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Executive Coaches Share Openly and Unselfishly: Dynamic Panel Discussion at ICF Annual Conference 2003

81 min read

The Executive as a Customer

Moderator (Linda): What do we know about the executive as a customer? What is their need and what makes them consider executive coaching?

Bob: I think many times the executive doesn’t want to be the customer to begin with. So they want the organization, their other leaders to be the customer. Mary Beth has talked about a couple of cool little ways to make sure that they actually do become one at some point. And that may be the way that we need to enter the organization: work with their leaders and report to them so that they can be involved in the process. They need to make the commitment that minimally that they will sponsor the process and will take the time to report activities that actually can tum into a coaching relationship. I also see that they need succession planning coaching. They’re all of a sudden starting to realize that they don’t have their replacements ready. They are looking to coaches to help them identify their successors and to give their successors coaches as well.

Jeannine: Their expectations are high. They got to their roles by being very good at what they do and they’re expecting that of us just as a platform of coming in: high professionalism, trust, directness, knowledge, skills. The subject matter we would add to this is often around their own life balance. Having realized the company’s stage or they may be in a stage of their career. Where is the time for me? And it won’t come out that way, it will actually come out in: here’s 13 more things I’ve got to do and I need to find time for it. Help me sort through how I cram it all in. Then the conversation really becomes: how can you run this marathon, for how many more years, before you make bad mistakes? What are the decisions in the past year you made on which you wish now you’d spent more time? So it gets into the results conversation, the effectiveness of their decision conversation, which unfolds back to more the personal part of how are they taking care of themselves to be sure this executive machine really is able to function as well as it needs to everyday.

Val: I’ve noticed three things about executives as customers in large corporations. First, they want to know that they’re going to deliver some practical results. Your value has got to show up in their daily job, in their performance evaluation, in their P&Ls. The second thing is that our presentation as a vendor, seller, partner, whatever you want to call it, needs to be clear and crisp and short. Because they’re busy, they don’t have a lot of time and they won’t read a bunch of stuff or sit for a long presentation. You’ve got to laser it and get straight to the point. I find that’s true of them as customers. The last thing I would say, and I really like this part: they’re expecting a worthy opponent. They want somebody that they can rock and roll with and they respect you. So as much as I say corporate executives are tough, we are tougher, we are coaches.

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