As more businesses devise plans to enable employees to safely transition back to work, c-suite level executives find themselves more accountable to their employees than ever before.
However, in this battle of uncertainty where it is easy to find yourself slipping into pessimism and self doubt, executive coaching can play a critical role in developing yourself as a leader.
You may ask, what is executive coaching?
To put it simply, executive coaching is a process of enabling you to see yourself in a new light. As our guest, Career and Personal Development Coach Olivia Galvin says, “it is a journey of change”
Executive coaching can be roughly broken down into four categories:
- Onboarding-Coaching: It aims to assist new employees to assimilate the business culture, clarify career direction, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and innate preferences that contribute to success in the new job role as quickly and effectively as possible.
- Leadership Development Coaching: It is a developmental process where an executive coach helps you tap into your strengths, identify areas where you need improvement and helps you become an effective leader who motivates and empowers others within an organization.
- Career Exploration Coaching: What are the skills, interests and values that you want fulfilled by your career? Career exploration answers this question and helps you assess, validate your career decisions and seek alternative careers that fit with your career preferences.
- Team Building Coaching: Team building coaching is another step towards collaborative leadership. It essentially helps teams align with common goals, commit to accountability and take affirmative action. It also provides insights concerning differences to note and potential areas of conflict and creates a sustainable environment that cultivates long term excellence and success.
You can’t embark on the journey of executive coaching from a window seat. It only begins when you start walking on the path to change.
It is essentially working with your executive coach to tailor your action plans and checking in from time to time for feedback and progress. It’s a two-way street and works best when both the mentee and the mentor are in agreement.
Giving it a shot!
How do you know whether you like tea or coffee?
Executive coaching is like discovering how you like your tea or coffee. You won’t know how much sugar/honey you need unless you are ready to give it a shot.
C- level executives and those who aspire to lead at an executive level may need a safe place to have a conversation. A ‘growing and learning’ conversation that is confidential and offers a comfort zone to open up and explore.
Leadership development coaching offers the opportunity to face your demons, grow inwards -outwards and upwards!
In an exclusive interview with Hunter Executive Search, Leadership Development Coach and Expert, Olivia Galvin shares that her clients are quick to point out their weaknesses and comparatively slow to identify their strengths. Initially, it’s all about taking time to effectively understand “their own perception of their strengths and weaknesses” and giving them the “safe space to talk about the areas that they’re not performing as well in and those that they need help with”
“Quite often it’s about bringing people to that level where they feel confident in communicating with their organisation that there are areas that they need help with or areas they’re comfortable with”, she adds.
In the post-covid volatile and uncertain world, it is certain that leaders will need constant coaching to help them act as business environments become more complex.
A good executive coach does more than influence behaviours and becomes a part of your learning process, providing you with knowledge, opinions and judgement in critical areas.
“It’s really getting under the skin with people, on what the challenges are, things like managing upwards, dealing with a difficult colleague, not being able to stay within a particular area of expertise, the feeling that they are being pulled in different directions”, says Galvin.
She identifies root problems as to what it is that her executive clients need help with where appropriate how they can effectively communicate that within their organisation.
“Quite often, somebody’s perception of themselves can be very different to how the organisation is perceiving them and with open and frank conversations along with the opportunity to create a feedback loop this can bring great clarity”, she adds.
What can Executive Coaching do for you?
Not my cuppa tea – Ready to buy your shot?
Amongst other things, seeking help from a mentor can ensure that you not only address your professional needs but maintain a healthy and positive mindset beyond the workspace as well.
While sharing her expert opinion on leadership development and executive coaching in general, Galvin discusses the following areas that mainly define leadership development.
The most common problem amongst most of Galvin’s clients is the “lack of confidence in admitting that they have weak points.”
“Confidence isn’t about believing that you’re good at everything …. confident people are actually people who accept that they have areas that need developing and areas that they’re weak in..”Olivia Galvin
As an executive coach, she says that it’s important to her that she can bring executives to a level where they allow themselves to make mistakes and seek help when they need to.
Executive Coach as a Sounding Board
Living inside your head
As a leader you often tend to live inside your head in a way that articulating your own ideas can be a challenge. Trying to communicate the same with the others therefore becomes difficult. Oftentimes leaders can be cautious about articulating certain ideas and concerns that they might have; this is where executive coaching takes centre. The first thing that an executive coach would want to work on is giving people the ability to try and articulate what’s going on inside their own heads.
As Galvin puts it, “Quite often I’m acting as a ‘sounding board’ for my clients…. what is really important to people is that I offer a safe and confidential space allowing my clients to be very open and honest about their particular struggles/challenges. More often than not, being able to voice a concern/fear as part of the coaching process is the catalyst needed to communicate effectively and begin the process of addressing the issue. In most cases, the individual will be able to draw on their own strengths to plan a course of action once we uncover where the focus needs to be”.
Do you know who you are?- Perspective-taking and seeking
The journey of executive coaching begins inwards. The cornerstone of successful leadership development is accurate awareness of your personality. Only when you’re open to seeing yourself from a different perspective become aware of yourself, your environment will you make the most of executive coaching.
Leaders can have a lasting impact on those around them, far beyond the implications of their roles. Being open to working upon themselves allows them “to step back and look at themselves from a different perspective.” It offers more insight into how they impact others.
Say it! Becoming comfortable to seek help
One of the key objectives of executive coaching is being able to seek help. Glavin says that after several sessions with her clients, she can see a noticeable difference in them becoming more self-aware and open to seeking help.
“More self-awareness, and the ability to look for a mentor in an organisation… People may be promoted to a position, they’re very competent in certain areas, but they need help in other areas. So, that difference in being able to say to your manager or your boss or your team, “I need some space….or I will need time to become an expert in that area.” ”
Leaders who have resorted to coaching have observed that as their knowledge of themselves (self-development) grew so did the awareness of their own leadership. Their unrealistic expectations were uncovered through coaching and they developed an ability to lead with more compassion and self-acceptance.
Developing EQ & Social Awareness
You are allowed to be human
While becoming self-aware and being able to self-reflect are primary objectives of leadership development, it is equally important to learn how to read a room- to be able to understand and respond to the needs of others and the “dynamics in play within an organization.”
Developing your emotional intelligence makes you more aware socially. Leaders who practice empathy strive to understand their colleagues’ perspectives and become better collaborators and communicators.
Coach Galvin stresses the importance of developing your Emotional intelligence (or EQ) to know how you’re influencing others within your organisation and making a difference along the way.
“When people have high emotional intelligence they’re always questioning how they’re influencing and impacting the people around them, whereas somebody who is judging their team or their work based on purely technical outputs” they’re missing out on a lot.
“People with high emotional intelligence, do it [self-reflection] in such a way that they’re not necessarily digging themselves into a deeper behaviour pattern, where they’re allowing change to come in and they’re allowing themselves to be self-analytical and critical…”
How effective is Executive Coaching?
You are your safest bet!
“The only barrier to change is the individual”– Olivia Galvin.
Executives who can get the most out of coaching have a passion to learn and grow. If you’re open to making certain changes, self-reflect, willing to look at your problem areas and understand that “I have a part to play in this”, then you will certainly make progress and positive changes accordingly.
Galvin says that many executives are quick to judge and they “will go for one coaching session and come back because they’ll realise there’s no magic formula.”
Backed by years of experience, qualifications and practice, a coach can guide you through the way, provide feedback and check your progress from time to time but at the end of the day, “It’s your job to fix yourself!”
“Effectively with coaching as with many areas where it is, it’s not me that’s going to fix the person…. I’m going to understand what the goals and objectives are, look at what actions can be taken and look at different models we can use to see what’s realistic, what objectives are in place and how we tackle them, and then send somebody away with those actions and review them on an ongoing basis.”
You’ve got to put in the work
While helping individuals become better leaders, Galvin emphasizes upon the importance of committing to internal change and sticking to it.
Before every session she sets tailored action plans for her coachees and checks in with them from time to time to track their progress and ‘journey of change’.
“It’s like a midwife doesn’t give birth to a baby” She will guide you through it step by step, but the commitment is that you’re looking to make the change.Olivia Galvin
Bottom line: executive coaching requires self reflection and internal change.
However, as the age-old principle goes ‘Caveat emptor’ – Let the buyer beware! You always have a chance to use your knowledge to accept and make your choices.
One thought on “Decoding Executive Coaching with Olivia Galvin”