What to Expect from Leadership Coaching

Posted Monday, September 10, 2012

Allen Slade

Gifts can be a source of joy or a nasty surprise. If your company provides you a leadership coach, how should you react? Heartfelt delight or muted disappointment? Is leadership coaching the perfect gift for you? Or is it the ugly sweater?

Leadership coaching is a powerful gift when it works as designed. Coaching increases your ability to achieve results and build healthy relationships. It helps you stretch into your best self as a leader.

A talented and wise coach (preferably accredited) will help you stretch into your best self. The coaching conversation can be the high point of your week. Your coach’s insightful listening and powerful questions can trigger new insights into your leadership. The best coaches assume that you are the expert on your own situation. Your coach will draw out your expertise through inquiry, curiosity and gentle challenges. The mini-experiments you design together can lead to breakthroughs in your influence and your presence as a leader.

Leadership coaching comes in different flavors:

Coaching for achievement maximizes your performance in your current role. The leader wants to move from good to great. Your leadership coach will help you focus on the behaviors and thinking necessary to supercharge performance. For achievement coaching to have maximum value, you need to have already learned the ropes. That means 6 months or more in your current job.

Coaching in transition helps you adjust to a new role so you can have a fast start. Your coach will help you learn the ropes – making sense of your new role. Rapid sense-making will help you adjust your behavior, thinking and expectations to accelerate maximum performance in your new role. Transition coaching may start before, during, or soon after the leader has moved into a new role. Sometimes, recruiting firms will provide a leadership coach to ensure that the placement has the greatest odds of success.

Coaching in crisis is designed to turn around an unsuccessful situation. The leader’s performance is unacceptable in one or more ways, and the leader and the organization want to improve the situation. Successful crisis coaching requires the leader, HR and the leader’s manager to agree to have mutual candor, commitment to change and the expectation that things can improve.

When can the gift of coaching turn out to be an ugly sweater? One example is coaching in crisis when the organization has already decided to end the leader’s employment. Another example is when the leader’s confidentiality is violated.

Most ICF accredited coaches take steps to avoid these situations. If no turnaround is possible, Slade & Associates does not offer coaching in crisis. (However, if the leader’s employment is at an end, we gladly offer career coaching as part of outplacement packages.) We always require a written agreement of strict confidentiality. Our approach to leadership coaching safeguards our dialogue, maximizes your insight and drives intelligent change for your organization.

Leadership coaching is an incredible benefit. If your organization offers you a leadership coach, accept the gift gladly. Check on the coach’s credentials. Make sure your coach, your organization and you agree on the purpose of the coaching. Demand coaching confidentiality. Then, prepare to be surprised and delighted as you unwrap the insights and wisdom of leadership coaching.


One comment on “What to Expect from Leadership Coaching

  1. Pingback: Practicing Leadership Skills in Safety

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