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Executive coaching: how managers work on themselves

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Successful leaders have to work on themselves, get better and learn. Executive coaching can help with just that. It is the opportunity to bring about positive change with external support and to better meet the demands of the leadership role. We explain what executive coaching is, what goals it pursues and how you as a manager can benefit from it ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what is executive coaching?

Executive coaching, in German for example manager coaching, aims to improve management skills. A trusting working relationship is built up through lengthy and repeated discussions between the executive coach and his coachee (a senior manager). The client should not simply be given solutions for fields in which he himself does not have any advice, but should be given the tools to develop his own solutions.

Sometimes similar terms are used synonymously, for example executive coaching or leadership coaching. The difference to these terms is that one means executive coaching, the other means executive coaching:

In one case - executive coaching - someone is already a manager, in other cases promising employees should first be trained to become managers. Anyone who has already gained experience as a manager for a few years will need less help with elementary questions of everyday professional life.

That is why executive coaching is important

The demands on managers are great. Long gone are the days when only a few orders were given in a responsible position. Nowadays, much more is demanded and expected: As a manager, you should, on the one hand, encourage your employees to achieve top performance through motivation and support.

On the other hand, you are expected to encourage them to advance professionally, resolve conflicts and do your own tasks on the side. All of this, of course, always humanly above all doubt, appreciative and benevolent in communication, empathetic and solution-oriented in effect.

The problem for many executives: The will for further development is there, alone - there is no suitable interlocutor. A person on an equal footing who understands something about the day-to-day business of a manager, can understand problems and their extent and with whom a critical discussion about these things is possible. Your own development sometimes falls by the wayside. Executive coaching is the key to how executives can learn to master the diverse requirements.

Duration and costs

Depending on the initial situation and scope, the executive coaching can develop into intensive training that lasts up to twelve months. For example, an appointment every two weeks is possible, but a different rhythm can also be agreed individually. The costs can be as much as 200 euros per hour. Coaching is a costly affair, especially at higher hierarchical levels.

What are the goals of executive coaching?

The higher a manager rises in the company level, the more lonely it becomes. Accordingly, it is difficult to reflect on points of view and mistakes in reasoning. Executive coaching gives managers the opportunity to do this, because: Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Only those who work on their perception, are willing to develop themselves further and recognize their own mistakes, will have lasting success.

Executive coaching pursues several goals at the same time:

  • The status and role of the coachee in the company are determined.
    The coach tries to get an idea of ​​the current situation and what goals his client is pursuing.
  • The manager's image of others and himself are examined.
    Problems often arise here, as experience has shown that the two differ from each other.
  • The coachee's strengths and weaknesses are recorded.
    Only when these are known can work be done to develop strengths and identify existing potential.
  • Options for action are determined.
    Together with the coach, procedures are worked out to achieve set goals. This leads to an increased effect and higher effectiveness.
  • Possible solutions are checked.
    Together with the coach, the implemented measures are checked for their effectiveness and adjusted if necessary.
  • The process is completed when the goal is achieved.
    The better the implementation works, the more confident the coachee will feel. This affects both self-confidence and demeanor. Both will be noticeable when dealing with employees, colleagues and bosses.

Executive Coach: He needs these qualities

The confusion of definitions already shows how difficult it is to classify coaching. The term in itself

However, it doesn't just need a willing clientwho soaks up the skills to be learned like a sponge, but a good executive coach who brings the necessary criteria with him. When choosing a coach for successful executive coaching, the following are important:

  • Personal experience as a top executive
    Someone who has never led himself and has never experienced the special challenges of this position can hardly communicate with his client on an equal footing. Above all, it creates the conditions for acceptance by the coachee.
  • life experience
    A certain life experience is also indispensable, which favors the understanding that people are different and are shaped by certain experiences and crises. Not every 50-year-old manager gets along with a 19-year-old executive coach. In the back of my mind the thought "What can he teach me?"
  • Methodological competence
    In addition to the same experience as a leader, he must have the necessary coaching methodological competence. It is by no means sufficient to have knowledge of certain phenomena, behavioral patterns and the like; rather, he must be able to convey it effectively to his client. Only if he succeeds in this will the manager be able to implement what he has learned in the long term, independently of his coach.
  • sympathy
    This is not about qualification, but sympathy plays an important role. Someone may be absolutely competent technically, but as long as he is unsympathetic to his counterpart, both will not find a common level. This makes empathy difficult for the client, who in turn will not open up to the extent necessary.

In order to maintain a professional distance and guarantee the quality of executive coaching, the coach also subjects himself to supervision, i.e. he reflects on his work under professional supervision.

This is what executive coaching can do

In addition to a suitable coach, it is absolutely necessary for successful executive coaching that clients have the necessary openness. You have to be ready to work on yourself and your idiosyncrasies and to acquire a new skill set. Openness and willingness to work on oneself sounds so simple - “of course, that's me”, perhaps one or the other thinks. To do this, however, you should make it clear to yourself that this means a process that also contains chilling, frustrating or even embarrassing moments.

You have to accept that there is a lot that you don't know. Despite many years of experience and work in this position, there are areas in which you are not very familiar. If you start working together with the right attitude and a good coach, you can benefit from the following effects of executive coaching:

  • You gain clarity

    You get to know yourself better. This is so important because it has to do with confidence. This in turn is a prerequisite for decisions that affect the organization and profitability of the company. You will radiate this self-confidence and this in turn strengthens the trust your employees have in you.

    This clarity arises on the one hand from a series of surveys about your own perception. On the other hand, we look at how your person is perceived by others and how you behave when dealing with others. At the same time, it is about finding out where your strengths lie and where there is still potential for change.

  • You improve your assessment

    Clarity is not only evident in oneself, but also in relation to others. Problems arise again and again because managers completely misjudge their employees: some are completely overestimated, even though they are de facto underperformers. With others, however, the potential is not recognized.

    The result: some pull the motivation and work ethic of their colleagues down. The others leave the company in search of new development opportunities. This is exactly where an advantage of independent executive coaching lies, because it enables an unbiased view from the outside. A good coach will enable his coachee to have the necessary mental resources after a successful coaching to recognize such things in the future without outside help.

  • You use your strengths in a targeted manner

    Some managers have a rough idea of ​​your strengths, but cannot properly assess the impact. If you assume that your ability is useful but nothing special, you are neglecting many possible uses. Executive coaching helps to recognize the value of certain skills. This in turn makes it possible to better perceive and seize new opportunities that arise.

  • They are expanding your network

    It is not uncommon for managers to limit their options by only surrounding themselves with people of their own type. You automatically move in a filter bubble - everyone has the same background, the same ideas, the same way of working and possibly the same gender. How are ideas supposed to come about? We have known about teams for a long time that they are mutually beneficial when as different personalities as possible work together.

    An approach that Diversity is also pursuing. With executive coaching, managers can change this behavior in such a way that they start working relationships with people who deviate from the previous patterns. In the long term, this will not only change your network, it will also increase productivity.

  • You achieve your goals

    Well-done executive coaching is like instructions for self-help. You will never get the solutions ready, but work out yourself with the help of your coach. In contrast to your own family or friends, this happens completely independently and impartially. The only agenda an executive coach has is taking you forward. To do this, he gives you new tools with which you can come up with new ideas and develop new skills.

What other readers have read about it

[Photo credit: Jiw Ingka by]
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March 9, 2021Author: Anja Rassek

Anja Rassek studied, among other things, German language and literature at the WWU in Münster. She worked for community radio and a publisher. Here she devotes herself to topics related to the office, everyday work and studies.

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