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Every Leader Needs an Executive Coach, Except Those Who Need One Most

Every Leader Needs an Executive Coach,

Except Those Who Need One Most

In over 30 years of coaching, PsyPerform have repeatedly observed this: “Every leader needs an executive coach, except those who need one most.”

What does that mean? That repeatedly, executives who most need a coach, are least likely to hire one, and those who least need an executive coach are most likely to hire one.

Let’s elaborate. “Leaders” whose performance is impaired by their own behaviour, seem to be those who least look to themselves for the causes of under-performance. And those who are simply excellent at bringing out the best in others are most likely to look to themselves for the factors that influence performance.

Although not aware of any research to confirm or refute the above observation, the causal chain seems clear. If a leader is aware that his/her behaviour is a key determinant of staff performance then s/he will be acutely aware that adopting, learning and refining performance enhancing leadership behaviours is critical to outcomes. Such a leader will seek multiple ways to acquire such behaviours, including coaching.

By contrast, a “leader” devoid of such awareness, who attributes performance outcomes to external factors, will not focus his/her own behaviour as the key determinant of staff performance. Thus, s/he will not be alive to adopting, learning and refining performance enhancing behaviours, including coaching, and such will not make performance enhancing breakthroughs.

Here are just two of many possible examples PsyPerform could cite. Both leaders (of different companies) were contacted after they published a “vision” for their organisations. (Readers may remember that PsyPerform has developed a range of tools to evaluate the effectiveness of a vision, and tools to create an effective vision.)

Both “leaders” were made aware that there were fatal flaws with their planned visions and encouraged to address the problems, BEFORE they did the inevitable damage (obviously the pitch was more diplomatic than just expressed).

Both leaders refused to address their obvious problem.

Both leaders were gone within months.

Why did they refuse coaching when it was so clearly needed? Perhaps because they thought they knew better. Indeed one said so: “You don’t understand the political pressure I was under to set that vision.”

What does that mean? That the “leader” was attributing a performance critical factor to external sources, which supports the theory of that leaders who need executive coaching most, seek it least.

“Every leader needs an executive coach, except those who need one most” seems to apply also to organisations, too. What does that mean?

Organisations that most need to adopt, learn and refine performance enhancement methods seem least willing to do so.

For instance, PsyPerform pitched to a major bank that they had major dysfunctional cultural issues, which, if successfully addressed, could prevent very expensive problems. They declined the offer. Their culture deteriorated to the point where they were apparently engaged in criminal activity. That bank had to be bailed out, costing the UK taxpayer billions of pounds. 

Here is a selected list of companies PsyPerform tried to help when it was clear after looking at their markets, positioning and leadership behaviour that they were headed for the rocks. MFI. Gone. Woolworths. Gone. Comet. Gone. And many others. They were the companies that most needed executive coaching, they were those who sought it least.

Every one was offered help on a guaranteed outcomes basis. Every one declined the offer. Every one is gone. That tends to lend weight to the theory that “Every leader needs an executive coach, except those who need one most.”

By contrast, other leaders, who were already brilliant at securing top levels of performance time after time, seek to develop their skills even more.

Some examples. A CEO who had one of the best safety records in industry sought development to have zero accidents. The product development leader of one of the most innovative companies in history sought new and more effective techniques for innovation.

Leaders who need executive coaching least, seem to be those who seek it most. Why? The causal chain seems to be that since they are already highly successful using the best techniques they know, they want external input of thought and method to develop or acquire even more effective methods.

On the face of it then, it seems that our premise is accurate: “Every leader needs an executive coach, except those who need one most.”

If you want to improve your leadership performance, and you want the people who help you to do so on a guaranteed results basis, contact PsyPerform here.

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