Our assignments begin by understanding the role and context of the leader and the key developmental challenges that he or she is facing. This conversation is often structured around our own 5-Step Leadership Framework, which helps leaders and managers to be clear about their key areas for development. Following a chemistry meeting, usually face-to-face but sometimes by Skype or phone, we recommend a coaching approach. Coaching assignments vary in duration: perhaps 1-3 sessions to prepare for a specific business challenge, 4-6 sessions to work on developing specific leadership capabilities, and 7+ sessions to explore and cultivate certain core leadership qualities.
What do leaders focus on in coaching?
One of the virtues of coaching is that it can be tailored to the individual needs of the leader. Having said that, there is a fair degree of overlap across the different goals that leaders identify. Recent coaching assignments have targeted development in the following areas:
- to develop authentic leadership
- to adapt quickly to a new senior role
- to operate as an effective member of a team, in addition to being an executive leader of a function
- to enhance personal impact and organisational influence
- to strengthen interpersonal skills, complementing existing technical or functional skills
- to build team effectiveness
- to understand and harness personal talents and signature strengths
- to clarify aspirations, goals and career direction
- to manage pressure productively, making time for strategic issues as well as immediate operational demands
- to develop productive working relationships
- to work with perceptual feedback from colleagues about behaviour and performance.
Assignments often evolve in their focus during the initial sessions and the work typically encompasses a number of primary goals.
In much of our coaching work, particularly where a leader is motivated to explore their core qualities, we are known for getting leaders to look quite deeply at who they are as a person. We invite leaders to see their work roles as just one of the ways in which they choose to express their talents in their lives, and we encourage them to explore how to connect their deepest sense of purpose to the opportunities within their leadership role. This means exploring both the personal and practical journey, as shown in the figure. We believe it is the integration of personal awareness with practical new behaviours that gives rise to authentic leadership.