Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.
A phrase used by Steve Jobs has now come to indicate that constant learning is an essential way to keep your edges sharp and grow as a leader. Coaching is fertile ground for such learning.
Executive leadership coaching is essential in the ever-transforming business world. Yet there are questions raised on its significance, ROI, and value. This question is asked by many ‘Why should we invest big money where the results are not measured in terms of tangible financial outcomes?’
Executive leadership coaching empowers leaders in indescribable ways. When interventions are received at the correct time, leaders transform into a force to reckon with. Leadership coaching enables us to become a better version of ourselves. It could be to develop the spine to speak up and show up, to showcase our work, to be open to receiving feedback, to manage conflicts in teams, and even to help our team members achieve their personal goals.
When leaders work with an executive coach their journeys transform and they lead with vision and confidence. This results in improved performance, greater productivity at work, and better engagement with teams and stakeholders.
How can the ROI on coaching be measured?
Investment in executive coaching yields returns on different levels.
Results can be observed at the:
- personal individual level of the leader
- performance of teams
- the organisational level of systems and culture.
Here are 11 reasons why investing in executive leadership coaching provides the best possible returns. These returns are valuable at the organisational and individual levels.
- Stimulates Innovation and flow of ideas
Coaching is a safe space where leaders express themselves uninhabited. This leads to the emergence of new ideas and newer possibilities. The no hold barred situation enables innovation and creativity to flow.
Example: I was recently coaching a leader who said he had ‘lost his mojo’. Switching off from his role had consequences for him as he felt limited in using his potential. Our work involved getting in touch with what energised him and discussions on passion and purpose. This enabled expansion of his vision for his business, team and self. At senior levels when leaders lose their mojo the price is stagnation.
- Encourages a coaching style and coaching culture within organisations
Leaders who work with executive coaches bring what they learn and develop into their leadership style within the organisation. The coaching leadership style is one of the most helpful leadership styles. This enables leaders to understand the teams’ strengths and weaknesses and engage and support the team better.
Example: Coaching culture and Coaching journeys bring rich dividends to organisations that build a coaching culture.
- Increases productivity at work
One of the objectives of leadership coaching is to help leaders deliver their maximum potential at work. A key to this is resilience building which directly contributes to the teams’ success. While undergoing coaching leaders discover their inner strengths. They find new and unexplored ways to improve work productivity and manage their teams.
Coaching also explores specific methods for better productivity as well as best practices for managing time, calendars, meetings, and teams.
- Builds the capacity to Influence and inspire
An effective leader automatically becomes an efficient influencer. When this happens a leader begins to encourage and motivate their teams, peers, and co-workers to support organisational goals which leads to increased financial gains. The leaders also support the personal goals of their team members and help them achieve them. Influence is key also for stakeholders that senior leaders manage. Many times we need to have influence and get our tasks done where we may not have significant authority. This is where influence and impact become so important.
Example: Guru was a leader in a giant MNC. 20 years of great work helped him rise to the top and he was keen to move into the Executive Council of his organisation. To make this transition he had to prepare a stakeholder map and this became the focus of many of our coaching conversations. Understanding key stakeholders and beginning to establish a relationship of value became a goal for the 1 year of coaching. His coaching goals were around impact and influence.
- Coaching enables deepened self-awareness
Coaching brings both perspective and self-awareness to leaders. It helps them deal with their difficult emotions and to face uncomfortable thoughts. Coaching enables identifying patterns in behaviour that cause disruptions and provides solutions to correct these patterns.
Example: Showing up is growing up and growing out of our unhelpful patterns as leaders. These can get revealed through coaching and this deepened self-awareness brings a shift in a leader. Ria was ‘putting up’ with a lot personally and professionally. You can read Ria an HR leaders coaching story where she did this. https://physis.co.in/showing-up-is-growing-up-superwoman-with-hidden-tears/
- Executive coaching aids in goal setting and planning to achieve the set goals
Leadership coaches bring focus to the personal and professional goals of the leaders. They bring uncomfortable questions to the table like what is holding the leader back to claim the higher role? Why do they care about goals that are set? What are the hurdles to achieving the said goal and to overcome them? These self-reflective questions aid in improved performance at work.
This aspect of goal setting and positively resourcing the journey of achieving the same is an important aspect of the Power Up course which I lead for senior women leaders.
Example: Reema believed ‘If you are good, then it shows’. However, if you are good but are ‘hiding’, then no one will know you! Hiding happens for many reasons and not all leaders always know their reason. Coaching builds a focus on one’s goals and encourages a leader to take the needed steps to set up the next level for themselves. You can read more about Reema’s coaching story where she needed to do just that. https://physis.co.in/stop-hiding-and-waiting-claim-that-higher-role-now/
- Teaches self-compassion
Leaders are often faced with situations that make their inner critic’s voice stronger. This voice is unhelpful, leading to an increase in negative self-talk and sometimes low self-confidence. Working with a coach teaches self-compassion and appreciation for their journey and their strengths. Going beyond mistakes made and keeping an open mind to learn from them is a valuable lesson learnt in coaching.
Example: My coaching journey of the last many years showed how large the expectations were from me. Easing up and practising self-compassion has energised me and given me the beginner’s mindset where I am ever willing to start again.
- Empowers leaders with tools for a growth mindset
To make a real switch from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset leaders require practice. Growth mindset muscles have to be built over some time. Leadership coaches walk along with the leaders to challenge their negative beliefs and present them with other illustrations of growth that can inspire them to want to commit to building this muscle.
You might like to read more about a few practices so a growth mindset can flourish.
- Inspires a shift in a personal narrative and skill.
Coaching unravels the journey of individual growth and development. During this journey, leaders discover their inner strengths and are inspired to walk the path that makes them a better version of their present selves. The story below shows us what a more energised team culture depends on.
Example: Ramaiah was a senior leader I worked with over 10 years ago. When I met him he was 50 years old and anchored in an autocratic way of functioning where command and control seemed the only approach he used. Our work challenged his narrative on building teams through command, instruction, and criticism. By the end of our long coaching journey he was making the switch to leading by listening, dialogue, and some empathy too. It was not easy but coaching enabled him to see the negative impact he had on his team. Coaching enabled some role play so he could build the effective language needed.
Do listen to Abhay Singhal, Co-founder of Inmobi Group speak more about how coaching helped him transform himself here.
- Supports better stress management
Executive coaching helps leaders to manage their stress effectively and reduce burnout levels. Learning to say no, recognising what is urgent/important, journaling, and using the pause technique are some of the strategies learnt in coaching. Less stressed-out leaders lead with ease and this supports their team too.
Example: Vinay was a leader in the quality function of an MNC. I met him when he came back after a few months leave as he had completed cancer treatment. He was now tuned into thinking of his mind and body more holistically and had a sense that his cancer was connected to the high levels of stress he held for all of his careers. Our Coaching involved habits he needed to change so he could be stress-free. Importantly his learning was to decline what he could not and did not want to do and to find his voice to negotiate. As he practiced this one change he noticed how it eased up his week and made clear his boundaries.
- Develops improved conversational intelligence
It is rightly said that the art of communication is the language of leadership. Communication skills can be deemed as an important skill to be developed. Effective communication not only leads to increased business performance but is key for managing talented teams. Executive leadership coaching sheds valuable light on the sharpness of communication especially in nuanced relational situations and in politically demanding environments that leaders often find themselves in. After all, conversations are the vehicle on which all results from rest. Leaders today lead with indirect power too and this skill can make or break tricky situations.
It is safe to say that leadership coaching brings sustainable results that matter. It provides alignment between the goals sought to accomplish by the business leaders/organisations and the methods to reach the goals. A good executive coach retains the focus to understand both personal and business needs and knows how to support the alignment of the same.
Coaching provides a safe space for leaders. It brings in mindset changes for the leaders by encouraging a growth and expansion mindset or inviting them to live their values. The new learnings and skills acquired result in improved personal development and work performance.
Would you like to add any more pointers to ROI on leadership coaching? I would love to hear from you.