Each of us can get so steeped in our environment and ways of thinking that our thought process becomes a closed-loop we travel like laps around a track. Recently I’ve met people outside my work community that have asked me about executive coaching and what it means to have a coach, what kinds of things we talk about, and what kinds of changes happen as a result. They helped me realize, yet again, that not everyone understands what coaching is and why people pay for it. This article is for those who are curious about those questions.

The very fact that I could forget how many folks don’t know what coaching is about illustrates my first point: We think everyone sees what we see, thinks the way we do – but they don’t. As an executive coach and team facilitator, I see my role as working with leaders to broaden their scope and open up possibilities they haven’t thought of. My primary objective is working with leaders and teams to elevate performance, engagement and happiness on the job.

Clients usually bring something they want to accomplish that they’ve struggled with on their own. For example, a VP hires me to help her have greater collaboration among team members and to have her department overall be better represented in company decision making. She feels completely safe in talking with me about her concerns because I’m not part of the organization, which means I have a layer of objectivity to see a different perspective—and—I won’t be sitting next to a fellow VP at lunch tomorrow. Also, I have no agenda of my own other than to help her achieve objectives. No one else in her world can truthfully say that. Even her spouse may have a hidden agenda that would influence the decisions she might make. Most of us have so little time with family we don’t want to talk about work issues there, anyway. 

In our first conversation we make agreements about how we want to work together and what is most meaningful to her: her top values in life and in business. In subsequent conversations we build on that rapport and trust and look at her strengths (using Clifton’s Strengths Finder) and the top strengths of her team. My ability to help her lies in listening to both what she is saying and what she’s not saying. I ask deep questions that cause her to turn within and see things she might not have seen on her own. Each time we speak there are new insights and action steps based on those insights that bring her closer to her original goal.

I hold in my awareness that goal no matter how many new distractions may come into our conversations. I ask, “Is this still your primary objective?” Imagine the value of simply having someone consistently reminding you of stated priorities when life gets fast and complex. 

We also look at her sense of purpose in her work, in her relationships and even in each situation she is part of, using People Acuity tools to help her identify those.

The results I see again and again are leaders emerging with greater confidence, more clarity about priorities and improved relationships both at work and at home. Clients report feeling more peaceful and certain about their contribution and purpose. They get results.

We all have our blindspots and areas of vulnerability that a thought partner can help with. Coaches are well practiced in adding value as that kind of conversational partner, challenging old assumptions, asking what else might be possible for you. Many us of led teams of our own in the corporate arena, and therefore understand firsthand your challenges.

Some of you will, by virtue of your strengths, want to see more specific ROI metrics. Here are a few from the company perspective:

  • People who use their strengths are 6 times (600%) more likely to be engaged at work. That means they will stay on, happy in their role. For each person who leaves, the cost of replacing them, according to SHRM is up to 200% of their annual salary. An executive coaching fee, by comparison is a really good investment.
  • Employees who get strengths coaching are up to 18% more productive at work, according to Gallup statistics.
  • Teams who work with a coach on their strengths and performance see between 14% and 29% increase in profit
  • They also see between 10%-19% increase in sales
  • Teams who use their strengths show up to 72% lower turnover
  • Managers who focus on strengths (which they learn in our coaching sessions) reduce active disengagement to 1%

From the employee perspective

  • In one six-month engagement sales increased for a client by 23%. That translates to $115,000 for him, which means the return on investment was 19.7 times what he paid over six months. 
  • One of my clients tripled her annual income after working with me for 3 months. I was hired by her company during a layoff as an outplacement coach. She was grossly underemployed as an administrative assistant, when much of her work was actually project management, so we re-designed her resume and she landed a new position in project management.
  • Clients frequently report an increase in self confidence and courage to try for bigger, more visible roles where their pay and job satisfaction increase dramatically. Not all quantifiable indicators, but we all know how our quality of life improves with these changes.
  • Many executive clients also report better relationships with their mates and family members, often dramatically improved. Again, a qualitative result.

Executive strengths coaching can be a sound investment in your future. My clients reap what they invest in that time together many times over when they know what their objective is, they are willing to make the changes required and we focus on getting the value they desire out of our time together.

Teri Johnson is the founding partner of Personal Best Partners, LLC and faculty coach and mentor for People Acuity. To learn more about how we help leaders and teams be more innovative and operate more interdependently, reach out on LinkedIn or visit our website at www.personalbestpartners.com

To learn more about online resources for your team, visit www.peopleacuity.com

To find a qualified coach near you reach out to me or visit www.soar.com

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