Are you wearing your climbing shoes? Last week, we looked at some of the fundamental, functional benefits of executive coaching in the context of the Executive Coaching Hierarchy of Needs, inspired by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This week, we’ll ascend to the second rung. Here, you’ll find what I call interpersonal needs. Every leader needs to work effectively with others. Their ability to work as a team impacts their success more than anything else. While executives can function reasonably well by mastering the functional needs, they won’t be able to effectively advance to managerial positions with subpar interpersonal needs. Executive coaching can come to the rescue here.
1. Enhancing communication skills
Communication is key to workplace effectiveness. Effective communication skills help you clearly articulate your thoughts, beliefs, and visions in ways that compel others to listen attentively. Executive coaches are able to arm leaders with key skills such as active listening, body language interpretation, and executive presence, that enable executives to enhance their communication skills.
2. Increasing empathy
The most effective leaders have high levels of empathy. They have a genuine concern for others and are able to step inside others’ shoes. In doing so, they make their employees feel special and create more collaborative working environments. As Rene Schuster, former CEO of Telefonica Germany, once said, “Empathy is not a soft nurturing value but a hard commercial tool that every business needs as part of their DNA." Through role playing, active listening, and perspective taking, executive coaches assist leaders in developing greater levels of empathy.
3. Improving relationships
Your team is responsible for your team. Executive coaching can drastically and immediately improve your self-awareness, communication, public speaking, and work relationships. Not investing in executive coaching can mean the difference between your team supporting you or leaving you fending for yourself. As you take on more senior positions, more of your work will be done through managing others and leading through influence. This requires superb relationships skills.
Sometimes, workers have crippling tendencies that not only prevent them from relating to others and performing at peak levels, but also impair their co-workers' abilities as well. Most executive coaches do not take on such cases, but I welcome them. Sometimes my clients are aware of their tendencies. For example, they have had many conversations with their manager, or even received a performance warning (or are on the verge of receiving one). Or they have been ‘prescribed’ executive coaching by HR or compliance personnel.
But it's much more common for these leaders to be unaware of the extent of their tendencies. Perhaps they are chronically pessimistic (‘Negative Nancy’), or have difficulty saying no (‘Pushover Pete’). These behaviors can distract their co-workers and/or cause their colleagues to think poorly of them. Regardless, the results can be devastating. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 79% of employees say their relationship with co-workers is the most important factor affecting their engagement levels.
Through 360-degree reviews, personality assessments, culture audits, performance appraisals, and more, executive coaches are able to uncover blind (or not so blind) spots that are hurting performance and increase executives' levels of self-awareness.
Your career success will be defined by your relationships with others. As an executive coach, I'm able to arm you with key knowledge and skills, including emotional intelligence, mindfulness, self-regulation, and empathy that will allow you to more effectively collaborate, improve your decision making, and create more effective relationships. Research by the International Coach Federation (ICF) found that over 70% of executive coaching participants benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills. As Helen Keller reminds us, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. provides Executive Coaching and Human Resources solutions. Her mission is to make the executive experience exceptionally enjoyable and effective. She believes that the world needs great leaders and has dedicated her career to helping them.
As an organization psychologist and former corporate CEO, Dr. Nadine understands the pressures and demands executives face. She offers her clients the high expertise that only comes with three decades of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Nadine is an in-demand speaker, teaches in doctoral programs, and coaches other consultants. She is the author of two books: ‘The Art of Executive Coaching: Secrets to Unlock Leadership Performance’, and of ‘Stress-less Leadership: How to Lead in Business and in Life’. amazon.com/author/nadinegreiner