Coaching clients through influence situations

One area that sets the Center for Executive Coaching far apart in our Certified Executive Coach training program is that our approach is situational. This means that we give you the executive coaching tools, methods and processes to help your clients through specific challenges and situations that they face, rather than pushing a specific one-size-fits-all philosophy or theory on you and your clients. This gives you maximum flexibility as a coach, and also lets you focus on the client’s most pressing needs — while giving them the value they expect from a coach.

Influence comes up frequently as a topic for executive coaches. Much of our coaching ends up focusing on how our clients can exercise more influence or be more effective during specific influence situations. Following are five ways that you can coach your clients in the context of being more influential.

One: Current power base. Our power base is our network of relationships. Within an organization, some clients are more effective at building strong relationships up, down, across, and outside their organization than others. Some do it consciously while others do it intuitively. Some don’t do it at all, and end up with a few too many antagonists and even nemeses among their relationships. In the middle levels of organizations, a number of managers and up-and-coming leaders are more vulnerable than they should be, and don’t even know it. As coaches, we can help our clients become aware of the quality of various working relationships and how well they are positioned to make things happen in their organizations. We can help them develop plans to proactively build stronger relationships and strengthen their political standing. The process begins with strong performance and results, and from there looks at other ways to improve the relationship by bringing more value to other people in the organization. Our power base toolkit offers a step-by-step process to help clients look at each important relationship and then improve it. At the same time, we also offer toolkits to help clients drill down and improve specific relationships, for instance with their managers, employees, and team members.

Two: Future power base. A second, even more profound area of influence coaching looks more to the future. We work with our client to understand their vision for their career and organization. Given this vision, who should they know, and who should know them, that doesn’t already? Looking from the future, how did our client develop a relationship with each of these people? What can our client do today to start building the relationship? Often this work leads to some deep insights by our clients. They realize that they need to change how they are showing up today. They simply are not being the leaders they need to be — whether in how they communicate, carry themselves, spend their time, or where they associate. I have seen some amazing changes happen as a result of this kind of coaching. In fact, in my own career, I have made some significant leaps forward, and built relationships with some incredible people, by following this process.

Three: Campaigns to influence many people or an entire organization. Often a client has a big idea that he or she wants accepted throughout an organization. We can coach them about how likely they are to get buy in and what the best strategy is to gain acceptance. The Center for Executive Coaching gives you a simple tool that identifies the key stakeholders involved in an idea or initiative, and challenges your clients to evaluate each stakeholder according to their power in the situations and point of view about it. We show you how to map this information in a way that helps the client clearly see how likely their idea is to gain acceptance, and how to move forward. It is a powerful process that can help your client save time and political capital, and figure out the most savvy way to make things happen in an organization. As with one’s power base, some leaders do this naturally and some have serious blind spots when it comes to thinking this way. You can coach your clients to make sure that they think clearly and proactively about gaining organizational acceptance for their ideas.

Four: Conversations to influence a single person. Every leader has to have high-stakes conversations to influence people one-on-one, often on a daily basis. However, some leaders use the same approach every time, even though there are multiple possible approaches and some are more effective in different situations. Other leaders don’t spend enough time planning ahead for these conversations, and make impulsive, emotional decisions that keep them from achieving their goals. Sometimes leaders go into high-stakes conversations and make mistakes that damage the relationship with the other person, often for a long time. You can coach leaders through an elegant methodology that helps them set a clear and achievable goal, and then develop a strategy that is most likely to achieve it — all while maintaining or even improving the quality of the relationship with the other person. You can also help your client anticipate and prepare for objections, and role play the conversation to make sure everything from the opening to the overall flow goes as planned. My own coaching clients have gotten great value from this process over the years, and Center for Executive Coaching alumni have also reported fantastic results from it. We also provide a toolkit specific to resolving conflicts with clients.

Five: Communicate simply and powerfully. It used to be that communication meant how well a leader gave a public presentation. With our coaching methodology focused on powerful communication, we help you coach your client about presentations — and much more. You explore with your client at the messages they send, intentionally and unintentionally, throughout their organization. How well are they modelling the culture they want to see? What messages do they send in how they spend their time, and with whom? What messages do they send based on who they reward, and for what? What behaviors do they tolerate, that they shouldn’t? How well do they set expectations for the highest standards? How authentic are they? Do they go first when it comes to the hard decisions and tough actions? All of these questions help the client gain awareness about how they show up as a leader and their most important communications. From there, we help you work with your client to develop communication flexibility, so that your client knows how to use different communication, influence, and leadership styles for different situations in order to have maximum impact. 

With the above methodologies in your toolkit, it would be easy to call yourself an influence coach in your particular niche. Or, they can simply be part of the overall value proposition that you are able to offer your clients. Many coaches lack the substance to get specific about how they help clients improve their influence. When you join the Center for Executive Coaching, your curriculum includes detailed tools and processes focused on helping clients be more effective in specific influence situations, and overall in their standing in their organizations and networks of relationships. 

If you want to get Certified as an Executive Coach, or simply want the best tools and approaches available for getting results, please explore our website and register for one of our programs. If you would like to set up a call to discuss your goals and fit in more depth, contact us anytime at info@centerforexecutivecoaching.com.

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