Coaching & Leadership: Together For Better
6 Minute Read
“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached can never reach their maximum capabilities.”
- Bob Nardelli, CEO Home Depot
In the last couple of years, articles and stories portraying the rise of coaching have become increasingly common, exposing more people to the benefits of this tool. Already a well-known practice among top executives and leaders, coaching is reaching ever more people, regardless of their position. And the reason is simple, it works.
Essence of Coaching
One of the first uses of the word coaching arose in the 1930's, and it was slang for a tutor carrying a student through an exam. Like so, the process can be described as a way to transport people from where they are, to where they want to be. Could people get there without coaching? Possibly yes. What coaching does is accelerate results, giving us additional power to reach our potential.
Much like an enzyme catalyzes reactions, meaning, speeds up processes that are vital to our functioning and well-being, coaching facilitates and expedites the human development process by advancing awareness, new skills, and behaviors, as well as greater respect for ourselves and others.
Coaching is about:
- Awareness and clarity
- Empowered choices
- Embracing new challenges
- Improving or transforming behaviors
- Developing skills
- Unlocking potential
- Improving Performance
- Commitment to values and goals
- Greater integrity
With Coaching becoming an increasingly common practice within organizations, research about the effectiveness and benefits of coaching is more relevant than ever. According to studies conducted by the International Coach Federation, Coaching improves:
- Work Performance
- Business Management
- Time Management
- Team Effectiveness
- Communication Skills
- Work-Life Balance
Essence of Leadership
Leadership is fundamentally a human process, one of becoming our best selves and creating the conditions so that other people can unfold, manifest their potential while co-creating the optimal conditions for growth and evolution of the system as a whole.
It’s about being mature and conscious, aware of when outdated protective strategies are triggered and able to develop the behavioral width and agility to respond from courage and wisdom instead.
Leadership is about supporting people so that they’re being and doing their best, thus contributing to the organization’s mission and goals. It’s about modeling the behaviors and traits that we want to instill in our culture. It’s about taking care of our people and giving them the space, tools, and conditions for their best and whole selves to flourish.
It’s about trusting people, surrendering control and empowering them to come up with solutions and best ways to implement them. A leader who can’t trust a collaborator with a certain task or project is not a leader but a manager.
Leadership is about identifying and establishing mutually beneficial collaborations, partnerships, and relationships that move the organization forward. It’s about building teams and building bridges across different domains and perspectives while learning from and acknowledging each one.
It’s about unwavering commitment, the kind that unleashes resilience, resourcefulness, and humility to adjust the sails when needed, continuously sailing towards the purpose.
It’s about constantly returning to the why of every effort, infusing intention and purpose in both the “small” everyday tasks as well as the “gigantic leaps forward”.
So, if leadership is about unfolding and manifesting our potential, coaching is the transformation accelerator, driving us faster to our desired outcomes.
Coaching & Leadership
It’s not uncommon for leaders to struggle to have access to full range information and feedback. Once it reaches the top, information is often edited and lost. Many times, leaders get their feedback from similar level executives, and miss out on important insights and feedback from every department and every level within the organization.
Through a coaching partnership, a leader is able to awaken to blind spots, increase awareness and accuracy of strengths and weaknesses, and develop the skills to reach organizational and personal goals. The effects of the process often cascade down the organization, impacting and shaping not only culture but outcomes.
By experiencing coaching first-hand, a leader is also better equipped to inform his leadership style in this methodology. Using the power of empathy, deep listening, and effective questions to support and challenge workers to rise to their best and bridge the gap between potential and performance.
Key Leadership Skills
As a leader, you’re one of your own greatest assets. How you show up to yourself and others will set the tone for your organization in terms of the courage, trust, openness, collaboration, and innovative thinking that is possible. It’s, therefore, vital that you, as a leader, are aware of which thought and behavioral patterns elicit or undermine these qualities, and seek to develop them in yourself and others.
In their book, Scaling Leadership, Robert Anderson and William Adams identified the key creative competencies for leadership, that fall into five categories. The categories are:
- Achieving: the ability to develop and implement a strategy that achieves results;
- Systems Awareness: the ability to design organizational systems that improve performance and outcomes;
- Authenticity: willingness to act out of integrity, courage, and truth;
- Self-Awareness: presence, balance, and wisdom;
- Relating: ability to establish, and develop relationships, build teams, foster collaboration, and people development.
By working with an executive coach, leaders are able to expedite the process of developing these key skills, taking charge of their own progress, and modeling the willingness and self-initiative to become their most mature, best selves. Don't we all want that?