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What is leadership coaching?

Tough times need strong leaders; leadership coaching will make you a winner

If you’re toying with the idea of leadership coaching, consider these stats from the Institute of Coaching: 80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence and 70% benefit from improved work performance, relationships and improved communication.

But here’s the kicker: 86% of companies report that they recouped their investment in leadership coaching and more!

Technical excellence, years of industry experience and natural leadership abilities aren’t enough for business success today. With technology evolving daily, uncertainty on every front and a changing employee and customer expectations, a high IQ isn’t going to cut it anymore. 

Entrepreneurs and business leaders alike need a high IQ and EQ, or emotional intelligence. Although many people have natural leadership skills, without guidance and training, they’ll likely amount to very little. It’s the same with IQ: you can be massively intelligent, but without the proper education, training and mentoring, you’ll struggle to get ahead.

Coaching leadership isn’t a new concept

Business leadership coaching has its roots in the Human Potential Movement established in the 1960s. They designed interventions to support executives and help them overcome barriers to success. Their concept was that all people have extraordinary potential that mainly lies untapped unless efforts are made to access and develop it. Coaching human potential has come a long way since then.

What is leadership coaching in today’s world?

It can get described as an ongoing one-on-one collaboration between a coach and a business leader to help them achieve their goals and become a more effective leader. The partnership is a long-term, developmental process that gets tailored for each individual and is based on mutual trust and respect. It’s designed with a big-picture approach while addressing specific challenges as well as issues that arise spontaneously.   

Although leadership coaching focuses on improved business results, it cannot be successful without personal development evolving simultaneously. Bad management, not inferior products or services, has led to the downfall of many companies.

Leadership coaching must not, however, get confused with other popular types of coaching.

Life coaching

Revolves around helping people reach their personal goals. The focus is often on breaking negative beliefs and conditioning ingrained by social or cultural conditioning. 

People are encouraged to set clear goals and venture beyond their comfort zone while being supported by their coach. Being more decisive, growing in confidence, improved relationships and achieving a healthy life-balance are the desired outcomes.   

Business coaching

Focuses on creating the right environment to generate positive results in an entrepreneurial or business environment. Coaches work one-on-one or within leadership groups to devise techniques and strategies to formulate plans to meet business goals. 

Areas of emphasis can be creating a brand or rebranding, marketing, establishing multiple revenue streams, growth and expansion, or achieving income objectives.

Why you need a leadership coach

In previous decades business leaders and entrepreneurs could survive without the guidance of a coach. But they didn’t face a fraction of the challenges leaders face today. The work environment remained relatively static before the explosion of technological advancement arrived. The management team led from the top down, the workforce was compliant, and the aim was for long-service awards and a predictable retirement.  

Apart from technology, changes in employee mindset and different market expectations - the global pandemic of 2020 has permanently altered the business landscape. Only innovative and adaptable businesses will survive. That calls for confident and agile leadership. The caveat, however, for these self-assured and highly responsive leaders is that they have to function under extreme pressure. Staying at the cutting edge of their industry while maintaining profitability takes not only ingenuity, but excellent people skills to get buy-in from the workforce.

We live in an age where people expect immediate results and superb quality. Easy access to technology and uncomplicated means to design new apps and solutions can make entrepreneurs, in particular, an instant success. If they cannot lead and maintain momentum, however, they will also become an overnight business failure.  

And big business isn’t off the hook! Without investment in processes and solutions that keep pace with market trends, even big corporates can get driven to their knees by weak leadership. According to research conducted by the Harvard Business Review, two in five newly appointed CEOs fail within 18-months on the job.

No one can cope with so many challenges and changes on so many different fronts on their own. To be effective, individuals need the ongoing support of a leadership coach to fall back on. Apart from the financial losses incurred by businesses and the knock-on effect it has on everyone associated with it, failure for leadership and entrepreneurs can be devastating on a personal level. The negative experience can unintentionally lead to a defeatist attitude that can be difficult to overcome.

No business leader sets out to fail

That might seem like an obvious statement, but far too many people rely on their technical skills and their industry experience when they take on leadership roles. All the focus is on bagging success by proving they can do the job, with little emphasis on whether they’re the right “person” for the job.

Many people can have the exact same skills and similar experience, but each one of them is a separate individual with a different approach.

Emotional intelligence is a crucial skill for today’s leader – whether in a startup or a multinational. People often believe they have it since they’ve come this far in life. But one of the critical indicators of EQ is being aware that we can never have gained enough life experience to know how to handle every situation and challenge well enough. Although we may have many characteristics of emotional intelligence, there’s always room for growth.

Acknowledging blind spots leads to growth

Blind spots, like unconscious bias, are behavior patterns motivated by attitudes that we don’t know exist. We all have them! They can be formed in early life, or we can develop them through positive or adverse events. 

Understandably, a bad experience can lead to fear, but great things can throw us off course as well. Consistent success, regular praise and very little challenge can do more harm than good. We can start thinking that we’re at the pinnacle of our game, we have all the answers, and we have the success to prove it. 

Motivations can shift from seeking external reference when making decisions to dictating solutions based on internal reference only. Unchecked, this blind spot can lead to serious issues in a team environment.

That can stem from being a big fish in a small pond, particularly in entrepreneurial environments. Bad management is one of the prime reasons many potentially brilliant startups fail. The founder doesn’t venture out of their comfort zone. When they make a move or if industry trends change – they’re at a loss. Becoming overconfident (and losing some humility along the way) can create huge blind spots that lead to unnecessary failure.

Without someone exposing our blind spots in a safe and caring environment, we’ll never know they exist, and we’ll continue to behave according to the hidden motivations. Leadership coaching will point out blind spots and encourage you to find ways to improve and even eliminate them.

To sum it up

If you’re serious about business success, leadership coaching isn’t an option; it’s a must! Whether you’re an entrepreneur heading a startup, a c-suite exec or an HR executive researching coaching options for your management team – go for it!

Leadership coaches don’t come in to solve problems. In reality, they very seldom offer solutions. Instead, they encourage solutions by asking the right questions to probe what lies at the heart of the issue and encourage the coachee to find their own solution. When we can recognize and accept a potential stumbling block, we can figure out how to fix it by ourselves. That way, change is permanent.

As Confucius said: “Tell me, and I will forget, show me and I may remember; involve me, and I will understand.”

What you’ll gain:

  • Awareness of the importance of developing EQ
  • Transition to leadership from management
  • Improved people and communication skills
  • Evolution to a team culture within the organization
  • Team-thinking drives collaboration and high performance
  •  Willingness to self-reflect and move beyond your comfort zone
  • Invaluable support in times of change, like scaling up or down
  • Access to an objective perspective “on-demand” in times of crisis
  • Identifying your leadership style to grow strengths and address blind spots
  • Willingness to accept help and not feel obligated to carry the burden of leadership on your own

F4S is a people analytics platform that offers employee and leadership coaching online and in real-time. Take a free assessment to identify your strengths and blind spots.

Or maybe you see yourself as a leadership coach. Check out the F4S Coaching Certification Program.

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