IT Executives share a lot in common with the best athletes. They play on a team that is always working hard to gain success after success. They’re motivated by the need to improve and broaden their skills and play more consistently. At the same time, they face pressure from all sides, even during regular times. The added weight of supporting remote working requirements caused by COVID-19 may feel overwhelming. Overnight their focus pivoted from strategic thinking as the CIO to tactical needs thinking as the CCO – Chief Connectivity Officer. The game changed under their feet.
How are effective IT Leaders performing during this time of unprecedented impact as more is expected of them and their teams than ever before?
Highly Competitive – The best IT executives are very competitive, especially with themselves! They take pride in having the best, most-efficiently operating IT department. They take pride in achieving faster development cycle times, in adopting the latest technologies and methodologies first, in enjoying the gratitude of the departments they serve.
Must know their stuff and be very well trained and conditioned – Beyond high proficiency with technologies that are core to their enterprise, IT executives must also be continually conditioning themselves to successfully manage the many diverse talents and personalities that form any IT organization. The tremendously intelligent people involved in most IT teams require a sophisticated leader who can bring out the best in them.
To lead the team, they must be part of the team – Legendary symphony conductor Leonard Bernstein observed that to be a great conductor, one must be able to play each instrument in the orchestra, mostly. Hence, that conductor would understand and appreciate what each musician was experiencing. Just like a sports team, IT teams respect and admire a leader who truly comprehends their expertise, and themselves.
The more coaching they get, the better they perform, and the better the results they produce! – Even the most proficient high performing athletes will readily share praise for what their coach does for them. Similarly, executive coaches are most often engaged to focus on those with high potential to improve from wherever they currently are.
While many CIOs are going it alone, others are finding great value in calling on trusted relationships with their Executive Coach.
What to Look for in Your IT Executive Coach
Credibility – The first thing most leaders seek an IT executive coach is credibility. It’s one thing to have training and certification in professional coaching and advisory, that’s certainly very valuable. But, IT executives also want and need someone who truly understands and appreciates their world and what they experience each day. Someone who has invested years working as an IT executive comes with a level of credibility that is priceless.
Objectivity – IT Executive coaching is not like consulting or therapy. Despite their practical executive experience, you don’t go to them to share your feelings or ask them how to do anything or to validate how you do things. You look to them to be the objective outsider who looks at the challenges you present with no hidden agenda. You are looking for someone who can help you self-evaluate your performance, identify where you may have weaknesses that require correction, and establish areas where improvement will take you from merely good to truly great, best-in-class.
Clarity – Companies often invest in their most promising executives for coaching to accelerate their progress. Individuals also seek coaching when they want to accelerate the growth of their career, and when they have specific challenges, they’re not sure how to address. Their Executive Coach provides clarity in the process of improvement, helping to overcome the obstructions we often put in our way to avoid confronting uncomfortable truths about our actions.
Mutual Respect – A healthy coaching relationship requires mutual respect and trust. If these two elements are not part of the relationship, nobody is going to benefit. An executive must be able to trust they can confide in their coach without fear of judgment.
Motivation – Great coaches take an honest interest in the businesses they help and the executives they coach. If you want to see me get excited, talk to me about past or current successes, and watch me light up with enthusiasm. A good coach is motivated to discover who you are beyond your role as a leader and executive. They take an interest in why your business exists, how the business is run, and what they do to serve their customers. Once your prospective coach gets to know you and your business, that’s the kind of interest and motivation you should expect to see.
Vocation – For the genuinely excellent business or executive coach, coaching is never a job; it is a vocation. My journey into coaching provides me proof of this truth. Grant you, it took me over fifty years to discover my real purpose. And it took a coach to help me find it. When I did, my stars aligned. More importantly, I don’t regret my years as an IT practitioner, leader, and executive. These experiences provided me with the foundation and context to understand the world my clients live in without a great explanation.
What to Expect from a Quality Executive Coaching Experience
Your Executive Coach will begin by developing a clear understanding of your individual “current state,” focusing on where you see yourself positioned right now both from an organizational and personal performance perspective. Next, they’ll work with you to establish a clear definition of your “desired future state” and then structure a series of interactions to help you achieve that improvement.
Certified Executive Coaches will also provide structured experience assessments such as the BATES EXPI Executive Presence Assessment to dive deeper into your self-perceptions and provide more insight. And don’t worry about finding a qualified, certified executive coach near you…most are!!
Your engagement will continue beyond the scheduled interactions to include ad-hoc access to your Executive Advisor for answers to questions and clarifications on specific topics and points.
Anticipate Great Outcomes
Of those who’ve enjoyed Executive Coaching experiences, most appreciate the apparent improvements in communication and leadership skills they’ve achieved, saying it has improved their confidence and broadened their understanding of the executive experience. Ready to grow in their careers, they’ve taken the bold step of preparing a qualified successor and defined desirable growth paths for all their key team members. Most of all, they feel more a part of their company’s leadership team.
An athlete does not get off the bench without the core capabilities. The coach helps them to find the inner strength and skills to excel. The same applies to the IT Executive. The life of the IT executive is wrought with challenges and setbacks. I predict the fallout from COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on how IT looks and the impression they leave. You don’t have to figure it out on your own. You may know where you want to go, and perhaps even have a good idea on how to get there, but a professional coach can offer the untarnished insight, feedback, and guidance you need to become a star player.
I am offering to help a limited number of CIO’s on a complimentary basis if you find you need a trusted colleague to bounce ideas around with or if you want to share in order to help solve a problem.