What problems does executive coaching solve?

Executive coaching helps you think differently to “detach” from any situation. Coaching focuses on developing greater self-sufficiency to achieve sustained value beyond commitment. Choosing a coach you trust to support and challenge you is the way to maximize value. In general, people move when they feel pain.

What are the problems that cause people to seek executive guidance? Life is hard. It's too complex to solve all the problems yourself. There are very, very few truly new problems for humanity. My team underperforms, I can't get people to commit to my ideas, I'm unbalanced, I'm far from my loved ones, I've lost my sense of purpose.

These have been human problems for at least 100,000 years. We can learn from our own (painful) experience or we can learn from the experience of others. Second, even coaches who accept that an executive's problems may require time to solve tend to rely solely on behavioral solutions. Having faced stagnant situations in the past and having a human nature, coaches know how to keep you at that sweet spot of discomfort that growth causes.

Even so, coaches can easily expand their influence, moving from training to multipurpose counseling, because CEOs don't like to lose face. Two months after what his coach considered a successful workout, Mansfield began to lose weight, become irritable and show signs of exhaustion. As management guru Warren Bennis observes: “Much of executive coaching is really an acceptable form of psychotherapy. Even more worryingly, when an executive's problems stem from ignored or undetected psychological difficulties, coaching can worsen a bad situation.

The problem was that, while the coach seemed to achieve some impressive successes, every time Bernstein overcame a difficulty, he inevitably found another to replace it. If Mirabella's coach had been less motivated by sports or had a better understanding of interpersonal psychology, he might have foreseen that all the bravado learned in the world could never prepare Mirabella for the role assigned to her. Since many executive coaches belonged to the corporate sphere in their previous lives, they relate to CEOs much more easily than most psychotherapists. To achieve quick results, many popular executive coaches model their interventions based on those used by sports coaches, using techniques that outright reject any introspective process that may take time and cause “paralysis” through analysis.

It's just as important for companies to hire independent mental health professionals to review training results. If you want to break out of that endless cycle of growth and stagnation, then a coach is the best option. Leaders who train on performance-related topics go beyond simply raising awareness of a problem and approach the conversation with the following question: “What can I do to help you improve?” Even when coaches take a more empirically validated approach than McNulty, they tend to fall into the trap of treating the symptoms and not the disorder. Therefore, to avoid ghost images, you must learn to harness your power and make other strategic changes that a CEO coach can show you in a simple and direct way that adapts to your unique leadership style.