Coaching can enhance personal performance. One of the reasons that coaching works is that adults learn best when they work on real life issues, combining existing know-how with new skills and insight to address opportunities and challenges that impact personal and business success.
Coaching is an unregulated industry. This means that anyone, regardless of their training or expertise, can call themselves a coach. There are different types of coaching, including business coaching, life coaching, performance coaching and executive coaching. Each has a specific focus and requires different capabilities on the part of the coach.
More than motivation
Just engaging a coach can bring with it feelings of motivation and renewed focus. This is known as the “expectancy effect”. It works in a similar way to a placebo, in that just taking action brings about a change in mindset in the direction of the problem to be solved. However, coaching should be more than motivation, otherwise there are plenty of self-help books, audios and TED talks that can achieve the same effect. Insight-driven strategies and courses of action are what make a difference. These are the HOW of transformational learning and change.
So before engaging a coach it pays to think through exactly what you are seeking and understand how to find a coach who can meet that need.
Whilst there has been a trend in large organisations to appoint internal coaches, it is not generally a viable proposition for small to medium size businesses. Confidentiality is also an important issue, particularly for business owners and senior leaders.
Self-reliance, personal initiative and autonomy are among the qualities that attract people to business ownership. People use who they are and what they know to transform a vision into reality. Yet managing a business involves multiple demands, including business uncertainty, competition, work overload, and role ambiguity. Over time these can deplete personal resources.
Executive coaching can be a viable for option for building a range of skills, including managing people; building teams, influencing, communication and conflict management. At a personal level coaching can be helpful in building adaptive skills that mitigate negative stress, exhaustion and burnout. Coaching can therefore be a wise preventative health strategy.
Self-leadership coaching can provide leaders an edge by raising awareness of ingrained patterns of behaviour that others may be working around, yet which none-the-less, may be limiting creativity, innovation and productivity.
Executive coaching is more than a conversation. It is best seen as a systematic process involving a number of key elements:
- A collaborative relationship between the coachee and coach
- A reflective dialogue that encourages self-awareness and insight
- Defined goals and outcomes with progress reviews
- Use of methods grounded in psychology/behavioural sciences, adult learning
- Use of high quality assessment instruments, where appropriate
- Appropriate self-disclosure on the part of the coach
Qualities to look for in an executive coach
- Expertise in terms of qualifications, accreditations and experience
- Ability to grasp the different aspects of the coachee’s challenges
- Appreciation of the business context
- A good listener
- The coach is able to provide a coherent explanation of all the factors pertaining to the issues at hand
- The coach is able to articulate the mechanisms of change to be addressed as part of a coaching plan
- Is able to work with emotions as required
- Is flexible and can provide a tailored approach
- Is able to challenge and provide constructive feedback
- The coach “walks the talk” in terms of their declared coaching style
- The coach stays within the limits of their competence and maintains professional boundaries
- The coach maintains ongoing professional development and peer supervision.