Lance asked:

My executive is resistant to the idea of coaching. What steps can I take to change this?

Tawny Lees, COO responded:

I like the way this was asked in terms of “steps” because there is no silver bullet approach to this challenge. Executive coaching only works with a willing and ready participant, and there could be a wide variety of reasons for the resistance. You’ll need to get clear on what the resistance is about. A fear of facing tough feedback? A perspective that coaching indicates weakness? A concern that it takes too much time/energy? Try to get clarity and then put yourself in this leaders’ shoes (empathize) so you can best address the issues. And you need to make sure that coaching is the right approach. Coaching works best under certain conditions – the executive’s performance and potential are highly valuable to the organization, the particular challenge or developmental need is a fit (executive wants to learn how to be more effective via behavioral change), there are key people in the organization ready to support this executive’s efforts to grow and change, and most importantly – the executive is willing.

Some specific ideas/steps might include: you help the executive get feedback from a trusted and credible source, you have a credible peer describe the benefits he/she obtained from coaching, a valued direct report starts coaching first so the executive gets more familiar with the process and its impact, you brainstorm with the executive about he or she can continue to grow as a leader (self-assessments, 360 feedback, high-level training, mentoring, reading, etc. and discuss whether/how coaching could fit in.) The bottom line is likely repeated, open and honest conversations that get to the heart of the resistance and help the executive to see the value and opportunity in taking stock of his/her current leadership effectiveness and seeking expert help to become even more effective.

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