What is more important than acquiring technical skills? Is there knowledge more important than that which we gain in our universities and institutions, more than the theoretical knowledge which comprises our certifications and degrees? In answering these questions, another more fundamental question arises: What is our motivation for pursuing knowledge in the first place? Is it merely a means to the short term end of getting a job? Or is it to arrive at the end in itself of: personal growth and development, adding value to the organizations with which we align ourselves, and creating positive change in the lives of the people with whom we are associated.
By continually sharing the knowledge and understanding we have attained, while seeking to broaden our awareness by absorbing the wisdom of others, we open ourselves to the collective human learning experience. In doing so, we heighten our perception of our relationship to everyone around us, be they in our personal or professional realm. However, in order to develop this synergy with others, we must first develop an insatiable interest in attaining genuine self-knowledge and personal understanding. This variety of wisdom and subsequent growth is best acquired in an infinitely rewarding, albeit challenging, relationship with an executive coach who shares the desire to facilitate our “whole person” development and understanding from the inside out.
That is not to minimize the importance of the technical skills and theoretical knowledge which result in hybrid vehicles, photovoltaic collectors, jet aircrafts, or business models equipped to overcome any competitive market factor. However, when we look at ourselves in the mirror, ideally we should be able to identify what we have to offer, outside the domains of technical skill and theoretical prowess. At the same time, we should carefully avoid taking an either/or approach to the valuation of knowledge. Fortunately, those among us who sincerely look toward developing ourselves, and becoming intimately acquainted with our strengths and our shortcomings (both internally and relationally), automatically meet the criteria of the enlightened executive, who is well equipped technically and theoretically, but whose emotional intelligence is the key that unlocks all their doors to success.
The modern corporate environment is multi-faceted, increasingly pluralistic, and interdependent. In former days, executives likely shared a birthplace, cultural context, and worldview with their counterparts. However, when looking at any urban/industrial center in the U.S. Or abroad, we now see diversity in every way it can be defined and classified. Given that practically, the entire world is experiencing radical changes in social systems, family structures, and business practices, learning how to communicate and collaborate effectively with others, who may or may not be anything like you, is an essential skill for all people, executives and non-executives alike. Although in the professional world, those who are not actively pursuing mastery in the areas of: self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management are a liability, rather than an asset, to their organization and to the realization of their fullest own potential.
While these skills, the fundamental components of emotional intelligence, are absolutely crucial for success, especially in the professional world, they are almost entirely absent from the training, development, and field of awareness of the vast majority of current and aspiring executives. While it is true that we can acquire these skills to some extent through “experience,” time and forgiveness of the mistakes we make along the way are luxuries widely unavailable. Therefore, the much more feasible alternative of working with an executive coach is being sought with greater frequency. Executive coaches help us reveal our creativity, and “outside the box” solution-oriented thinking, while also equipping us to perceive our position in complex organizational and social systems with clarity. Consequently, we are better able to optimize our strengths and overcome our weaknesses. Executive coaching is, perhaps, best defined by the composite definition of executive coaching provided by the Center for Creative Leadership:
Reduced to its essence, executive coaching is the process of equipping people with the tools, knowledge, and opportunities they need to develop themselves and become more effective (Peterson, 1996). Executive coaching involves the teaching of skills in the context of a personal relationship with the learner, and providing feedback on the executive’s interpersonal relationships and skills (Sperry, 1993 ). An ongoing series of activities tailored to the individual’s current issues or relevant problems is designed by the coach to assist the executive in maintaining consistent confident focus as he or she tunes strengths and manages shortcomings. (Tobias, 1996)
This synergistic growth process facilitated by executive coaches creates the type of leaders which today’s forward thinking companies characterized by their commitment to excellence cannot afford to be without. If I were an employer, I would be looking for my next all-star from an executive coach and/or utilizing the services of an executive coach to mentor my executive team. It’s clearly a win-win.
Bottom Line: Executive Coaching is a super tool, which puts you way ahead of your competitors.
Lekdan, Takspa, M.B.A
Anderson & Anderson