Building Better Teams Through Executive Coaching
From the dawn of publicly held corporations, CEOs and upper-management executives have been placed on a pedestal. Too high to touch, too strong to falter, too knowledgeable to need help. Unfortunately, this stereotype perpetuated for far too many years to count, leaving many CEOs and executives at a disadvantage. However, the public recognition of executive coaching several years ago has taken a sledgehammer to the base of that pedestal, and has broken ground on a new era of "CEO training."
Kathi Graham-Leviss of XB Coaching, Inc. (www.xbcoaching.com) has seen how this stereotype has dealt an unfair blow to many a corporation. Through years of providing coaching to top corporate officers and executives across the country, Leviss has found that holding fast to the 'untouchable' persona triggers a domino effect that faults the corporation, the executive, and those on their team. So why then, are so many organizations still cloaking their leaders in blanket of supposed omnipotence?
The general consensus of the past was that public opinion and corporate loyalty remained higher if there was a perception that all officers and executives could do no wrong,' states Leviss. 'However, that consensus is extremely outdated. Today more trust, more loyalty, and stronger team values are exhibited when employees see their leaders and officers continually improving themselves. When upper-management portrays an image of teamwork by admitting fault, improving skill sets, and leading by example, everyone benefits.'
Especially after recent corporate improprieties, employees and stockholders alike have taken a strong stance that those in charge not only be more visible within the corporation, but that they also be better trained in a plethora of areas.
Many officers and executives struggle (unbeknown to others) with job requirements for which they simply never received formal training. Because many people exhibit sheer brilliance in the area of their expertise, they are assumed to be qualified in all the nuances of leadership,' Leviss says. This is a dangerous and unfounded assumption.
For example, the following responses appeared repeatedly in the results of an informal survey I conducted:
I don't feel I communicate what I am thinking effectively.
- I want to be able to do my job better.
- I feel stuck, frustrated and sometimes blocked.
- I'm lost when dealing with office politics.
- I really need help with handling stress on the job.
- Managing my time better is a problem.
- Procrastination is often a problem for me.
- I'm uncomfortable delegating to others.
- I have no idea how to fire someone.
- I feel like I've been given too much work, but I'm not sure what to do about it.
- I find myself reacting emotionally instead of professionally.
While you may be aghast at the responses, you would be surprised at how many executives and corporate officers fall into at least one of these categories. I liken this scenario to parenthood. It is assumed that, if you've given birth to a child, you also know how to raise him/her. In the corporate world, if you have been promoted to upper-management, it is assumed that you've been adequately trained for the position at some point along your career path. This is not always the case.
While executive coaches help to instill communication skills, improve confidence and better equip officers and executives for their ever-changing roles, they also lend an ear. According to Leviss, 'You'd simply be amazed at the depths of isolation there are at the executive level. The phrase 'lonely at the top' doesn't even begin to approach how shut off upper-management can be. They are expected to know everything and need nothing. This is where executive coaches perform their most important duty' they lend an ear.'
Executive coaches also play a great role in offering encouragement and support to those in executive positions. While most employees have co-workers and supervisors to support them, officers are in a class by themselves. They are the stopping point' the final destination. Coaches fill the gap.
As the positive reports continue to role in from the trenches, there is little doubt that executive coaches will continue to play a vital role in corporate life. In fact, many firms are now including executive coaching as part of officer and executive benefits packages. And why not? If the coaches' strategy of 'taking it from the top' causes a chain reaction of greater teamwork and loyalty all the way down through the ranks, it will offer a payoff well worth the cost of the initial investment.