Coaching is universally linked to sport. Most sporting teams and individual athletes, whether at the elite or recreational level, have coaches to teach, train, plan and develop.
They guide team members to become leaders and leaders to become the best leader they can be.
It is no different in business!
Except coaching isn’t as widely utilised as it should be.
So how can coaching make a difference in the corporate world? How can it develop successful leaders?
Before I probe those questions, let’s look at what is leadership coaching in business?
Leadership coaching is very simply a trained professional delivering a structured and personalised development plan to an individual or small group focused on improving their people skills and performance, and ultimately progressing their careers.
In her blog, Wendy Mather describes a business coach as “someone who can help you reach your full potential and someone to walk with you on the often challenging journey of running a business”.
There are a few key terms in those past two sentences that help define leadership coaching:
• People – coaching is focused on how to lead others effectively at that time.
• Structured – coaching is planned out from beginning to end.
• Personal – coaching is tailored specifically for an individual or small team.
• Develop – coaching is all about people growing and learning.
• Progress – coaching takes someone from who they are to who they want to be.
• Reach – coaching makes people stretch out of their comfort zones
Coaching has proven to be the most potent tool for creating personal and positive change, because it is so tailored and targeted to individual needs and ‘in-the-moment’ challenges.
I like to call it the Mount Everest of corporate training where you have a guide helping you navigate to the peak.
Success is reaching the summit. It’s a personal challenge that is measurable and empowers the individual on completion. A number of routes can be taken and there are no short cuts.
So, who is leadership coaching useful for in business?
In short, anyone who needs to manage people.
It can be beneficial for people who are new to leadership roles and team building; people who want to take their leadership to another level; leaders embarking on change such as mergers, acquisitions or downsizing; and, people who are good at their job but have people or team challenges within their role.
So how does leadership coaching make a difference?
1. It unlocks potential and transforms people into who they would like to be.
2. It develops leadership skills and accelerates a change in behaviour faster, more effectively and with more depth of understanding than if the person is left to move forward on their own.
3. It is highly relevant and personalised with the coach, person being coached and their immediate manager all involved in its structure.
4. It fulfils a deep human need to be understood without judgment.
5. It can be applied immediately based on the person’s learning readiness.
6. Progress and results can be measured by others in the business therefore is accountable and adaptable to feedback.
Leadership coaching mainly involves 1-on-1 sessions but can also incorporate team building exercises, corporate training workshops and team culture programs.
One of the most rewarding experiences as a coach I have had was with an already highly competent lady who reported directly to the CEO of a large global bank.
She was amazingly efficient at getting results however her department had a very high turnover of people and she was deeply unhappy in her personal life.
It took a few sessions for our trust to build to the level where we could have deep authentic conversations and when we did, the results were transformational.
By the end of our coaching program, her job satisfaction score and that of her team had improved exponentially. And, some personal relationships in her life turned from near disaster to flourishing.
Importantly, coaching can help find balance for the person between their professional and personal lives, as success in both can be intrinsically linked.
Leadership coaching is rewarding, fun, engaging and productive, and simple to undertake.
I encourage any business leader or anyone with leadership aspirations to take on a coach. You may have seen it in effect in sport – it can also be transformational in business.