When Executive Coaching Doesn’t Work, Sometimes
This post was penned by our CEO, Michelle Tenzyk.
I am feeling a bit black and blue. Two of our high-profile clients were ousted within 24 hours of each other. That makes five in a year. Wow.
As a strategic advisor and executive coach of CEO’s and C-level leaders, I know that outcomes, business results, client success is tenuous. You learn after many years that clients say things, nod and agree with your guidance and direction, but what they actually “do” are two very different things.
I don’t see many coaches talk about this side of the business, but yet it is the very heart of what coaching is at times. We are often asked into organizations to partner with leaders who are challenged in a multitude of ways.
Often we are able to dig deep with them, determine the derailers, get their attention and correct course – and help create sustained change. Many times, if we are honest, that is not the outcome. We get a short-term return. A lift, I call it – the Board notices, the leadership team is delighted with the adjustment and the employees are relieved….for a while. It is what I call, false hope.
What happens next, in my estimation is this: the client and their pillars of support take their hands off the wheel. They think they are “done.” Even if a longer-term coaching engagement is in place, the coaching is not constant. A client is on their own, and without reminders, support and help will fall woefully short even after achieving the short-term windfall.
In my five cases, there was a theme among all of these clients: they thought they were impenetrable. Yes, even after I told them that their jobs were at risk, that things were amiss; it didn’t appear to matter.
It’s called “selective hearing,” and you might ask, then why keep them as clients? Here’s the thing: as a coach, we get invested in our clients, and as long as we are telling them the truth and are direct, will partner with them in the best interest of their success (as long as there is no unethical behavior, etc.).
That is why I love coaching – I am not going to leave your side even when things are going, well, sideways.
So here is my message to CEO’s and C-level leaders out there who are listening: Hire a coach – get a good one, listen to them and make the adjustments necessary to be the best leader you can be.
Don’t just listen to your coach: listen to your Board; your personal group of advisors; your customers; your employees; your leadership team; your family and friends. They are constantly telling you what you need to do differently to retain them, keep them, engage them and make you better. The adjustments, in my experience, are not great – they are slight. But slight adjustments at the senior level have considerable impact.
I am bruised, I care for my clients. This will only make me work harder for the clients that I have and new ones that we will onboard in 2018. There is a lesson in everything.