Understanding the science of executive coaching
(The Philippine Star) - May 19, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Many tend to assume that executives who have reached top positions have also reached their maximum potential. Executive development, however, is a dynamic and unending process, given executives’ critical responsibilities and the ever-changing corporate environment in which they operate.

Developmental needs could arise from new organizational directives, market conditions or business trends necessitating executives to continuously expand their horizon and stretch their potentials to higher levels. 

“Executive coaching is a strategic business intervention,” says Julius Ordoñez, master certified coach of the International Coach Federation, and the only one thus far, in the Philippines.

“More companies are realizing that corporate leaders need more than hefty pay and benefit packages to make them even more effective in their jobs. Executive training is one way to support them, executive coaching is another. They are not interchangeable. From what I have seen, coaching may be the more urgent need as training has often been maximized at the executive level,” Ordoñez adds. 

Ordoñez is a pioneer of the coaching profession in the Philippines. He founded the ICF Philippines chapter in 2002 and has worked with a long list of client organizations and individuals as executive coach, partnering with them in identifying and attaining critical goals in their business, professional and personal lives.

Over the last 18 years, he has been working with corporate coaching sponsors from the Asia-Pacific region, the United States and Europe. Most of these partnerships are in support of human resource programs which in turn, anchor organizational directions and goals.

Who needs executive coaching and for what?

Coaching in the executive level, Ordoñez points out, is usually focused on three areas — business need, people leadership, and self-leadership. 

A coaching engagement is usually triggered by a call from a sponsor, he says. “Usually, the CEO or the HR head of a company sees a developmental need in connection with an organizational concern, say succession planning or a shift in assignment areas.  Most companies I know prefer to groom their own leaders, rather than hire.

“But moving people up to key positions or entirely new assignments requires a degree of readiness not only in terms of functional skills, but mainly in terms of mindset and perspective. The skills, training can provide. But mindset and perspective setting are definitely in the purview of coaching.”

Ordoñez adds that organizations tend to focus on technical proficiency when they hire executives or promote their own people to executive positions. But soft skills such as self-awareness, listening, effective communication and managing relationships are equally important. 

When these are not in place, relational issues are likely to turn up and have damaging effects on the efficacy of his leadership and overall organizational performance. “Then you have to deal with costly recruitment to address the fast turnover of employees in his area, team disharmony, employee disengagement,” he says.

Ordoñez points out the difference between training and coaching, “Training provides concepts, steps, techniques as prescribed by a teacher or an established system. It is for skills acquisition and proficiency building. Coaching empowers a person to draw from his own resources, find his own voice, set his own goals, exercise his choices and persevere on his own path of development.

“The coach is a thought partner, as the executive explores possibilities or alternative ways of doing things that will enable him to be a more effective and productive leader. It is a powerful tool in bridging developmental gaps as well as stretching inherent talents and capabilities.”

Challenges, rewards of executive coaching

In any executive coaching engagement, Ordonez ensures an alignment of objectives between the sponsor and the coachee. Both have to be clear on the areas for coaching, the purpose, and the expected outcomes. He also takes pains to explain the process and the concepts and principles behind it so these are well-understood even before the coaching sessions begin.

“Clients might come with old notions about coaching and they can confuse it with other interventions like mentoring, counseling and even therapy. They might expect you to simply tell the coachee what to do or give him advice. You have to help both the sponsor and the coachee get a full appreciation of the coaching process,” he says.

Although proficient in all types — life coaching, sales coaching and team coaching among others — executive coaching is a personal preference for Ordoñez.  “Executives are great coaches,” he says. “They are often clear with what they want to achieve. Most are straightforward and have a bias for action so they rarely need prodding. They also like it when their viewpoints are challenged and they are able to see things from a different light.”

What should be considered when looking for an executive coach? Formal training is imperative, Ordoñez stresses. “Check out his coaching education and credentials. At the very least, he should have undergone formal education of 60 hours of an ICF-accredited program, backed up by practice under the guidance of a mentor coach.” 

He suggests a thorough evaluation of potential providers’ track record in coaching, client feedback and demonstrated capability. “Ask about the specifics of his coaching experience — the number of years he has been in the coaching profession, who his clients are and the coaching situations he has handled.”

Ordoñez says that there is a high demand for executive coaches right now. The sheer demand makes the industry attractive and quite easy to penetrate for people without proper certification.

To help counter the situation, he offers ICF-accredited training programs in Manila and Singapore through his training outfit, Benchmark Consulting, which has groomed a pool of professional coaches with formal ICF training. “We want more professionals in the field. That is the only way for the industry to grow in value,” he says.


To learn more about executive coaching, visit www.benchmark-consulting.net or call 812-7177.

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