The world’s best business leaders recognize the importance of continuous learning and development. Yet finding the optimal development method is not always easy. Business school courses certainly have their place, but can be too time consuming or theoretical. Increasingly one to one coaching is the solution. It is individually tailored to the needs of the individual client. It provides time for reflection, problem-solving, and a confidential, independent sounding board to develop ideas and move them into action.
Deliver results. How does a leader shift from being busy to being genuinely effective? How do they use time most effectively?
Strategic perspective. How do leaders step back to identify their most important tasks? We support leaders to re-focus on the key levers to grow their businesses.
Leadership style. Is the leader creating the kind of environment in which their team can give of their best? We coach the leader to gain the energy and commitment of their team, not just their compliance.
Delegation. Senior executives need to focus on their most value adding roles and get other issues off their plate. We coach leaders to identify what to do themselves and what to delegate to others.
A credible and experienced business person with a proven track record of coaching leaders to accomplish their professional and personal aims. The coach creates a working relationship of mutual trust, appreciation and respect. They bring a wide repertoire of models and techniques to help the client raise awareness of their current leadership approach and identify changes required to stretch to the next level.
As executives move up the organization they need to shift from having good technical skills to also having good leadership skills. This requires thinking more strategically and changing from doing the work themselves to producing results through others. It means learning new ways of doing and being and, perhaps more challenging, letting go of old habits and ways of thinking.
Almost everybody will feel at some point in their career progression the need to break out of familiar comfort zones. They may realise that there is an aspect of their approach that needs to change, but may struggle to identify exactly what to change. The coach helps by providing objective and constructive feedback plus a structured approach to development.
A new appointment to a more senior role wants to ensure success
Someone being fast tracked knows they have the potential to do the job but needs support to move up the experience curve
A leader has the role of change champion and needs a sounding board to ensure they take the best approach
The job of a senior executive is a lonely one. An external coach acts as a confidante as well as providing supportive challenge.
Professional sportsmen recognise that whilst they are good at their chosen sport, they need an objective party to listen, provide perspective and encouragement. Coaching is about making top performers even better.
The first meeting between the individual and coach sets expectations and checks personal chemistry. The coach explains how the programme works and finds out what the executive wants from it. Coach and client agree how progress will be reviewed at intervals with the programme sponsor.
The review takes the form of a structured discussion lasting 2 or 3 hours. It covers the executive’s current situation, ambitions and aspirations, and his or her personal values, competencies and skills. It looks at the individual’s life and career to date. Psychometric assessment, 360 degree feedback and on-the-job observation can also be included at this stage. The review provides the client with a mirror that identifies both strengths and areas for development. This helps shape the agenda for the coaching programme. The coach and individual then work together to define the goals that relate to that agenda.
The executive’s ownership and commitment to ambitious goals are at the heart of the coaching programme. They are usually a mix of professional and personal items – after all, work is a big part of life, but not the only part. The coach will help the individual think not only about their goals, but also the actions and attitudes required to achieve them. Measures and evaluation of progress are reviewed at regular intervals.
Regular sessions (initially fortnightly and then monthly) form the core of the coaching programme. Each session is structured to:
Establish and focus on a specific topic or goal within the context of the overall programme goals
Explore the current situation and provide techniques to enable the client to ‘think out of the box’ to discover new solutions
Identify key action points to implement between sessions
The coach can be available for telephone coaching and e-mail exchange, as required.
Reviews take place regularly between the coach and the line manager or HR director as agreed in the original contract. The purpose is to ensure that the programme is providing the anticipated benefits. Details of the coaching remain confidential.
Alan was a great sales director – but could he become a GM? Our brief was to coach Alan to ‘lead at the next level’ i.e. move from functional specialist to become a strong GM who empowers people to deliver great results.
At the start of this assignment Alan comments that at team meetings only a few people speak up. Alan knows that the level of engagement and contribution has to change if the business is to realize its potential.
The process begins with 360 feedback with two aims: 1) to explore Alan’s current/ideal leadership style and 2) to get input to the strategic direction: Where are we trying to get to as a business? What objectives should we go for? What kind of culture do we want? What issues and obstacles do we need to tackle to get there?
The feedback is an eye opener – Alan realizes that to engage people he needs to shift from his previously coercive almost dictatorial ‘tell’ style to more of a ‘listen and lead’ coaching style.
Alan asks Ron to facilitates an away day to align the team around a new vision, goals and plan for execution. On the first day of the session the discussion is like pulling teeth. It’s not so easy for the leader to shift from a coercive to a more collaborative style – people still hang on to expecting to be told what to do. It requires taking a risk and going beyond comfort zones for people to start to do their own thinking.
Fortunately, there is time and space for the group to find their voices. Gradually one after another they share hopes and dreams for the business. These are then translated into more concrete objectives. By the end of the day the team have jointly developed a set of stretch goals.
The next day the direct reports to the top team – about 20 people – have been invited to participate. The day starts with Alan summarizing the nub of the strategic vision. The members of Alan’s top team act as facilitators of the next level down.
Alan decides to give his leadership a very human face. He is challenging about what the team can achieve and very personally honest about his dreams for himself and the business. He encourages people to ‘name the elephants in the room’ – in other words identify the obstacles that might derail moving forward.
A number of undiscussable issues emerge such as reward, diversity and co-operation across functional divides. These ‘dead elephants’ are tackled honestly and courageously. The conversations are not easy, but as the group works through the issues openly and without blaming or shaming the level of trust and energy rises.
Everyone agrees it’s been a tremendous away day. However, people also insist that it must not be a one off ‘flash in the pan’. They agree a series of monthly coaching meetings to sustain the momentum.
The team presents their strategy to Exco and gets it signed off – Alan is delighted that for the first time ever he needs to provide very little input. His people have stepped up to leadership and this creates enormous pride and energy.
Ron provides individual and team coaching to support the team to execute the plan. They deliver exceptional results, exceed budget and realize above double-digit growth.
Alan’s reputation spreads – he becomes known as an exceptional leader who can create high performance cultures. The question about Alan is answered: “Yes, he’s proved that he can shift to the next level of leadership and yes, he does take people with him!”