Friday, May 10, 2013

Build Confidence With Executive Coaching

Having confidence as a leader does not always come naturally, and many seek executive coaching to help address confidence issues both for themselves and for the benefit of their teams.

The Importance of Confidence in A Leadership Role

“A good leader inspires others with confidence in him; a great leader inspires them with confidence in themselves”. This anonymous quote sums up perfectly the need for confidence in a leadership role – having confidence in your own actions and decisions will inspire others to also feel confident about themselves. The flip side is also true, a lack of confidence from a leader will demotivate team members, driving them to question decisions, actions and responsibilities.

Without addressing deficiencies in leadership confidence levels via avenues such as executive coaching, companies can soon find employee loyalty on the ebb. This is supported by the Hillcroft House report ‘UK Management Culture of Fear’ which found that the quality of essential leadership and engagement skills necessary for a manager halved between 2008 and 2012, and also suggests that 93% of employees would strongly consider leaving their employer due to poor leadership style.

As a leader, confidence is needed in many areas. From direction setting, through to social confidence and self-confidence in one’s own levels of knowledge and competence.

Decision Making and Direction Setting

Leaders who lack confidence will generally find it harder to make decisions, and in particular they may have difficulties setting goals and a clear direction for their team. Fear of making the wrong decision can lead to no clear decision at all, or switching direction part way through a project instead of following through. This uncertainty can cause tremendous stress and morale problems within a team, and leads to poor business performance generally. Through completing an executive coaching programme, leaders will be able to communicate with a sense of mission and value, providing the strategy and the platform to allow their people to achieve results.

Social Confidence

Relationships are key to results and people often choose to support and work hard for a leader because of their personal qualities and because they feel that they have a positive connection with that person.

Leaders who are not confident about interacting with people – either generally, or with specific people – will tend to withdraw from making effective relationships with their teams. A lack of social interaction and contact can make team members feel disconnected from the leader personally, resulting in less motivation to achieve goals set by them.

And for some team members, a lack of social connection with the team leader can become a source of dislike and even antagonism, which can further undermine the leader’s authority and their confidence, leading to even more avoidance of social interaction.

During executive coaching leaders learn to motivate others by being authentic, generating trust and optimism throughout their teams.

Self Confidence

Especially for those moving to a new company or taking on a new role, leaders who feel that they don’t know enough about their job can behave apprehensively. Different processes, as well as the need to learn new products, can cause insecurity even if they are more than capable of learning what’s needed.

With coaching leaders will have the ability to recognise their strengths and what they bring to their teams, drawing on these to highlight their capabilities rather than development needs.

Steps to Improving Confidence

During a programme of executive coaching leaders will be taken personally through a journey to build their self-confidence:

1. Articulating the problem
– looking at what form the leader’s lack of confidence is taking and what problems it is causing,  providing the leader with a private space to express their doubts and map out the problem.

2. Identifying limiting beliefs underlying lack of confidence and clearing or modifying those beliefs – for example some leaders may feel that they need to continuously evaluate and self-criticise in order to succeed.

3. Working on growing self-belief and trust in their own decisions – focusing on what the leader’s strengths are, and encouraging them to trust in these in order to make decisions that they feel confident about.

4. Taking control and putting actions in place to address areas for development – this could be further self-development aimed at improving particular skills, for example public speaking or getting training in a specific area of knowledge. Or it could entail setting up mechanisms at work to address particular issues, for example if social confidence is an issue, creating opportunities for social interaction with colleagues, through team building, shared events, etc.

Benefits of Improved Confidence

As well as the personal benefits of becoming a more confident leader, allowing less self-doubt, less stress and an all-round happier working environment, confidence inspires better business performance - better goal setting and better vision – all leading to a more focused workforce, with better buy-in from the team and heightened productivity.

And investing in executive coaching does not just benefit the leader themselves. Speaking at a recent event, Dr Mark Winwood, clinical director for psychological health at AXA PPP Healthcare, said that "the two most commonly reported contributors to stress are poor line management and long working hours" and that “line managers should be coached and supported to become the best people managers they can be.” So encouraging a better management style and greater employee engagement will make teams happier, more loyal and, Hay Group figures suggest, up to 43% more productive.

Find out more about executive coaching  from Inspiring Potential and the benefits it could have for you.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Executive Coaching – What’s Involved?

Executive coaching is often perceived as a mysterious and intrusive process from the outside, one in which many questions are asked, some of which may feel uncomfortable. This can often be off-putting, especially to business executives who typically prefer a concrete approach to solving problems. And for many, the idea that they may need coaching is equally objectionable. But the business of executive coaching has been steadily growing, and the case for its benefits is strong. So what does it really entail?

In fact, the process of executive coaching involves the use of specific and targeted techniques aimed at addressing a range of problems.

Here we give a brief overview of some coaching techniques and what they are used for.

360 Degree Feedback

Executive coaching in itself is about self-awareness, and being open to 360 degree feedback - from peers, from those reporting to the executive, and from those the executive reports to -  can help to form a well-rounded view of strengths and weaknesses, as well as how they are perceived.

This can form the concrete basis for changing behaviour and communication styles to improve performance and get immediate results.

Clearing Limiting Fears and Beliefs

A very focused process, in the course of discussing development needs, as well as changing behaviour executive coaching looks to identify the drivers for current behaviour – usually one or more quite specific fears or beliefs.

This stage then enables the executive to articulate these fears and beliefs, either spontaneously through discussion, or using specific techniques such as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), to review them, and to adopt more relevant beliefs.

For instance, in the case of the executive always looking for approval, their belief may be that they are not good enough. Becoming conscious of this belief will enable them to let go of it, recognise their strengths and in place, believe in them.

Video Feedback

Allowing the executive to see how they appear and behave in a range of social situations, video feedback is particularly relevant in reviewing performance during public speaking and presentations, and it is equally effective in looking at interactions with team members and peers. Giving objective feedback, this can often help to counter self-perceptions and helps to identify specific improvement areas and techniques. A continual process, further video footage after coaching has started can show improvement and further areas of development.

Focused Problem Solving

While to the untrained eye this can appear to be simply an executive and their coach talking, this is a highly focused way of helping to reach a decision or solve a problem. Focused problem solving is particularly helpful when the issue is complex, out of the ordinary, or where there are high levels of stress or emotion involved, preventing the executive from seeing the situation in an objective way. And this process is especially valuable for senior executives who do not have peers with whom they can  discuss such matters within the workplace.

Within focused problem solving, the coach will ask the executive to clearly describe their issue, as well as identifying what may be preventing them from seeing a solution. Once the issue is clear, the coach helps to generate options and ideas around it, and then to select the best approach to solving it. If emotional aspects are also involved, the coach will bring in techniques to calm these.

The aim of this technique is to reach a decision, and if not, to create clarity around the issue enabling the executive to take tangible progress towards a decision – such as researching a specific topic or talking to a particular person.

Goal Setting

One of the keys to effective leadership and achieving results is having clear goals and working towards them in a planned way. Executive coaching in this area helps to achieve clarity and focus, and is especially beneficial when an executive perceives conflict between goals, or when there is an issue with priorities. The coach will use powerful questions to create awareness of what the executive wants to achieve, including any limitations that they may be inflicting upon themselves, and here, the GROW model may be used, to look at:

Goal – a clear view of where the executive wants to be.
Reality – where the executive is now – how far from the goal, and what challenges they face.
Obstacles and Options – defining barriers to progress and finding options to deal with them.
Way forward – taking the options forward to reach the end goal.

The Greater Value of Executive Coaching

With many techniques and tools at their disposal, experienced executive coaches tailor their approach precisely to the needs of their client and may use some, all or none of those that we have outlined depending on their brief.

In today’s demanding business environment, many companies place greater value on executives with coaches and mentors, who benefit from a holistic view of their own role, while inspiring and engaging others towards goals and productivity.

Find out more about the benefits of executive coaching with Inspiring Potential – helping you to achieve the results and success you want.