Executive Coaching Turns Challenges Into Opportunities in the New Year

Mike Pelfini — 31 December 2022

Leaders & executives can turn challenges into opportunities in the year ahead by taking proactive steps to manage change through a program of executive coaching. The time to seize those opportunities is now.

The final economic reports of 2022 are in, giving mixed messages for the year ahead.  Third quarter GDP has been revised upwards to 3.2%, while job creation and wage growth remain consistently above projections.  Despite this, major indexes show inflation easing from earlier peaks, a sign that the Fed’s rate hikes are having the intended effect. 

On the other hand, the stronger than expected economic news has caused stock markets to tumble, with the S&P 500 down 19.8% year-to-date as of this writing.  Many analysts are concerned that the current rate of economic growth will embolden the Fed to continue raising interest rates, potentially leading to a recession in 2023.

Add lingering repercussions from the Covid-19 pandemic, including the Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, workplace changes resulting from the Work From Home and Return to the Office movements, and the stage is set for a challenging year ahead.  

With challenges come opportunities, however.  The challenges must be met proactively, through a focused and disciplined examination of core needs, values, and goals.  Executive coaching can be a powerful tool to keep both the executive and the organization on track and prospering in a changing environment.

Use Executive Coaching to Unlock Opportunities in Times of Change

Leaders and executives face daunting responsibilities and challenges in a constantly shifting business and organizational landscape. Among other things, they are tasked with setting the vision for the organization and coordinating the efforts of teams to achieve the vision.  

In times of disruption and change, leaders and executives face even greater challenges, and decision making can become even more difficult.  They may have to deliver bad news about resource allocation or staffing levels. Further, It can be challenging to set overall direction when the path is unclear, or to motivate teams that may be stretched thin, or to foster a culture of innovation in a time of scarcity.  

The job of leader or executive can be lonely in the best of times, with few peers to act as sounding boards. The need to make hard choices in the face of uncertainty can be stressful and lead to further isolation.  

In challenging times, the perspective of a qualified outsider – the executive coach – can be the key to changing the leader’s perspective from one of managing in crisis mode to one of energetically pursuing opportunity.  A good executive coach can help the leader to refocus attention on the core values and goals at the heart of the organization. 

Disruption Can Become Growth Through Executive Coaching

With the help of a good executive coach, the leader or executive may improve their ability to recognize opportunities in periods of disruption and change.  

It is normal to have fears and doubts, even in good times. Fears and doubts are signals to pay attention to underlying beliefs and assumptions about whatever decision, challenge or opportunity the leader is facing.  They are like warning lights or beeps on your car’s dashboard, directing yo9ur attention to something that can limit the car’s optimal effectiveness if certain actions aren’t taken.

A good executive coach can guide the leader or executive through a process of clearly focused inquiry and self-examination.  By clearly articulating values, needs, and goals – and by addressing fears and doubts fully and frankly – the leader or executive can learn the underlying lesson and reframe their experience to potentially see more options for taking positive action.

The result of this process can be two-fold.  First, daily distractions and passing  challenges can be put into better perspective so the leader can preserve mental energy to focus on strategic and longer term goals.   In addition, by addressing the sources of fears and doubts, the leader can approach challenges with a clearer vision. The result can be to seize opportunities that were previously hidden from view.  

For example, a period of low asset valuations may provide an opportunity for new acquisitions. Changing client needs may point the way toward new products or services, new methods of delivering goods or services, or expansion into new areas.  

The situation of each leader and organization will be unique, of course.  But the benefits of clearing away distractions and re-focusing on core goals and values apply broadly.

By focusing on core values and overarching goals, the executive coach can help the leader reframe challenges as unrecognized opportunities. Though potentially uncomfortable, disruption can create positive change and growth.  Executive coaching can be the catalyst to realizing beneficial outcomes, particularly in times of disruption and change.

Creating a Culture of Engagement Through Executive Coaching

With proper care, periods of disruption and change offer opportunities to strengthen employee engagement. These, in turn, may be leveraged to improve collaboration and productivity, setting the stage for greater success over the long term.

A study of employee attitudes during the Covid-19 pandemic by Willis Towers Watson showed that 92% of employees believed their leaders showed real concern for their well-being, while 89% of employees believed their organizations enacted measures to support them, and 76% of employees believed that collaboration had improved as a result.  

Employee trust and engagement can run high even during periods of disruption and change.  By showing flexibility and support, leaders and their organizations can create the conditions for continued success in less stressful times.  The process is one of building for the future so that both leaders and organizations can maximize the potential of the next cycle of prosperity.  

In this context, executive coaching can create a virtuous cycle.  The leader begins the process by developing the skills to manage disruption and change while maintaining focus on core values and goals.  The leader brings those skills to the workplace, thus partially transferring them to others.  Changes in the working habits of the leader and other key personnel may then spread through the workforce. 

Depending on specific circumstances, executive coaching also may have prompted changes in the ways leaders and employees interact, or in how the organization responds to challenges.

Whether leading by example, offering direct guidance, or supporting executive coaching for others within the organization, the leader can create a virtuous cycle of positive change and growth.  Employees within that virtuous circle can be major assets as the organization transitions from managing challenges to pursuing opportunities.  

The sooner the process begins, the sooner the results will manifest – particularly in times of challenge.

Make 2023 the Year of Turning Challenges Into Opportunities

The year ahead will bring both challenges and opportunities.  Leaders and executives can improve their ability to manage those challenges, and maximize the opportunities, through executive coaching.  

Studies have shown that leaders who received executive coaching were viewed as significantly more effective, were more satisfied in their jobs, and were more inspiring to others (1).  Moreover, executive coaching increases goal attainment, well-being, and improves constructive leadership (2).  Significantly, executive coaching improves the overall effectiveness of leaders (3) and improves outcomes in strategy execution, change management, and teamwork. (4)

Leaders and executives can turn challenges into opportunities in the year ahead by taking proactive steps to manage change through a program of executive coaching.  The time to seize those opportunities is now.  

If you are an executive who would like to unlock your full potential, or are looking for ways to improve leadership and communication in an enterprise, or want to take the next step in developing your organization, ForeMeta Coaching can help.  Contact Mike@ForeMeta.com or call 800-942-3949 to schedule a consultation.

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 (1) Mackie, D. (2014) The effectiveness of strength based executive coaching in enhancing full range leadership development:  A controlled study.  Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 66, 118 – 137.

(2) Grant, A.M., Curtayne, L. and Burton, G. (2009) Executive coaching improves attainment, resilience, and workplace well-being:  A randomized controlled study.  The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 396 -407.

(3) Thach, E.C. (2002) The impact of executive coaching and 360 feedback on leadership effectiveness.  Leadership & Organizational Development Journal, 4, 205 -214.

(4) McDermott, M., Levenson, A., and Clarke, S. (2004) What coaching can and cannot do for your organization.  Center for Effective Organizations, Marshall School of Business, CEO Publication G-04-20 (472).

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