News & Insight
January 2022

How to Ask for Executive Coaching

Executive asking her boss for coaching support

Many executives at all levels assume a passive attitude towards their development, often waiting for their manager or someone else in the organization to offer them help in accelerating their professional development and their careers. Asking your manager for guidance on advancing your development demonstrates a proactive interest in expanding your skill set and your role in supporting the success of the company. One of the most proven and efficient ways to enhance your effectiveness as a leader is to partner with an experienced executive coach. The following is a guideline to asking for coaching support.

Do Your Homework

Preparation is key, do as much research as you can! First, identify what the appropriate procedures are within your organization when it comes to development. Do you approach your boss, or a human resources representative dedicated to such matters? Before scheduling meetings with your boss or HR contact, find out what professional development resources your company has in place. Are there programs designed specifically for employees seeking professional development? Are you eligible to participate? Is there a "high potential" pool of candidates? Is executive coaching offered at your organization? Does the company offer the support of internal coaches? Does the company have an external coaching partner in place?

Next, find out what the top priorities of your organization are and how they align with its strategy. Consider your manager's priorities and the priorities of your department. Figure out how your personal development efforts, including working with a coach, can contribute to the overall success of your company.

Assess Your Strengths

Determine what your strengths are and how they can contribute to the success of your boss and organization. You can do this by taking a personality assessment such as the MBTI, Hogan, or one of hundreds of other assessment tools available. If possible, ask your manager or HR if you can utilize an Executive Coach to interpret the results and deliver feedback to you. Another quick way to assess your strengths is by reading Strengths Based Leadership, by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie and completing the free strengths assessment that comes with the book.

Prepare a List of Accomplishments and Developmental Opportunities

Prior to meeting with your manager, compile a list of accomplishments from the previous year and another list of developmental opportunities that if improved could contribute to his/her, as well as your future success. Quantify your accomplishments. Be specific, show the impact your actions had on the financial and overall performance of your department, unit, etc.

One thing to consider is volunteering for a "stretch assignment". Prior to your meeting with your manager look at your department's strategy and pinpoint a few assignments that will require you to step out of your comfort zone and utilize your strengths. This is a great way to get attention and learn new skills quickly. It also justifies the investment in coaching as a way to help you succeed in delivering results as you take this increased responsibility.

Schedule the Meeting and Present Your Needs

Schedule a meeting with your boss. Be considerate of your boss's existing commitments and time constraints, keeping your meeting to a defined agenda and time. The better prepared you are prior to the meeting, the more successful it will be. First, communicate to your boss your level of enthusiasm towards your job, team, and company. Tell your boss what you would like to achieve over the next few years and give him/her the list of strengths that will help you accomplish this goal along with the list of developmental objectives that will help you accelerate your progress. Next, ask for his/her opinion and feedback. What is his/her vision for your future? What does he/she see as your biggest opportunity for improvement? Does he/she agree that coaching would be a worthwhile investment in helping you, and by extension the company, succeed?

Create Your Coaching Plan

After your boss has given his/her feedback, suggest that the two of you work together on creating a plan for working with a coach. Put the plan in writing and establish milestones to assess and track your progress.

If for any reason your boss is not responsive to your request, find out who else can assist you. Reach out to your HR contact and set up a meeting with them to discuss your needs (keeping the above steps in mind). Your HR department will be familiar with your company’s policies around coaching and may already have vetted and approved coaches in place.

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