Executive Coaching for High Potential Leaders

Executive Coaching for High Potential Leaders

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Sometimes we have seen that despite having high potential, one doesn’t climb-up the ladder of success in the corporate world as expected.

It leads to a lot of frustration, and the individual starts to look around to find the reason.

In two decades of my experience as a learning and development professional and is associated with several multinational organizations, I have seen that a lot of high potential leaders get frustrated and get engaged in un-meaningful activities. As an outcome, the organization never has the desired pipeline for challenging leadership roles.

Here is the most common response that the immediate line managers offer:

1. “You are technically very strong, but I see that you need to work on your ability to articulate your thoughts effectively so that you can influence and inspire as a leader”.

2. “You are a people’s person, but I see that you need to learn the art of establishing deeper relationships with the stakeholders”.

Whose responsibility is it to groom and help these high potentials take the next level of responsibility? The organization or the individual?

Well, it’s a mutual responsibility. Like in a game of tennis, the game continues only along with the rally. The rally stops the moment one person drops the ball. Organizations need to provide the opportunity to the high potentials to grow, but in my view, the primary responsibility to drive one’s career lies with the individual. At the end of the day it is your career, and what you make of it, is in your own hands.

So, what can you do to take that ladder of success in the corporate hierarchy? What does taking responsibility mean?

A simple solution to this is to identify and engage with an executive coach. In the western world, almost every successful person has an executive coach. In India, the trend of working with an executive coach is fast picking pace. A coach acts as a catalyst to help you identify and achieve your goals at a rapid pace.

It is how a coach empowers:

1.       Asks a lot of powerful questions to facilitate learning and insights. A coach is not a mentor. The coach doesn’t advise. He/She gently nudges you to reflect on some questions that you have not asked yourself so far. You are so busy in your day to day operations to that extent that you don’t have time to stop and reflect on some fundamental questions such as:

a. What do I want to accomplish?

b. Why do I want to achieve this?

c. What is my purpose?

d. What is stopping me from taking action? 

Sometimes it’s imperative to stop, reflect, and get answers to some critical questions that determine the direction where we are heading and accordingly alter the course of our journey if needed.

2.       Acts as a sounding board: As a high potential, you are full of creative ideas, but you want someone who can act as a sounding board so that you can dig deeper and make a concrete plan to take your career to the next level. You need someone who is like a non-judgmental friend with whom you can fearlessly express your radical ideas. Sometimes, you are not sure how your ideas will be perceived or received by others. At that stage, you need an external who will not judge you and act as a sounding board to further build and nurture your ideas.

3.       Positively Challenge you:  At times, we are so convinced about our perspective that we don’t want to see or at times, can’t see the other point of view. Also on the other hand, sometimes we are so convinced by our limiting or disempowering belief that we think there is no other way. At that stage, a coach positively challenges your perspective and puts forth a fresh/different and sometimes divergent perspective.

4.        Help you stay focused on the solutions:  A corporate life is filled with the everyday challenge of survival, and one thing that can make a huge difference is the focus on the solution instead of the problem. A typical coaching journey lasts from 3 to 6 months, where a coach constantly facilitates that shift. We do have that tendency to delve into problems or the so-called issues. The coach makes it a point to bring forth that shift of focus towards solutions.


5.       Help you find that small difference in action that can bring a big difference in the outcome: When you play the game of golf if you hit the ball at a particular point, it travels in a certain trajectory and lands at a specific spot. However, if you instead hit just a fraction of an inch away from the earlier point, the ball will land at a different spot. Sometimes you are not able to identify by yourself what is that small thing that you can do differently that may give you altogether different results. It happens because we do not have an objective view. A coach, during executive coaching, provides that objective external viewpoint. It saves a lot of time, effort, and money.

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Once there was a golden eagle who strayed away soon after its birth and started living with a hen. Very soon, the golden eagle started considering itself as a hen. It never learned to fly. Several months later, another golden eagle was flying high above in the sky and saw this golden eagle crawling on the ground along with other hens. It came down and asked, “what are you doing here? You should be flying up there in the sky?”. The golden eagle responded by saying, “I am a hen, and hen can’t fly “.

The fellow eagle understood the whole story and took this young eagle to the tallest adjacent tree and just pushed the young eagle. Thereafter, it continued to soar to greater heights.

Sometimes, we need external support to make us identify the greatness within us.

When we have so much potential, we must make the best use of this innate potential and shape our destiny in the way we cherish.


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