Do leaders really need a coach?

I get asked about the benefits of coaching all of the time, and the answer is as varied as the types of coaching professionals out there.  10 years ago, the main reason for hiring a coach within your organisation was to stop toxic behaviour or to tackle under performance.  Coaching is of course, very effective in these areas, but now we see more coaches being employed to support talent and leaders perform even better.

Now the main reasons for hiring a coach are:

  • Develop talent or facilitate transition into new or bigger roles (48%)
  • Act as a sounding board or objective resource (26%)
  • Address negative behaviours or performance (12%)

I have been recruited for all of those reasons, and although the client maybe skeptical initially, after just a few sessions, all of my clients have stated that “everyone needs a coach”.  It is no small statement.  Of course the client needs to be engaged and ready for coaching, but once they are, the space created for clients to look at their behaviour, thoughts and performance becomes essential.

Nowhere else are they able to take time to talk and explore their current situation, task or problem, objectively, without prejudice.  Nothing they say is right or wrong, and everything can be used to move forward with clarity and focus.  This process accelerates learning and development so quickly, that 86% of organisations state that they get a return on investment.

Do leaders really need a coach?

Yes, if the environment is right.

  • The leader or executive needs to be engaged and open to coaching and self-development. They have a willingness to learn and grown.  There is no ABC process to coaching, and the questions, and techniques used by the coach will require the client to be open-minded and open-hearted.
  • Chemistry between the coach and client is essential.  Once you find the right coach, anything becomes possible.  A good coach will be able to build that rapport, trust and environment easily, in service of the client, but there needs to be that chemistry.
  • Be prepared for the objective to shift.  During the coaching programme, a coach is  normally engaged to support leaders with a particular topic or objective in mind.  Just like peeling back the layers of an onion, as the relationship deepens, the objective may change.  It is common to move into different territories of fear, beliefs, behaviours, purpose, balance, relationships and home matters, or being a better/different leader. We are whole beings, and as we develop and gain clarity, this impacts and shifts our perspectives across our whole lives.

Just as my clients stating that everyone needs a coach, there is no question that future leaders will need continual coaching. We already see the business environment becoming more complex, and the roles of leaders evolving and changing, and they will increasingly turn to coaches for help in understanding how to act.

As a coach working with clients, we do more than influence behaviors; We support  an essential part of the leader’s learning process, helping to unlock knowledge, judgment in critical areas, and find pathways and resources to open and widen the leadership experience.

Coaching is about opening, seeing from different perspectives, unlocking new ways of thinking and being, and creating new pathways.

In a complex world where relationships and human connection is fundamental to gaining a competitive advantage, textbook models and processes are still relevant, but become less impactful in leadership development.  As a coach, I work on the basis that clients are creative, resourceful and whole.  I don’t need to know the business problem at hand, or to have worked in the same industry, I trust that the client already knows the answer, and can creatively find solutions and take action.  I act as a vessel for the client to discover how to be, what to do and which resources they bring, or need to perform.

Yes, leaders need a coach; The right one for them, when they are ready.