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The Data is Now In: 2021's Top 5 Recurring Themes in Executive Coaching

by The Leadership Development Group

As a firm dedicated to developing talent to execute strategy, we have broad experience in assessing and developing leaders to reach peak performance through our executive coaching programs. With each year, and as new global, economic, and societal changes accrue, we take note of the top goals our executive coaching clients achieved in the year prior as a prelude to what's to come.

Armed with data from hundreds of our coaching clients’ development plans, we present our findings of the top five leadership executive coaching themes in 2021.

1. Enhancing Communication Across Departments is Top of Mind

Showing up in 18.24% of our clients’ executive coaching goals for 2021, enhancing communication on a person-to-person and team level was a top priority. Often, leaders struggle to effectively communicate important information with appropriate employees and across departments and functional areas. 

Yet, studies have shown that leaders who prioritize honest communication, increase their team’s productivity by 25%. As leaders take on 2022, developing the proper skills and mindset to encourage and engage in honest and open communication is crucial to leadership effectiveness and increased employee satisfaction.

2. Emotional Intelligence is Key to Effective Leadership

Emotional intelligence — attributing to 16.98% of our client’s executive coaching goals for 2021 — is the ability to recognize and sympathize with one’s own emotions and those of others. Essentially, emotional intelligence is the act of expressing one’s emotions with an ability to handle interpersonal relationships with empathy. 

Developing emotional intelligence is a fundamental aspect of effective leadership. According to McKinsey, the top three reasons for employees leaving a job are related to feeling undervalued and lacking a sense of belonging in the organization. With the right executive coaching program, focused on emotional intelligence, leaders can expect to enhance their emotional intelligence bandwidth by working on advancing the following skills:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

For more information on regulating emotions and developing empathy, check out our case story, Coaching to Enhance Emotional Awareness and Self-Regulation.

3. Alignment Helps to Build a High-Performing Team

Building a high-performing team was a primary goal of most of our clients in 2021. In fact, 14.47% of clients came to us searching for ways to improve their team’s performance. Through our years of executive coaching experience, we’ve come to realize that aligning team members on goals, roles, business results, priorities, and working standards, is critical to increasing performance.

In our customized team executive coaching sessions, we begin strengthening teams by calibrating their current state of performance. What are the strengths and weaknesses? Where can the team improve? From here, we include input from key stakeholders to obtain diverse perspectives and achieve alignment on goals.

4. Building Trust Strengthens Partnerships

Another common theme we saw throughout 2021 was the desire to build trust. 13.84% of our clients were actively searching for solutions and ways to build trust within their partnerships, teams, and organizations as a whole. Through executive coaching programs, leaders learn how to develop, maintain, and strengthen partnerships by:

  • Demonstrating honesty
  • Honoring commitments
  • Behaving in a consistent manner

According to the Harvard Business Review, 58% of survey respondents trust strangers more than they trust their own organization’s management. Don’t let this happen to your organization. Instead, focus on building trust with your employees by:

  • Following through on your promises and commitments
  • No engaging in company gossip
  • Owning up to your mistakes

5. Adjusting Leadership Style is Crucial to Navigating Challenging Transitions

There is not a single leader (in any industry) today that can honestly say they haven’t had to lead during a time of transition and uncertainty. The pandemic has forced all leaders to adjust their leadership styles due to challenging circumstances. Which is why 13.84% of executive coaching goals for 2021 were focused on learning how to adequately lead through change.

Let’s put it this way. Change is a situational event. The transition is the adjustment period you go through to adapt to the change. Effective leaders are capable of letting go of the prior state of affairs to innovate new ways of working, and then consistently support positive organizational change. With executive coaching, leaders can develop the skills necessary to lead through change to:

  • Gain a competitive advantage
  • Strengthen teams and partnerships
  • Boost employee satisfaction and performance

Final Thoughts

Last year was challenging for leaders in all industries — there’s no denying that. But with the help of leadership development solutions like executive coaching, leaders can expect to gain an ROI of 5.7x and increase the likelihood of positive organizational outcomes by 25%

Are you prepared to enhance your leadership skills this year? TLD Group’s cadre of executive coaches are here to help. Get in touch with us to discover how executive coaching can fortify your leadership and accelerate your organization’s goals for 2022.

Topics: Leadership Development, Partnerships, Healthcare Ecosystem, Leadership, Executive Coaching, Team Development, Collaboration