En un artículo de diciembre de 2001 titulado "El coaching ejecutivo ayuda a las empresas a alcanzar sus objetivos", el Wall Street Journal declaraba: "Quizá el beneficio más importante y directo de un buen coaching ejecutivo sea el nuevo desarrollo de futuros líderes de alto impacto".

Desde entonces, la industria del coaching ha crecido, y el coaching ejecutivo ha ganado una mayor aceptación como herramienta valiosa para el desarrollo de líderes, el aumento de la calidad del rendimiento de la gestión y la vinculación de ese rendimiento con métricas de éxito específicas. Aunque encontrar entrenadores eficaces puede ser un reto, un entrenador experimentado puede ayudar a las personas a potenciar sus puntos fuertes, abordar sus puntos débiles, fijarse objetivos y crear puntos de referencia para acceder a su rendimiento.

El coaching ejecutivo suele considerarse un enfoque positivo para el desarrollo del liderazgo a largo plazo y sostenido dentro de las empresas y un valioso complemento de la educación en el aula, la tutoría corporativa, los programas de prácticas o la sesión de formación interna. Su impacto suele ser especialmente fuerte en las empresas familiares.

Dos de los enfoques más útiles utilizados por los coaches ejecutivos de alto nivel son el coaching de desarrollo y el coaching de rendimiento. Los entrenadores de desarrollo ayudan a los clientes a aumentar su eficacia en el liderazgo mejorando sus habilidades interpersonales y persuasivas, el uso del pensamiento "global" y la competencia comunicativa general. Los entrenadores de rendimiento ayudan a los clientes a aplicar sus habilidades para cumplir con criterios específicos de rendimiento en los comportamientos de los líderes, la planificación e implementación estratégica y el éxito general de la empresa.

En las empresas familiares, un enfoque exitoso para los miembros de la familia combina el coaching de desarrollo y de rendimiento y hace hincapié en los valores de la familia. Este enfoque aborda la necesidad de construir el liderazgo en las generaciones futuras ayudando a los individuos a desarrollar sus propias capacidades y habilidades únicas en el contexto de la empresa familiar. También incorpora la planificación estratégica en torno a la sucesión y la empresa, incorporando áreas específicas de responsabilidad, expectativas y métricas que guiarán a los futuros líderes de forma específica a los objetivos, la misión, la visión y la relación de la familia con la comunidad en general.

Quizás lo más importante es que el coaching para empresas familiares puede ayudar a abordar los retos que aparecen en la intersección de la familia y la empresa y que, sin embargo, no pueden gestionarse fácilmente a través de la educación tradicional, las aportaciones de los asesores, los comentarios directos de la familia o el mandato de los ejecutivos. Más concretamente, las empresas familiares utilizan el coaching para:

  • Identificar oportunidades para que los líderes de la próxima generación desarrollen y utilicen sus habilidades de liderazgo y gestión en el contexto de su familia y su empresa.
  • Ayudar a los líderes actuales a gestionar una transición suave a la siguiente generación y a dejar realmente de dirigir el negocio.
  • Ayudar a los miembros de la familia que ocupan cargos directivos a mantenerse al día con el rápido crecimiento y desarrollo de la empresa a medida que se producen estos cambios.
  • Complementar la planificación del desarrollo profesional individual específico para las necesidades identificadas, los objetivos y la visión de futuro tanto para la empresa como para la familia.
  • Ayudar a reflexionar sobre el desarrollo de la carrera y las estrategias de transición.
  • Ayudar a los equipos de hermanos y de liderazgo a crear vías eficaces de alineación y toma de decisiones.

Here are some cases studies that demonstrate ways that coaching can help family business members:

Improving communication and leader behaviors
Susan was the natural choice to take over her family’s successful medical supply company. She was very smart (she graduated from an Ivy League school) and deeply interested in continuing the family legacy. Her father touted her commitment to excellence in everything she did, with special strengths in attending to critical details in ways that increased productivity and steered clear of potentially costly mistakes before they could occur. But other family members and non-family employees found Susan’s approach clinical and uncaring. Eventually it became clear that Susan was unintentionally creating an atmosphere of distrust and dwindling communication in the organization. She retained a coach to help access her leadership and management skills. The coach worked with her to indentify and practice more overtly positive ways to interact with employees, communicate more clearly and strengthen trust throughout the organization.

Learning how to lead
Ray was the oldest grandchild of the founder of an oil and natural gas drilling company. He had grown up experiencing the boom-and-bust nature of the business and had incorporated all the “green” courses he could into his recently completed MBA. He was excited about strengthening the family the family firm’s reputation as a leader in protecting the environment. After he had completed three successful years working as a manager in an unrelated industry, the family asked him to come home to work with his dad for a year. As his father transitions into retirement, a coach is helping Ray navigate how to lead the family business and work alongside other family owners and employees while providing real-time feedback.

Working as a team
Three of the four Sturdivant siblings and two of their five cousins represent the best of the family’s business wisdom and experience acquired over more than three generations of running a successful arboretum and tree trimming company. Their parents’ well-thought-out succession plan had been implemented six years before, naming the three-sibling team as co-leaders of the business with equal say and influence. As children the cousins had always traveled and played well together. This entire sibling/cousin team is working with a coach to help them communicate more clearly with each other, move through questions of perceived inequalities and develop decision-making policies and practices that promote alignment even when there is disagreement.

Continuing professional and personal development
As a fourth-generation owner of his family’s international piping and manufacturing firm, Sean had gone to the right schools, traveled extensively all over the world and had already become well-known for his philanthropic efforts in the local community. Though not interested in moving into a senior management position with the company, Sean wanted help in developing professionally, particularly in the context of a family business. In addition to attending week-long family business education sessions at a variety of universities, he retained a coach to help him create and implement a long-term plan for his (and his extended family’s) deeper involvement and education in the family business in order to keep the family involved in the business and improve the quality and quantity of their interactions.

Managing change
With little formal education beyond high school, Jason had worked hard alongside his dad in the family’s large beverage and food distribution company. The oldest of five children, he was the most obvious successor when his father died suddenly of a heart attack. Under Jason’s vision and guidance, the company grew and became even more profitable. The newly established human resources department was hiring new recruits every week to meet the growing demand of a thriving business. It wasn’t long before it became clear that day-to-day operations were getting more complex, requiring the creation of new formal processes and policies to help managers improve their effectiveness and associates successfully complete their work. A coach is helping Jason think through how to manage the changes his business is experiencing and how to maintain the family “feel” of the business in the process.

Filling a gap
Because of its focus on interpersonal skills and leadership practices and its emphasis on measurable results, coaching can be a valuable supplement to traditional family business advisory services. Coaching that focuses on the family’s values and takes a long-term perspective can have a powerful impact in family businesses.