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Top 10 Coaching Needs for C-Suite Leaders

A study by talent consultancy Korn Ferry of more than 200 of its executive coaches around the world found that senior leaders most need to work on their self-awareness and their interpersonal relationships.

The coaches answered questions about the challenges leaders face most frequently, which coaching interventions they use most often with clients, and what competencies they see as most essential for leading companies through complex and uncertain business conditions, according to a news release announcing the results.

Respondents were asked to classify the top 10 most recurrent coaching topics by level of leader.

Top 10 Coaching Topics for C-Suite Leaders:

  1. Self-awareness 
  2. Interpersonal relationships, listening skills and empathy 
  3. Influence 
  4. Leading during times of change 
  5. Communication skills 
  6. Motivation and engagement and leading with vision and purpose 
  7. Building effective teams 
  8. Strategy and strategic thinking 
  9. Working with uncertainty and ambiguity, decision skills 
  10. Mentoring, developing internal talent, succession
Top 10 Coaching Topics for Senior Vice Presidents and Vice Presidents:

  1. Interpersonal relationships, listening skills, empathy
  2. Influence 
  3. Self-awareness 
  4. Communication skills 
  5. Motivation and engagement 
  6. Building effective teams 
  7. Mentoring, developing internal talent, succession 
  8. Delegation, empowerment 
  9. Leading during times of change 
  10. Working with uncertainty and ambiguity, decision skills
Top 10 Coaching Topics for Midlevel Leaders (or senior managers):

  1. Interpersonal relationships, listening skills, empathy 
  2. Influence 
  3. Communication skills 
  4. Self-awareness 
  5. Delegation, empowerment 
  6. Building effective teams 
  7. Motivation and engagement 
  8. Working with uncertainty and ambiguity, decision skills 
  9. Mentoring, developing internal talent, succession
  10. Time and energy management
“As leaders drive innovation and adaptation at relentless speeds, they must sustain a core enduring vision to keep their organizations focused,” the study stated. “Coaches reflect this in their survey feedback, listing ‘clarifying purpose’” and ‘articulating meaning,’ as well as ‘creating and communicating vision,’ as top coaching needs for leaders in times of volatility and uncertainty.”

Korn Ferry Global Lead for Executive Coaching Allen Moore said, “While coaches previously may have helped individual leaders craft and articulate a vision, moving forward they see the need for leaders to co-create the vision by engaging a wider network of relationships.”

More executives and leaders are seeking out coaches.

“In the past five to seven years, I’ve seen a spike in senior leaders receiving executive coaching amongst a broader range of organizations throughout the country,” Joshua Miller, a global leadership development and coaching professional at JHM Executive Coaching in Aliso Viejo, Calif., told HR Magazine.

Other experts said the benefits are significant, including permanent behavioral changes that impact perspectives and attitudes from the top down.

“Coaching is effective because it is personal, behavior-oriented and targeted to the individual,” Rick Brandt, president of consulting services for TalentQuest, a talent management consultancy in Atlanta, told HR Magazine. “It facilitates learning in a psychologically safe environment and focuses on results that are important to the individual and organization.”

In an interview with HR Magazine, Joan Caruso, managing director at executive coaching firm The Ayers Group, said, “It floors me that so often people—successful, high-potential people—don’t know why they are being asked to work with a coach.”

HR can help executives, she said, by being “clear, specific and honest with executives,” about the benefits of executive coaching.

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.


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