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There are a couple of different interpretations of leadership coaching floating around out there. You’ve probably come across several definitions from even a quick online search.
Interestingly, not all of them are wrong. In reality, coaching is a broad term that covers a lot of ground.
After all, any kind of coaching that improves your leadership capacity – even on a one-on-one basis, can be considered leadership coaching.
In this blog, we’ll look at leadership coaching as it applies to when a coach is contracted to work with a company’s leadership team. We’ll investigate the types of things that a coach works on with his or her clients and what the benefits they experience are. It might help you to decide whether leadership coaching is right for you (or your company).
What is leadership coaching?
The truest definition of the term leadership coaching applies to when a contracted coach improves the leadership abilities at a given company.
Think of it like instruction for the management team of a business. It’s normally targeted at the executive roles such as team leaders, directors or managers. Leadership coaching can also be targeted to women leaders. It can help get all the leaders of an organisation on the same page and get things running smoothly.
If you’re an employee, you might think it’s an excessive or silly perk for the leadership team. Or you might think that it’s long overdue if you suffer from the effects of bad management behaviours.
Or, if you’re a manager, the whole “leadership-coaching-thing” might seem dull and boring. Well, it is homework after all, but it can also be really valuable from a professional development perspective so it shouldn’t be ignored.
The reason that more and more businesses rely on leadership coaching is that it can help the company reach its goals. It can also help leaders understand why they aren’t achieving business goals, which can be just as powerful.
In short, leadership coaching is like an exclusive learning opportunity that’s adapted to help a specific business or business leader, to make better decisions.
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What is a leadership coach?
A leadership coach, sometimes also referred to as an executive coach, is a trained professional, normally with experience in the industry that your business operates in, that seeks to improve the way your business operates. To improve how the company performs, it focuses on the leadership decisions, morale and abilities.
Consider that business acumen and management skills are tough to learn on one’s own. A college degree or certification program will only get you so far. Real-world experience is necessary to help shape a new manager into an experienced leader. A leadership coach is simply a contracted professional that helps encourage and facilitate that process of learning and improvement.
A coach is usually a professional from outside of your organisation. That way, you don’t have to worry about internal conflicts or favouritism. A coach is an expert in the methods of ensuring the experience is professional and maintains your company’s values and integrity.
A great thing about a coach coming to your company as an outside entity is that a fresh pair of eyes can be a powerful revelation. An outside perspective can point out the weaknesses of how your company operates. They can include things like making bad hiring decisions, ignoring company values, making poor financial or operational decisions and treating employees poorly.
A leadership coach is an excellent source of information and they are trained in managing the difficult discussions.
One of the most comforting things about a coach is that they normally have a broad set of experience across the business world. As messed up as you think your leadership team’s situation might be, there’s a good chance that an experienced leadership coach has seen it all and knows how to help.
What to expect from leadership coaching
If you’ve gotten this far and are still wondering “so what does a leadership coach actually do?”, then don’t worry. Here it is.
One of the most important things a coach does is to identify the management strengths and weaknesses of your business. It’s really difficult to do this by yourself. Strengths and weaknesses are often invisible without the luxury of having seen the inner workings of other businesses.
For example, your company might be highly proficient at winning new customers and closing sales. After years of experience at your company, you’re accustomed to that level of performance and haven’t had a chance to compare your outcomes to an industry average. A coach helps you understand those strengths, build on them and use them to your advantage.
On top of that, sometimes your weaknesses are even more difficult to spot, let alone discuss. A coach will normally do interviews and put together an analysis of your business health in order to diagnose the problems.
Whether your company is held back by bad hiring decisions, bad performance or poor networking abilities, or some other business ailment, a leadership coach can bring a wealth of experience to help identify and remedy those pitfalls.
One of the ways they can make tangible improvements to your leadership situation is by recommending development opportunities. For instance, a coach might recommend targeted training sessions, custom exercises, team-building activities or networking opportunities.
At its simplest, a leadership coach is all about accessing long-term positive change for your business and for its leaders.
Is leadership coaching right for you?
Leadership coaching can be an intimidating process for the uninitiated. However, for many businesses, a core part of their corporate strategy is to help develop and encourage the leadership capacity in the organisation.
The International Coach Federation suggests that 86% of companies that use coaching report that they recoup all their investment and more as a result of the positive effects that arise from coaching. That’s because improving leadership decisions can help your company make smarter decisions, add value and drastically reduce mistakes such as wrong hires or misusing company resources.
If you’re considering enlisting the help of a leadership coach, remember that it won’t be a magical one-size-fits-all solution to your problems. It will require effort and dedication to improve your leadership capacity.
That’s because a coach doesn’t do the work for you. But they show you where to look for issues and increase your awareness to prioritise how to improve your company.
At the Upskill Coach blog, we publish lots of helpful resources for helping individuals and entire organisations improve performance and experience lasting professional growth.