Every study of effective leaders concludes that those leaders, who get the most out of their teams, spend a high proportion of their time and energy coaching others. The effective Leader/Coach is able to delegate more, to create a stronger sense of purpose within the team and to motivate the performance of others. Even more importantly they free up time so that they can focus on the most important leadership responsibilities instead of fire-fighting or doing jobs that could be done by their direct reports.
The stark reality is that most leaders and leaders and managers put very little effort into coaching.Even though the company may have provided coaching training for them, unless there is an active and supportive coaching climate, there will be very little overall impact on the performance of the business, on retention of talent, or on the achievement of strategic goals.
So what exactly is a coaching climate? You will know you have a coaching climate when:
- Personal growth, team development and organizational learning are integrated and the links clearly understood
- People are able to engage in constructive and positive dialogue vs. confrontation
- People welcome feedback (even at the top) and actively seek it
- Coaching is seen as a joint responsibility of leaders and managers and their direct reports
- Coaching is seen primarily as a opportunity for continuous improvement rather than as a remedial intervention
- People are recognized and rewarded for their activity in sharing knowledge
- Time for reflection is valued
- There are effective mechanisms for identifying and addressing barriers to learning
- There are strong role models for good coaching practice
So how do you create a coaching climate?
- By ensuring that all leaders and managers have at least the basic skills of coaching
- By equipping all employees with the skills to be coached effectively
- By developing a relationship with professional coaches who can provide coaching at the executive levels and for high potentials
- By recognizing and rewarding leaders and managers who demonstrate good coaching behavior and commitment to coaching
- By measuring and providing feedback on the quality, relevance and accessibility of coaching to all levels of the organization
- By ensuring that top management provide strong, positive role models
- By identifying cultural barriers to coaching and learning
How do you ensure that all leaders and leaders and managers have at least the basic skills of coaching?
Just running a training program on this topic isn’t enough. Leaders and managers need to put what they have learned into practice. Initial training needs to be reinforced with opportunities to review each coaching session and to reflect upon feedback from the coachee. Good practice typically involves either follow up sessions, and the use of a Professional Coach to sit in on coaching sessions and provide immediate feedback.
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