Your Guide To An Effective Coaching Engagement

by Christine McGuire

January 25, 2024Development

It can be lonely at the top!

Have you ever wanted someone, who has an unbiased position and opinion, to listen to what’s going on with you within your organization? Have you ever wanted someone to help you understand how to put your strengths to work in new and different ways? Have you ever wanted someone to ask you thought-provoking questions without offering solutions or telling you what to do? Have you ever wanted someone to help you build new skills in particular areas, such as, conflict resolution, Change Management, collaboration with peers and enhancing your personal gravitas?

If you answered yes to any of these, then you should consider investing in an executive coach.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself or someone on your team is personal investment and development and that is what a coach can do for you, with you. It’s important from the start that you find a coach that will suit your style, one you feel you can create a connection with and trust implicitly. Ethical practices and confidentiality are of utmost importance in establishing a trusting partnership between coachee and coach, to ensure progress is made toward both the individual and organization’s goals. Additionally, it’s important to consider the credentials of the coach. What training do they have? What experiences have they had?

What is Executive Coaching?

Executive Coaching is commonplace today and continues to grow in popularity and prestige. It is best used for high potentials, retaining top talent, increasing the skills and knowledge of today’s executives and readying them for the next position or increases in their demanding role. Strong leadership sets the pace. That’s why selecting and developing top leaders is so important. Coaching is a partnership to support the leader in going from where they are now, to where they want to go. Identifying blocks, assumptions, dealing with that internal critical voice and breaking through limiting beliefs.

Executive Coaching Process

Step One: Discovery Conversation

An ideal coaching process is one that includes a discovery conversation with the individual and the leader of that individual. They are both stakeholders so its important the coach understands what the company’s business objectives are and how the coachee fits into that. At Talent Plus, we would also want the individual to go through our scientifically validated, In-Depth Leadership Talent Interview so we have a complete picture of the leader’s talent and potential. This is a key differentiator for Talent Plus, as we want to understand what an individual’s key strengths are, how those strengths impact their style and how, during the course of the engagement, we can really lean into them in order to help them learn and grow through their talents versus trying to change them. 

Coaching is also different than feedback. Feedback is sometimes an “event” that gives the person information and leaves them to do with it what they will. Our coaching is focused on the application of talents and real situations, on an ongoing basis that brings the lens of talent to leadership challenges.  Also, by understanding their strengths, it ensures a very individualized approach versus a one-size-fits-all approach.

Step Two: Building a Plan and Setting a Schedule

Once these things are in place, the engagement is ready to start and we can begin to build a plan with specific goals, determine what skills the individual would like to further develop and set the schedule of how often the individual would like to meet. Typically, our sessions, at Talent Plus are an hour long, happen every 2 weeks and run for a length of six months. Throughout the engagement there will likely be a mix of ‘in the moment’ coaching (coachee describes a situation they are dealing with and the coach asks questions to help them explore the situation) as well as assignments such as journaling, homework, articles to read, all working towards the long-term goals the coachee wants to accomplish to produce the desired transformation.

I’m currently coaching someone who is having trust issues with a work partner. As he described some of what has been going on I began asking questions to push him to think beyond what he has already tried. Questions like:

  • “What if you decide to leave it alone?”
  • “What if you take no further action?”
  • “What’s the consequence or is there a benefit?”
  • “What if you address it in a new way?”
  • “What might that be?”
  • “What have you seen others do in situations like this?”
  • “How will you feel if things stay the way they are?”
  • “How will you feel if you can make the changes you want?”
  • “What’s the result of this mistrust to others on the team?” 

So, you get the idea. This approach pushed him to realize that he wasn’t okay with not doing anything. He began to think of new ideas, ways he could approach this partner in a different way and ultimately to take ownership of the situation versus be upset. This is a simple example but one that has made a difference for this leader. 

Like anything new, getting a coach can be a bit scary. But, if you are open to new ideas and a coach challenging the way you think, it may be time to dive in and try it. It takes some curiosity, commitment, an open mind but with all of that and the right coach, you can set your sights on new heights, new skills and new opportunities. Try it, you might really enjoy it!

Christine McGuire

Christine is the Director of Consulting at Talent Plus where she delivers excellence in the areas of leadership, coaching, selection and talent development. In addition, she is a corporate facilitator who provides teams and individuals with increased skills to raise productivity.

“I use my talents to teach, helping clients and colleagues grow into their potential, always challenging them to believe they can reach new levels of skills and knowledge.”

Talents: Ego Drive, Persuasion, Response to Negativity, Executive Skill, Focus