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Everyone, even the most seasoned executive, undoubtedly has areas to improve, and many of the most successful leaders take active steps to achieve that growth. They read top business books, attend leadership conferences, and seek executive coaching to improve on specific areas like communicating with colleagues, motivating employees, thinking strategically or driving change in the face of an evolving business climate. In addition to our conferences and learning and development programs, FCC Services offers several Executive Development solutions focused on helping top leaders achieve greater success.
FCC Services’ approach to executive coaching engagements follows five distinct steps. First, the executive and the leader enter into a contract with each other that defines the relationship, ensures that the timing is right for the executive, and outlines the individual coaching process. Second, discovery and assessment help identify specific areas for improvement, using individual assessment tools, 360 Degree assessments, or sometimes simply interviews with managers and direct reports asking targeted questions about where the executive is strong, and where they can improve. As a result of this data collection phase, the executive then decides which area or areas to target.
“Sometimes, an issue comes up during our discovery and assessment phase that the executive chooses not to work on right then, and that’s ok,” says Jay Lux, FCC Services’ Vice President of Organizational Development. “Being an executive is about making decisions, and executive development, similarly, is about making judgment and prioritizing. There’s still value in discovering areas for improvement for future attention.”
Once the area or areas of improvement are identified, the third step of the process begins the action phase: defining the specific goals, tactics and measurement. For example, if “being a better listener” is the goal, the executive and coach will identify two or three specific practices, such as repeating and rephrasing direct reports’ comments in team meetings, that the executive will practice and, through practice, make part of his or her behavior. Fourth, the executive implements these actions, and finally, results are measured so the executive can know their goal is being achieved, either by surveying colleagues, self-evaluation, or repeating the 360 Degree assessment.
“It can be an intense process and it takes someone willing to do the work and being open to hearing candid communication and alternative perspectives,” says Jean Cantey Segal, Chief Learning Officer of Learning and Consulting Services for FCC Services. “Executives who seek coaching are motivated by growth and learning, and usually find the experience gratifying if sometimes a bit daunting.”
There are many different reasons that an executive might seek the external insight that an executive coach provides: taking on a new or expanded role, positioning for future advancement, or seeking a higher level of influence within the organization are just a few. Executive coaching engagements typically last 6 to 12 months, beyond which FCC Services’ coaches remain available for ongoing communication and support as needed.
In addition to Executive Coaching for current executives, FCC Services plans to launch the Executive Leadership Incubator Program this October—to help senior managers and lower level executives prepare for becoming future CEOs. Designed for Farm Credit organizations, the Executive Leadership Incubator Program is a peer-to-peer learning experience through which participants will come together in a safe, confidential environment, over multiple sessions, for leadership development, to build a network of peers and to discuss and solve real-world business issues they are facing in their respective organizations.
Modeled after Farm Credit’s Group of 30, Executive Leadership Incubator Program participants will meet twice a year for roundtable discussions, to surface issues and discuss problems. Bringing together individuals with varied backgrounds, from lending to credit to administration to technology, the Program will help participants learn about other functional areas, an imperative for the CEO role.
“The higher you rise in an organization, the more you’re managing across functions,” says Jay. “The skills that serve well in individual functions differ, so this Program will broaden participants’ knowledge about the challenges and problems in other areas, preparing them for a future CEO position.”
The initial Executive Leadership Incubator Program group is being recruited now, and once established, will form a 15-18 person cohort that will work together for years to come. Future cohorts will be established along the same premise, offering the opportunity to additional senior leaders across Farm Credit. If you’re interested in participating in the Program, contact Jay Lux.
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