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How Coaching Benefits Aspiring C-Suite Executives ‒ Road-Mapping True Potential In Demanding Times

Written by: Teresa Hand-Campbell, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


A Capital Quest helping executives decide “Do I belong? Is this the right path for me?”

For the aspiring C-Suite executive ‘potential’ has exciting connotations of realisation of dreams, personal and professional growth, productivity and sustained success. In order to realise one’s true potential, developmental openness towards enhanced self-knowledge, heightened awareness, positive intelligence, growth mindset, change orientation, resilience building, determination, motivation and work ethic are key players on the journey. The seasoned executive coach is ideally placed to guide that strategic journey of self-discovery towards unlocking untapped potential, aptly referred to as ‘Capital Quest’ at THC Consultancy Ltd.

Schultz defined Human Capital in terms of ‘…all human abilities to be either innate or acquired. Attributes which are valuable and can be augmented by appropriate investment, will be human capital’ (Schultz 1981, p21). One decade later, Becker (1993) defined HC as the ‘knowledge, information, ideas, skills, and health of individuals’ (p. 3). HC theory fuels the idea that employees’ knowledge and skills can be developed through investment in education or training, that is, learning.More recent definitions include that of Thomas et al (2013) who outlined HC as the ‘people, their performance and their potential in the organisation’ (p.3).

The extension of definition of Human Capital to include the term ‘potential’ is noteworthy as it indicates that employees can develop their skills and abilities, with appropriate investment, at any point and over time. The inclusion of ‘potential’ holds ‘promise’ in terms of human acumen and the use of technology as the tool to catapult the human to optimal performance, success and realisation of true potential.

However, much depends on personality, skills, competencies, and driving forces. Individual resilience and drive propel the executive towards his/her pinnacle, irrespective of challenges encountered on the journey. Mapping one’s assets and potential can be greatly aided through use of psychometric tools e.g., DISC and WRAW (Workplace Resilience & Wellbeing) as a starting point on a truly affirming journey of discovery. Individuals’ energy, future focus, inner drive, flexible thinking and strong relationships which are the bedrock of resilience and wellbeing, are measurable and open to development, with the right mindset. Individual feedback offers a route for ‘high potentials’ to emerge as eligible for inclusion in the progression pipeline. Moreover, as an executive, gleaning a team overview can indicate the status of the group’s resilience and wellbeing levels and point to areas for development, with before-and-after snapshots highlighting the effectiveness or otherwise of interventions, including wisely chosen CPD.

CEOs and HR Professionals are becoming increasingly aware of the uncertain and unpredictable nature of the high potentials’ list in this post C-19 era which some term, ‘the great resignation’, wherein ‘high potentials’ are becoming increasingly likely to shift their passion to their own journey, not that of a company. Alternatively viewed, it may be argued that the C-19 period has offered executives a platform to showcase their organisational abilities and capabilities, their potential for inclusion in the C-suite, in a manner never before available to them in the modern workplace. Certain key principles, however, must be safeguarded when cultivating the company’s pipeline of ‘high potentials’, namely:

Clarity, around the future skills, competencies and behaviours required for the organisation’s success and the willingness to provide for that

Consistency in follow through with approaches to talent development, designed to withstand both lean and abundant times

Creativity that will bend with ease, moving talent from value creator to game-changer in thriving in the uncertainty of future markets

In designing one’s pathway forward, an aspiring C-Suite executive must bear in mind the key capabilities that CEOs, Boards and professional recruiters seek out in the ‘top team’. This is particularly true for internal, tenured or leapfrog candidates who are ideally placed for exposure to greater responsibility and accountability in a real-time test of eligibility for inclusion in the C-Suite pipeline. Coaching, on and off-site, aids the pathway to excelling when offered such opportunities and to ultimately answering the question: “Is this the right path for me?” Furthermore, coaching eradicates imposter syndrome as one is guided to framing and presenting their true authentic worth and potential at the coalface and at interview.

THC Consult’s coaching checklist is broad-ranging, as Capital Quest offers psychometric assessment and seeks to aid the executive on the journey to optimising true potential at ‘the top table’, having successfully negotiated the interview process:

1. Self-awareness & Ego Check:

Self-awareness is foundational to all other areas of EQ, and constitutes emotional awareness, accurate self-assessment and self-confidence, all of which are essential to effectiveness in a C-suite role. Appreciating the responsibilities that accompany power, building collaborative competencies such as influence and persuasion, guarding against derailers such as arrogance and intolerance are just some areas in which the aspiring C-suite executive can grow through effective coaching.

2. Actioning Emotional & Social Intelligence

Organisational awareness, having a strong sense of place in the organisation, self-management balanced with healthy other-management aids the bi-directional flow of energy in the organisation and delineates the aspiring leader from his/her competition. Guided approaches to offering clarity around mutual expectations, being purposeful and delivering consistently to high standards serve to affirm the aspiring C-executive in his/her role and effectiveness in an increasingly diverse workplace. Identification of saboteurs, turning challenges in to opportunities while strengthening the ‘sage’ muscle of the brain is pivotal to THC’s ‘Capital Quest’ process.

3. Values-Laden Communication

The aspiring C-Suite executive will benefit from coaching around purpose and values, conscious speaking and conscious listening, verbal and non-verbal active listening, mindful of Covey’s contention that ‘Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply’. Articulating the values, vision and mission of the organisation persuasively and with authenticity powers the aspiring executive’s journey to the top table, as he/she builds trust, liaises with teams to gain buy-in, negotiates strategically and respectfully and capitalises on the strength of human, soft skills.

4. Transformative Change Orientation

Change is a catalyst for growth and success. Coaches ask the hard questions ‒ Are you open to change and to managing change in yourself and in your life? Coaching serves to aid the executive in identifying blocks to advancement and adversity to change. Establishing improvement goals, identifying hidden/competing commitments and worries that impede advancement, calling out the big assumptions which we make that invariably distort the truth and hamper the pathway to optimising our unique potential – this guided journey clears the pathway for the executive aspiring to the top table.

5. Modelling Resilience & Conflict Management

Capital Quest offers avenues towards benchmarking resilience levels across five key pillars – energy, future focus, inner drive, flexible thinking and strong relationships – which aids and directs the coaching journey as the aspiring executive confronts the uncomfortable and hones his/her strategic plan for advancement. Perception features strongly in relationship building, negotiation and conflict resolution. Being mindful of how one is perceived in terms of trustworthiness, integrity, values, patience and empathy heightens one’s ability to self-regulate and to control triggers in stressful situations. Feeling comfortable with ambiguity, embracing conflict as a growth moment, pre-empting conflict and moving to diffuse it before it escalates are real skills for the aspiring C-suite executive and may be refined through expert coaching.

6. Team Building

Those reaching the C-suite have mastered adaptability i.e., the ability to work comfortably with diverse groups and individuals, while showcasing the ability to balance and integrate multiple perspectives. Maintaining inclusive and co-operative working relationships in the face of blended work arrangements is very challenging. With THC’s ‘Capital Quest’ programme, we guide aspiring C-Suite executives on building team spirit and identity while promoting a friendly, co-operative climate which demands more attention than ever, especially in a hybrid work environment. Strategic executive coaching offers new approaches to creating workplace psychological safety, leading difficult conversations within teams and achieving heightened engagement and productivity which delineates the ‘high potential’ executive from the crowd.

7. Embracing Fluid and Effective Leadership Styles

The above checklist demands effective and fluid leadership in order to open doors to the C-Suite boardroom for the ambitious executive. While ease with a combination of leadership styles to meet the demands of myriad situations that arise is advisable, we often return to the age old ‘servant leadership’ as a route to effectively serving followers, employees, the organisation and society at large. The marriage of concepts and themes offered through ‘Capital Quest’ seeks to guide and affirm the aspiring C-Suite executive in the authenticity of his/her unique leadership style or combination of styles which not alone captures and solidifies the trust of a followership but offers a route to embracing ‘adaptive leadership’ across the organisation wherein everyone is respected as a leader in his/her own right in the execution of their role. Being a ‘reflexive’ servant leader remains an important aspiration and one embodied by the most effective C-Suite leaders.

Finally, while benefits of coaching for the aspiring C-Suite Executives in road-mapping their true potential in current demanding times, cannot be underestimated, the personal resource of the support of a significant other or others in one’s personal life trumps all other in terms of making that decision as to whether the C-Suite role is in fact the right pathway, given the demands and pressures wrought by the aligned responsibilities in the balancing act that is successful work-life integration.

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Teresa Hand-Campbell, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Teresa Hand-Campbell is the founder and Director of THC Consultancy Ltd., an Ireland-based company with a global reach. As Occupational Psychologist, Educationist, Business Executive Coach and certified Mediator, she educates, motivates and inspires her clients on their journey to achieving optimum potential.

Teresa specialises in all aspects of behaviour, relations, motivation and engagement at work, facilitating executive coaching, training, teamwork, career progression, recruitment drives, action mapping and strategic planning with organisations, large and small, across both private and public sectors. She has successfully coached over 400 Senior Executives and continues to lecture to Master's level in Leadership & Management in the Workplace. A WRAW Master Practitioner (Workplace Resilience And Wellbeing), Teresa is also a multi-science analyst using DISC and is a registered Test User (1 & 2) with the British Psychological Society.

A keynote speaker, Teresa delivers inspiring bespoke Talks and Training to audiences of all sizes around key topics of interest to the workplace.

A prolific writer, her most recent Case Study and bespoke Recommendations, entitled: ‘Building a Culture to Grow & Thrive’ was undertaken for Catalyst Clinical Research, a large, multi-award winning clinical development organisation with headquarters in Wilmington, North Carolina, USA. Teresa’s motto: ‘Knowing ME: Understanding YOU’ rests on her belief that to know oneself is to ensure a true understanding of others we come in contact with.



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