The business leaders I coach are often under huge pressure. They are dealing with tremendous change. They are required to incorporate many different points of view. They must manage complexity. They must to be able to create robust and innovative strategy. The potential for discord abounds; yet they must remain calm, centred and present at all times.
As a business leadership coach at the forefront of my profession, I can help.
The Business Leadership Coaching Process
My approach to leadership coaching can be envisioned as follows:
Contracting a business leadership coach
A leadership coaching relationship must involve a clear triangular contract between the business, the coachee and the coach. Typically, the contracting roll-out is as follows:
- A coaching requirement is identified by the business or executive thereof
- This requirement is then reviewed in light of the business leadership development
- The business then informs the executive re the business leadership coaching in a constructive way; the strategic value of the executive to the business is thus noted
- Typically, I will have an informal meeting with the executive’s senior and the HR director to discuss the scope of the coaching assignment and the business context etc.
- I will then inform the business re my approach, credentials, references, fees, etc.
- The executive will then be made aware of the various business coaches available
- The executive will then meet with various other available business leadership coaches to establish chemistry and discuss the leadership coaching requirements
- The executive will then confirm their choice of leadership coach to the business
- If I am successful, I am then provided with preparatory data re the business and the executive, i.e.: CVs, previous 360 or appraisal documents; a job description; relevant management reports or presentations etc.
- We then arrange our first business leadership coaching session.
The Coaching Roadmap
A leadership coaching relationship is just that: a relationship. A relationship is more than just a set of meetings. A healthy executive coaching relationship involves ongoing two-way communications. Conversations. So what can my clients expect from these conversations?
I usually follow a structured conversational model that identifies gaps. My client/s and I then discuss what to do about those gaps. For complex issues, these conversations may take place over several meetings. The coachee will be aware that there is a direction and structure to the conversation; but part of the art of coaching is to make the experience seem natural. Conversational. Fluid. So lots of questions. Good humour. Occasional heated discussion. Blunt truths. Reflective pauses. They’re all part of my leadership coaching dialogues.
I usually have at least one meeting with the coachee prior to receiving formal executive stakeholder input (the parameters of which I can contract with the coachee). This builds trust. It also means that I can ask more informed questions; and it prevents me from being put in a feedback situation. I always try to make it clear that stakeholder input is just that – input. It’s important that stakeholders know their comments, observations, and expectations will be considered and debated during the coaching session. Stakeholders can’t fix the coaching goals, however. Only the coachee can do that after a period of thinking and reflection.
Aside from inputting about a month into the coaching process, key stakeholders have the chance to input again after three months. Then, they will be asked what changes they are noticing in the coachee’s leadership performance. They will also be asked about shifting business context (organizational changes that may affect the coachee, for example).
Together with the HR function, mechanisms will now be designed for measuring the effectiveness of the leadership coaching process. Placing the prime accountability for feedback on the results of the coaching process with the coachee is a priority, however.
Other Learning Resources
During a business leadership coaching assignment it’s crucial that other sources of learning are utilised to further the coaching goals. These resources might include MBA studies.
Example: a senior executive I coached was committed to becoming more strategic. My client had already enjoyed a successful experience on an MBA programme. My client and I therefore discussed transferring that learning from the MBA case study to his everyday working role – something the executive was subsequently able to do.
Example: my business leadership coachee was a practising Buddhist. During the leadership coaching assignment, we therefore considered how she might incorporate Buddhist ethics into her business leadership role – something she subsequently did.
By incorporating embedded sources of education and experience in my executive clients into my leadership coaching, I enable them to tap into deep, dormant sources of inspiration.
The Deep Now
Towards the end of the leadership coaching assignment, I typically prepare an executive coaching report to the leadership coachee only. This report will take account of the observations of key stakeholders: what has changed? What’s improved? What must be focussed on so that the leadership coachee’s development gains momentum and endures? My business leadership coaching is, after all, an investment in the future of senior executives and their businesses. This investment finds its source in the deep now of the coachee.
A business leadership coaching assignment may continue for months. Fundamental personal change may take years, however. Such transformation must be supported by the coachee’s business’ internal performance management and learning and development structures.
By the end of the leadership coaching assignment (if not before), the coachee should know and be able to tell me and key stakeholders exactly what they need to continue to develop.