Global Coach Trust

Leadership Coaching

Limitations of traditional Leadership Development initiatives 

     The typical approach to management development until date has been to send managers to classroom (or outbound) sessions on leadership. While this effort is any day better than no development activity, it has certain limitations that organizations need to consider carefully. First, each manager has different development needs that may or may not be addressed in a standard workshop. Secondly, even if the workshop is well received by the managers, there is no accountability for implementing the new knowledge and skills learned at the workplace, essentially because managers are often too busy to do so. Thirdly, traditional leadership development workshops are based on the premise that if people understand, then they will do. Unfortunately, research proves that while many understand, very few actually do. Lastly, it is unrealistic to expect management development to happen if input is limited to occasional training events, which do not have a follow-up process. These limitations can be addressed through executive coaching. 

     Understanding Executive Coaching

      Executive coaching is an experiential and individualized leader development process that builds a manager’s capability to achieve short- and long-term organizational goals. It is conducted through one-on-one interactions, driven by data from multiple perspectives, and based on mutual trust and respect. The organization, a manager (the coachee), and the executive coach work in partnership to achieve maximum impact. Executive coaching involves three levels of learning: tactical problem solving; developing leadership capabilities and new ways of thinking and acting that generalize to other situations and roles; and ‘learning how to learn’. Learning how to learn means developing skills and habits of self-reflection that ensure that learning will continue after coaching ends. Its aims are to eliminate an executive's long-term dependency on his coach and teach habits of learning and self-reflection that will last a lifetime, enabling him to keep developing throughout his career.

      Executive coaching is primarily concerned with the development of the manager (coachee) in the context of organizational needs. The coaching objective is to maximize the manager’s effectiveness and his or her contribution to the organization. The coach develops an understanding of the broader business context in which the manager operates, with particular emphasis on key business initiatives directly relevant to the manager. The manager and coach then agree upon specific results that best reflect the organization’s business objectives. Successful executive coaching links a business focus with human processes by closely aligning the manager’s development with critical business needs.

   Benefits of Executive Coaching

      Compared to traditional leadership development workshops, executive coaching has tremendous benefits since it is done almost entirely in real business time and focuses on specific, real-life contextual issues. In addition, the executive coaching process is personalized, as opposed to a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach. According to research by Turner (2006), executives identified five significant benefits of executive coaching as a leadership strategy. These benefits were continuous one-on-one attention; expanded thinking through dialogue with a curious outsider; self-awareness, including blind spots; personal accountability for development; and, just-in-time learning. Individuals who engage in a coaching relationship can expect to experience fresh perspectives on personal challenges and opportunities, enhanced thinking and decision making skills, enhanced interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence in carrying out their chosen work and life roles. In a research study by Parker-Wilkins (2006), respondents stated that coaching assisted them in the development of three main competencies: leadership behavior (82 percent), building teams (41 percent), and developing staff (36 percent).  

The Executive Coaching process 

     Dialogue, fuelled through powerful questions, is at the heart of the coaching process. In coaching conversations, managers think aloud, become more reflective, and gain access to their own tacit knowledge and unexplored ideas. The coach's role is to act as a sounding board, confidant, partner, challenger, and catalyst for change. The emphasis in coaching is on building the manager’s ability to deal with the issues using his or her own decision-making skills, as against telling him or her specific actions to undertake. Since executive coaching addresses specific performance or behavioral gaps, it is more effective than general-purpose training because it gives high-performing busy managers an opportunity to reflect on feedback, focus on developing goals, and have someone to hold them accountable for executing their goals. The confidential coaching relationship also creates a safe space for managers to share their concerns. Managers who engage in a coaching relationship can expect to experience fresh perspectives on personal challenges and opportunities, enhanced thinking and decision making skills, enhanced interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence in carrying out their chosen work and life roles.

 The Coaching Relationship Roadmap 

     The CEO and the senior leadership team will identify high performing managers who can benefit from executive coaching. Tentatively, the objective is to groom them for further responsibility and develop them to become even more effective in their current roles. Specific objectives can be defined during the pre-coaching discussion. The Coach will gather confidential 360-degree feedforward about the coachee managers from concerned stakeholders to identify strengths and development areas. The initial coaching relationship will be for 6 months with 6 to 9 coaching sessions within this period. The session schedule will be discussed with the coachee; typically, the coach meets more frequently in the first half of the period to get the momentum going. The details of each session are confidential between the coach and the coachee. A progress report will be submitted by the coach along with feedback from the coachee - mid-term - to the CEO / senior management team.