Benefits of Executive Coaching

DecisionMaking1One of the challenges of being a non-profit Executive Director or Board President is that these roles can feel a bit isolating. This is especially true for the Executive Director.

In my work as a consultant, I do offer Executive Coaching services… which is usually an ongoing part of my typical support of a non-profit organization. This definitely involves encouragement, but it also centers on trying to help leaders gain focus and strategically move to action.

The largest benefit for an Executive Director entering into a coaching relationship is that they have a safe, confidential, objective sounding board. Within the organization itself, it would usually be inappropriate for an Executive Director to talk to subordinates about certain agency problems, and the same goes for the Board if, as is many times the case, they might be part of the problem. This is why the Executive Director can often feel like they are in No Man’s Land. Friends, family, and significant others may be supportive… but they may not fully grasp the magnitude of issues that face the non-profit leader.

Executive Coaching is particularly helpful when a non-profit is in crisis or undergoing a major transition. Also, it helps organizational leader’s effectively address structural and interpersonal relationship challenges within the agency, such as better engaging the Board or trying to get them to comfortably relinquish excessive (day to day) oversight. It is also good to explore the ways in which the leader can best harness the talents of staff, and turnaround otherwise valuable team members who may need coaching themselves in order to meet their fullest potential—and correct attitudinal issues. These are sometimes very delicate situations where “talking it through” can help.

Organizational Founders can also benefit from Executive Coaching. In fact, they may need it more than anyone. During the early stages of agency existence, there are many decisions to be made and partnerships to be cultivated. It is also common that this is a highly stressful (though also exciting) time, where a little reassurance can soothe any surfacing or resurfacing fears. Coaching focuses on solutions, options, and pro-active movement. And, if there are stumbling blocks, psychologically or otherwise, a Coach can help the client move past these things.

Now, there are people out there that say you need a “certified” Executive Coach. Many people also say that grant writers need to be certified.  All I can say about that is… “certifications” can be easily bought and this does not, in either case, indicate the skill level of the individual. The most important thing to consider when choosing an Executive Coach is whether or not you “click” with them. The next consideration is their professional background and skills. Can they guide you?

As a Social Worker and someone with a very long administrative history, not to mention my consulting background, I might be the person you seek. Executive Coaching is NOT therapy, of course… but the skill set in this regard is the same. Either way, you want someone who is a good listener, who really “hears” you, and someone who is solutions-oriented.

Find someone that you trust. Find someone who helps you gain perspective when things seem to be falling apart around you. Find someone who helps you feel hopeful by the end of each coaching session, and ready to take on the next challenges of your leadership role. Find someone who balances accountability and occasional butt-kicking with routinely building you up to be stronger than before.

Find someone who helps you become a better you.


About Cos

Mary E. Costello (a.k.a. "Cos") is a Social Worker by education, trade, and spirit. A former human services administrator and advocate in the disabilities field, Mary started Creative Edge Consulting in February of 2005. As an independent non-profit consultant, Mary now helps organizations start, improve, expand, and sustain their critical services. In her "spare time," she feeds her addiction to politics and policy, advancing social justice, and trying to find the funny where she can. Life is short. Do something meaningful.

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