People may learn a great deal on development courses, but when they return to the workplace they often have difficulty integrating what they have learnt into their day-to-day work. Quite often, what they may have learnt simply slips from their minds.
I believe that between 50% and 70% of an organization’s climate – and hence its effectiveness – can be traced to management style. Effective leaders create a favorable working environment that boosts performance. This is where coaching comes into its own.
Leadership is a set of skills, competences and attitudes that individuals can develop through practice and by reflecting on their own actions and the impact this can have on others.
Most leadership programs are too general to provide opportunities for such intensive personalized work.
Coaching, by contrast, enables individuals to gain insight into their own motives, interests and concerns and these link explicitly to the challenges they face in their leadership or management roles.
Coaching can also help executives acquire a greater awareness of their own leadership style. This is crucial if they are to develop the variety of styles needed to manage and lead in different situations.
All too often leaders rely on a command-and-control style, which has a negative impact on all but a crisis.
Coaching people on leadership styles produces positive results in most situations by creating a supportive environment in which employees feel empowered to give their best and find the solutions to problems.
Not unnaturally, some diehards still hold with an old-fashioned view that coaching can be used only for remedial purposes, but those organizations that have embraced the concept fully, have discarded that level of thinking. Their approach concentrates on leadership and personal development as part of building a high-performance organization – they are committed to moving away from managing by a culture of process to managing as leaders.
Typically I find that my clients are not interested in adopting the style of coaching used by many companies to focus on simple issues – particularly how to get on with fellow team members. They choose us because they believe we offer a more challenging style that digs more deeply into behavior and personality. This leaves executives with something more permanent that they can take away from the coaching sessions and use during the rest of their careers rather than just a one-off.
It is not always easy to convince executives that they should submit to a scrutiny of their personalities and behaviour, but in reality, those executives who balk at taking “the journey of self-development” could soon find themselves isolated and lesser leaders than many of their contemporaries.