Executive team coaching probably has the highest return on investment of any coaching. Very few executive teams we have come across have achieved the necessary balance of trust, having robust conversations, commitment and holding each other accountable to achieve a high level of team effectiveness and collaboration on a commercial level.
Instead, what we find most often in Australia is that trust and commitment levels tend to be high. On the other hand, most executive leadership teams we work with lack the ability to have robust conversations with respect and empathy. This in turns impacts the ability to hold each other accountable without blame and prejudice.
The starting point is different in every team, but improvements can be made quickly and lead to dramatic business outcomes. We work both with the team as a whole and with each of the individuals. We have a proven process for this type of work, which is best suited to organisations with 50-1,000 people.
What Issues Does Our Executive Team Coaching Address?
Our coaching for intact executive leadership teams is well-suited to addressing the following issues:
- Working effectively as a leadership team
- Balancing strategic and operational focus
- Improving collaboration and trust
- Enabling robust discussions with respect and empathy
- Using effective decision making strategies
In addition, we help team member with holding each other accountable without resorting to blame games. We can also successfully deal with excessive competition between team members or issues resulting from lack of gender balance.
We have also encountered a number of situations where communication or authority gaps with the next level of management had to be addressed as part of the coaching process. Further, especially in statutory authorities, working effectively with the board has been a recurring issue we had to address.
How Does It Work?
We use a combination of team workshops, attending regular ELT meetings and individual coaching to impact executive team effectiveness and collaboration. All our work is done in the normal context of managing the business, we don’t play games or create scenarios. We work on whatever problems are current in the business and reflect on how team members approach collaboration, problem solving, giving feedback and holding others accountable.
Our executive team coaching process starts with confidential 1-on-1 interviews with all team members. This way we can establish trust and observe patterns before going into the coaching and workshops. Depending on our initial discussions with the CEO (or HR) before the process commences, we may recommend including a team effectiveness survey. This widely-used tool helps us gauge the degree of trust in the team. The team effectiveness tool is not always required, as we can get a good feel from the initial interviews.
We usually recommend using the Leadership Development Framework (LDF) to help the executives understand their true ability to think and act strategically. Most executive leadership teams we encounter struggle with either coming up with a consistent strategy or with translating it into action. To what degree an ELT can work commercially is substantially impacted by the way individual members make sense of the world – which is measured by the LDF. The results are debriefed which each team member individually and do not have to be shared in the team.
After an the initial interviews and observing an ELT meeting we tend to schedule a team workshop to look at the patterns that have come out of the tools and interviews and their implications for team effectiveness. As with our individual coaching, we work with 2 coaches in the room at all times. We are prepared to call inappropriate or ineffective behaviours in the moment and work with the group through the underlying issues. At the same time, we will never open a ‘can of worms’ that we can’t close.
The subsequent steps in the process will usually be a combination of individual coaching of all (or sometimes only selected) ELT members, attending 3-4 additional ELT meetings and potentially doing another team workshop towards the end. We normally touch base with the MD and the head of HR 2-3 times during the process to discuss our observations and what else might need to be addressed. At the same time all individual coaching is confidential and we never discuss coaching content with anyone without explicit permission.
Executive team coaching is business outcome focused and is based on our extensive experience in working with executive leadership team teams in fast-growing businesses, state government authorities and medium sized companies. To learn more about how we can tailor an intervention to your needs, Contact Us today.