How Does Coaching Enhance Executive Strategic Thinking?

How Does Coaching Enhance Executive Strategic Thinking?

In the realm of executive development, the power of coaching can be transformative, particularly when it comes to enhancing strategic thinking. From fostering executive imagination to empowering leaders to share strategic insights, we've compiled six compelling stories shared by experienced Executive Coaches and CEOs. Dive into their insights and discover how coaching has shaped the strategic acumen of top-tier executives.

  • Fostering Executive Imagination and Anticipation
  • Elevating C-Suite Strategic Decision-Making
  • Cultivating a Growth Mindset for Strategy
  • Teaching Leaders Proactive Strategic Thinking
  • Guiding New Executives in Vision Alignment
  • Empowering Leaders to Share Strategic Insights

Fostering Executive Imagination and Anticipation

The first step of being strategic is imagining and creating. The second is looking ahead at the horizon to see what's coming (AI and automation, just to name two) and anticipating. Most of us benefit from some prompting when we're trying to think outside the box. The more time an executive has spent in an industry, the more they may tend to focus on the micro—the implementation, efficiencies, and on project or departmental delivery. A coach can prompt them with questions to help them think about what's not there, and ask, 'Why not?' We can help them engage their imagination and creativity, which comes from a wholly different part of their brain than the logical, linear, reasoning part.

Some executives can find it hard to be untethered in their thinking, grounded by logic and reason. We help people understand how to productively brainstorm by storytelling, probing, prompting, and even bringing our own experiences to bear. Then, we can prompt them to think about where their industry and their company will need to be in 5 or 10 years, and how to start preparing today in order to hit that goal. And then, how to make sure that this kind of thinking is supported and sustained in their company or department, and to think through embedding some permanence to it, so that it remains in constant focus.

Two heads are always better than one, so a coach can be a sounding board as well as a catalyst for the executive. Saying all of this makes me wonder why anyone would attempt to do this by themselves.

Lee Jay Berman
Lee Jay BermanPrincipal, Leadership Consultant, Executive Coach, Leadership Development Partners

Elevating C-Suite Strategic Decision-Making

I work with a lot of Silicon Valley executives. I was introduced to the CEO of a promising tech startup who felt overwhelmed by the rapid growth of his company and was struggling to prioritize and foresee the long-term implications of his decisions. Through our coaching sessions, we embarked on a journey to sharpen his strategic thinking skills. We looked over some of the complex business decisions he had to make, analyzing not just the immediate outcomes but the ripple effects of each decision. As a result, the CEO learned to navigate the complexities of his industry with a more nuanced approach, considering multiple perspectives and potential futures.

This transformation didn't just elevate his leadership; it propelled his company forward, securing a leading position in a competitive market. The change was remarkable—the CEO's newfound ability to think strategically enhanced his decision-making process, leading to innovative solutions that had a profound impact on his company's success.

Bryant GalindoFounder, Mediator & Executive Coach, CollabsHQ

Cultivating a Growth Mindset for Strategy

First, we had to address their growth mindset. Strategic thinking is challenging without a growth mindset, confidence in making decisions, and resilience to risks and failures. Mindset and the ability to see the bigger picture are foundations of strategic thinking. The next step was to analyze their previous decisions to understand the thought processes that led to existing outcomes and how they might be improved. Finally, we moved into practicing scenario planning and engaging with the executive team to gain feedback and challenge assumptions. At the end of the coaching engagement, we looked at how strategic thinking and planning could become part of their organizational culture and not a one-off exercise.

Erin Andrea Craske
Erin Andrea CraskeExecutive Coach, Business Advisor, Educator, Effortless

Teaching Leaders Proactive Strategic Thinking

The key word here is 'thinking.' Strategic thinking means you have the ability to assess your current reality, look ahead, take in a large amount of information, and make connections with that data to face the current challenges with innovative and creative solutions. It's about looking at things differently and being able to anticipate and address change, moving from a reactive leadership style to a more proactive leadership approach.

Strategic thinking enables leaders to see things from a new perspective and anticipate and plan for what they might be wanting. Too often, leaders stay busy with their daily activities, and this is often where I begin in coaching clients who want to be more strategic. Strategic thinking requires space to reflect and consider alternatives, zooming out from daily events to see more of what is possible, and then determining the best course of action. Clients often have to learn to let go of control of their daily activities in order to take a broader perspective and consider alternate ways of functioning to be able to see the larger picture and anticipate what might be coming.

Dr. Julie Donley
Dr. Julie DonleyExecutive Coach and Author, Nurturing Your Success LLC

Guiding New Executives in Vision Alignment

Once, when working with a client who was new to a senior executive role, I had the opportunity to help him transition to managing his peers in a way that helped them see the vision of the organization so they could get on board with methods to stay in alignment. This also required him to be more open with the way he thought about strategy, the people executing the plans, and the consumers impacted by what they wanted to accomplish. He had to learn to have a broader view in order to then laser-focus on what was most important and design the most cost- and time-effective ways to get there.

Aleasa Word
Aleasa WordCEO & Executive Coach, A. Word & Company

Empowering Leaders to Share Strategic Insights

I was coaching a COO, and she was new to the role. My client was worried about disagreeing with the CEO. We discussed that by not sharing her skill set and offering new approaches, she was doing the company and CEO a disservice. Part of why she was hired was for her ability to think strategically. She brought up a few scenarios and shared what could be done differently. Simply empowering her to talk through new ideas ignited a spark of confidence.

Kelli Anderson
Kelli AndersonCareer Coach, Texas General Insurance

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