Leadership coaching offers insights on managing challenging situations and leading their teams better for managers.
For most of us, the first thing we think of when we hear the word coaching is locker room pep talks or an athlete doing push-ups to relentless counting.
In 2021, this stereotype no longer holds true.
Another type of coaching is becoming mainstream -one that happens away from the field, in an office meeting room, or over an online conference call.
Executive coaching, also known as professional, workplace, business, or leadership coaching, grooms you for one of the longest marathons you’ll run - the course of your career!
What is executive coaching?
Each of us has the capacity for greatness, and if we lived to our fullest potential, we’d likely amaze ourselves.
But things get in the way - inertia, fear, a lack of confidence, and other unhelpful attitudes we unconsciously pick up over the years.
Coaching helps us overcome these barriers so that we can live our best professional and personal lives.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
Coaching is primarily a dialog-centric process - between professionals eager to improve some aspect of their work lives and coaches who know how to equip them with the toolkit necessary for lasting, sustainable change.
Professional coaching is primarily concerned with work, as its name suggests - but there is inevitably a spillover into the personal space because work doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
That brings us to the next question, who could benefit from coaching?
Every single person you know, including yourself.
Contrary to widespread reputation, coaching is not primarily for C-suite executives.
Nor is it for people with work ‘issues.’ It is for anybody who would like to level up at work.
If there is room for improvement, there is room for a coach - it’s that simple.
Misconceptions about Coaching
Misconception 1: Coaching is mentoring
Coaching is not mentoring though coaches may occasionally give opinions or advice.
Coaching is structured and performance-driven, with a specific end goal in mind.
On the other hand, mentoring is an informal, open-ended engagement between two people that can be open-ended and take several different routes.
Misconception 2: Coaching = Counselling/Therapy
Coaching is not counseling, though they both use exploratory conversations as a primary mode of affecting change.
The focus in counseling is on revisiting and healing the past, whereas the primary focus of coaching is the present and the future.
Why coaching is impactful
Executive coaching has been around since the 1980s, but its objective impact and efficacy are more evident now than ever in the business sphere.
In a recent survey of 100 executives mainly from Fortune 1000 companies, Manchester, Inc. determined that a company’s investment in coaching reaped an average ROI of almost 600%.
According to a study by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a non-profit member organization for trained coaches, 86% of organizations saw an ROI on their coaching engagements, and 96% of those who had had a coach said they would repeat the coaching sessions.
Further research showed a mix of tangible benefits - such as improved productivity, performance, and employee engagement - and intangible benefits such as improved communication and teamwork.
Why it works
You may wonder how leadership coaching is different from reading a self-help book or trying to emulate a mentor who inspires us.
Well, the focused attention and problem-solving mojo that a coach brings to bear on our issues are what sets it apart.
While each person’s experience of coaching is unique and personal, here is why coaches work such magic:
They actually listen
Listening is a skill that is hard to master.
In an age of distractions and short attention spans, it is rare to find somebody who sits and listens to our thoughts patiently and fully empathizes with what we’ve said (or even what we’ve left unsaid).
Coaches do just that, with years of experience to guide their intuitive understanding.
Often, just being listened to can help us achieve a surprising degree of clarity.
They act as a mirror
Coaches encourage us to take a long, honest look at ourselves - our strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots - and support us through the uncomfortable, often startling process of self-discovery.
This understanding of ourselves is the beginning of real change.
They help you arrive at new perspectives
‘I never saw it that way before.'
Whether it happens gradually or in an ‘aha moment,’ seeing an old situation with new eyes can help us clear roadblocks that thwarted us.
Coaches help us discover these alternate perspectives by encouraging us to examine our beliefs and actions with an open mind.
They help you set goals
A new vantage point is great, but we also need specific goals and milestones to help us along the journey. Setting measurable, actionable plans for behavior change will get us there faster.
By aiming too high, we risk disillusionment and giving up; by aiming too low, we don’t move the needle much at all.
Coaches can help us arrive at realistic and sustainable goals.
They act as accountability partners
Knowing what to change is half the battle won. The second half is the grunt work - showing up day after day after day to strengthen a new habit.
As we cement a new behavior, it helps to hold ourselves accountable to a coach immensely.
As social animals who crave validation and acknowledgment, we are more likely to stick to a new habit when somebody is watching. Coaching relationships leverage this primal instinct to achieve lasting change.
They root for your success
We could all do with somebody rooting for us. Coaches have a ringside view of our wrestling matches with our personal demons.
They know how hard we’ve worked to change, and as a natural consequence, celebrate our victories, small and big. They can be just the anchor we need through the highs and lows of personal transformation.
The neuroscience behind coaching
While we have seen the benefits of coaching from psychology, here’s the science angle.
Neuroscientists now know that habit change involves the most evolved part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex. When we slip back into old habits, we’re basically allowing our primitive brain, the basal ganglia, to take control.
Coaching, by concentrating our attention and repeatedly focusing, week after week, on our goals and new behaviors, allows us to forge new circuits in the prefrontal cortex. Coaching literally helps us rewire our brain!
What can coaching do for you?
Let’s look at some specific ways coaching benefits individuals, leaders, and teams. This list is by no means comprehensive - coaching can achieve all this and much more!
Are you trying to fast-track your career? Coaching can help you to
Get out of your own way:
Do you secretly worry you don’t deserve a promotion? Do you procrastinate because you’re worried about doing a bad job?
Without realizing it, you might be engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors at work. Coaching can show the destructive patterns you’re oblivious to and help you replace them with winners’ habits.
Learn how to build bridges and establish rapport:
You interact with people of at least two different generations and a host of backgrounds and personalities on any given day at work.
By giving conscious thought to how you interact with them, you can make your day-to-day work more effective and build rewarding relationships.
Learn how to ask for that raise:
Many of us don’t find it easy to speak up for what we deserve, for various reasons - issues of self-confidence, the stigma our society attaches to ‘blowing our own trumpet,’ or simply not knowing how to navigate a potentially awkward conversation.
Coaching can help you learn how to confidently (and considerately) ask for what you need.
Are you a leader aiming to inspire? Coaching can help you -
Raise the ‘culture’ bar
As a leader, you have absolute power in influencing your organization's culture. How you regulate your emotions, handle conflict, deal with ethical issues, etc, has a direct impact on how your teams perceive their workplace.
This is both an immense opportunity and an immense responsibility. Engaging with a coach can help you become the best version of yourself and set an example to your teams and organization.
Understand and amplify your personal brand
What sets great leaders apart from good leaders is charisma, an ineffable quality that makes people want to follow their lead without being told to. Coaching can help you understand what your most magnetic qualities are, and how to use them.
Dismantle cognitive biases
We all fall prey to cognitive biases. But especially at leadership levels, doing so can have costly consequences for your business and people.
The higher your sphere of control and influence, the more imperative it is that you work rigorously to be clear-sighted and rational. A coach can be invaluable in this regard.
Would you like to build a dream team? Coaching can help your team -
Unlearn unhelpful dynamics
Team culture has a significant bearing on the success of its endeavors. Do people cheer for each other or take each other down? Is there psychological trust and transparency? Coaching a team can help break down dysfunctional patterns and build supportive ones.
Rally behind a common purpose
The best teams are heterogeneous, comprising diverse perspectives who challenge each other. Decisions are likely to be debated at length, and unanimity is a long shot. Coaching can help strengthen trust and goodwill in a team so that there’s alignment and commitment even in the absence of consensus.
Good communication in a team requires a whole host of ninja skills. Having tough, candid conversations with respect. Standing up for your idea with conviction, without razing down alternate views. Being able to disagree without being disagreeable. Coaching can help your team figure out how to do all this and establish a culture of honest, respectful communication.
Are you trying to create a great place to work? Coaching can help your organization -
Retain your high potentials and performers
The best performers are usually the ones most interested in further improvement. By enabling coaching services for the people in your organization, you are more likely to keep your valued employees happy and engaged.
Get the best out of your employees
Coaching teases out the best qualities in your employees. Employees who are coached to performance, rather than managed, are far more likely to have consistent, sustainable success outcomes, on their own steam.
Enhance learning journeys
Standalone training programs rarely have a sustained impact. They soon fade from memory. But training programs augmented with coaching are much more powerful - resulting in a learning journey, in which the knowledge imparted in a program gradually solidifies into a learned behavior.
Two decades ago, coaching was a way primarily to fix toxic behavior at the higher echelons of management.
Today, it has evolved to be a tool for personal transformation, a way to better your personal best. It is a badge of pride, a sign that you’re invested in your career, that your management is invested in your career.
Start your leadership coaching journey with Peakperformer
At Peakperformer, we provide leadership coaching and help empower your workforce.
We have worked with several new-age unicorns such as MPL, CRED, Groww, and Wingify to transform their managers into leaders by assuaging their concerns and unleashing their hidden strengths.
If you are interested in exploring what coaching can do for you, we’d love to help you figure it out.