In my experience as an executive coach, I often hear people talk about having to adapt to change and adopt different skills as companies react to altering conditions. In these rapidly changing times, executives are increasingly finding themselves having to skill-up more, technically, or having to adapt their skills as priorities change or as market conditions shift.
Unfortunately, many companies have no mechanism in place to help support this need for upskilling as they simply don’t understand either the need for or the value of effective executive coaching. Or why investment in change is vital to the effective – and productive – performance or new and emerging leaders.
How’s your team doing?
Take a look around your own team, concentrating on individuals who through a promotion or a transfer find themselves in a leadership role. The great work they did as an individual contributor has secured their promotion but in the new role, they are no longer doing what they were used to and what they were good at. They need to learn a different skill – getting good results from others.
And unless they can do this, their promotion may in fact result in a two-fold negative result – you’ve got a new leader who is not as effective as they could be, and you no longer benefit from the great work they did in their previous position.
So where does executive coaching come in?
The ability to operate in a new way takes self-awareness and a willingness to change. Take the example of a high flyer in the pharmaceutical industry whose sales results had outperformed her peers for three years running. She was excellent with clients, a good fit with the company’s culture, a strong communicator and could grasp change and complexity well. As such, she was the number one choice to open up the new satellite office where she was given the responsibility of hiring her own team and building new business. Yet after six months in her new job, she was stressed, tired and anxious. She discovered that getting results out of others was much harder than driving herself, and she missed the control of a one-to-one relationship with clients.
Recalibrating skills to thrive
In a coaching session, we explored the aspects of her work that had got her promoted. Her drive, competitive spirit and attention to detail. But we also established that those skills needed to be recalibrated in order for her to thrive in the new role. She needed to display empathy, to inspire others and to execute in a different way. We looked at what kind of work she needed to do get from ‘here’ to ‘there’ and agreed a plan to pave the way to success which involved:
adopting a ‘coaching style’ of new manager with her team rather than the micro-managing one she had fallen into, though inexperience
using her in depth knowledge of the business from her front-line sales role to uncover business opportunities for her reportees, to build trust
taking time to understand each of their career aspirations, and work with each to improve development areas and to keep strengths fresh
The result is that business is thriving, productivity is high, her team has a sense of belonging and her manager is happy. And perhaps most importantly, so is she, lessening the likelihood of her leaving therefore saving the cost of recruitment too.
If you’d like to find out more about how executive coaching could benefit your team, I’d be more than happy to help.