What is Executive Coaching?
Executive coaching is a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires clients to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex nonprofit environment. We believe every client is naturally creative, resourceful and whole. The coach’s responsibility is to:
- Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve
- Encourage client self-discovery
- Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
- Hold the client responsible and accountable
This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential. In a coaching alliance, the coach:
- Provides objective assessment and observations that foster the individual’s awareness of self and others
- Listens closely to fully understand the individual’s circumstances
- Acts as a sounding board to explore possibilities and support intentional planning and decision making
- Champions opportunities and potential, encouraging stretch and challenge commensurate with personal strengths and aspirations
- Fosters shifts in thinking that reveal fresh perspectives
- Challenges blind spots to illuminate new possibilities and support the creation of alternative scenarios
- Maintains professional boundaries in the coaching relationship, including confidentiality, and adheres to the coaching profession’s code of ethics
How can I Determine if Executive Coaching is Right for me?
To determine whether you and/or your nonprofit will benefit from coaching, start by summarizing what you would expect to accomplish in coaching. Once you have a fairly clear idea of the desired outcome, the coaching alliance will support you in achieving that outcome with greater ease.
Since coaching is a partnership between the coach and client, ask yourself whether you value collaboration, other viewpoints, and new perspectives. Also, ask yourself whether you and/or your nonprofit is ready to devote the time and the energy to making real changes. If the answers are yes, then coaching may be a beneficial way for you to grow and develop. In a coaching alliance, the Client:
- Creates the coaching agenda based on personally meaningful goals
- Uses assessment and observations to enhance awareness of self and others
- Envisions personal and/or organizational success
- Assumes full responsibility for personal decisions and actions
- Utilizes the coaching process to promote possibility thinking and fresh perspectives
- Takes courageous action in alignment with personal goals and aspirations
- Engages in big-picture thinking and problem-solving
- Takes the tools, concepts, models and principles provided by the coach and engages in effective forward actions
How is Coaching Distinct From Other Services?
Executive coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing change. Sometimes it’s helpful to understand coaching by distinguishing it from other personal or organizational support professions.
- Therapy: Therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction, and conflict within an individual or in relationships. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with the present in more emotionally healthy ways. Coaching, on the other hand, supports personal and professional growth based on self-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is future focused. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphases in a coaching relationship are on action, accountability, and follow through.
- Consulting: Individuals or organizations retain consultants for their expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, the assumption is the consultant will diagnose problems and prescribe and, sometimes, implement solutions. With coaching, the assumption is that individuals or teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.
- Mentoring: A mentor is an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience. Mentoring may include advising, counseling and coaching. The coaching process does not include advising or counseling and focuses instead on individuals or groups setting and reaching their own objectives.
- Training: Training programs are based on objectives set out by the trainer or instructor. Though objectives are clarified in the coaching process, they are set by the individual or team being coached, with guidance provided by the coach. Training also assumes a linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching is less linear without a set curriculum.
- Athletic Development: Though sports metaphors are often used, executive coaching is different from sports coaching. The athletic coach is often seen as an expert who guides and directs the behavior of individuals or teams based on his or her greater experience and knowledge. Executive coaches possess these qualities, but their experience and knowledge of the individual or team determines the direction. Additionally, executive coaching, unlike athletic development, does not focus on behaviors that are being executed poorly or incorrectly. Instead, the focus is on identifying opportunity for development based on individual strengths and capabilities.
What Kind of Training do the Fundraising Leadership Coaches Have?
The executive coaches at Fundraising Leadership all have deep fundraising experience. We also passed through a rigorous training regimen over the period of one year that included five courses, at least 100 hours of verifiable coaching hours, group as well as individual supervised coaching sessions with clients by a Master Coach and concluded with both written and oral examinations.
What are Some Reasons I Would Work with a Coach?
You might choose to work with a coach for many reasons, including but not limited to the following:
- Something urgent, compelling or exciting is at stake (a challenge, stretch goal or opportunity)
- A gap exists in knowledge, skills, confidence or resources
- A desire to accelerate results
- A lack of clarity with choices to be made
- Success has started to become problematic
- Work and life are out of balance, creating unwanted consequences
- Core strengths need to be identified, along with how best to leverage them
How Does a Coaching Alliance Work?
In a coaching alliance, the Sponsor is the entity (typically the employer) that may pay and/or arrange for coaching services to be provided, and the Client (you) is the person being coached. Our approach as a Coaches to personal and professional development is about you as a whole person. The Coach, Sponsor, and Client work together to design a plan that is tailored specifically for you. Some of the techniques we use include: values clarification, visioning, brainstorming, identifying goals and action plans, making empowering requests, challenges, and inquiries.
Coaching sessions are typically accomplished by telephone or video. What we find works best in a coaching alliance is two, 45-minute sessions per month over the course of a six month period. In between sessions, Clients will typically have homework that supports their learning and growth. Homework may include reading and/or listening to books, as well as other empowering activities. Fundraising Leadership coaches are available by email and telephone for support between coaching sessions. An initial six-month alliance is recommended for you to realize significant and sustained progress.
How Do I Ensure Compatibility with a Fundraising Leadership Coach?
Overall, you should be prepared to consciously design the coaching alliance with your coach. Here are a few other tips:
- Interview the coach to determine “what feels right” in terms of the chemistry. Coaches are accustomed to being interviewed, and an introductory conversation of this type is free of charge.
- Look for stylistic similarities and differences between the coach and you and how these might support your growth as an individual.
- Discuss your goals for coaching within the context of the coach’s specialty or the coach’s preferred way of working with an individual or team.
- Talk with the coach about what to do if you ever feel things are not going well; establish some agreements up front on how to handle questions or problems.
- Remember that coaching is a partnership, so speak with your coach about what’s working (or not).
What Does it Take for the Coaching Alliance to be Successful?
Working with an executive coach requires both a personal commitment of time and energy as well as a financial commitment. The fees charged by Fundraising Leadership Coaches vary by region, length of assignment, and whether the organization (or individual) is paying. Individuals should consider both the desired benefits as well as the anticipated length of time to be spent in coaching. To be successful, executive coaching asks certain things of you, including:
- Observing your behaviors and communications with others.
- Listen to your intuition, assumptions, and judgments.
- Challenging your existing attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors and developing new ones that serve your goals in a better way.
- Leveraging your personal strengths and overcoming your limitations to develop a winning style.
- Taking decisive actions, in spite of your discomfort and personal insecurities, in order to reach for extraordinary results.
- Showing compassion for yourself and others while learning new behaviors and experiencing setbacks.
- Committing to not take one’s self so seriously, and using humor to lighten and brighten any situation.
- Summoning the courage to reach for more than before while engaging in continual self-examination.