With the globalization of business and today’s workforce becoming more transparent and mobile, it should come as no surprise that 70 to 80 percent of major companies today are using executive coaches. No longer viewed as a weakness, executive coaching is now seen as a must for coaching organizational leaders in how to handle the greater demands and challenges faced through more diverse teams, worker backgrounds and technological advancements in the business world. Executives have little to no time to focus on developing themselves as leaders. The executive coach has stepped-up to fill this niche and has become regarded as essential today and going into 2015, as business competitiveness continues to intensify.

First, Am I Committed to Change?

Regardless of how intelligent and/or professionally powerful an executive is, unless a person decides to commit to change wholeheartedly, no coach can change behavior. Executives must realize and accept that any and all feedback is intended to be helpful and to their benefit. An automatic good job reaction to any performance may feed the ego but is not useful to the change process unless it is genuine. Coaching provides change and improvement when the executive/coach relationship is a committed one between both parties.

What Should You Get From a Coaching Relationship?

Based on my 30 years of experience in business and working with many Fortune 500 and private entrepreneurial firms, executives should expect a well-qualified coach to provide the following services:

  • Define the executive’s goals and expectations, which should be kept confidential and separate from the executive’s company performance expectations.
  • Determine the scope of the relationship, how the sessions will be conducted, including its purpose, schedule and possible homework.
  • Create a development plan based on agreed-upon goals and purposes, which includes expected milestones and even concrete dates for achieving such.
  • Support and challenge an executive, in particular help them better understand their strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Serve as a sounding board, as the coach assists the executive with effectively managing decision-making and strategy on a daily basis and for long-term goals.
  • Broaden the executive’s perspective by offering a different viewpoint and by providing proven ways to enhance their skills at decision-making.

In all, the coach should provide a concrete plan of action in developing the executive over a specific period of time, and provide a results-oriented approach that will change and dramatically improve the executive personally “ as it relates to integrity and business — and professionally.

How Do You Effectively Use Your Executive Coach?

From the executive’s point-of-view and again based on my in-depth experience as an executive coach, execs should adhere to the following in order to maximize the effectiveness of their coach and to make the most use of the time (and the money spent) working together:

  • Ensure the coach starts with a plan of action, with agreed-upon goals, milestones and time frames. A plan enables the executive to measure progress and determine how realistic set expectations are.
  • Be accountable to the plan and coach. This ensures a commitment by the executive to self-discovery, learning, development and results-oriented improvement.
  • Look for periodic feedback from your coach about what is and what is not working in the sessions.
  • Keep an open mind to feedback instead of immediately rejecting or denying feedback. Ask questions regarding feedback to better understand and see the relevance.

Many executives struggle to achieve their responsibilities and are too stressed to devote time and energy to developing themselves as leaders. Subsequently, execs should make sure they have fully utilized the talents of their coach to ensure they move the needle forward and learn from their coach’s experiences and knowledge. To summarize, one-on-one executive coaching provides outside, objective, third-party interaction “ not tied to a firm’s or other executive’s influences. Superb executive coaching employs results-oriented approaches that are catalysts for real long-term personal change and leadership development. This occurs while executives receive on the job support for their everyday challenges and for accomplishing their firm’s strategic goals. Author Terry Trayvick is the CEO and Founder of Level Five LLC. Level Five is committed to bringing clients the best approaches to business management across all disciplines- from strategy to execution- for the expressed purpose of driving breakthrough results. The company partners with clients to supplement their industry experience and knowledge with world-class management systems to help deliver the results desired. Simply stated, the company brings world-class management to world class ideas.