12 smart ways achieve more with Executive Coaching and maximise the ROI
Executive Coaching is increasingly recognised as one of the most effective ways to develop your leadership capability and successfully achieve your goals.
But it also requires significant time, money and effort. You and your organisation want to ensure the best possible return on all three.
If you get to the end of a professional coaching program and nothing has visibly changed, then something is wrong!
While each coach has their own unique style and uses different methods, there are simple things you can do to ensure your coaching is highly valuable – time, money and effort well spent.
These ‘top tips’ are based on what’s worked best for the many senior leaders I’ve been privileged to coach across the corporate and private business, government and non-profit sectors for over a decade.
Gathering feedback and extensively researching to learn what gets the best results, I’ve discovered that coachees who apply the following strategies experience the most significant growth.
Following these strategies, you’ll gain and achieve way more than those who don’t.
1. Know Exactly What You Want to Achieve
Identify specifically what you want to achieve (desired results and outcomes) through your coaching. It helps to be crystal clear about what will be better and different when you’ve successfully achieved these goals.
Combine your Professional Development Plan, feedback and other profiling assessments with your own goals and aspirations to decide where you can achieve the best results.
Seek feedback from others and ask yourself, ‘Of all the things I could focus on, which would make the biggest difference and achieve the greatest breakthrough?’
2. Ensure Your Desired Results Are Measurable
The best way to maximise the time and effort you put in and the value you gain, is to check that your results are tangible and measurable. Your coaching ROI is far easier to calculate when you:
- Quantify your desired results objectively and subjectively – How will I know when my goal has been achieved? What positive impact will this create?
- Create a Baseline at the beginning so you know your starting point – On a scale of 0 – 10, where am I now with this goal?
- Continuously monitor and track your progress against the goals you set and your desired results. – How and when will I measure my progress?
Measurable results keep you focused and make it easier to adapt your approach until you hit the winning formula.
3. Take Time Out to Reflect
When you’re caught up in the daily hustle of work, making decisions on the fly, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Use your coaching sessions to step back and gain perspective.
Time with your coach provides a unique opportunity to reflect, unpack and better understand issues and opportunities. Consider meeting your coach somewhere quiet, away from your office, where there are fewer distractions.
You may be surprised how much more you notice when you consciously step away from the situation and expanded awareness is priceless.
4. Be Curious Rather Than Defensive
Your coaching sessions are a ‘judgement free’, confidential zone where there’s nothing to defend, rationalise or justify. Automatic defensiveness shuts out a whole range of options that have the potential to create a break through.
Being curious, inquisitive and receptive to possibilities makes it quicker and easier to build more constructive and effective ways forward. A ‘possibility’ focus helps you create surprising and innovative solutions and develop in ways you may not have thought previously possible.
5. Commit To Action That’s a Little Uncomfortable
What got you to here, won’t get you to there or contribute much to your experience and skill.
Be willing to stretch yourself. Go beyond what you already think, know and do to expand your leadership capability. If a strategy or approach feels new and unfamiliar (a little uncomfortable!), mastering it will strengthen your competence and confidence.
Your coach will help you develop concrete ways to overcome the natural fear and anxiety that comes with taking considered risks and stepping outside your comfort zone.
6. If Something’s Not Working, Say So!
Coaching is a co-active process and your coach will ask you many insightful questions to increase understanding.
However, coaches aren’t mind readers! Based on the high level of trust you’ll develop with your coach, it’s important to tell him/her if the process isn’t working. This may include the frequency and timing of your coaching sessions, accountability, questions or any other part of the coaching relationship.
Your coach will help you pinpoint what’s not working and why and work with you to identify alternative ways to resolve it.
An effective coach will easily adapt their coaching techniques or process to help you discover the best way to achieve success.
7. Be Authentic, Honest and Yourself With Your Coach
Confidentiality is paramount and your coaching sessions are a safe place to let your guard down.
You’ll achieve a lot more, way quicker and more easily when you are being ‘you’. If you don’t trust your coach sufficiently to be open, vulnerable and honest, chances are you have the wrong coach! This can be avoided by finding the best coach for you, before you begin.
Openly share what you truly believe so your coach can help you tap into whatever it is that will best serve, support, nurture and challenge you in a constructive way.
Your coach will help bring out your best and develop an authentic leadership style based on your values, beliefs, skills and strengths, personality and priorities.
8. Make Your Coaching a Top Priority
With a busy and demanding schedule and unanticipated crises, it’s tempting to cancel or postpone your coaching sessions. Occasionally this will be unavoidable.
However, success is most easily achieved through continuous, sustained effort. Missing or constantly rescheduling sessions will negatively impact and undermine your progress.
If you’re tempted to miss a session because you’re ‘too busy’ – don’t! When you’re under pressure, effective coaching can create instant relief. In fact, this is probably when you’ll gain the most benefit from a coaching session!
Commit the necessary time to your coaching sessions and the action/s you set yourself between sessions and you will quickly see results. Ring fence your coaching time so it can’t be sabotaged and enlist your colleagues’ support.
9. Stay Focused To Maintain Momentum
Your progress is likely to be rapid at the beginning as you gain new insights and apply new strategies. However, momentum can either stall or ‘back slide’ over the latter stage of your coaching program.
The positive benefits of coaching are cumulative and the easiest way to maintain momentum is to:
- Prepare in advance and attend all your coaching sessions
- Follow through on your commitments – do what you say you’re going to do
- Regularly reflect on your progress, review your results and refine your approach
- Re-set your goals as you master new skills or circumstances change
Consciously embed and sustain positive mindsets, changed behaviours and new habits every day. Rather than trying to change a lot all at once, focus on one simple change and intentionally work on it until it feels like second nature.
10. Enlist Your Support Team to Help
The smartest way to achieve a particular goal is to ask others to actively help you. Once you’ve shared your goal with selected colleagues, family members and friends, your motivation to achieve it significantly rises.
Your coach won’t be with you 24/7 and your Support Team will help you hold yourself accountable and follow through on your commitments. They’ll pick you up when you falter and cheer when you succeed. Seek their feedback, encouragement and set up daily check-ins to keep you on track.
If you’ve chosen to make a behavioural change, conscious and intentional action taken every day will help you make the change more quickly and easily.
Ask 3 – 6 stakeholders to help you achieve your goal by providing regular feedback and ideas on how you can make small micro changes to behaviour. This simple Stakeholder Centered Coaching technique provides measurable results and positively changes perceptions as your stakeholders become active participants in your success.
11. Use What You Learn and Experience to Help Others
As a leader, your role includes developing your own direct reports and supporting your colleagues through the challenges they face.
Whether it’s adapting to change, dealing with difficult situations or developing your career, much of what you gain through coaching can be helpful and applied with your own team.
Consciously using what you learn through coaching has the added benefit of embedding and integrating it. Mastery will be quicker as you develop tools you can easily recall and use whenever you need them in the future.
I call this ‘paying it forward’ – sharing what you’ve gained through coaching can make a profound difference to others. Think of the increased satisfaction and fulfillment you’ll gain as you help and see others develop. This is a strong and incredibly valuable motivator for many leaders.
If a particular coaching approach has helped create a breakthrough for you, ask your coach to explain it. He/she can teach you how and when to use it to improve your team’s performance.
12. Exploit the Multiplying Effect
Commit to continuously adapt, improve and build on what you gain from executive coaching. One of the most powerful ways to do this is to apply the insights you gain to other areas of your life.
Many coaching techniques, tools and strategies provide highly effective ways to strengthen relationships, build skills and achieve goals outside of work. New ways of thinking, being and doing can be easily transferred and applied to a whole range of different situations.
The more often you use them, the more quickly and easily they’ll become second nature.
You can’t ‘unhear’ or ‘unlearn’ what you gain through coaching and your coach will actively ensure you have what you need to independently coach yourself in the future.
Following these strategies will compound the benefits of executive coaching long after your program has finished and provide a springboard to even greater success in business, work and life.
Curious to see what you could achieve and how an executive coach could help you?
Let’s have a chat and find out!
Caroline helps mid-career professionals and evolving organisations harness the power of change to achieve success in business, work and life.