Learning & Development, Talent

Looking for Results? Coaching Is the Right Tool

By Doug Upchurch

Proper coaching of your team of employees is critical to good leadership—and also leads to great results. Doug Upchurch, learning innovation strategist for Insights Learning and Development, has tips for coaching to full effect.

Of the many ways leaders get results, coaching their employees can often be overlooked as the most efficient way to get from Point A to Point B.
In fact, the American Management Association (AMA) reported in a global study of successful coaching practices that only one-half of today’s companies in North America use coaching.
The International Coach Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Given the long-term scope and time investment necessary for effective coaching, it’s easy to see how leaders may avoid developing these skills or may even opt to use external coaches when available.
There are a couple of problems that arise from this avoidance, though. First, it’s coaching conversations, not management conversations, that provide the richness of development opportunities for employees. Second, when leaders aren’t prioritizing coaching conversations in their roles, they are basically leaving upside results on the table.
HR Monthly magazine summarized the efficacy of coaching by reporting that “recent studies show business coaching and executive coaching to be the most effective means for achieving sustainable growth, change, and development in the individual, group, and organization.”
Given the success that derives from successful coaching, it stands to reason that organizations should help leaders reframe coaching as not just another management burden but rather as a way to unlock results.
Whether you’re an experienced or emerging leader, here’s what we recommend to keep in mind when developing coaching skills.
Build Your Self-Awareness, and Acknowledge How You Can Be Perceived by Others
Like many aspects of being an effective leader, skilled coaching requires a strong foundation in self-awareness. Through this awareness, a leader who knows that he or she is not a natural “people motivator,” for example, will make more of an effort to adapt his or her approach to take this into account. Likewise, a leader who knows he or she is poor with time management can make an extra effort to manage his or her calendar carefully.
In contrast, leaders who are blissfully unaware of their shortcomings are likely to frustrate colleagues and negate their own credibility as a coach. There are a number of ways leaders can raise their level of self-awareness and do work on understanding themselves.
Personality assessments, like Insights Discovery, are one way to do this—but regardless of how it is developed, skilled coaching requires leaders to know how their style can be perceived by others.
In tomorrow’s Advisor, Upchurch presents two more recommendations for developing coaching skills.