Friday, March 26, 2010

The Value of Behavioral Coaching for Executives

While behavioral coaching is only one branch in the coaching field, it is the most widely used type of coaching. Most requests for coaching involve behavioral change. While this process can be very meaningful and valuable for top executives, it can be even more useful for high-potential future leaders.

These are the people who have great careers in front of them. Increasing effectiveness in leading people can have an even greater impact if it is a 20-year process, instead of a one-year program.

People often ask, “Can executives really change their behavior?” The answer is definitely yes. If they didn’t change, we would never get paid (and we almost always get paid). At the top of major organizations even a small positive change in behavior can have a big impact. From an organizational perspective, the fact that the executive is trying to change anything (and is being a role model for personal development) may be even more important than what the executive is trying to change.

One key message that I have given every CEO that I coach is “To help others develop – start with yourself!”

The “Pay for Results” Behavioral Coaching Approach

Our coaching network provides coaches for leaders around the world. All of the behavioral coaches that work with us use the same general approach.

We first get an agreement with our coaching clients and their managers on two key variables:

1) What are the key behaviors that will make the biggest positive change in increased leadership effectiveness and

2) Who are the key stakeholders that can determine (six to eighteen months later) if this change has occurred.

We then get paid only after our coaching clients have achieved a positive change in key leadership behaviors as determined by key stakeholders. I believe that many behavioral coaches are paid for the wrong reasons. Their income is a largely a function of “How much do my clients like me?” and “How much time did I spend in coaching?”

Neither of these is a good metric for achieving a positive, long-term change in behavior. In terms of liking the coach - I have never seen a study that showed that clients’ love of a coach was highly correlated with their change in behavior. In fact, if coaches become too concerned with being loved by their clients – they may not provide honest feedback when it is needed.

In terms of spending clients’ time – my clients’ are all executives whose decisions often impact billions of dollars. Their time is more valuable than mine. I try to spend as little of their time as necessary to achieve the desired results. The last thing they need is for me to waste their time!

Life is good.


My newest book, MOJO, is a New York Times (advice), Wall Street Journal (business), USAToday (money) and Publisher's Weekly (non-fiction) best seller. It is now available online and at major bookstores.


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