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Organisations and leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of coaching in successful leadership. But whilst there are some who’ve eagerly jumped on board, others have been more hesitant, unsure as to the benefits of coaching and whether the time needed to become a coach is worth the required investment.
In our Leader as a Coach programmes we often see reluctant attendees, who’ve been sent along by their own leader or HR department. The programme almost always provides a kind of ‘light bulb’ moment for these people. It’s not that we reveal some great secret, more that coaching gets you to approach and manage conversations in a different way; a way that brings more effective and successful outcomes.
So, what are the benefits of coaching?
Coaching heightens accountability
Perhaps the most common challenge leaders face is holding their people to account. Coaching requires, encourages and enables accountability because a coach must hold their coachees to account for what they have said they will do. If it’s not been done, then why not? What challenges prevented them from completing and was there another course of action they could have taken? Coaching challenges people to look at their cognitive reasoning and the validity of that reasoning. The focus coaching places on goal setting and action planning reinforces this further.
Coaching provides a focus on goals
Most organisations use some kind of goal setting process (most commonly SMART goals), but how many actually follow through and monitor goal achievement? Coaching provides an excellent framework within which goals can be set, monitored and adjusted, where necessary.
Coaching aids buy-in and commitment
A coach does not give the coachee the options. Instead, the coachee is invited to explore each of the possible options and their associated outcomes. By challenging the coachee to see the big picture, the coach puts control firmly into the hands of the coachee, meaning that any decisions they arrive at are far more likely to gain buy-in and commitment from the coachee.
Coaching heightens the leader’s confidence
Leaders who have coaching skills approach difficult conversations and conflict management with far less fear and trepidation than those who don’t. That’s because coaching provides the skills required to manage these types of conversation and reach an effective solution. The leader’s confidence in handling all types of interactions is heightened.
Coaching heightens self-awareness
Through the coaching process the coachee explores problems and challenges, looking in more detail at their own perspective, the strength of the evidence in support of that perspective and then considering different perspectives and possible courses of action. Heightened self-awareness is critical to Emotional Intelligence and therefore to relationship-management and self-management. It also facilitates goal achievement, (mentioned above) challenging coachees to explore some of the barriers that are preventing goal success.
Coaching increases trust
A leader who coaches their team is much more likely to have trust-based relationships with their team and a team who trust and respect their leader will be more inclined to listen and to follow, even when the leader asks the team to go in a direction they may not have otherwise chosen.
A team are also more likely to come to a leader who coaches them with their problems and challenges. Where this relationship is not in place, individuals can quickly become disengaged and unhappy.
In conclusion, coaching is a win-win for leaders. It not only heightens the engagement and performance of the individuals who are coached, but it also arms the coach with the skills required to build better relationships, drive results and secure successful outcomes. As a development tool, coaching builds stronger teams, improves communications, encourages and facilitates personal responsibility and ultimately, drives bottom-line results – can you afford not to coach your team?