By Stephanie Harder

 

Today, leaders are expected to contribute more to an organization’s success and push themselves further than ever before. To help them succeed, more and more leaders are turning to executive coaches to help reach their potential. Subsequently, coaching is no longer viewed as a way to manage poor performance, but as a tool for professional and personal growth. From overall leadership development and career development, to starting a new role and growing new skills, leaders are turning to executive coaches for improvement.

Over the years, Gallagher coaches have worked with hundreds of leaders across all types of organizations and industries who have experienced the positive impacts as a result of executive coaching. I was able to speak with a few former ‘coachees’ and managers who shared their experiences and insights into the benefits of coaching:

  • Sudeshna Das-Menezes, Director of Volunteer Services at FeedMore, Inc. (coachee), and Marycatherine Savage, Chief Human Resource Officer at FeedMore, Inc. (manager)
  • Lisa Van Riper, Chief of Enterprise Communication at Alexandria Renew Enterprises (coachee)
  • Geralyn Gravatt, Director, Employment & Compensation at Southern States Cooperative, Inc. (manager), and
    Betsy Hill, Senior VP, Human Resources at Southern States Cooperative, Inc. (manager)

Gallagher’s coaching philosophy is client-centered, meaning the client is in control and held in high regard. Gallagher coaches are non-judgmental, bring out the best in the coachee, and encourage him or her to new performance levels. With so much individualized focus, change is likely to be much faster. “[Unlike a] public offering seminar, which is modified for the general population, coaching is specific to the individual. The value of coaching is that you are able to identify the individual’s specific needs and tailor the coaching experience to address them,” explained Marycatherine Savage.

While each coaching session is unique, Gallagher coaches created and use a model called the Discover SM coaching model that shapes the overall flow of a coaching engagement. First, the coach and the coachee begin in the Discovery Zone and explore the coachee’s current performance and identify what is working well and where gaps exist. Then the coach and the coachee discuss and agree upon the Outcomes, or the desired future state. With the outcomes in mind, the coach and the coachee create an Action Plan, listing the steps and actions needed to build the necessary skills. Finally, the coach and the coachee evaluate and assess the Results and compare them to the desired outcomes. Throughout the sessions, the coach’s goal is to help the client come to the right answers for him- or herself. “Laura always made me think. She never told me what to do but always pushed me to come up with the answer myself, which could be hard at times,” shared Sudeshna Das-Menezes.

A coaching engagement typically lasts between 6-24 months, but the results are frequently seen much sooner than that. “Often within a few sessions, we see a level of confidence begin to come forward that wasn’t there before. We see an ease in their overall demeanor because they’ve become comfortable with coaching and see how much it is truly helping them,” shared Betsy Hill. As the individual begins his or her transformation, the change ripples out to others. “As her manager, it wasn’t only important that I saw change, but that clients and customers saw it as well. Over time, people have seen a difference in her and have changed the way they work with her,” said Marycatherine.

For a coaching experience to be truly successful, it is incredibly important that the executive coach is a right match and fit for the coachee. When bringing on a new coaching client, Gallagher may present the biographies of all of the executive coaches and allows the coachee to choose who they believe to be their best fit. “The right match with your coach is critical because if you don’t reach a comfort level, it will be so much harder to change,” said Sudeshna Das-Menezes. “I was just so happy working with Laura – we gelled immediately and it was an extremely fluid experience. It was like she knew my brain.”

Even though executive coaching sessions focus on professional growth and development, coachees often see the benefits carryover into their personal life as well. “The lessons you learn in executive coaching can be applied throughout your whole life and I am very grateful to have been able to have Genevieve as an executive coach. Her coaching, plus the resources she has given me, have helped me change behaviors and become a stronger person and leader,” shared Lisa Van Riper.

 

If you are considering executive coaching either for yourself or for someone you manage, consider the following advice:

“Don’t pass up [executive coaching]! You will find that you get far more out of it than you ever expected.” – Sudeshna Das-Menezes

“If you are considering a coach for yourself, you first need to understand your answers to two questions: what outcomes do I expect; and am I willing to be vulnerable. Once you have the answers to both questions, then you are ready to begin coaching.” – Marycatherine Savage

“Be open and ask a lot of questions. Make sure to really reflect on what you think your issues are and then share that with your coach. Don’t be afraid of the tools, tests or whatever else your coach gives you to help better understand yourself because feedback is a gift.” – Lisa Van Riper

“If you are considering executive coaching for an employee, try to gain their buy-in before suggesting a coach. Begin the conversation about where they feel they need help and what they would like to do differently, then suggest executive coaching as an opportunity. Having their buy-in effectively clears the path for them to engage in their development, improvement, and growth both as an individual and a contributor to the company.” – Betsy Hill

“If you are considering executive coaching for an employee,  present coaching not as a form of discipline, but as an opportunity for future growth in the organization, a partnership where both the employee and the company benefit.  Sometimes an employee may be hesitant and unsure about coaching, and clarifying the reasons and benefits helps them feel more comfortable and embrace the opportunity.   – Geralyn Gravatt

 

To learn more about Gallagher’s coaching, visit https://www.titanhr.com/leadership-development/executive-coaching/ or contact Genevieve Roberts at genevieve_roberts@ajg.com.