No two executives are the same and no two leadership coaching assignments play out the same way. Even so, the following steps are typical of most coaching relationships.
1. Executive Coaching usually starts with a few meetings to:
• explain the process
• learn about the leader’s background and aspirations
• identify the key stakeholders for his/her position
• understand the organizational challenges he/she is facing
• and begin to identify leadership development goals
2. In the initial meetings one question we always ask is: “What would you like people saying about you as a leader?” The answers are the leader’s criteria for successful leadership, which we ask the leader’s manager to validate, then put on a 5-point scale, and use to conduct stakeholder interviews. The result is an in-depth assessment that includes:
• ratings against the leader’s desired reputation,
• explanations for each rating,
• and recommendations for what the leader needs to work on.
3. Often this personalized leadership assessment is coupled with generic feedback from our Leadership Style Assessments (L4 Self and L4 Other), the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Preferred Work Style Inventory (PWSI), or a company-specific 360˚ feedback tool.
4. The interviews and assessments are the basis of an initial report that we review with the leader, sometimes over several sessions, to help him/her identify strengths and development needs. We then help the leader articulate specific development goals that become the focus of the coaching.
5. Some coaching sessions address ways to develop critical skills. Some deal with specific topics like leadership styles, communication skills, team dynamics, organizational culture, conflict resolution, or change management. All of the discussions focus on applying concepts and skills to meeting business objectives by reviewing recent occurrences and/or preparing for upcoming events.
• The initial meetings and personalized assessment usually take place during the first 3-6 months. This is also the most intensive part of the coaching.
• After that, we recommend monthly coaching sessions for approximately 6-12 months to help the leader apply the feedback to specific business situations. During this period we usually identify the development goals.
• Approximately 12-18 months into the coaching process, we like to do follow-up interviews to measure progress. This can be as informal as asking the leader’s manager about progress against development goals. It can also be as formal as doing a complete stakeholder assessment against the desired reputation – current ratings, observed progress, and recommendations for continued development.
• After this the coaching usually tapers off to every other month or quarterly meetings