Five Key Skills of an Effective Executive Coach

Dr Rajesh Mohan Rai – Business Coach, Executive Coach & HR Strategist

Dr Rajesh Mohan Rai

Business Leaders, in a fast changing, highly competitive business environment has never before been as much stressed and stretched as they are today. They are encountering the challenges on every front i.e.  generation “Z” in the work force, unprecedented pace of technology advancement, remote teams with varied cultural backgrounds, highly educated, aware and ever evolving customers, sluggish economy and the pressure from the board, investors to deliver improved business results YoY continually evaluating and judging their professional ethics and values. 

One of the many options available to the leader is to engage a Executive Coach. What skills make an Executive Coach effective?

The most essential skill an executive coach needs is to help the leader deliver the desired results not only for oneself but also for the organization.

Blind Spot Identification:The most important and the first key skill which an effective Executive Coach must demonstrate is the ability to bring the blind spots of the leaders to the fore and make the leader aware of the blind spots. This creates the most positive impact in the this “two-way communication” relationship.  Once the leader becomes aware of the blind spots, accepts them and commits to take required action, that’s when the first significant breakthrough happens in the relationship. Trust deepens.

Feedback: With the acceptance of one’s blind spots by the leader, coach is ready to provide the feedback on other aspects of the personality of the leader. However, the feedback is unbiased, objective and non-judgmental. In most of the cases this may be the first time a leader is getting very straight and candid feedback in one’s long illustrious career from a person whom the leader has not known for long. An effective coach uses the power of positive feedback. This allows to strengthen the rapport with the leader and makes the leader more receptiveto the feedback provided by the coach. Positive feedback ensures that the feedback is not dismissed. It also ensures that the leader gets into anself exploration mode. This in the long term makes the changes brought in by the leader in one’s behaviour permanent.

Asking Powerful Questions: A effective coach is highly skilled in asking relevant open-ended questions to dig and find the reasons for leader’s the deep-rooted knots which might be preventing him/ her from exploring the true potential. Powerful questions trigger the process of viewing issues/ concerns/ subjects from a completely different perspective and allows one to explore the unchartered territory by bring in changes in one’s behaviour, further questioning ensures that relapse is prevented. One thing which an effective executive coach always considers is that the focus of the questions is always the leader and no one else not even the coach.

Listening: Asking powerful questions becomes more potent in the context of coaching with deep listening. An effective coach listens to understand the leader’s perspective. The coach listens and understand the literal meaning of what is being said and the intended meaning as well. The coach listens and understands what has not been said. He again uses powerful questioning to bring out those unsaid words from the leader. The coach also reads the body language and evaluates the engagement of the leader in the relationship with him/ her. The way the coach listens gives an indicator to the leader on how involved the coach is in the equation. During the session, an effective coach focuses only on the leader his/ her needs and issues faced.

Experience of the coach as a leader: “Been there and done that” is one of the most applicable skill which an effective coach should have to give comfort to the leader that the coach would be able to help, support and add value to him/ her. The lack of experience of the coach in the leadership position may just prolong the entire process of brining in the desired business results. The leader would get the confidence and comfort that the coach has had the similar experience during his/ her journey to the leadership and the coach would be much better equipped to understand leader’s challenges and issues and can get into the process to help the leader to come out of any tricky situation leader may be currently facing.  This is how experience helps, this why the experience is needed, this is why the experience is respected.

Can these skills be learnt? The obvious answer to this question is Certainly YES. However, the experience comes with time only.

The Writer is a renowned Business Coach, Executive Coach, and HR Strategist. He is also Jointly holding a Guinness World Record.

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