Why should I consider having a leadership coach?
There are no superstars who got to be that way without a coach. The best of the best can’t see themselves clearly. It may go something like this: “Mr. Woods, may I call you Tiger? I’ve noticed that in your golf swing your right arm rotates slightly, and that’s when you slice. If you corrected that you would probably cut three strokes off your score. Would you like me to show you what I mean?”
This concept of not seeing ourselves clearly also applies to organizations. As the business effectiveness guru, W. Edwards Deming put it, “A system cannot see itself. The transformation requires a view from outside.” We leaders need an outside view to see ourselves and our organizations clearly.
What are you not seeing, that is holding you back from greater success? Blind spots in leaders’ minds can be devastating to the culture and effectiveness of an organization.
The purpose of having a leadership coach is to help you see things you can’t see, to provide an outside perspective with expertise to guide you to a better, more successful and fulfilling place. A competent coach will help you crystalize your vision of where you want to go, and travel the road with you to get from here to there.
Jake’s Coaching Experience
I had the privilege of coaching an individual (let’s call him Jake) in a government agency who had about 60 people reporting to him. He was knowledgeable and skilled in his role but he just didn’t seem to connect with his people or have the kind of influence he wanted. I asked him, “How many of your people would do what you asked them if you didn’t have the authority of your position?”
His answer was, “Probably none of them.”
We discussed things further, I asked him more questions, and I observed him interacting with some of his people. I asked him to explain to me how he thinks of all these people who get all this work done in his division. “They’re a resource, like parts of an engine. Each is very important to the success of our division. I just need them to do what they do better, with higher quality, energy and enthusiasm.”
I said, “It sounds like you’re saying you value them kind of like tools to help you achieve your goals. Is that right?” He nodded. I asked, “How do you think they would feel about you if they thought you valued them as human beings, that they are of infinite worth and potential, and that you put their interests ahead of your own?”
Our conversation continued and he came away with an “Aha!” moment, that they way he thought of his people was diminishing their ability to trust him. After some coaching work on his thought patterns, the difference in my friend Jake is that he became happier at work, and so did his people. The culture of his team became more cohesive, positive, and the people became more engaged. Within six months he was promoted.
Proof of Coaching ROI
The International Coach Federation’s 2009 Global Coaching Client Study described a median return of seven times (7x) the investment. About one in five companies indicated a measured ROI of at least 50 times their investment. The Manchester Review study calculated an ROI of 5.7 times the investment in coaching. The value to organizations is seen in:
- better decision-making
- greater self-awareness of the leader’s strengths and limitations
- reduced interpersonal conflict
- higher trust of employees to the leader
- the engagement and retention of highly talented people who feel appreciated when their company invests in coaching for them
- reduction in destructive behaviors the leader is unaware of
- readiness to be promoted
How will you measure your return on a coaching investment? It starts with clear objectives, aligning coaching with business results. A coach worth his/her salt will first seek to discover what is measurable and how that equates to the coaching relationship. Some examples: increased profits, increased employee retention, reduced time to complete a repeating activity, decrease complaints to HR, etc.
What will having a Coach do for me?
Here are some common difficulties that a leadership coach can help you solve:
- I get too many surprises and urgent issues – fire drills I wish I could prevent
- The demands of my position prevent me from having a personal life
- I’m in a high position but my self-confidence doesn’t match my authority
- I am stuck at my current results and I want to take things to the next level
- I don’t have a positive working relationship with key team members
- I feel ready to take my business or career to the next level, but I’m not sure how
Are you ready to break free of your current limitations and invest in yourself by getting a coach?
Selecting a Coach
The most important part of a coaching relationship is connection. Do you connect on a personal level? Can you trust in the competency of your coach? Can you trust that your coach has your best interest at heart, that s/he has the capacity and desire to understand you, that what you talk about will be completely confidential? Can you feel safe with your coach? Your coach will need to trust that you are authentic in your desire to improve, that you are willing to open up and be a bit vulnerable, and that you won’t take offense if s/he tells you something you don’t like. How will you know these things? It will take a little investigation and an initial discussion. I (Doug Lundrigan, MBA) offer a no charge 60 – 90 minute face-to-face meeting for this purpose.
I wish I could sprinkle magic coaching dust to get perfect results for each of my clients. The truth is, I’m a flawed human being that doesn’t know everything, and so are you. I don’t offer magic dust, but I do offer an objective third party view, complete with scientifically validated diagnostic tools, and a wealth of experience and education in finding solutions. Together we will take your business, your career, your life to the next level of success and fulfillment.
Doug Lundrigan, MBA
CEO, Lighthouse Leadership