Tag Archives: executive coach

Top 10 Mistakes Of Corporate Coaches & How To Use Them To Explode Profits

Whenever I’m consulting with a client, I try to present all of my coaching suggestions in the most positive light possible…

I do this by highlighting the benefits my corporate clients can achieve through the prescribed changes and not dwelling on the often-stupefying mistakes that have led them to hire me.

I do it this way, not simply because it’s more pleasant (it IS), but because I think it’s the most effective way to motivate clients to make the changes and move forward.

They’ve already lived the mistakes, there’s nothing to gain from analyzing the flaws in their organization or leadership style over and over. That’s why they hired me. That’s my job.

Their job is to implement the changes, with a little help and guidance, to get their business back on the right track.

This is NOT a 10 Deadly Sins Article

Here’s the thing, because I like to approach these matters from a positive, results-based angle, I chose not to make this a piece about the “10 Stupidest Things Corporate Executives Do” or the “7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurs Who Think They’re God’s Gift to Business.”

Look, with the absolutely stupid, self-destructive, and borderline negligent things I’ve observed in my corporate coaching career, it’d be easy to write any of those articles. I could write books. But I won’t…

In the interest of better understanding exactly what many executives do wrong, AND what exactly corporate coaching professionals actually do, I’ve decided to flip the typical script. Here’s are the 10 major mistakes business consultants see on a recurring basis:

1. Leaders Don’t Have Clarity of Vision: If corporate leaders don’t understand why their company exists, then how can they teach that to their customers, employees, vendors, or funding partners?  It’s time to revisit your mission statement, study it and/or make the appropriate changes.

Because your mission says why your company does what it does, this is a great place to renew your commitment to your company’s vision. One more thing: In order to really engrain this vision into your organization at every level, your mission statement needs to be distilled into a phrase so short and simple, it can fit on a t-shirt.

2. The Company Lacks Identity and Core Values: All outcomes are not the direct result of those at the top of the corporate ladder… but it does reflect on them.

Identifying core values are one of the most powerful ways that corporate executives can influence and guide the behaviors of their team. Although leaders can’t DO everything, they can and should create the values the guide employees on HOW to carry out these responsibilities.

3. The CEO Isn’t Big On Org Charts: Lots of executives pay lots of lip service to running a tight ship, but never seem to get around to creating or updating the company’s organizational chart.

An organizational chart clarifies who occupies what role and who reports to whom, and for what. A good organizational chart increases your company’s efficiency and, perhaps more importantly, defines responsibilities.

If a business leader fails to make an org chart, they typically start to absorb more and more responsibilities, until the company’s structural hierarchy looks like the chart below.

business_coaching_services

Increase Your Companies Efficiency

4. Employees Don’t Have Job Descriptions: I meet with executives all the time that tell me that they need to hire help. When I ask them what the person would do, however, they look at me like a deer in the headlights.

You can’t possibly hire the right person if you haven’t decided what you want them to do once they’re on board. So before even think about hold a single interview, you need to write a thorough job description.  If you don’t, you’ll simply be wasting mountains of time.

If you’ve never written a job description before — you’d be shocked by how many corporate leaders haven’t — start by writing down everything you think you want your new employee to do. List the duties you want them to be responsible for. Next to each responsibility, write down the skill necessary to fulfill it. Be as specific as humanly possible.

Once you’ve taken inventory and created a skill set that defines your ideal employee… only then do you start scheduling interviews.

5. Leaders Confuse a Feature with a Benefit: Knowing the difference between a feature and a benefit is only useful for those in the marketing department. It’s absolutely critical that a company’s decision makers understand this concept as well.

Many of the mistakes we see in the corporate coaching world have to do with an executive’s love affair with an idea or product with a new feature. If that feature doesn’t provide an attractive benefit, or the company fails to position the products in a way that’s relevant to the benefits, massive resources can be quickly wasted.

6. Compensation: This one’s a big, sticky ball of wax. The main thing to remember here is that variable, performance-based compensation plans are no magic bullet — at all. In fact, more and more research shows that artificial pressures like bonuses and commissions don’t improve performance, the introduce stress that hinders it.

7. Leaders Don’t Communicate With Accounting Enough: Many executives have no idea what the “real” cost to run their business is. They don’t keep a close relationship with their accounting department and leave it up to “accounting” to make sure the numbers are good.

This is a lot like relying on the TV weatherman to deliver nice, partly cloudy skies. It works… until it doesn’t.

8. The Company Has Shinny Penny Syndrome: When leaders have a tendency to bounce like a pinball from one pet project to another, their businesses follow suit.

This will destroy profitability faster than just about anything else, because it draws resources away from the company’s core revenue sources. When you have several projects 50% done, that yields you zero revenue. However, one project 100% done brings money in the door.

9. Leaders Resist ALL Strategic Mergers or Partnerships: Look, not every merger, acquisition, or partnership that comes your way will be beneficial. However, the right partnership can send your company light-years ahead.

The thing we observe all too often in corporate coaching is a hostile attitude towards making beneficial alliances with likeminded companies. Even more damaging, this always seems to happen with companies that are struggling to take the next step.

If or when that company is able to make the progress its leaders desired, it’s out all the time and money it took them to do it all themselves. In a business landscape demanding “better, faster, more,” there’s no excuse for squandering resources.

10. The Company’s Leaders Avoid Confrontation: Too many executives are concerned about being well liked and have a terrible time making the tough decisions that are right for the business. If there is a problem, deal with it.

Even better yet, don’t allow potential problems to go unnoticed. If something unhealthy for your business seems likely to happen, jump on it before it becomes a serious issue.  There is a potential problem, jump on it before it becomes a real problem.

Letting problems fester tends to lead to:

-Bad Deals
-Bad Employees
-Bad Company Morale

Takeaway: If you see yourself in even one of these items, it’s time to bring in someone to help you work through it. Corporate coaching exists for a reason. Running a business made up employees and  rapidly changing markets is incredibly complicated — seek the advice of someone who’s seen it all before.

Coaching for Business: Your Key to Greatness

If you’re like most hungry self-starters with strong entrepreneurial tendencies, you probably think you don’t need an executive business coach. You probably don’t want much coaching in any aspect of your life or work, aside from the occasional consultation with your accountant or the swing doctor at the clubhouse.

For those of us further along in our careers, most of us have come to terms with the fact that everyone needs some coaching from time to time, someone who knows what you’re up against. Think about it for a moment, Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, and Sir Richard Branson all have entire teams of advisors that they keep around to make sure they’re staying on the right track.

I know what you’re thinking, “Why do they bother? Don’t these guys pretty much have the market cornered on executive know how?”

The Hard Way vs. Wisdom

Sure, it’s easy to build up these ultra-successful entrepreneurs as super human. And it’s probably true that there are few people in the world that know any more than these guys about building a business…

Yet they still bother to keep advisors. Why?

They’ve learned that coaches are a necessary part of staying on top one’s game whether in sports or business. So how did they learn this?

They either had the wisdom to listen to a mentor’s advice from an early age, or they learned their lesson the hard way. Kings, queens, presidents, and CEOs all have coaches, because coaches help to point out things that they don’t see, or gain new perspectives that they wouldn’t otherwise been aware of.

It’s a common misconception to think that a coach must be better than his or her team to be effective. Can Bill Belichick throw the football like Tom Brady? Could Phil Jackson dunk like Kobe Bryant? Can Butch Harmon play golf like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, or Greg Norman — all three champions that he’s coached throughout his career?

Of course, the answer to all of these questions is no. So how can each of these elite coaches have anything useful to offer their exceptional pupils?

The Power of Great Business Coaches

There’s an old saying that goes, those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. While the original author of this cynical quote certainly had a way with words, the truth is that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s far more accurate to say that some people have the abilities, while others have the vision. Almost NEVER does one person possess all desirable leadership qualities in a single package. It just doesn’t happen.

In fact, it’s more accurate to say that, just because some can do, that doesn’t mean they can teach. Often times, genius manifests itself in very narrow spectrums. That’s why coaches can be so incredibly beneficial.

In fact, mountains of anecdotal evidence seem to indicate that the most extraordinarily gifted among us are the ones with the most to gain from coaching. It makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that those of use that fall in the fatter region of the bell curve don’t have plenty to gain from finding the right coach.

Executive Coaching for Results

Too many times, the word coach has a negative connotation. We’re not talking about that stern, crotchety coach that taught your high school biology class — the guy who spent more time criticizing “kids today” than talking about double helixes.

Executive coaches are usually extremely skilled experts in a subject. Perhaps the best way to think of an executive coach is someone who you can consider your strongest advocate.

The vast majority of people seeking business coaching aren’t doing so because they’re struggling to keep their businesses from going under. Usually, it’s the opposite extreme.

More often than not, it’s the already successful who opt for coaching, and not for re-training, but for improvement. These driven business leaders want to see positive changes in the way the handle their duties, manage their employees, and make personnel decisions.

According to a study published in the Journal of Management, 84% of executives who engaged in coaching reported having positive feelings about the experience. Of those, 32% reported experiencing improvement in their executive performance as a result.

What’s perhaps even more surprising, 24% of the participants in this study felt they’d achieved growth in areas of their personal life as well as in their career, maintaining that they’d learned to become more open to change or they’d developed more self-confidence.

Building You Up

It’s hard to overstate the psychological benefits of having a strong relationship with an executive confidant, because, in practice, your executive coach is truly your strongest advocate.

It’s all about having someone in your corner, a mentor who knows about the challenges an executive deals with on a daily basis. A mentor that’s seen it all first-hand and can offer good advice based on their own experiences is a common choice.

Thus, most coaching relationships naturally involve two executives at different levels of their respective careers, but that’s not necessary. While some executives may balk at the idea of having a coach that’s younger than them, or not familiar with their area of expertise, seniority and executive experience are not the primary tools that make up an effective business coach.

All that’s actually necessary is ability to listen and offer different perspectives in a way that builds the coaching relationship. Successful coach depends on the free sharing of relevant information.

Both parties can be on the same executive level, or vastly different levels, that’s not as important as the fact that learning is taking place — or as some psychologists call it, the “Transfer-of-knowledge.” The other most critical element is that the recipient of the coaching must feel that he or she is getting something out of the relationship; that’s where relationship building and personal communications styles come in.

The Phases of Coaching for Business

In many ways, the relationship is one of an advisor to a client, or even a therapist to a patient. Keep in mind, however, that most of the executives who seek out business coaching are already successful. Signing up for business coaching or mentoring isn’t an admission that your skill set is inadequate. Rather, it’s a statement that you want to become even better at your role.

For those who are curious about the process, those who may be wondering what coaching sessions may actually look like; the typical phases are fairly standardized. The first step is the Data-Gathering phase. This is where the foundation of the coaching relationship is formed and the coach works to get to know the executive. More often than not, this involves an interview session.

Phase two of the process is the Feedback portion. This is where the coach will present their findings to the executive and offer suggestions, backed up with data, for how they may change some of their business processes to be more effective.

After phase two, most executive coaching processes move to Periodic Coaching Sessions. These sessions are scheduled at regular intervals and designed to address difficulties the executive may be dealing with as they implement changes to their processes.

The last phase is Evaluation. This is where the accountability portion of the coach’s job comes in. The Evaluation phases is where the coach tries to determine if their coaching recommendations were actually helpful.

In some ways, this process resembles an exit interview, allowing the coach to learn if they were able to truly make an impact on the executive, and if their recommendations were effective.