Executive coaching is something which all businesses can benefit from, at any stage of their journey. Executive coaches help you to see things from a different perspective, guide you towards stronger decision making, and provide objective support in the midst of change.
While all businesses could use this type of support, some are actually in more need than others. So, how do you know if your business needs executive coaching?
Here are five telltale signs and how executive coaching can help…
1. Stuck in a rut
If your business performance has plateaued for a while, the chances are you’re stuck in a rut. So how do you know what’s causing it? It could be one thing or a hundred small things; anything from an issue with employee productivity to customer retention problems. Often, it’s simply a case of doing the same thing, in the same way for too long.
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One thing’s for certain, if your business is plateauing, it’s crucial that you take action. Without active change, it may not be long before the rut becomes a decline.
2. Lack of direction
In business (as with most things in life), goals are everything. If you don’t have clear goals, how will you propel your company forward? How will you motivate staff? How will you measure success?
If the objectives of your business have changed repeatedly in a short space of time, it can create a sense of aimlessness or lack of purpose amongst employees, which in turn affects the performance of the business as a whole. Lack of direction can very quickly lead to loss of faith or impetus to perform.
3. Trouble at the top
One surefire sign that you need executive coaching is a lack of cohesion within your senior management team. The C-suite sets the tone for the whole company, so if there’s disharmony or a lack of synergy, this will filter through the entire business. It can have a detrimental impact on your company culture, staff retention, and, ultimately, your bottom line.
4. Lack of training and development for senior management
In business, nobody is the finished product. Your senior management team has a direct influence on everything from performance to culture to morale, which is why you can’t afford to overlook their training and development.
"You’ll end up with unhappy employees and a high turnover rate."
If your senior team aren’t managing to the best of their ability, or have serious gaps in their skills and knowledge, you’ll end up with unhappy employees and a high turnover rate. This has the knock-on effect of making your business unattractive to future candidates.
5. Low employee morale
Your business is your employees. Without them, what do you really have? That’s why high employee morale is so vital to success in business. Poor morale often comes from problems with senior management, and results in low retention rates, lowered productivity, and a negative workplace culture.
If your company has a problem with employee morale, it won’t be long before you see the effects across the entire business, which is why you need to fix it.
How can executive coaching help?
Being a business leader can be lonely. As the person in charge, you’re expected to know every facet of what goes on in your company - and to have solutions to any problems. On one hand that seems to make logical sense, but on closer inspection, it makes no sense at all.
When you’re involved in something, day in, day out, it’s impossible to be objective or to see things from a different or clear perspective. It’s easy to do the same things, to fall into bad habits, to fear real change. That’s why executive coaches are such a vital component of running a successful business.
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Unlike consultants, who diagnose problems and prescribe solutions, a coach is more like a mentor. Their role is to help you see your business with fresh eyes, to support you with new challenges, and to guide you towards stronger decision making. Executive coaches exist to support you as the business leader, and to help you resolve the problems discussed above so that you can grow your business.
At Vistage, our executive coaches are called Vistage Chairs. As well as hosting monthly meetings, they give every member of their group one-to-one coaching sessions. These coaching sessions are an opportunity to discover what particular challenges a business leader is facing.
Asking the right questions
Whatever your business problem, an executive coach, or Vistage Chair, won’t give you answers. Instead, they’ll help you to ask the right questions. For example, they might ask you to describe your problem in one sentence, or simplify it further into one word. By doing this, you crystallise exactly what the issue is, which is a vital first step.
An executive coach will help you ask the difficult questions, and to admit out loud things which you may not have said before. Just like a sports coach, an executive coach may be able to see the exterior problems but their true strength lies in helping you uncover the hidden issues.
As a leader, something may be holding you back which is preventing you from being the best leader you can be - such as self-doubt, blind-spots, or deep-rooted beliefs about yourself. Often, unlocking these obstacles and facing them head-on, is the key to growth - both for your business and yourself as a leader.
Clarifying goals and vision
One of the most important things an executive coach can help you achieve is defining clear business goals. You may have plenty of good ideas but find it difficult to simplify or articulate them. This is a significant problem which can have a dramatic impact on business performance and employee happiness.
If you can’t clarify and communicate your goals, how will your employees know what they are? Vistage Chairs are experts at reflective listening, which can help leaders determine what their goals are.
"Reflective listening allows the speaker to feel completely heard and understood."
Reflective listening allows the speaker to feel completely heard and understood, which in turn makes it easier for them to speak freely and openly. This type of empathetic, active listening is designed to help you formulate your visions and ideas into words.
Developing specific skills
The beauty of executive coaches is that they help with every part of business and leadership, from the micro to the overarching macro issues.
For example, if you have trouble delegating, a Vistage Chair will help you discover why. Rather than giving you advice on how to delegate, or lecturing you on why it’s important, they will guide you towards finding the root cause of why you find it difficult. After all, everyone knows what delegating is and how to technically do it, so what’s blocking you?
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The chances are that if you find it difficult to delegate, it’s a symptom of an underlying problem. It could be that you’re afraid of what will happen if you relinquish control - or it may be something more simple, such as the fact that your business structure hasn’t changed since day one.
A good executive coach will help you find the heart of the problem, and then help you develop the skills to resolve them. By using training methods such as role-play, Vistage Chairs help people hone and develop specific business skills in order to make them stronger, more fearless leaders.
One of the hardest challenges in leadership is decision-making. The irony of this is that decision-making is, in essence, what makes a leader a leader. So, what happens when decisions aren’t made, or the wrong decisions are made repeatedly?
All of the tell-tale signs listed above are a direct or indirect result of inadequate decision-making. While an executive coach certainly won’t come in and make your decisions for you, they will help you determine why you are finding it hard to make certain decisions. They can also guide you towards putting systems in place so that instead of feeling overwhelmed, you can approach your decisions with a methodical process.
For example, a Vistage Chair may ask you to clarify exactly what your ideal outcome would be in a certain situation - as well as what you definitely don’t want. This type of approach can help you create a system for logical decision-making.
Executive coaching has the power to transform your business and your leadership. At its core, it’s all about active support, listening, and gentle guidance - something which most leaders don’t have but desperately need. A good coach can help you discover what’s holding your business back and how you can face those challenges head on.
If you want to find out more about how a Vistage Chair can help your business, drop us a line today.