COACHING, defined as cooperation with the client on issues focused on relationships between people, between people and their roles, or between people and organisational systems.
The consulting intervention
Executive Coaching is aimed at improving the performance of professionals, including high-level ones, through a learning and self-awareness process led by an external coach with the client (coachee). Executive Coaching is approached in a systematic and structured fashion, setting objectives to be accomplished in a sufficiently short period of time. The techniques and methods used in coaching are such as to assist the coachee in fully achieving the consensually and formally defined goals. Thus, coachees get great personal satisfaction and the whole organisation benefits from that.
The experiences and feelings generated during the coaching process are such as to raise coachees’ awareness and understanding necessary to recognise and manage the sources of their discomforts, creating a space within which they can contain and resolve them. When the person or the organization is stuck in a stalemate, the coach can help by increasing information and feedback. Coaching’s simplest method is exploring and asking systemic questions to understand the assumptions that, often implicitly, are behind the problems between the person and the organisation. By starting a dialogue, the coach makes the coachee increasingly aware and independent in the comprehension of the facts, so that they can increase their capacity to influence the organization in their role.
Managing oneself and other people in processes of change
Business and context changes, which bring about other organisation and process adjustments, are ordinary events in our working environment. What managers expect of people is an analogous and systematic capacity to adapt to the new challenges in terms of behaviours, knowledge, and attitudes. Therefore, the intention is to apply the same logics to both organisation and people. However, this principle puts a lot of pressure on people, who struggle with their ability to manage themselves and their interaction with others. Executive Coaching helps facing and resolving the difficulties emerging in these situations. Below are some examples of problems:
- There is the feeling that our way of thinking and acting is stalled, and this does not help solving the new problems; there is no way out.
- When new, different behaviours are necessary, but the capacity to decide lacks and a state of ambiguity persists.
- When the problem is ever changing and one is unable to focus on, and start, a final process of change.
- When there is the feeling that there is no full control on one’s own or others’ activities.
- In a context of complexity and change, neither clarifications nor specific instructions are sufficient to coordinate the efforts, and everyone goes their way.
- There is a great personal motivation for change, but this is not, per se, sufficient to face the situation.
Cooperation in small and large groups
Success is the result of the right dynamic tension between competing and cooperating, i.e. of the balance between individualist logics (or group logics, with group meant as one subject) and collective logics. Having people or groups compete with each other can produce some advantages, but when this is exacerbated, the cooperation logics ceases and both winners and losers suffer negative effects. In the complex organisations of our day, where individuals belong in multiple groups contributing to the final result in different ways, people find it difficult to draw a line between the search for cooperation and the competitive mindset of business. Executive Coaching helps keeping the tension between competition and cooperation at the right level whilst ensuring win-win success. Some examples of these difficulties are listed below.
- Employees do not understand who has actually authority over others, and what are their specific roles or functions.
- Creative capacity and vitality are not aimed at the primary task, because this is no longer recognized.
- The culture of teams with common values is desired, but non-existent.
- Interpersonal relationships focused on the rivalry between people or groups.
- There is the need for more cooperation, for more mutual respect and for a better internal and external communication.
- There is excessive dominance, little cooperation, and the need of a leadership capable of recognising all whilst respecting diversity.
- People in key positions do not integrate and suffer team pressure.
- When it is necessary to take into consideration the interests of the whole organisation to manage the complexity of dynamics between teams.
Emotional awareness and behavioural effectiveness
Emotions, just as cognitive processes, represent psychological answers to any situation, including professional situations, and are behind important processes such as empathy or motivation. The fact of being aware of our emotions, using them for our benefit, and therefore the fact of being able to manage them to improve our relationships, is good for wellbeing and has also relational effectiveness. Although they are inevitably part of the human being, emotions are not always admitted in the range of abilities of those who work in organisations. Conversely, those who know how to recognise, live, and manage their own emotions, also in the workplace, have a greater capacity to manage themselves and others (including clients, partners, peers, etc.). Below are some of the advantages deriving from Executive Coaching:
- Avoiding being impacted by external factors that have us make the wrong decisions.
- Being able to understand the corporate context and affect its structure/organisation.
- Feeling the need and having the capacity to create more constructive and flexible situations with others.
- Being able to identify and place ourselves in our professional role by fulfilling our full potential.
- Being able to identify and manage people who are different from ourselves.
- Being able to do our best (for example in presentations, when giving an authentic impression of ourselves is an advantage).
- Accepting our and others’ mistakes, and being able to learn from them.
- Describing and resolving problems by starting from one’s relationships and taking sensitive and emotional factors into account.
- Managing stress: being able to adapt our behaviour depending on our tolerance and resilience, being optimist, and managing our wellbeing.
Personal effectiveness and interpretation of one’s role
We pursue our professional effectiveness not only with the renewed motivation or a change in expectations, but above all by learning from one’s own actions. Improving ourselves means to give new meanings to our function, through the experience of relationships, the dialogue with our counsellor, innovative thought, and the generation of effective solutions through action. This leads to self-awareness and to the realisation of our desires. Consulting favours the creation of such situations as those listed below:
- A greater comprehension of one’s own role and potentialities connected with that (resources, spaces, times, places).
- Recognition of one's leadership and relational experiences, as part of one’s personal biography.
- Improvement of one’s communication effectiveness, as a way to be able to feel and create spaces and images.
- Increase in one’s psychological wellbeing in the workplace, with positive effects on one’s own ambitions, relationships with other people, autonomy, and mastery.
- Confidence in our effectiveness through a better perception of ourselves, in terms of awareness, look, and understanding of fulfilment.
- Greater capacity to interpret all that which regards our role, in terms of strategy, organisational context, decision-making processes, and critical interactions.