As the challenges facing leaders and organizations become more complex, leaders are considering coaching as a way of dealing with them. In a coaching arrangement, Linda Wingate works one-on-one with a business leader in a series of dynamic, confidential sessions. Some of the goals for this coaching are to assist a leader in executing strategy, navigating change and building employee commitment.
Coaching can enhance a leader’s skills in building relationships, developing his group into a team, and preparing for new challenges. The Center for Creative Leadership, an international, non-profit leadership development institution, lists the following reasons for hiring a leadership coach:
- You need structured planning and support to help in the accomplishment of a new way of leading or managing others.
- You’re faced with a significant increase in the scope of your responsibility.
- You’re a project manager who needs to improve how you build and lead teams.
- You’re a leader who wants to be successful at managing across geographic, cultural or demographic boundaries.
- You’re a traditional manager who wants to move to a less dominant and directive leadership style.
- You’re an executive who needs to develop, articulate and sell a new vision for your organization.
- You’re a line manager who wants to broaden your experience and capacity to take on an executive position.
- You’re a technical manager who needs to become adept at articulating ideas, influencing others, and understanding organization politics.
- You’ve just completed a development program and have a heightened awareness of skills you need to develop or skills you may rely on too much.
Coaching works best when it is linked to a development plan, where others are involved in the leader’s success. Wingate Consulting suggests that the individual’s manager, and a Human Resources professional take part in some aspects of the process. Below is my six-step approach to coaching, which is flexible and customized to the needs of the client:
- Establishing a Foundation. The work here is between the coach and the individual to build a solid, trusting relationship and to establish initial goals and expectations. Included here could be discussions with the individual’s manager and the HR professional to agree on the process steps. During this segment, the involved individuals agree on the behaviors that contribute to success in the organization – perhaps a “success profile.”
- Gathering Data. Through a variety of assessment activities, i.e., interviewing colleagues and/or customers, observing the leader at work, reviewing performance appraisals, and administering surveys, the coach develops an assessment of the leader’s style, personality and the behaviors that are connected to on-the-job effectiveness.
- Providing Feedback. During this time, the coach will provide the feedback from the assessments and set goals. The information is used to come to an understanding on development needs.
- Planning Development. This is a crucial time in the coaching process. Here the coach will work with the leader to finalize goals and create strategies that are clear, specific, application-oriented, and measurable. The plan, along with a summary of the feedback findings, is shared with the leader’s manager and the HR professional.
- Implementing the Plan. Working with the leader, the coach advises and counsels on a regular and consistent schedule. One of the primary goals is to ensure that the leader practices new behaviors and learns what works best. For the majority of the time these sessions are done face-to-face with telephone or e-mail used for follow-up consultations. The coach will also have progress discussions with the individual’s manager and the HR professional.
- Closure. At the end of the agreed upon time frame, the coach and leader evaluate future needs. The coach will follow-up with the individual at the end of 3 months and again at 6 months to check progress and provide counsel as necessary.