If you are an organisational leader or high potential thinking about how you can advance your leadership capability, then “graduating” as a coach could be a great way forward. When you learn to coach, you are learning a new way to lead, and it is an approach that can elevate your leadership and help you to stand out from others. A leader who adopts a coaching style, delivers broader impact as you learn how to accelerate the transformation of others. In fact, it could be argued that coaching is now best practice for leaders. As organisations are increasingly moving away from a fixed to a more flexible workforce, a leader who adopts a coaching style will be better placed to influence, engage, relate, innovate and collaborate. Coaching is helping organisations to reshape leadership capabilities. As you look at the competencies of coaching, these mirror many of the capabilities that organisations now need in their leadership:
- Developing a visionary narrative.
- Deepening your understanding of self and others.
- Connecting to intrinsic motivation as a way of generating and sustaining action.
- Learning deep listening to build connection and trust.
- Improving the clarity and impact of communication and feedback.
- Developing an agile mindset through a process of enquiry and discovery.
- Generating multiple possibilities or options.
- Getting clarity about what to prioritise and focus on the goals that really matter.
- Closing the gap between doing and learning through ongoing reflective practice.
- Offering a healthy balance of support and challenge in managing progress.
Leaders that use a coaching style seem more willing and able to take a more systemic approach. They learn to question and observe deeper patterns. They learn ways to step back to see systems where there may at first appear to be just chaos. They may understand the narrow parochial perspective, but more often choose a bigger systemic solution. A coaching style also helps leaders to focus on the strength of relationships and building rapport across the whole organisation and moving away from just defending their own turf. These leaders learn to connect others into the strategic purpose that inspires whole businesses to move ahead in collaboration.
In the last few years agility and resilience have risen to prominence. Agility is essentially the ability to reflect, learn and adapt, whilst resilience is the ability to change combined with an ability to sit comfortably in the midst of considerable change. At the core of coaching is a deepening of self-awareness and an ability to see yourself as an object with a mixture of strengths and development areas and not to get consumed with yourself and blindly defending your ego. This gives individuals and teams the ability to sit comfortably in the midst of change as the ego is less attached to specific predetermined outcomes and more attached to learning to be adaptive and to responding to the changing needs of the market. Coaching is inherently about continuing to grow and learn. This “growth mindset” builds the muscle of ongoing reflection, adaptation and refinement. This is the clear pathway to agility.
Whether you are an existing senior leader or an aspiration new leader, coaching can give you a significant advantage. Through your coaching style you are much better placed to impact the people around you and the businesses they are running, whilst also growing your own personal capacity to work and live in an increasingly complex world.
And then when the leadership chapter is finished, the leader coach has a ready-made skill that he/she/they can use in their post corporate portfolio careers.