Coaching?! Why would I need coaching??

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This might sound familiar…

You hired him because he’s smart. He’s quick on his feet. In fact, his intellect and analytical skills have placed him two steps ahead of everyone else, and his output shows it. He sizes up situations fast, takes the right course of action, and gets results. His confidence and assertiveness have endeared him to clients from day one. As a result, he’s climbed the ranks, and is in viewing distance of a senior executive position.

But, there’s an obstacle. He hasn’t build or even valued relationships inside the company. Confident in his own super-powers, he has little tolerance for slower, less cerebral team members; people who ‘don’t get it.’

In fact, given the degree with which he ignores, condescends to, and alienates some of his colleagues and support people, would anyone be excited to learn about his ascent into the senior leadership ranks? Or, would his promotion cast a pall over the office, and leave everyone questioning the company’s shared values?

You conclude that executive coaching, and a plan to address some Emotional Intelligence (EQ) competencies is the right course of action. Smart. But, how do you get his buy-in given his current self-image and difficulty accepting criticism?

Leaders everywhere have been struggling with this question. “I know he needs coaching, but how do we get him to agree?”

As an executive coach, I’ve listened to CEOs struggle with this dilemma. Some would rather avoid the issue than risk somehow insulting the person.

For those leaders, here are (3) things you might consider clarifying for them…

  1. The coaching is about them, their agenda, and their professional development. They’d be entering into a confidential relationship, focused on the outcomes that they want for themselves. While this may sound counter-intuitive or like we’d be avoiding the real issues, the opposite is actually true.

Many EQ issues stem from narrowly framed stories people are telling themselves,   e.g. my sales figures speak for themselves, or I’m the only person qualified to solve this problem and I’m not being recognized for it, etc.

By widening the lens and discussing their agenda, a path emerges; one that requires new actions, behaviors and often relationships. The coaching becomes less about fixing them, and more about creating the conditions necessary for everyone to get what they need.

  1. You are committed to helping them get what they need to be successful at the next level. You’ve identified them as a valued, high potential team member, worthy of professional development. But, Marshall Goldsmith’s adage, “What got you here, won’t get you there” is also useful here.

Nearly all successful senior leaders score high on both IQ and EQ. IQ alone is not enough. EQ competencies are a critical requirement at the senior level and have been proven to materially impact compensation. One Hay Group study showed that executives with higher EQ scores earned $29k more than their counterparts with lower scores. Makes sense when you consider the level of respect and influence you earn when EQ competencies are higher.

  1. They get to interview and pick their coach. At this point, you’re inviting them to just call a few coaches from a list you provide, and see if they like any of them. Good coaches will be able to demonstrate their value over a 30-minute call. And, the individual (especially the analytical, quick thinker) will be able to assess whether or not the coach is a good ‘fit’, (read: productive use of their time) within that 30-minute conversation.

I’ve had some of my richest coaching experiences with highly analytical, bright, accomplished executives who, at first, questioned the value of coaching. Some have resulted in lasting friendships long after the coaching engagements ended.

Among other things, coaches help you manage the risk associated with losing frustrated high potential team members, and those around them.