September 15, 2022 by Amanda Reill
“Psychological safety means an absence of interpersonal fear.” - Dr. Amy Edmonson, Harvard Business School
In the past few decades, the concept of executive coaching has evolved into a completely fresh force for good in competitive business environments. Prior to 1980, it wasn’t held in as high regard as it is today. Developing slowly at first, the executive coaching world focused on specific, high-level leaders and was reserved for an elite few. Now? We’re heading into a world where company-provided corporate coaching will be as commonplace as health benefits.
The world is not what it was 50 years ago, and the business landscape is no exception. One only has to go on social media and see the evidence: working your wage and ‘quiet quitting’ are prevalent ideas. The discourse around millennials stepping into managerial roles as previous generations filter out is also common, with the topic of how they intend to be different in those positions in the way they manage, and treat their employees. No longer do people adhere to the idea that job hopping is a career ruiner. The ideas that longer hours equal greater dedication, toughness is king, and authoritarian leadership styles get results have been weighed, measured, and found wanting. The “if I had to suffer through this, you will too” perspective of leadership isn’t working for young professionals.
We’re beginning to ask important questions: How do we serve our teams better? How can we care for our people more holistically? How can we create a more democratic environment?
Upcoming generations long for vulnerable leaders who can demonstrate that there’s more to success than pretending that you have it all together. But because we’re all human beings equipped with our standard-issue challenges, gifts, and talents, not every business leader will know how to be naturally vulnerable.
Executive coaches have been uniquely trained to explore these concepts with leaders. Through asking powerful questions and providing tools and strategies for self-examination, coaches can help these leaders hone in on their strengths and weaknesses and figure out what vulnerability looks like for them.
The byproduct of this leadership self-examination is strength in humility. In a time when toxic and narcissistic leadership has been put on notice by the upcoming generation of workers, there’s little that’s more important than humility.
Executive coaches assist professionals with the exploration of their strengths, weaknesses, goals, and desires. They create space, time, and opportunity for people to become better at what they do. Through a profound respect for the team and individual, coaches help pave the way for a psychologically safe environment in the workplace.
Psychological safety, a term coined by Dr. Amy Edmonson, a professor at Harvard Business School, is a beautiful concept making its way onto potential employees’ figurative bill of rights. When employees feel psychologically safe, they’re more likely to see problem-solving as a “team sport”. When individuals believe their opinion matters, they’re more likely to share it. Which gives companies more access to the genius in the room that lies within each person.
Though leaders will be the first to set the stage for a psychologically safe environment, extending coaching skills to entire teams helps everyone to ensure that they’re in the right seat on the bus. Executive coaches assist with:
Leaders are not the only ones who can benefit from stronger skills in these areas! When the team becomes stronger, the company becomes stronger, and has a better opportunity to truly live its mission and purpose. This directly leads into a healthy, motivated work environment, and a company that is productive and profitable.
Hiring an executive coach for your business doesn’t have to mean tens of thousands of dollars in investment. It doesn’t necessitate hiring someone to come on site for weeks or months at a time. If you’re interested in exploring what executive coaching could do for your organization, consider scheduling a lunch and learn with an executive coach. While you examine potential benefits, ask if the coach or coaching agency will consider posting up in a conference room for the day to be available for 30-minute sessions with individuals.
The value executive coaching brings to an organization can begin to speak for itself when your team members start talking. Like an earthquake retrofit, an executive coach can enter your building and leave having erected strengthening supports in struggling areas of your business or team. But it’s not just the struggling areas that need support. Enlisting the help of an executive coach addresses potential problems before they arise, as well as supports and strengthens already sturdy areas.
Executive coaching, when it began, was reactive — it was implemented in cases where an individual had recognizable gaps in leadership or performance that needed to be addressed. Like many innovations, it arose from a specific need. Since that time, it has become indispensable. It has evolved from its more humble roots to a thriving practice that aids individuals and teams by not only dealing with those gaps in leadership, but by also allowing the person to discover their strengths and how to utilize them.
Coaching is most beautifully implemented as a proactive measure. Just as a healthy, strong, hydrated body is better prepared to fend off disease and heal from injuries, a proactively coached company is poised to take the unexpected in stride.
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