Leadership Insight: 5 Expert Tips for Identifying Executive Coaching Needs

Navigating the decision to invest in executive coaching for top management is a strategic challenge for HR leaders. Questions loom:

  • Is coaching a worthwhile investment or an unnecessary cost?
  • Will it yield a superior return on investment compared to traditional development programs?
  • And perhaps most crucially, how do we evaluate coaching needs without casting doubt on our leaders?

Delaying action on these questions not only hinders individual development but also frustrates leaders striving to provide effective internal guidance, often overlooking the invaluable insights of external experts.

The key lies in comprehending and decisively determining when executive coaching should be integrated into leadership development strategies. However, the challenge remains: How can we accurately discern if our leaders genuinely require this initiative?

Dive into the insights from leaders and industry experts as they unveil 5 essential tips for identifying when leaders in your organization could need and benefit from executive coaching!

Gather Multi-source Feedback

Emphasizing the role of feedback in decision-making and determining the need for executive coaching, Ben Lamarche, General Manager, Lock Search Group shares, “Based on my observations, soliciting input from leaders, their direct reports, supervisors, and peers via 360-degree assessment can unveil patterns or recurring themes, signaling areas in need of development.”

Ben Lamarche

Highlighting its importance, he further adds, “Utilizing assessments that gather quantitative-qualitative feedback through a series of targeted questions focusing on a leader’s role effectiveness, skills, and communication style, can precisely identify the type of executive coaching required. Moreover, the detailed data collected can help organizations make smart decisions and customize development programs to fit leaders’ specific needs.”

Laurie Hyllberg

Review Performance and Potential

Laurie Hyllberg, Vice President of Kinsa Group sharing her fundamental strategy of involving a holistic performance and potential review process says, “This approach evaluates leaders’ current performance and their potential for future growth. It involves identifying gaps between their current skills, the organization’s changing needs, and their personal career goals.”

Laurie further adds, “When a leader shows proficiency in technical or functional areas but requires progress in soft skills such as emotional intelligence or strategic thinking, it indicates the executive coaching need. Additionally, leaders vital to the organization’s future objectives but lacking skills aligned with those goals are prime candidates. By conducting regular feedback sessions, combined with a clear grasp of the strategic direction, HR can customize coaching programs to bridge existing gaps and equip leaders for upcoming challenges.”

Implement Shadow Leadership Program

Talking about the Shadow Leadership Program, Jon Torres, CEO of Jon Torres mentions “This initiative pairs potential leaders with executive coaches who observe their decision-making and communication. For example, if a leader shows hesitation in managing a team conflict, it provides direct insights into their leadership abilities, helping identify areas for enhancement. If these observations reveal ongoing challenges, tailored executive coaching can address them effectively.”

Jon Torres

Highlighting the uniqueness of this program, Jon adds, “It transcends traditional assessments, providing a nuanced approach to identifying coaching needs through real-time observation of leadership scenarios, ensuring a focused and impactful coaching intervention.”

John Butterworth

Assess During Leadership Transitions

John Butterworth, Founder and CEO of 10kschools explains, “Leaders often encounter new hurdles during role transitions, which can serve as indicators for coaches to pinpoint areas for development. For instance, a leader promoted to a higher position may struggle to shift from a tactical to a strategic mindset, indicating the need for executive coaching to bridge this gap by enhancing strategic leadership skills.”

John further adds, “This strategy aids leaders in overcoming initial challenges and underscores the value of targeted coaching interventions at specific junctures during transitions. This ensures leaders are primed to tackle the demands of their new roles effectively, making a positive impact on organizational performance.”

Insights from Competency-Focused Coaching

Viewing leadership as a journey shifting from one role to another, with evolving leadership expectations, Uravi Raichandani, Domain Expert at NamanHR, asserts “It’s vital to prioritize competency enhancement when identifying coaching needs rather than solely focusing on weaknesses. By utilizing psychometric assessments like 16pf, Caliper, RQ, and others, organizations can pinpoint the traits that impact leadership competencies.


Uravi Raichandani

It provides a holistic understanding of the leader’s personality, communication style, leadership preferences, and areas of potential growth against predefined competencies critical for success in their roles. This helps identify and work on the gaps or meet future requirements by leveraging or managing traits, highlighting the need for coaching.

Expanding on her approach, Uravi explains, “When the emphasis shifts towards reflecting on and harnessing these identified gaps from evaluations that influence leadership roles through executive coaching, they can aid in developing these skill sets. This prepares leaders for their next higher leadership role by addressing their strengths or developmental needs effectively.”

Identifying coaching needs isn’t just a step; it’s the springboard for propelling leaders – and by extension, your organization – to new heights. While red flags can be helpful, a proactive approach using these strategies empowers HR leaders to pinpoint coaching opportunities across all levels.

But the journey doesn’t end there. Leader buy-in is crucial for maximizing ROI. When leaders understand the purpose of coaching and the desired outcomes, they become active participants, not passive recipients. This transparency fosters a collaborative environment that fuels growth and ultimately drives organizational excellence.

Whether you’re already on this journey or seeking expertise of a seasoned coach, NHR offers 19+ years of experience to support your journey. Click here to learn more and unlock your leadership potential.

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