Roger Federer. Tiger Woods. Cristiano Ronaldo. Kirk Cousins. No matter how exceptional you believe these athletes to be, they all have something in common, and it may not be what you think.
In sport, we value and acknowledge that the best, most naturally talented athletes in the world require coaching, in order for them to continue to excel, break records and win trophies. When it comes to business, however, coaching has been wrongly perceived as a weakness, a final resort. Yet, the list of the benefits of coaching is substantial, supported by numerous studies. If the best golfer in history requires a coach, it makes sense that the best leaders do, too.
In organisational settings, executive coaching has become an increasingly common method to skill development. High growth companies require high growth individuals, with some executives having a great deal of potential, but failing to recognise this within themselves. In addition, executives have a unique set of common difficulties in their employment situation, including isolation and autonomy. Some studies argue that failures in executive decision-making can be linked with the crossing of an invisible dividing line, ascending to a rarefied atmosphere, where it is difficult to acknowledge that they require self-development. As a result of this, failure can become a great risk, with researchers stating that up to 50% of people in executive positions fail at some point in their careers. Whilst the word failure has negative connotations, it can often be a pivotal point for an individual to understand the requirement for personal development.
With this understanding that executives may have their own unique set of difficulties, it is important to recognise that executive coaching has its own approach to tackling these. Studies show that executive coaching can be positively associated with effective people management, relationships with managers, goal setting and prioritization, engagement and productivity, and dialogue and communication. In addition, executive coaching has a positive impact on self-efficacy. A person with a strong self-efficacy, with respect to a task targeted in training, will learn and transfer more than a person with a weak self-efficacy, so it is a crucial element of success. Studies have shown that executive coaching is positively and significantly associated with self-efficacy. The number of coaching sessions has also appeared significant, as the higher the number of coaching sessions, the greater the increase in the manager’s self-efficacy beliefs. Tiger Woods does not have one swing session with a coach and call it a day.
In addition, executive coaches often do not have a sounding board for their thoughts or dilemmas. It is argued in one study that executive coaching reduces stress levels because executives have an objective third party that they can talk to confidentially about work-life issues, thus increasing their support network. Working with other executives through a structured programme will also allow for a strong peer network, with a great understanding of everyday practices and concerns. These factors allow coaching to increase overall well‐being scores by improving coachees’ ability to feel relaxed, to feel useful and to think clearly. In the same study, coaching also helped coachees to improve their ability to deal with problems well, cope with the unexpected and feel closer to other people. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is the lived definition of unexpected. Executive coaching can equip individuals with the tools, knowledge, and opportunities they need to develop themselves and become more effective leaders, benefitting their business significantly as a result.
Do you want your name added to the list at the top? We can’t promise fame or teach you tennis, but we can promise great coaching. Get in touch!
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