Executive coaching is now a proven way for good leaders to become great. Here, we speak to a member of the IoD’s coaching faculty who reveals the different services on offer, as well as how to be a better leader by getting the most from these sessions
There was a time when executive coaching was viewed with scepticism. But it has grown into a billon-dollar industry and can be a powerful, focused and extremely effective development tool for senior leaders in any organisation.
The IoD offers a range of services for executive coaching, with coaches from a variety of business backgrounds, including John Blakey of the CEO coaching faculty at the IoD, NHS and Manchester Business School. Blakey has over 12 years’ experience in this field and several senior executive roles to his name, including international managing director at Logica, the multinational IT management and consultancy group.
He also works with UK Sport, and is currently conducting sessions with a number of coaches who will be going to this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics in Rio. He sees the two – coaching for sport and coaching for business leadership – as intrinsically linked. “Nowadays, executives view coaching in much the same way as any sportsman or woman, as a means to improving performance,” he says.
“My focus over the past 12 years has been working one to one with more than 120 chief executives and leaders across 22 countries,” he says.
“There can be all manner of pressures that come with being a leader. They can be trying to put across an image of strength when, in fact, they are struggling to come to terms with new challenges. I conduct confidential sessions where they can talk openly and honestly.”
But for those sessions to be a success, it has to be a two-way conversation. Blakey explains: “First, they need to have an open mind on the process of coaching and be prepared to step out of their comfort zone to experiment with different approaches to problem solving and, second, they need a clear focus on the tangible outcomes they want from the coaching. Some coaching techniques will require a greater reliance on emotional intelligence rather than pure logic to help the executive get from A to B.”
He adds: “Some executives arrive with a clear set of goals but for many we help them identify their goals and areas for development. “You get out of it what you put in. Executives sometimes view coaching as self-indulgent, yet what could be more important than making sure you are playing at the top of your game and inspiring others around you to do the same?”
John Blakey is author of The Trusted Executive: Nine leadership habits that inspire results, relationships and reputation, published on 3 April (Kogan Page, 19.99)
For more about IoD executive training click here
To arrange a free 30-minute session to identify your specific coaching needs, contact the IoD’s head of business development Stephen Moore on 020 7766 2601
How to be a better leader: Five different services available through the IoD
Executive coach John Blakey talks us through the range of options to suit the needs of different leaders
1 One-to-one executive coaching
Directors can benefit from new tools, knowledge and ways of thinking to improve their performance.
“This is a six to 12-month programme and we will meet every four to six weeks. It is focused around specific goals and how we measure our impact with colleagues and clients.”
2 Team coaching
Initially, we offer team members one-to-one coaching to grasp context, culture and individual strengths before bringing the team together.
“I chair a peer group of executives and leaders in which I act more as a facilitator. This allows us to tap into a broader set of experiences and to provide different perspectives.”
3 Return to work
These sessions are designed to support leaders returning to work after periods of long-term illness or maternity or paternity leave.
“They can also be for people who have taken a career break. Or if you have been off work with stress we look at ways to rebuild your confidence.”
This sort of coaching can be critical in supporting individuals about to embark on a new challenge.
“This could be promotion to your first board-level role where you have a broader responsibility and we look at how you can achieve some quick wins. Or it could be an international assignment where you may have to adapt to a new culture and understand a new environment.”
5 Virtual executive coaching
To make executive coaching more accessible we offer a service for those who want to make the best use of their time, in or out of the office.
“These days, I will do more and more coaching sessions on Skype or FaceTime or video conferencing. I was working with a chief executive recently who said doing a session this way saves him three hours off his daily schedule.”