. I call them the ‘five foundations’ and the first one is all about understanding the needs of a board role compared to your previous (or other) roles.
Shift your skillset
Your experience will help you secure the position, but you’ll need to bring more to the table at this level. Forget technical and functional expertise and instead start practicing your ability to listen, advise and communicate. You’ve got the knowledge, now you’ll need to marry it with diverse and global thinking to confidently take the business forward.
Board level coaching
A board role brings with it new challenges and high levels of responsibility. Coaching can help you manage the pressure and extract your best performance. Possibly even more important at this level, a coach won’t pull any punches either…
“Does coaching work? Yes. Good coaches provide a truly important service. They tell you the truth when no one else will.” Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric
The ability to get an honest appraisal of where you’re at and where you could improve is essential as a new board member. At this level, there aren’t many people you can talk to openly, mainly because the information is complex or too sensitive. A coach can be your sounding board, helping you reflect, assess and develop in a fully confidential space.
You’ll also need to start thinking big now you’re a board member. You need to consider global shifts and trends that could present threats and opportunities, you’ll need to be seeing the bigger picture and then using that information help steer the ship accordingly. Technological developments, geopolitical shifts, regulatory changes are just some areas you should keep an eye on.
“The secret of the board member that is universally interesting is that they’re universally interested.” William Dean Howells (ish)
I’m paraphrasing William there, but the point is, you’ll be in a better position to offer insightful and useful advice if you have every scrap of the latest knowledge in your arsenal. Read research pieces, blogs, periodicals, books, twitter feeds and whatever else you can get your eyes on.
As well as giving you the edge and helping you provide the best direction, consuming the latest news, thinking and developments will keep your mind active and alert to emerging global opportunities and threats. And never be afraid to ask questions to help you understand and implement new information.
Networking in the new social age is a powerful tool, it can build much stronger relationships and increase your success immeasurably. Showing your face at galas and swapping anecdotes is no longer enough – it undersells you and reduces the ROI for your employers.
New networking is all about sharing your knowledge with a wider audience, taking your areas of strategic expertise and showcasing them. Write blogs or articles, do a podcast, speak at conferences, join associations – you’ll be strapped for time but the payback is a stronger you, stronger connections and a stronger offering as a board member.
Ready for the next step
So there you have it, the key ingredients of any successful board member. Actioning all five will help you prepare for a board position and ensure you continue to add value to the organisation. Final takeaway for you to ponder on – in the last decade boards have become one of the main sources of CEO candidates. Great motivation if you see a board role as the next step, not the end of the line.
In next week’s post we’ll be looking at how women are accelerating their eligibility for senior roles. Keep an eye out for it.
©Lumina Coaching Ltd
Accelerating new hire effectiveness
The challenge of continually resourcing Executive Capability is wide ranging and demanding. The first 3, 6, and 12 months in a new role are critical to the short, medium and long term effectiveness of any new executive.
Key findings conducted by Illuma Research of 280 senior executives from FTSE 350 organisations, the public sector, large UK non FTSE companies and UK subsidiaries of multinational organisations showed:
- 39% of executives have considered leaving their employer in the first three months and only half felt that they fitted their new employer well.
- 33% of executives felt that the role they took on changed significantly from that outlined during their selection.
- 42% of executives said that their expectations of the job and organisation changed significantly since they were recruited.
- Executives said that they could have been on average 50% more productive if their start in the business had been better organised.
This research states that the fault lines for an executive’s failure can appear within a few months of them starting with a new employer, and such failure had significant implications on the company they work for and not just in the traditional cost of recruitment such as search fees and their salary over 24 months. Taking into account the lost opportunity cost and impact on the people they are leading (poor productivity cascades through the entire team), the total financial impact of hiring an executive who fails, is far reaching and impacts staff moral, productivity, company profitability and shareholder/investor value. Bringing new talent on stream quickly – and retaining it – is an enormously expensive and risky process in a fragmented, multi-supplier landscape.
We provide specialist, trained, experienced coaches to work with your new-inpost executives to assess the needs of the executive’s situation; accelerate the learning of the leaders, build a strong foundation in their new position, elicit the right support and resources to maximize their integration, establish clear measures and tools of success to ensure they deliver full value in the shortest possible time.
This rigorous and complete process is specifically designed to provide assistance to senior executives as they make the transition to a new role. It can be applied to new hires, to executives transferring between group companies, or redeploying internationally- Speeding your leader’s journey to optimum effectiveness in the new role. We benefit your organisation by:
- shortening the cycle time to full effectiveness
- increasing certainty of outcome
- managing your risk
Executive performance and retention are determined by a successful Power Start and speed to full effectiveness. Investing the time and effort generates demonstrable return for all.
©Lumina Coaching Ltd