How Executive Coaching Could Help You Improve the Diversity of Your Leadership team

How Executive Coaching Could Help You Improve the Diversity of Your Leadership team

As a business, we are committed to doing everything we can to help Transport & Infrastructure companies increase diversity across their leadership positions.

However, a common conundrum we face is that our clients want to fill these senior, business critical roles with candidates who ideally already have experience in similar positions.  

And while we are seeing a fantastic increase in diversity coming up through the pipeline, there is still a gap in experience at this senior level. One way to combat this is through Executive Coaching.

Executive Coaching is a great way to ease that trade off between making a diverse hire and opting for someone who has been there and done that, which is why we offer an Executive Coaching programme for free to all diverse candidates that we place with our clients.

But what actually is Executive Coaching?

Kelly Barlow, former People Director at Stagecoach, who is now an Executive Coach that we work closely with, explained to us the key things you need to know…

What is executive coaching?

Coaching is about supporting somebody to achieve something.

We all know great athletes have coaches to help to improve their performance, so why should it be any different with executives? Some of the worlds best CEO’s will have used executive coaching.

Coaching helps individuals to set goals, identify challenges and areas for improvement, and to gain confidence in their abilities to succeed.

With 20 years as a HR Director in the transport sector, Kelly has procured a lot of executive coaching. And having been sat on both sides of the table has helped her to identify what you want in a coach and what you don’t want in a coach, and there really is really wide range available to you.

Selecting the right coach for the individual and the organisation, is crucial to its success.

When is it most useful for organisations or individuals to consider bringing in an executive coach?

For the organisation there are three main times that a coach may be useful:

  • If there is a talent development programme in place, with tailored development for individuals on that programme. This could be a candidate from a diverse background stepping up to their first executive board role.
  • If the company is undergoing restructuring. You may consider some outplacement support and career coaching to employees who are leaving the business. Or coaching could be beneficial to individuals staying within the organisation who you are looking to promote.
  • If there are some performance issues. Coaching could be identified as a way of helping individuals to overcome some of their challenges.

From an individual point of view:

  • You could be looking to improve performance in a certain area and may need some help in terms of growing confidence to overcome some barriers that are in the way.
  • Might be in a career transition and you’re not quite sure which direction to go in and looking for some support making those changes.

For both the organisation and the individual, coaching is particularly useful for those taking a step up, especially those stepping up into a boardroom position for the first time. You may be ready for the jump, but just need that added layer of support to make that transition, whilst performing in that role.

This is something we have seen that a lot in recent years with organisations looking to improve levels of diversity. Often that requires bringing people into boardrooms that haven’t had that experience previously and one of the tools used to aid this progression is coaching.

How does Executive Coaching work?

A regular programme of executive coaching is a supportive process which typically lasts 6-8 months. If people think that it is a “quick fix”, it isn’t.

It starts with an initial goal setting meeting to determine what they want to achieve. This is followed by a series of around 6 sessions that are 2 hours in length spread over c6 months, with a review session at the end to discuss life after coaching.

In terms of what the individual needs to do; they need to absolutely show up and be an active participant. Its very much about getting the individual to do something that they want to achieve.  

It’s an honest appraisal of themselves and the challenges they face. Which is why picking the right coach for you is really important because it is quite an intimate relationship which is built on trust and confidentiality.

What are the main benefits?

The main benefits to the organisation are –

  • It will improve the performance of your people. Coaching is tailored personal development that will fit well with your own internal talent programme.
  • It’s a very cost-effective way of developing your talent because you can be very specific with about what the goals and objectives are.
  • It drives 360 degree feedback and you can start to really be specific about the areas for improvement.

The benefits for the individual are –

  • In a world where everyone is constantly on the go, it provides time to reflect, gain a new perspective, and think about issues or future challenges.
  • Coaching introduces different tools and techniques to help people understand themselves better and develop themselves professionally.

How do you measure its effectiveness?

It’s really important that coaching is more than just a “coffee chat”.

Anyone procuring coaching wants value for money and sustainable change – whether that’s the individual buying it for themselves or the organisation sponsoring someone to do it. So measuring effectiveness is really important.

Agree goals at the start of the programme and review those goals continually throughout the process. Then have a review session at the end to identify what has changed. What is different as a result.

360-degree feedback is a great tool for measuring the effectiveness of the coaching. Clients should evaluate themselves at the start and towards the end to measure the performance improvement.

It’s important, that even though the coaching may take place in an informal style, there is a formal process behind the coaching which is fundamental to getting sustainable change.

From experience, we have only ever had extremely positive feedback from Executive Coaching. Individuals and companies both benefit from not only the knowledge and experience but also the mental hurdle of stepping up into a bigger role.

We work alongside Kelly, and other specialist Executive Coaches so candidates can find a coach that works best for them.

To find out more about how Executive Coaching can work for you or your business get in touch.

Author: Jim Newsom

Jim Newsom

Managing Director