C-level executives are “always” under pressure, must be able to manage various complex issues and at the top level of the company they often feel “alone”.
There is a growing demand for customized, subject-independent consulting services with a non-deficit approach in this field. In their professional lives top managers are usually highly focused and structured whereas in their private lives they are rather “unstructured”. They need and seek support for contemplation that otherwise would be neglected.
Besides, with increasing responsibility they realize that hard work is not enough anymore but that there is also a political aspect to be considered. This raises the question: how authentic can you be and how political should you be? The ability to project gravitas, stature, charisma and capturing people’s attention which are all traits of “executive presence” are becoming more and more important.
The demand for this type of support always includes (at least) the three elements: business, team and oneself and requires, thus, a holistic peer-to-peer approach by a top executive coach.
Being aware of this is important for the executive coaching. Coaching is a process of human interaction and professional dialogue with the aim to advice and support executives to find the right solutions.
Executive coaching not only serves to gain self-reflection and self-awareness but also helps improve the performance of the coachee and does not turn a blind eye to unpleasant facts. Because only a true reflection of the reality can spur growth.
Phases of executive coaching:
- “Awareness”: This phase of result-oriented problem and self-reflection provides a “toolbox” with models and methods such as “powerful questions”: through specific question techniques and “active listening” the coachee gets different perspectives on his situation and about possible solutions.
- “Plan”: Based on the findings from the awareness phase specific coaching goals are developed and possible approaches determined to measure the attainability of these goals.
- “Choice points”: Together, the coach and the coachee define which critical business or management situations might require one of the various behavior options.
- “Integration”: During this phase it is ensured that the findings are integrated in the day-to-day business and that the goals are achieved.
To coach and guide executives whose mission often is “to make the world a better place” an executive coach must have several characteristics:
He must have a strong personality, be self-confident and have “personal greatness”. He must also exude confidence and have his own opinion (mere business administration and psychological skills are not enough). In order to take on the different roles of an executive coach it is required to have experience with all management areas (people, strategy, and leadership/guidance):
- Classic coach (coaching mode, e.g. question technique);
- Top management advisor (subjects/ know the top management issues and share own (e.g. strategic) know-how);
- Sparring-partner (raise unpleasant questions, be ready to say: this is not okay);
- “true friend” (be able to tell the “truth” including any unpleasant facts);
- Guide (stimulate action, not only “promote self-help”).
Dr. Holger Karsten, a BrainFleet member, has a doctoral degree in business administration and is working as an executive coach since 2005. He started his career at Audi AG as assistant of the head of production. He later worked as a business consultant, built the Automotive Practice at Arthur D. Little and became the managing director of their largest office in Germany. As one of the managing directors at Merrill Lynch in Frankfurt he gained experience in two fields of investment banking: M&A and Corporate Finance. He then returned to his consulting activity and worked for AT Kearney and as a partner at Accenture.
Today he works as a senior partner at Leadership Choices, one of the leading executive development providers in Europe. He lives with his wife in Wiesbaden and has two daughters. One is a press spokeswoman at Lufthansa/Eurowings and the other works as an internist in Frankfurt.