The Impact of Executive Coaching for Senior Leaders

      Sam has over 25 years-experience in a variety of leadership positions. He was recently hired to join the senior leadership team in a new organization. Six months in, he met with his Human Resource business partner to discuss some challenges he was encountering with his new peers.  

      She suggested he take advantage of the opportunity to work with an executive coach, one of the offerings available through the Employee Assistance Program.  

      “I’ve been a leader for over 25 years. I’ve worked with many different leadership teams.” he shared with some frustration. “What can a coach help me with that I don’t already know.” 

      “Are you struggling right now?” she asked. 

      “Yes,” he replied. 

      “Then a coach can help. Give it a try.” She encouraged. 

      Sam showed up to his first coaching session with some trepidation, however he was also trying to be open to the experience. Once he knew the sessions were 100% confidential, he relaxed and opened up about his current frustrations. 

      “It’s not like I haven’t been a successful leader in my past roles,” he began. “This organization just seems harder to break into than I have experienced in the past.” He shared. 

      “What’s hard about it?” I asked.

      “I have many new ideas and believe I can see things with fresh eyes, however some people on the leadership team don’t seem to be very open to my suggestions or input.” He shared.  

      “Hmmm…that sounds hard.” I agreed.  Then asked, “What do they know about you?”  

      “What do you mean?” he asked. 

      “What do they know about you?” I asked again. 

      “Well, they hired me, didn’t they?” he retorted. “I’m assuming they hired me because of my experience and expertise. I’m assuming they thought I could bring some real value. And now they don’t seem open to listening to me.” He finished. 

      “Why should they listen to you?” I asked. 

      “I don’t understand what you are asking,” he replied very honestly. 

      “Who do you listen to?” I wondered out loud. “What has to exist in order for you to want to listen to another person?” 

      I'm ready to dive deeper!

      Sam silently pondered this question for a couple of minutes. 

      “People I trust.” He finally said. “I need to trust and respect someone in order to really listen to what they have to say.” 

      “And how do you develop that trust and respect with someone?” I prodded. 

      Another couple of minutes passed before Sam offered this. “Well, I guess it has a lot to do with how well I know a person, how successful we have been together, what experiences I have had with them in the past. Those are all things that contribute to how I build trust and respect for others.”  

      “It sounds like it is all about the relationship you have with someone that helps you build trust and respect. And this relationship impacts how open you are to listening to their perspective and ideas. Is that right?” I asked. 

      “I guess that kind of sums it up,” Sam concurred. 

      “So…what have you been doing to build relationships with your new team. What do they know about you? What do you know about them? What have you been doing to work on developing the relationship?” I asked. 

      Sam when silent for another few minutes.  

      “I guess I was so eager to hit the ground running and show them how much value I was going to bring to the team that I forgot the most important thing,” he shared quietly. “It’s been a while since I was the new person on the team and I completely forgot about building the relationships.” 

      From there we went on to create an action plan so Sam could be strategic about building relationships. He crafted a storyboard to share more about himself, his personal life, his experiences, his leadership style and his vision for how he wanted to contribute to the team. We also developed a list of questions to get to know his peers and begin building stronger relationships in order to increase the trust and respect, and have more influence. 

      Within six months of our first session Sam was feeling fully integrated into the culture of his new organization. He was excited about the team he was a part of and eager to continue to have more impact and be successful together. 

      A Wharton School study shows that many externally-sourced leaders either fail or deliver suboptimal results for up to two years in their new role. Although these leaders may already possess the skills necessary to perform well in their role, they tend to be challenged with adjusting to the culture which decreases their overall impact and effectiveness.  

      Lucky for Sam, his HR business partner knew that coaching could help him adjust to the new organizational culture and get up to speed quickly. This put him way ahead in delivering high impact results sooner. 

      Are you in a new position in an organization? What challenges are you facing? What’s not going the way you imagined? 

      Have you recently hired an experienced leader into your organization and are puzzled that they are not performing to your expectations? How is this impacting your business?   

      Think about the business impact of integrating new leaders quicker. Supporting new leaders with an executive coach makes good business sense! 


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