Coaching is a term usually associated with sports. The role of a sports coach is straightforward; it is to enable athletes to reach their full potential.
This concept can be adapted for the corporate world with leaders playing the role of coaches. Simply put, leaders can and should be effective coaches. Coaching is all about collaboratively defining a goal and enabling team members to focus on reaching it. Once the goal is defined and agreed upon, what follows is to plan the steps required to reach that goal.
How Can Leaders Be Effective Coaches?
Having a good corporate leader playing the role of a coach for employees is a thought-provoking concept. While leaders were traditionally positioned as command-and-control centers, over time, the fundamental notion of leadership has taken a new meaning. Leadership now focuses on guiding individuals and helping them successfully navigate and adapt to the ever-changing business environment with a sense of ownership and accountability.
During my early years in the corporate world, I was intensely focused on defining my career path. It felt like nothing short of a marathon at that time. I went through several milestones, from being part of growing teams to eventually leading teams. During that time, I realized the importance of a coach to support my growth journey.
Key Tenets of Coaching
There are a few important aspects to keep in mind when coaching. To start with, the focus should be on the end goal. Coaches should be able to support their protégé in defining goals that are both challenging and attainable. A goal without a plan is just a dream. Make sure that goals are documented along with a plan and timelines on what must be accomplished. This helps the protégé develop an inherent motivation that results in greater commitment and satisfaction.
Coaching doesn’t mean telling someone to do something; it’s all about collaboratively defining what is to be done; it’s about empowerment and belief. A coach should alter and adapt the engagement style to balance directive and non-directive approaches. This helps the protégé break down goals into attainable milestones and meet them effectively and efficiently. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound).
Coaching doesn’t mean telling someone to do something; it’s all about collaboratively defining what is to be done; it’s about empowerment and belief
Coaches should bring a perfect balance of mind, body and soul. This is achieved by thinking, speaking and performing in total harmony.
There are programs for leaders to act as mentors and coaches in some organizations. As a part of such mentorship programs, new employees are connected with their ideal coaches within the organization, facilitating their nurturing and grooming for the years to come. It has been seen that employees who participate are hyper-productive and this has positively influenced retention in the new joiner category phenomenally.
Coach, Trainer or Counselor?
There are several perceived roles when it comes to mentorship in an organization, like coach, counselor and trainer. In my opinion, coaches, counselors and trainers are not distinct ideas, but different manifestations of the same idea. Let me clarify.
During my childhood, my father trained me on the various aspects involved in riding a bicycle. That is training. My mother kept asking me where I was heading, what I wanted to do and what I wanted to achieve. This way, she informally took on the role of a coach and helped me identify my goals. My mother also gave me this invaluable advice: “Find happiness in what you do” and “Whatever you do, do well, boy”. Today as I look back, I firmly believe that it was one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received about life.
The coach helps hone natural talents and abilities to meet objectives
Thus, we realize, a coach is not just a coach; he/she counsels, coaches and trains. This is what I call the “CTC role”. The role of a coach isn’t to force an individual to completely reinvent himself/herself in a way that goes against their nature, but to challenge them to think differently and shift their perspectives. The coach helps hone natural talents and abilities to meet objectives.
Coaching is a great way for a leader to achieve major productivity gains. The International Coach Federation cites several studies showing that coaching typically generates a ROI between $4 and $8 for every dollar invested. A report by the International Personnel Management Association noted that coaching, combined with training, boosts productivity by an average of 88% compared to 22% with only training.
Even though I am in HR by profession, I believe that I am a coach by passion. I firmly believe in what Simon Sinek says: “When we help ourselves, we find moments of happiness, but when we help others, we find lasting fulfillment”.