Understanding Leadership Coaching

It is a common step for people to  move into leadership positions due to technical competency & success at their job. However even when a leader has all the technical excellence, knowledge and resources to achieve a desired outcome, they can struggle with making the difference they need to when they are responsible for leading others. Quite often a default position of telling others what to do is taken which often leads to micro management and a disengaged team. Various forms of training can be offered to these new leaders and while training definitely has a role to play, leaders need something much more personal and involved and that is where leadership coaching comes into play.

Leadership coaching is part of a suite of coaching practices and is becoming increasingly recognised as a positive and valuable way for organisations to develop and grow their employees. Typically coaching is introduced to an employee by their employer as part of performance management, however organisations, in particular great HR professionals are recognising that coaching is a positive process for all employees, in particular those new to leadership positions. Before understanding the value of leadership coaching to an organisation it is therefore important to explore exactly what leadership coaching is.

Leadership Coaching – a very personal process

Leadership coaching is best defined as a personalised development process where leaders undergo tailored help from a coach to help them achieve short and long-term goals and ultimately become more effective in the way they lead. These goals can vary but typically focus on  areas such as:

  1. Effective communication
  2. Conflict resolution
  3. Time management
  4. Assertiveness
  5. Change management
  6. Balancing work / life pressures

The distinction is most clear when compared to coaching that helps an individual for example, to achieve a personal goal such as happiness, weight loss, financial security, wealth or better relationships .

Leadership Coaching: A bespoke development process for leaders

Leadership coaching is designed to be “tailored to the individual”, a learning process for leaders that is achieved in partnership with a coach. The coach’s role is that of a partner who, from the beginning believes that the leader had unlimited potential to achieve the goal or outcome that they have set for themselves. The relationship between the coach and the leader is collaborative. 

Removing the obstacles

The primary role of the coach is to help remove the obstacles that stand in the way of a leader reaching their goals. This is achieved through careful questioning and deep listening. The coach steps into the world of the coachee while maintaining a careful distance of objectivity, whereby they can gradually help the leader work through whatever is in the way of achieving the objective. This could include mental or emotional hurdles, such as beliefs, habits or fears. Through a process of inviting introspection and self-reflection, the coach helps the coach clear a path of success.

Coaches are not problem solvers

It is important to note that coaches do not solve problems for coachees. This is due to the belief that coachees are the experts in their own lives. The coach helps clarify the goal, unravel the issue and ultimately help the coachee to find a committed solution to achieving the goal. 

While most leadership coaches will have strong technical backgrounds, leadership coaching is not technical guidance or consultation. Leadership coaching is not training as training does not involve reflection or introspection. A coach with a depth of industry career expertise is one who is able to draw on their experience for powerful questioning.

Leadership Coaching creates powerful team engagement

When leaders improve their performance, there is a knock-on benefit to the organisation. Exposing leaders, regardless of their experience to the coaching experience has a flow-on effect of developing a coaching culture within the organisation itself. As leaders become more responsive to the coaching process improved interaction flows down through the organisation. Coaching can therefore be viewed as a passing on of a set of skills used by leaders in the organisation on a day-today basis that enhances the performance of their people.

Ultimately leadership coaching makes great leaders resulting in powerful engagement across teams  which ultimately leads to organisation effectiveness and success. The kind of effectiveness that makes people happy and improves the bottom line.

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