The essence of good coaching is to help executives reframe their situation and to help you discover what works best for you in your circumstances. Achieving this in the C-suite takes more than a coaching qualification and an ability to answer every question with another question. Senior executives require a coach who understands their situation and has seen that movie before. A good coach will have the courage to challenge and question. A goo d coach will also provide you with new ways of thinking about the challenges you face.
Coaching for CEOs and the C-suite is different from coaching middle management. Senior executives demand more than a good process. They expect substance, experience and perspective which has to be applied carefully: the coach should never be a mentor who tells you what to do. You have to own your own solutions: the coach simply helps you discover the best solution for you.
A good coaching relationship is a journey. It is not a series of ad hoc meetings where you discuss whatever is hot this month. That is a random walk which is unlikely to go very far. Here are some of the journeys which clients have taken in coaching with me:
Within these coaching journeys will still deal with immediate challenges and issues. In every coaching relationship it is normal to deal with crises, conflicts and cock ups. But all of these should be dealt with in the context of the journey that you are embarked on.
Over the last ten years of coaching, I have moved away from remedial coaching (“how do I deal with the latest problem/challenge?) to positive coaching. I have found all my clients have extraordinary talents and strengths: that is why they are successful people. And helping them become more successful is not about remediating them or changing them into someone else. It is about helping them recognise and build on their signature strengths. We succeed by building on strengths, not weaknesses. We deal with weaknesses (we all have them) in three ways:
Before starting on any coaching journey we would discuss goals, expectations and limits. We both have to be confident that this will be a good investment of our time and effort.
These events are guaranteed to be both practical and original. They draw on the practice of setting up successful businesses and on original research on leadership around the world, including seven years of research with tribal societies.
Throw away the electronic fetters of phone, internet, email and computer. Get rid of health and safety, legal, HR, IT, facilities, brand police, accounting. All gone. Now try leading.