“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
~Peter F. Drucker~
Client Jakob Asks: I’m in upper management in an international corporation and I want to move higher in my company. My peers have leveraged corporate executive coaching. Sometimes I see great results, but sometime I don’t see that it made a dramatic difference for them. What can I do to make sure my executive coaching boosts me up the corporate ladder?
Coach Joel Answers: Executive coaching is a significant investment, not only in money, but in time and commitment. You want it to be meaningful to you.
What you get out of it depends on how much effort you put into it.
Be an Active Participant
A tepid response to coaching will produce weak improvement. To get the most from your coaching you need to approach it with goals in mind. Discuss them with your coach and then focus on them.
1. Build New Skills. The skills and traits that have gotten you to this point are not sufficient to take you to the very top of the corporate ladder. Your coach will help you build skills sets and habits for the level of management you will be doing.
2. Be Present. When you meet with your coach, close off all distractions. Don’t answer the phone or email or search the web. Focus. Give your entire attention to presenting issues and seeking solutions.
3. Be Teachable. Humility sometimes seems at odds with confidence that comes with a top corporate job. But true confidence allows you to be humble and teachable. Jakob, when you resist criticism or new ideas, you stop your progress. Be willing to accept ideas without rebutting or rationalizing. Consider their merit. Be eager for growth. Then you set the stage for great progress.
4. Be Committed to Success. In the beginning, you gave me the top 3 goals you wanted to gain from this engagement. Make it meaningful and achievable goals. Then be willing to do what it takes to accomplish it. Your coach will guide you and give you suggestions and insights that will help you reach your goals faster than you could on your own.
5. Take Action. Learning without doing is like sitting at dinner without eating. It accomplishes little. The natural next step to learning is putting what you’ve learned into action. There is a tendency to think you don’t know enough.
Often people enter this learning mode without moving forward. Resist it. Once you know, take action. Yes, you’ll need to refine and correct. But your learning increases as you act on what you know.
6. Overcome Fears. Change involves risk. It’s moving out of the safe zone into the unknown. Your coach understands that, and you should too. Be willing to take that risk. Dare to be great. Stumbles are a part of life. Don’t stand still because you are unwilling to make a mistake.
7. Break Habits. Powerful, significant executive coaching takes place when clients are willing and ready to break habits that are holding them back. Your coach will help you recognize what traits are limiting you.
But only you can make the decision that your success is more important than those old habits. If you want your coaching to have the desired results, you must be willing to leave the restraining behaviors behind.
Jakob, you are smart to start achieving now. Building new skills takes time. But when you commit to achieving your goal and are willing to put in the focus, time and effort, you’ll see that your corporate executive coaching will take you where you want to go.
When you connect a skilled executive coach with a willing, motivated manager you will see the dramatic results you desire.
If you’re interested in making the most of your corporate executive coaching experience talk to Joel. He will help you focus, step out in new ways, and build habits of success. Connect now.
Talkback: How successful has your executive coaching experience been? What was the thing that had the most impact on your upward advancement?
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“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.”
~ Japanese Proverb ~
Martin, a senior manager with a major financial services company, is facing a challenge. He knows he’s surrounded by talent. His younger, mid-level managers are performing well, and he knows some of them have the potential to be superstars. But lately they’ve been acting restless and he’s afraid some of them may be about to jump ship.
He’s tried talking to them one-on-one. He’s given them new, challenging assignments. But nothing seems to change the atmosphere. He knows they are focused on their own responsibilities and aren’t seeing the big company picture. An article about mentoring in one of his current business journals starts him thinking. He decides that corporate mentoring and training programs may give his managers a new perspective.
A conversation with his HR director gives Martin some helpful guidelines. She advises him that first of all mentoring programs need to be aligned with corporate goals and objectives. He needs to have a timeline and method for measuring results. And he needs to be sure he can get support and commitment from both potential mentors and mentees.
Martin comes up with three initial steps to take:
- Discover the talent pool
- Be a matchmaker
- Train for success
- Discover the talent pool. Good mentoring programs need to find talent among both mentors and mentees. Martin’s main goal is employee development and retention. He decides to test the mentoring waters with a pilot program. He puts out an email “Call to Mentors” to all the company’s C-level managers and gets a great response. However, he knows it’s not safe to assume that all executives have the skills or desire to be a good mentor. He must go in-depth with each executive to ensure that the pilot program recruits the best of the best. His interview process determines skills and competency along with the commitment level of potential mentors.
- Be a matchmaker. As mentees, Martin initially chooses five of his mid-level managers based on three main criteria: (1) their experience with the company; (2) their current workload and availability; (3) their initial willingness to participate. During the recruiting process Martin asks the potential mentees to identify their goals and areas of interest. Then he has them outline a three-month personal learning plan that both they and their mentors will use during the initial phase of the project. Finally, he matches each mentee with a mentor who he feels is most compatible.
- Train for success. Martin designed a one-day workshop to kick off the program. He coached his mentors in how to understand, communicate with and motivate mentees. And he made sure his mentees would take full advantage of the mentoring partnership in advancing their skills and careers. He asked several key questions during the workshop:
- Does everyone understand exactly what we mean by “mentoring” within the context of our organization?
- What expectations does each stakeholder (mentors, mentees, managers, and HR) have of the program?
- Do all stakeholders fully understand their roles?
- What program and partnership objectives will we follow going forward?
Martin kept in close touch with both mentors and mentees and at the end of the three-month pilot he held a debriefing that summarized the program’s results. Mentees felt excited and motivated by the “big picture” training and coaching provided by their mentors. They all agreed they had gained valuable business intelligence and had become more strategic thinkers. The mentors felt rewarded, both by the acknowledgment they received from their mentees and by the long-term positive benefits the company would enjoy. The corporate mentoring program was soon rolled out company-wide.
Talkback: Have you been a mentor? Have you had a mentor? Share your experience here.
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