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Behind the Coaching Curtain: Coaching Brings The Leader Out of Managers

Behind the Business Coaching Curtain: Bringing The Leader Out of Managers

I am often asked, “What do you do?” resulting with the typical answer.  “I am an executive coach.”  Since people have heard of that but do not really know what that is or business coachingwhat it looks like, they stop asking questions.  In honor of International Coaching Week I would like to answer those questions never asked.

What does it mean to be an executive coach?

Well, it is a process whereby someone (the client) hires a coach to achieve specific goals.   Those goals are determined prior to or during the first several meetings.  They are (if the coach is any good) SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable and Timely.   Meaning you will know if you achieve those goals or if you fall short of those goals.  During the coaching process there is assessment, resource sharing, clarification and accountability along the way to track and move toward success.

What if I do not really know what I want to achieve?  The coach will walk you through a process to identify areas to improve such as the case of most internal engagements seeking “better leaders” or “making leaders out of managers” or “leadership development.”  Those are broad topics and esoteric in nature but when you see it you recognize it as a good thing.   The coach will help you identify blind spots that, with improvement, become less of a liability and more of an asset.   The term blind spot comes from the Johari Window where perspectives are either in our conscious or blind to us.  Some of our behaviors are known to us and some are unknown.  While certain behaviors are unimportant, the ones that create problems are often the ones that are unseen and critical to your success.  Coaching can identify these behaviors and create a path to sustainable improvement.

Is a coach for people about to be fired?   The process of engaging a coach certainly can be introduced when a leader is in jeopardy of losing their position, respect, team or other important variables.   More often, coaching is afforded to only those employees that warrant investment or are believed to have a strong future with the organization.  Coaching not only shows great faith in you as an employee but aligns behavior with corporate values and initiatives.  Coaching also brings into play personal aspirations that may not have been originally in the discussion but could be strategically strong for the organization.

What happens in business coaching?  When you are in a corporate setting there are guidelines set by the contract.  They could look very similar outside of the external partnership but are equally important to align visible success.

  • Goals – You and your coach will outline goals that align with the needs of the organization.  There are plenty of “leadership development” goals that work to the client and the corporation’s advantage.   If you are engaging with a coach on your own, be sure to “contract” with the coach to ensure you both agree what success will look like and what timeframe is appropriate.
  • Assessments – your coach will help you clearly understand your current situation and identify blocks and resources.  This is where a 360 degree feedback report will be used.  This report gives those around you an opportunity to contribute to your success in the form of stating their understanding of how you present yourself.    MBTI, DISC or other behavioral assessments are used to provide insight to your behavior and how your behavior reacts to other types of occurrences.   Gallup’s Strengths identifies your particular areas of natural or preferred talents.  There are many other ways to get information that you might want to know but these are standard.
  • Shadow the client in real time – the coach might “shadow” the leader in situations that have proven challenging, stressful or beyond the understanding of the client.  Shadowing simply means attending meetings or working side by side with the client to see how they react in the moment.  This is generally done with a spirit of transparency and a strong desire to make changes quickly. When enlisting those around you as accountability partners, change is bound to happen.
  • Self-reporting feedback loop – when meeting regularly with your coach, you will learn to self-assess your progress.   Tactics, resources or alternatives to your current behavior are introduced in this period.
  • Field work – the only way to improve your leadership presence is to try new behaviors, reactions or strategies.  The coach will work with what you bring to the meetings, but the real change is up to you.

I would like to be a coach, how did you get to be a coach? My path was one through award winning successes and ankle twisting foibles in the corporate setting.   I was always fascinated by human behavior.   Studying communication in school, mass communication to advertising audiences and in retail settings, a graduate degree in Organizational Management Development and a fairly expensive coaching degree which allowed me to be certified led me to the point where I could begin coaching professionally.   2500 hours of coaching later, I am a coach.  Do you need all of that?  There are many paths to your future and a coach can help you identify one that works for you.

executive coachBusiness Coaching works!  With focus on anything it grows with time and attention.  Behavior is no different and improves with simple awareness.  Shining skills come, not only with practice but intentional skillful practice.  The return on investment (ROI) published on coaching has numbers so big they are almost silly.  Retention and reduction in absenteeism, improved safety records, delivering projects on time and in budget or simply being promoted can return your investment tenfold during the lifetime of your career.

Warning – Coaching is not a permanent state.  The coach should be working with you to deeply understand your own strength, personality and behaviors to ensure your own success.  The field work and self-awareness is where you grow your own power.   The goals help you define who you want to present.  Your dependence on a coach should not grow but should diminish through the coaching engagement.  It is true you may want to revisit again to improve new skills or your leadership brand, but make sure the development is yours.

Contact Us Today for an Executive Coach to Strengthen Leadership in Your Organization

When you want help developing leaders from managers at all levels, coaching can help.  If you need ideas on how to become a coach or create a comprehensive leadership development program, contact Pat Weiland, Executive Coach and President at Sage Strategies.

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