In today’s complicated business environment, leadership development coaching is a tool that top level executives are embracing more than ever before. According to the Harvard Business Review, two in every five new CEO’s fail in their position within 18 months. Why, you may ask? Quite simply, they utilize antiquated leadership practices that are out of touch with the needs of today’s employees.
By contrast a study by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKeein (authors of Primal Leadership), found that as much as 79% of leadership success is connected to the leader’s ability to display emotional intelligence (EQ) and truly connect with their team members. Unfortunately, emotional intelligence is not a skill that comes naturally to many leaders. It takes time, practice and often times coaching to get just right.
Once a leader determines that coaching is required to take their business to the next steps, they generally start to question what is involved in the coaching process. As an executive coach working with leaders, this is often the first question I get when business leader is exploring the realm of leadership development coaching. In these moments, I generally turn to the definition given by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), which is the gold standard for best practices in the area of global coaching. The ICF states that coaching is an ongoing partnership that supports clients to produce fulfilling results in their both their personal and professional lives. The coaching process allows the leader to deepen their learning, improve their performance and enhance quality of life.
They next question I get from a business professional, who often has ROI in mind, is “how will it benefit our organization?” The ICF says the following, “Coaching is an interactive process that helps individuals and organizations to develop more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. As a result of coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions and more fully use their natural strengths.”
Once the client understands and can see the importance of a coaching partnership coaching and the benefits it holds for them both professionally and personally, the formal coaching process can begin.
Assessing the Situation
When starting the coaching process, it is crucial to go into each session with a clear understanding of the leader’s concerns and the things that seem to be blocking forward progress. As an executive coach, the first in-depth discussions revolve around assessing where the leader is right now – what is their current situation? Additionally, as the coach, I have a responsibility to establish a coaching agreement with the executive. This document demonstrates what is required for a successful coaching interaction with the client and gives the client a chance to agree to the pre-determined coaching process.
Forming the Coaching Relationship
The next step in the coaching relationship is to create a comfort level between the client and the coach. As an executive coach, I create a safe and supportive environment in which coaching will occur. It is my responsibility to create an atmosphere of respect and trust within the coaching relationship. The only way for coaching to be productive and successful is to create the foundation for open and honest dialogue. With that in mind, this step must be firmly in place before any forward progress can begin.
The Coach’s Role
In addition to creating a comfort level for the coachee, as a coach I have several other responsibilities. First and foremost, I must be present within each session. This means that I am fully aware, but am also open to the spontaneity of the dialogue while being open and flexible. Additionally, I should be active in my role as a listener. In order to support the leaders in which I coach, I must not only listen to what they say, but also hear them. And, I must take cues from what they are not saying to create meaning and context within the coaching conversation.
Another important part of my job as the coach is to ask questions the evoke change within the client. It is important to remember that am not there to solve problems for the client, but rather to ask the questions that will help them uncover the solutions they require. Finally, I must be able to communicate clearly and concisely with the coachee. This means that I carefully choose the words, questions and statements I use, and always consider if they will be valuable to the client as they work towards reaching their coaching goals.
Working the Plan
As an executive coach specializing in leadership development, my role is to listen and observe and create a coaching strategy to meet the client’s needs and the organizations needs. It is important to remember that the solutions and strategies that are developed are elicited from the client. My role is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources and creativity that the client already has. Combining the pure coaching with NLP tools and techniques offers the client options to shift and change ways of viewing their leadership style, as well as new styles of communicating with team members and other leaders. While I provide an objective perspective, the client is ultimately responsible for taking the steps to produce the results he or she desires in line with the required results their organization wishes to achieve.
Flexibility is crucial component in a coaching relationship. In an ideal world, the pre-determined plan will always provide the perfect solution to equip the leader in their role. However, because we live in a world of constant change, it is important to adapt as situations change. Because of this, the final step in the coaching process requires the assessment of the current plan to realistically determine if the path is still the most effective route to reach the desired results. If the answer is “no” the process must adapt to meet the current needs or situation.
In the end, each coaching partnership is unique based on the specific needs of the individual involved in the coaching conversation. If you would like to have a dialogue about the coaching process and the philosophy of the Academy of Leadership Coaching & NPL (ALCN) team, please feel free to contact us!