Everyone needs coaching

Robert Mandeya

MY previous installment on “Of CA-qualified CEOs vis a vis Poor Corporate Showing” seems to have raised a bit of some dust. The article was in response to Engineer Jacob Mtisi’s submission. It would appear a lot of respondents to my article wanted to understand the need for executive coaching in corporate leadership.

Quite understandable given that in our culture, we have, of course, always associated coaching with athletics, soccer or any sport for that matter. Indeed the concept of coaching is adopted from the sporting fraternity. From the onset I would say coaching in corporate leadership and or management is clearly not understood in the African corporate set up. However, this is a widely used tool in the more progressive societies of the West. The role of coaching and mentorship in the workplace is growing with most highflying corporate entities having embraced this concept as part and parcel of their management approach. I would assert here that for any personal and organisational effectiveness to be realised it is important for every corporate executive or anyone for that matter to consider this growing phenomenon as necessary leadership imperative.

Need for executive coaching

Executive coaching is indeed growing hot. Actually, what used to be stigmatised as an intervention for the incapacitated, is in fact become a status symbol. Very popular global icons such as Tiger Woods, Barack Obama, Michel Phelps, and closer home, President Paul Kagame have coaches, to mention but a few. Even Microsoft’s young high-potential leaders get coaches. If all these elites in national politics, Athletics, and social standing have seen the need for a coach, shouldn’t we all consider this intervention in whatever our endeavors are?. Just for the record I also do have my personal coach.

However, I must hasten to hint that, Executive coaching–personal training in leadership from someone who provides it for a living–should be used like a powerful prescription drug that works best under certain conditions. When employed as a cure-all, it is less effective, too expensive and has negative side effects. There are very serious questions which you must consider before considering engaging a coach; which are: how valuable is this person’s performance and his/her potential thereof to the organisation? What is the challenge the person is facing right now? How willing and able is the executive to work with a coach? What alternative to coaching are available to coaching? Are key people in the organisation ready to support this person’s efforts to grow and change?

Evolving nature of coaching

Executive coaching is evolving to accommodate the many changes and disruptions we have seen in the business world, such as new technologies, the globalisation of markets and competition, the rapidly increasing pace of change, and new demands on employees to work faster, smarter and be more productive more efficient and effective. These forces have impacted how we, as coaches, coach corporate leaders (that is, managers, leaders, and C-suite executives).

In a more complex workplace, today’s leaders must master as never before the skill of leading, engaging others, and delivering results. You cannot pick up a business magazine, listen to a podcast, or read a blog that does not talk about today’s new world of critical leadership challenges. With the fourth industrial revolution upon us, the question is no longer on whether it is necessary, but when you should engage an executive coach.

Contemporary leadership

It is obvious that the old model of command-and-control leadership and rewarding individual performance is not working in this new world. Contemporary leaders must learn to lead more with informal authority and influence. They must understand how to build strong organisational cultures that foster and reward knowledge transfer across the entire organisation, promote cross-company team collaboration, cultivate employee engagement, and lead to success.

Effective leaders must especially recognise that they achieve results through people, often creating networks that work at multiple levels within the organisation and even in partnership with external stakeholders and key resources.

Leaders must be able to ensure that managers and employees at all levels know their line of sight and play their part to contribute to achieving the strategic goals of the organisation. To accomplish this, leaders need to learn for themselves how to coach and be coached, focus on their own development, and contribute to the professional development of other team members. These challenges exist globally, in all industries and sectors.

Leaders as coaches

Henry Mintzberg re-defined the complex role of the manager in today’s workplace. He describes leadership as departing from the top-down command-and-control model to one where the manager sits in the middle of his unit (and the rest of the organization), managing on three planes: information, people, and action. These planes require managers to think systemically and understand the context of their work as it affects those beyond their direct teams.

As a result, the manager must lead, do, link, communicate, and control in order to achieve their objectives. Managers need to help the people in their units do what they need to do to be successful, and at the same time, communicate across the organisation and externally to achieve their desired results.

Coaching plays a critical role in the development and effectiveness of leaders and managers. They must learn how to be coached and how to coach others for success. Accordingly, it is impossible to look at leadership without coaching and vice-versa. Therefore, coaching is an integral role of leading and managing in the workplace and is an essential skill for everyone in the organisation.

Mandeya is an executive leadership coach, trainer in human capital development and corporate education, a certified leadership and professional development practitioner and founder of the Institute of Leadership, Research and Development (LiRD). — robert@lird.co.zw/www.lird.co.zw.

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