According to a recent (2015) survey by Korn Ferry, the top development leadership themes for C-suite executives are:
Time was when if your boss asked you to meet with an executive coach you knew you were either under-performing or possibly on the way out of the job. I can recall making appointments with senior executives having to sign in with a different jobtitle, such was the stigma involved. Thankfully those days are passed. Now most organisations use coaching in some form or other and the overwhelming majority report significant success and benefit in doing so (see our post 'Does Executive Coaching Work?'). So having moved on significantly from just using coaching as a remedial or 'last chance' development tool, what are the key focus areas organisations are looking to coaching for in the 21st century? [Tweet this]
According to a recent (2015) survey by Korn Ferry, the top development leadership themes for C-suite executives are:
Coaching is now a firmly established means of effectively developing the skills and performance of people, with over 90% of UK organisations employing them for their staff. This is supported by research which demonstrates the effectiveness of coaching on:
One of the major benefits of coaching is the vast range of styles and approaches employed by different coaches which, in principle, means it is easier to find those who will fit best with your people and culture. We know that, assuming you are selecting from an equally competent group of coaches, choosing the one with whom you feel the most rapport and trust ('chemistry') will significantly enhance the success of the outcome [TWEET THIS]. However that is also one of the problems facing buying organisations in that it can be difficult to access an appropriate range of coaches and also know how to assess and select the right coaches for their people to choose from.
Our coach panel provides a flexible and easily accessed source of high quality professional coaching for your organisation. Our assessment and selection processes mean we have already sourced highly experienced and high calibre coaches, from which you and your people need just to choose the 'best fit'. With our coach panel:
Working with our coach panel means that you benefit from coach choice along with a consistent, quality assured approach. Our established and effective coaching process provides for flexible and responsive delivery with none of the hassle for you.
When you are embarking on a coaching experience whether for yourself or your people, you will begin in the strongest possible way by having the choice as to the coach you will work with. In a later article I will offer advice to help you to make the best coach selection for you or your people.
In our development work with leaders and teams we emphasise the importance of creating positive, energising working environments. We say that this is essential in order to facilitate the best performance from ourselves, and for our colleagues and teams.
We're also aware that this can just sound like the latest management 'blah blah' speak! So, is this really important and what is it about?
As the conditions in which we work become more pressurised and stressful, so our performance tends to decrease at a corresponding rate. When we work in positive, energising environments, our performance increases accordingly. What is going on?
Simply put, stressful conditions cause us to feel anxious - levels of stress hormones (particularly cortisol) increase and the short term effect on the brain is to negatively affect our cognitive thinking ability. Our ability to process information, make decisions and to make judgments is impaired (when we are highly stressed our IQ is said to temporarily decrease around 10 points which is quite a drop when you consider that the average IQ is always 100). In the longer term, sustained exposure to high cortisol levels is associated with heart disease, stomach ulcers, and increased abdominal fat, among others. So, conditions of negative stress are not good for us in terms of well-being, are linked to poor performance, and are not a particularly satisfying or rewarding way of working either. We are simply not at our best when under these conditions.
When we are at our best however our brains are influenced by (and influencing) different conditions. When levels of hormones such as seratonin and dopamine rise they help to reduce cortisol levels and are also associated with an increase in critical thinking capacity, decision making and judgment, and creativity. The ease and speed with which 'information' flows around our neural pathways is optimised This is when we do our best work. Associated with this are lower stress levels, lower rates of heart disease, quicker recovery from illness, increased confidence and greater happiness. [See Shaun Achor's TEDTalk about the "Happiness Advantage]
Let's make it easy...So the question for leadership teams is, how do we create these positive conditions in which we and our teams may flourish?
This is where the strengths approach comes in. Evidence shows that using our strengths more and focusing on our weaknesses less, helps to create those optimal brain conditions. People who use their strengths more:
Our strengths-based team work starts with an assessment of individual and collective strengths with follow-up feedback to ensure understanding and awareness. We then coach and facilitate individuals and teams in strategies and actions to harness their strengths to maximum advantage whilst at the same time minimising the impact of weaknesses. Our experience in this work repeatedly confirms the performance benefits of creating optimistic, energised, positive working environments and doing away with negative, highly-critical and even hostile working conditions. And, by the way, this does much to enhance job satisfaction and happiness too...
We believe that life can be complicated enough. Let's make our work performance, and the personal fulfilment that results, as easy as it can be.
A report published on 30 October 2014 by the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed that graduates who have been privately educated consistently earn more than their state educated contemporaries. Three and a half years after graduation, the pay gap is around £4,500.
The subject of private education in the UK often triggers much emotion and heat, focusing as it often does on the perceived privilege and power of one social class over another. This is unfortunate as the heat generated by these polarised positions obscures some of the real reasons underlying the difference.
The research found that even when they compared graduates attending the same universities, studying the same subjects and entering the same careers, the privately educated were earning around 6% more. This is frequently explained away as a result of the benefit of the "old boy network" and socio-economic background. What is rarely, if ever, referred to is self-confidence and "roundedness" - something private schools frequently excel at and which many state schools do not specifically address. In my experience working with graduates and students from both private and state school sectors, I have consistently seen much focus and attention paid to the development of self-confidence in private schools through encouraging public speaking and debate, involvement in community activities, the development of social skills, competitive sports, endeavour and initiative programmes, and so on. In my experience such activities typically result in students who are more poised and appropriately confident i.e. are willing to try new things, be bold, and risk failure.
The strong link between self-confidence and career success is well established. It shouldn't be a surprise that being more confident at work can mean more promotions. A study at the University of Melbourne found a correlation between confidence levels as early as primary school age and success in the workplace as adults (as measured by increased promotion). Being confident has been shown to significantly increase the likelihood of success in an argument or negotiation (studies from University of Edinburgh and University of California - San Diego). A lack of confidence is associated with a person being less willing to take risks, less likely to accept new challenges, and less likely to stretch themselves outside of their comfort zone. Healthily confident people are much better prepared to step up. Whilst not all privately educated students will emerge into adulthood 'healthily confident' the research would suggest that more of them do so than their state educated counterparts.
Contrary to popular opinion, the stereotype of the "arrogant public school boy" is not significantly evidenced in the research. Other research from the US and the UK indicates that arrogance or over-confidence frequently leads to failure. This may be because it causes the person to overestimate their ability and under-prepare, and consequently perform badly.
The evidence suggests that state schools can and perhaps should learn from the private school example. For adults - whether state or privately educated - self-confidence is a key factor, not just in the achievement of a successful career, but in life more generally.
Coaching is known to be an effective and successful means of developing self-confidence - if you consider that you are lacking in confidence, coaching can help you to turn it around. Contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help.
Please note: The technical content of this article has been authored/provided by different experts in Transactional Analysis, notably Anita Mountain and Chris Davidson of Mountain Associates.
As executive coaches we work with large numbers of women leaders and managers. In common with their male counterparts, many of them are hugely talented, hardworking and driven people. Quite frequently during a coaching session I will hear a client reveal something such as “I suppose I fear that I will be revealed as a fraud” or “they will see that I shouldn’t really be in this role”. Most of the time these comments are made by women; rarely, by men. It is quite possible of course that men experience this feeling as often as women but are maybe less inclined to reveal it.
This belief is known as ‘Imposter Syndrome’, a term which was first termed in the late 1970s.
Regardless of what level of success they may have achieved in their chosen field of work or study, or what external proof they may have of their competence, those expressing the 'syndrome' remain convinced that they do not deserve the success they have achieved and will at some point be "found out".
It seems to affect women leaders significantly more than men and if this is true it would seem valuable to understand more about it. Imposter Syndrome expert Valerie Young says that it is not about low self-confidence but about chronic self-doubt. Why might this affect women more?
As a psychology undergraduate many years ago I researched the snappily titled “gender differences in the attribution of success and failure”. It would seem to be relevant – here’s what this area of research suggests: men and women significantly differ in how they account for success and failure. Women tend to attribute their success to external factors outside of their control (e.g. "the task was easy", "I was lucky") and attribute their failure to internal factors ("I didn’t work hard enough", "I was not sufficiently competent"). Men on the other hand are significantly more likely to do the reverse, attributing success to internal factors, and failure to external factors outside of their control. This has been repeated a number of times and these findings are consistently found across many cultures. My own research looked to establish the age at which this difference might be seen and found clear evidence of it among 6 year olds…
What are the implications for women leaders and indeed for those of us who coach them? I am interested for example in how using cognitive behavioural coaching and examining core beliefs might help in this area.
We’d love to hear from you – what are your experiences?
We work with companies to help their people achieve their performance, development and career goals. If you or your organisation would like to know more, get in touch to see how we can help.
A colleague of mine recently commented that with a string of prestigious degrees to his name he has never yet been asked to provide any proof of them. That got me to thinking that in my 15+ years as an executive coach I can count on one hand the number of times I have been asked to provide credentials/references for my work.
I work with senior managers and leaders to help them enhance their contribution or ‘value’ to their organisations. This is usually on a 1-to-1 basis over a number of months. It represents a reasonable financial investment on the company’s part for one individual. Most of my work (perhaps 80%) is repeat business or on the basis of referral or recommendation. But what about the other 20%? How are organisations selecting their executive coaches and what should they look for?
There are a number of key points I advise organisations to check for when selecting an executive coach. Indeed these are the same points I look for in new associates applying to work as coaches for Managing Change. In no particular order, these include:
As coaching continues to grow within UK organisations (90% of UK organisations report now using coaches) there is a corresponding growth in the use of internal coaches within organisations. To date, there is no evidence base to indicate the relative merits and advantages of each, although this is an area beginning to be formally assessed and measured. So, given what we know now, when is it more appropriate to use an internal coach and when an external one?
Internal coaches will usually:
External coaches will usually:
Research does indicate that a strong indicator of successful coaching outcomes is the trust and relationship quality existing between the executive and coach. There is evidence to indicate that executives trust external coaches more than internal coaches and are more likely to reveal difficulties and capability issues with them. This consideration may help to determine whether the coach most appropriate in a particular situation is internal or external.
Current knowledge suggests that external coaches are most effective working at higher management levels within organisations, in cultures of low trust, and with more complex/sensitive difficulties. Internal coaches are likely to be more cost effective to support internal training programmes and as part of management development programmes.
Whether internal or external, the quality of the coach is of paramount importance. A subsequent article will look at that key question – coach selection.
We work with companies to help their people achieve their performance, development and career goals. We also work to support internal coaches within organisations. If you or your organisation would like to know more, get in touch to see how we can help.
I loved listening to a commentator on Radio 4’s Today programme recently describing the apparent paradox between our top sportspeople and athletes being surrounded by “psychologists and life coaches” and yet achieving their “best ever success”.
As a coach it won’t surprise you to know that I think this illustrates the power and effectiveness of coaching professionals working to enhance the performance of the whole person, not just to develop the functional bits. Translating this to the corporate world in which I spend most of my working life, there is more to high achievement and success than just being good at the functional or technical aspects of your role. To realise your potential you need to be a well-rounded, 'whole' person – self-aware, focused, motivated and confident. Our top athletes’ achievements are testament to their huge talent, hard work and good, effective support.
What more could you achieve?
To explore whether coaching could give your performance that extra boost, contact us for a free initial consultation.
I heard an interesting comment recently – no one wakes up in the morning saying “I must get a coach”. That’s probably true. Certainly when I was in corporate life I never uttered those words. Yet when an executive coach was appointed to work with me it was a landmark point in my career.
I didn’t have any particular performance issues or other difficulties and everything was going well. I was fortunate enough to be working for a CEO who had valued coaching himself and who felt it would be valuable to provide all his directors with the opportunity should they wish to take it up. I did, and I never looked back.
I had a good coach – not a superstar, not a guru, not someone who writes best selling books or appears on TV shows. I had a good, solid, experienced coach with huge integrity and great insight who showed me warmth and positive regard. It provided me with a time each month in which I had the freedom and the space to talk about, think about and reflect on me, my performance and my career. And to do so with someone whom I trusted and who would not judge me or tell me what to do.
Initially it felt like a huge indulgence, after all I had important work to do, people to see, decisions to make. Time just spent talking about me and myself, well, wasn’t that a little too self-centred, frivolous, even a little self-indulgent? But I very quickly came to realise that what emerged from those reflections and discussions was of critical importance to me and what I was doing with my career and life. I was able to sharpen my performance even more and in such a way that I rapidly saw the benefits in the results I was getting and in the people with whom I was working and leading. I began to see myself differently and consequently to communicate differently, and of course that meant that I met with different responses. In my case, I felt clearer and more focused about what I was doing, and why I was doing it. That led me to behave with more gravitas and authority: when we feel differently, we behave and perform differently – and people notice!
When we make a difference to people’s lives – to how they see themselves, how they believe in themselves, in the potential they begin to recognise – the ‘knock on’ effects are immense, to them and correspondingly to all those with whom their lives touch, whether colleagues, family or society in general.
From an initial experience of feeling a little guilty about the ‘indulgence’ of my coaching sessions, I quickly began to see them as an essential part of my leadership ‘equipment’ and to derive enormous value from them. Sixteen years on I still reflect on some of our conversations and I continue to put into practice what I learned. In my case the impact of coaching was so catalytic that I retrained and became an executive coach myself, and since then I have been able to impart to others what was given to me.
So, it is probably true that no one wakes up saying they must get a coach. However, it is true that when we allow others in to help and support us, good stuff happens!