Leadership coaching has become one of the most effective and important activities for developing leaders in organizations. In fact, a recent poll conducted by ATD found that 47 percent of all respondents ranked coaching and feedback as most critical to their organization’s success in the next three years.
Many organizations recognize the need and value of providing coaching to leaders as part of a leadership development process. Research shows that people that have used a coach indicate that it is the single most valuable leadership development activity they have experienced. So, what is holding so many organizations back from providing their employees with the value of leadership coaching? You guessed it: cost and time. We also find that many organizations don’t know what coaching is, who should receive it, and how it should be done.
What type of coaching?
There are many different types of organization coaches: career coaches, life coaches, performance coaches, and so on. For our purposes, we are going to focus on the role of a performance coach used for leadership development.
Performance coaching is about helping individuals to set and reach goals for both personal and business development. Most times this is an ongoing process where the person meets with the coach on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). During these meetings the coach helps the person set goals and overcome obstacles for success. The coach provides accountability and support so that the person can reach individual goals. This process is often aided by using a 360-degree feedback assessment, where employees are able to get a well-rounded view of their performance.
Who gets coaching?
Effective coaching can benefit everyone, but most organizations need to be able to focus their development resources where they have the greatest impact. For this reason, many companies provide coaching to their executive and senior leaders, high potential leaders, and some of those key players that might be exhibiting poor performance or ineffective behaviors.
Who does the coaching?
Coaching can be conducted by an outside coach, an internal coach, a supervisor, or a peer. The following are some examples:
Many organizations choose to use an outside coach to work with senior leaders. Often, an internal coach is not in a position within the organization where he or she could be considered a legitimate coach, or there may be confidentiality concerns about using someone inside the company as a coach. When using an outside coach, it is important to find those that have extensive coaching experience and relate well with the individuals being coached. Using an outside coach is also quite common with, for want of better words, “problem children.”
Internal coaches are often effective with mid-level managers in the organization. These coaches need to be able to establish a relationship of trust with the participants so that there is no concern that what is discussed will be used against the participant. Leadership coaching skills do not come naturally to most people. Internal coaches should be skilled at providing coaching and developing others. These abilities are often the result of solid training and practice.
Boss as coach
Certainly, a person’s boss should also be his or her coach. Unfortunately, the boss may not have the skills or the time to be effective. Supervisors should play an important role in any coaching scenario by providing support and follow-up to ensure that progress is taking place. As with other internal coaches, a supervisor’s coaching effectiveness can be greatly improved through training.
Peer as coach
Peer coaching can be very effective and economical. The idea is that leaders are paired up to provide coaching to each other. They take turns playing the role as coach and help each other reach development goals. It is important to create the right pairing, provide training, and set proper expectations. These groups also need follow-up to ensure that coaching is happening on a regular basis.
You may find that you are using some or all of these leadership coaching methods in your organization. To get the greatest value from the process we recommend that you use a 360-degree feedback assessment, set a development plan (think SMART goals), and make sure that your coaching process is consistent and ongoing.