Regardless of whether you are starting, stuck, or soaring, your momentum needs to be forward. You need to keep moving, innovating, creating, and improving. The good news is that you have an inherent roadmap to help you determine which actions to take. The not-so-good news is that you may not know how to access that map. This is where the leadership coach comes in.
Where are you?
The executive coach works with junior and senior level executives individually and organizations collectively who find themselves in one of the following states:
- Starting. A new initiative is about to get underway or a new role has been undertaken.
- Stuck. They have implemented an initiative but have not yet worked out the kinks. Progress has stalled. Do you go forward? Modify your course of action? Abandon the project altogether? Or, they are stuck in terms of progress; things are ok. Just ok.
- Soaring. They are at a peak point in their careers; they are “there.” Now, how do they stay there? How do they keep up? How do they fly even higher?
Where to next?
Good question. The coach doesn’t have the answer – you do. The coach is “content agnostic” – not there to tell you what you should do, what your strategy should be. So what is the coach there to do?
- Ask questions. The coach has to figure out what to ask to elicit the best answers. She has to know how to draw that innate creativity and brilliance out. It’s there.
- Act as a mirror. Through questioning, the coach can reflect back answers; often, the very simple process of explaining your thinking and having it played back can be very revealing. It is a way of clarifying thinking.
- Test. Is that what you want? Does your plan make sense? Does it work for your organization? What do you need to do? Upon answering these questions, executives and organizations can then select for themselves the answers or strategies that will work best for them.
- Validate. Is this a sound strategy? Does it align with your values and goals or those of your organization?
In an executive coaching situation, the coach’s questions are concerned with validating the strategic thoughts against the backdrop of their values (heart level) and instinct (gut level). Does this strategy feel right? Does it align with your values and ideals? This helps to create greater confidence in strategic choices, but it also puts passion and commitment behind the ideas, helping to push them forward into reality.
In organizations throughout the world, performance is driven by teams supported by leaders to provide both vision and direction. Effective teams leverage their complementary skills, knowledge, and experience to rapidly adapt to both internal and external challenges. Given the complexity and competitive pressures that face organizations today, developing and sustaining high-performing teams is critical to an organization's success and the test of a true leader.
Assembling a group of strong individual contributors is no guarantee that the team will be strong. Turning things around requires transformative change. Team coaching is a proven process to transform teams and sustain their results over the long term.
Team coaching takes place with a team engaged in real work, in real time, to produce real results. Instead of using role plays, games, or simulations, coaching occurs during actual work sessions. Training and facilitated segments are brief and focus only on essential tools or skills that the team can apply right away.
The process of transformation requires team leaders and their teams to observe their habitual ways of interacting, try out new tools and behaviours, and take action to ensure that desired changes are sustained over time. All of these activities are far more effective and efficient within real work environments as opposed to artificial contexts that remove the team from the daily realities of organizational life. After team coaching engagements, leaders and their teams walk away with both real work accomplishments and enhanced capabilities for productive teamwork going forward.
Whether in a one-on-one coaching setting or a team advisory capacity, this approach helps clients find success because they are creating their own preferred reality. It is not the coach’s strategy; it is not someone else’s vision. It is yours. This ownership again breeds passion and commitment – and even a little fun as well.