The Benefits of Leadership Team Coaching

by | Apr 8, 2024 | Leadership Team Coaching

When you think of executive coaching, you probably imagine leaders working one on one with a leadership coach. That’s a tried-and-true method, but it’s not the only option. Instead, what if you could elevate your entire executive team’s performance at once? Leadership team coaching can help your executives become a true team working cohesively toward shared goals. 

At Bright Arrow, we like to think of leadership team coaching as something that occurs in the flow of work, not outside of it. By embedding coaches with your team as they go about their work, we can witness real-time, real-life dynamics. This approach can be more transformative than other coaching approaches, yet also less disruptive.

Let’s explain what we mean by leadership team coaching, the benefits you can expect, and how companies can get started.

What Is Leadership Team Coaching?

Leadership team coaching is a specialized form of executive coaching that focuses on developing and enhancing the effectiveness of your entire leadership team. It goes beyond individual coaching sessions and workshops by addressing the team’s dynamics, interactions and collective performance.

In these types of engagements, the coach works with the entire team, facilitating discussions, giving real-time feedback and aligning the team on shared goals. The timeline for leadership team coaching is at least six months, giving the coach time to help the team deeply engrain itself in new behaviors. During this time, the coach models new approaches and while learning new ways to work together, the team develops the skills to continue self-coaching.

Note that leadership team coaching is centered on the work itself, rather than taking place outside work hours or as part of a corporate retreat. Coaches help your top leaders do their work while they’re being coached — providing immediate, visible ROI without monopolizing your executives’ time.

This type of coaching can benefit organizations at any time, but they’re especially powerful at inflection points such as a CEO transition, M&A and reorganizations.

3 Positives of Leadership Team Coaching 

CEOs drive organizations forward, but they can’t make every important decision. They need their leadership team to pool their expertise and strengths to create value for the organization. But too often, they haven’t prepared their executives to act like a team.

How does this happen? Many times, it’s because CEOs have a different perspective than their top lieutenants. CEOs know what the board wants, and they have access to bottom-up feedback from the workforce. But the executive team doesn’t necessarily have all that information — or the right context. Focused on their functions, they can miss the bigger picture and fail to embrace collaboration.

That scenario is just one example of the opportunities in leadership team coaching, especially for any organization that needs top executives to draw closer and work as a unit. Here are three positives of this approach.

Focuses on the Whole, Not the Parts

Leadership team coaching programs take a holistic approach that helps your top executives grow together and deliver better business outcomes. While these leaders still have functions or departments to focus on, they expand their thinking to consider the enterprise’s needs — and those of their colleagues. 

As part of this, leadership team coaching looks to break down silos. Coaches will encourage open communication, knowledge sharing and cross-functional teamwork, instilling a collaborative culture within the CEO’s inner circle. These approaches will be put into practice with coaches modeling the new tactics – even when times or topics are sensitive.

This process can’t be rushed. A deep discovery process will help coaches — and the executive team itself — discover any structural or relational obstacles that are preventing trust, collaboration and strategic alignment.

Treats the Root Cause, Not Just Surface Concerns

Without trust, your executives are a loosely organized group of individuals rather than a cohesive, aligned team. But to get these high-powered leaders to work together, you need to dig deeper than surface-level problems or complaints to uncover the root causes of misalignment, distrust, dysfunction or inefficiency. 

For example, if there’s been a CEO transition and other turnover within the executive team, one symptom might be a lack of familiarity between the new and incumbent executives. But time alone won’t fix the underlying issue, nor will a team dinner or retreat. The deeper challenge is the underlying emotions — uncertainty, distrust, even fear. The new executives are still getting their footing. The incumbents have seen colleagues depart — they might wonder, “Am I next?”

Whatever the root cause, leadership team coaching can address it through a multi-step process of discovery, assessments, open and honest communication, and real-time observation and coaching.

These coaches can call out misalignment, conflict and other negative dynamics as they occur — not to judge, but to work through them. Being able to solve conflict in real time while also achieving a goal helps create better, long-lasting working relationships so that your organization can keep moving in the same direction.

Instills Learning by Doing

Leadership team coaching goes beyond traditional workshops and theoretical concepts by emphasizing a hands-on, experiential approach. It focuses on applying lessons in the flow of work, allowing for quick results and sustainable growth.

Instead of classroom-style training, leadership team coaching encourages executives to actively engage in real-life scenarios and challenges. Coaches create opportunities for leaders to practice new skills, experiment with different approaches and receive immediate feedback. 

This approach helps executives activate their learning journeys with ongoing opportunities to apply new skills and refine their approaches. Collective performance improves, as executives learn from each other’s experiences and collaborate to overcome challenges.

When Leadership Team Coaching Doesn’t Work

Keep in mind that not every company is ready for this type of coaching. If the CEO can’t clearly assert what everyone must deliver, the team can’t move forward effectively. 

A lack of ideas is rarely a problem for executive teams, especially at large companies. What these leaders need is someone (usually the CEO) to synthesize ideas from outside sources and inside the executive team to ultimately make the best decision for the enterprise’s goals. Without that assertiveness, your leadership group can’t truly work together as a team.

What Effective Leadership Team Coaching Looks Like

Here’s how we approach leadership team coaching engagements for proven success.

Take a Different Approach to Client Discovery

Effective leadership team coaching starts with a deep understanding of the unique needs and goals of each organization. Coaches listen and learn about the specific challenges and aspirations of each leadership team. This allows them to tailor their approach, providing interventions that address each organization’s context and objectives.

Effective leadership coaching pairs coaches and organizations by aligning the coach’s skills with the team’s needs.

Address the Human Factors in Business Decisions

Effective leadership team coaching recognizes the impact of emotions, biases, and relationships on business decisions — including the skepticism executives might have about coaching. 

Within engagements, coaches help leaders develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence, preparing them to be better teammates and make smarter decisions in a collaborative setting

Conflict is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be destructive. Leadership team coaches can spot conflict and negative behaviors while helping redirect them to more constructive behaviors. When leadership teams work through conflict with the help of a trusted coach, they build the trust and understanding needed to achieve the CEO’s goals.

Avoid Distraction by Coaching in the Room

Our approach to leadership team coaching is personal and on-site. We participate in team meetings and observe team dynamics and interactions, allowing for immediate, personalized intervention that evolves over time.

Our coaches also support leaders in applying new tools and practices in their day-to-day work. This ensures that the insights gained from coaching are translated into action and sustained long after the coaching engagement ends.

When companies embrace leadership team coaching, their top leaders receive the attention they deserve on the difficult but fruitful path to becoming enterprise thinkers. Not only do they grow during the engagement, but they’re better prepared to continue supporting the CEO and organization for years to come. You’ll see your most senior leaders become catalysts for positive change in your company — not as lone superstars, but as the team all great CEOs need to thrive.

Learn more about our leadership team coaching offerings.

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