Coaching for Leadership



A little while ago, there was some Gallup research, which amongst other things suggested that the corporate world is appallingly bad at capitalizing on the strengths of its people.

Why would that be? Considering that for many organisations people costs are one of the largest lines of expense, you would think that employers would spare no effort to obtain maximum leverage from the skills and potential of their key staff.

Further, it is not uncommon that you see the promotion of an individual with impressive technical achievements into a role that requires a high degree of people skills to stand any chance of success.  Yet these individuals are often left to their own devices to sink or swim.  Why would employers set these senior managers up to fail?

Enter executive coaching.

Typically our careers begin in technical or professional roles in which we are personally accountable for our results and achievements through the application of our own expertise. As we progress and expand the scope of our responsibilities, we will inevitably become involved in leading and managing people. This means managing performance, providing feedback, resolving conflict, managing issues, and having those ‘difficult conversations’.

And all of this tempered by a balanced sensitivity to external vs internal issues: i.e., strategies, priorities, tangible results (external) melded with values, good cultural practice and purpose (internal).

Coaching then becomes an essential component of the skill-building needed to achieve this upward transition. And coaching happens from the inside out. Self-awareness, emotional intelligence, authenticity, humility and open-mindedness become essential acquired qualities – the ‘ambidextrous leader’.

An executive coach, supporting from arm’s length and with a total lack of bias becomes the essential catalyst to making this journey. A good brief properly scoped and with outcomes mutually agreed and understood, becomes the cornerstone of effective coaching.

To quote from a recent Towers Perrin engagement survey:

“Ironically, the view that leaders need to be ambidextrous is not new. In a 1924 book, Creative Leadership, author Mary Parker Follett summed up the total leadership experience with these simple and powerful words: ‘Leadership is not defined by the exercise of power, but by the capacity to increase the sense of power among those who are led. The most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders.’”

Posted by Bob Pierce

Coming next: Coaching for Change

BonnieSue Nevin

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