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Coaching and Leadership PDF Print E-mail

Coaching and Leadership - Frances White Executive CoachCoaching work with leaders often focuses on setting an inspiring vision, deciding and reviewing strategies, managing key stakeholder relationships and leading business teams effectively to deliver those plans. Leaders often want to be more effective and impactful when coaching their own teams and developing talent and have a big shift to make in letting go of providing solutions, making key decisions and fixing things. They want to be delegating and empowering by letting go of the need to keep control, which is tiring, unsustainable and often creates a bottleneck - things can’t be done without their approval. They want to learn to trust their teams more and therefore feel able to release control, plus be providing learning and wisdom to inspire peak performance, which will further build their trust.

Coaching can help to explore all of these things and to challenge the underlying beliefs and patterns which hold people back from greater trust and flexibility. It can enable leaders to work through a clear, structured plan for how they will achieve a more empowered, innovative team in which the leader’s role is to be coaching, setting direction, learning and reviewing. Leaders add value to the organisation by the quality of their thinking, inspiring and relationships. They often need to learn to let go of doing stuff in order to have the time and space for this different focus.

Leadership coaching requires an approach that is focused on those aspects of their performance that will enable the rest of the organisation to grow and develop. It is also important to help leaders to explore their thinking, challenge them to provide new insights and innovative strategies to develop the business and influence the direction of the organisation.

Coaching helps to develop conscious awareness of thinking and behaviour patterns that are often unconscious, thereby giving individuals more choice about how they do things. The coach makes no judgements about what is right or wrong, rather they look at what is working and achieving the desired outcomes and what is not. The coach is a thinking partner, a sounding board, a mirror and a different lens through which to view things.

Coaching challenges leaders’ thinking, offers them honest, direct feedback and observations which they may not otherwise receive. Frances spends much of her time coaching senior managers and directors, helping them to fine tune what they do, helping them through change, helping them with influencing colleagues/shareholders, helping them to improve the quality of their relationships with clients or teams. Frances has coached over 200 Directors, Non-Execs, Trustees, Senior Management teams, other coaches and leaders.

Areas of special focus -

Changing their style -

Leaders are asking for coaching to provide and facilitate new perspectives, enabling greater self-awareness and new possibilities and choices. They want quality time to reflect on and review the success of their behaviours and communication style, perhaps considering how to change their style to achieve more. They value an intellectually robust and challenging thinking partner with whom to do this in confidence and without judgement or agenda.

Leaders may have graduated from one area of the business where a particular style has enabled success but this style is no longer appropriate at a leadership level and they are not engaging with their teams or are not influencing key stakeholders or may be creating conflict with other leaders. They may be lacking in the style or finesse they would like for communicating their vision and direction. They may be too introvert to be capturing the attention and energy of others. They may be used to bulldozing their way to achieving things and now need to influence and get support.

Managing their relationships -

Leaders want to explore and generate new ways of working with others that enables greater success and engagement, including exploring beliefs, communication patterns, attitudes, match/mismatch issues, listening, congruence and values/principles. Mostly they really want to influence more, where they cannot simply have the last word and make the decision on how to proceed.

Sometimes they have reached a point where their technical expertise or sales-focused rapport building doesn’t any longer feel enough or they doubt that they are influencing. Sometimes they have had a confrontation - or avoided one - and do not know how to resolve the situation in which they perceive there is tension. Sometimes they can no longer just ‘get their own way’. Coaching helps them to create conscious strategies for managing great relationships with all stakeholders, in order to have the desired influence which will be key to their success.

Maintaining their balance -

Many leaders are simply over-stretching themselves and cannot read any more emails, add any more hours to the working week or tasks to the already overwhelming pile. They want to know how to get more from their time, so that they can fit business deliverables and tasks with other important priorities - strategic thinking, inspiring leadership, people development, coaching or mentoring, reflecting, planning and reviewing. They also know that as role models, they are creating a culture of over-working which is not sustainable.

A leader has a responsibility to be protect and enhance their key asset - which is the leader. They must also make time for family or personal commitments, making more time for maintaining emotional, physical and intellectual health, energy and wellbeing. This includes learning, reading, keeping up to date with current thinking and looking forwards to what else their future career might hold and the contribution they want to make. It is vital to learn to make time for thinking, planning and prioritising.

Developing their people -

Businesses have placed increased pressure on leaders to be identifying and truly developing talent as well as ensuring that all employees are engaged and giving their absolute best. Many feel this is beyond what they are confident they can really deliver. Measuring the quality of this is also outside many leaders experience and comfort zone. Coaching can help them to discover how to know who is really capable of more, how to gently inspire some whilst really driving others, how to find what works with individuals who do not respond as others have done.

Leaders also worry about how their workload - which for many may include a great deal of travel and therefore being away from many in their team - impacts on being able to engage fully and have the opportunity to really notice the quality and pace of how they are working. Some say they have little idea how well some of their team may be doing as they just don’t pay close enough attention.

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