Why Coaching?

Why Coaching?

Performance Related Coaching, its relevance and place in business today

Coaching and being coached are essential activities for 21st century business leaders.  In an environment of uncertainty, intense competition and globalisation of markets, innovation, creativity and improved performance are vital to the survival of businesses.
“People, not capital, are the businesses most vital asset.  An organisation must innovate more and more often to meet the accelerated pace of change and its people must develop the learning skills that serve as the basis for innovation.” (from ‘Management by Coaching’ in HR Focus V73 N1 Olalla & Echeverria)
Fostering a learning environment in a deeply hierarchical, control based management framework is difficult if not impossible.  Leaders must come out of their offices, clearly declare where it is they want the business to go; assert strongly the values by which the business will be done; encourage, develop and inspire the work force; help people be the best they can be; involve them in the decision making process and create an environment of learning, improvement and development.
A prime tool for leaders is coaching. It is through coaching that people will be enabled to reach their true potential for the good of the business and themselves.  Coaching provides a blend of thinking for oneself and learning through the experience of others.  Coaching leads naturally to greater awareness in the people, and to greater responsibility being taken for their own actions, and a visibly higher level of commitment in the work force; just the environment required for survival and success for businesses today and in the future.
Many leaders may be reluctant to embrace new skills, especially when past behaviours are the very reason for their success, however, in a knowledge based economy, developing and helping others to learn is an essential skill which must be acquired, modelled and passed on.      

What do some executives think?

“Sometimes executives (and managers) are reluctant to admit they don’t know something, but you wouldn’t be in the position if you weren’t good, so don’t be afraid to ask for help; some people will even be relieved to know you’re not perfect”.
(Tom Kiefer, CEO, Connect)
“From our experience, it is not a matter of IF the coaching process will enter organisations that really want to succeed, but WHEN!  After numerous coaching projects with other organisations around the world, it has become clear to us that incorporating INVOLVEMENT, CREATIVITY & TEAMWORK will ultimately become the competitive advantage”.
“You really do have options. You can create partnerships, coaching partnerships if you are willing to try.  If you are willing to free yourself up from a few old beliefs and practices”.
(Stowell & Starcevich, Centre for Mngmt & Organisational Development)
“If you’re going to grow as a person, you have to be open to coaching. 
You can’t grow unless you realise that you are limited by your own paradigms.”
(A Popwell, VP, Eastman)
“Our products are ever more complex and our customers have ever higher expectations of service levels.  It is simply impossible to prescribe the correct way to handle all possible situations.  On the job coaching is the only way for people to learn to help people extract the general principles and issues that lie behind specific incidents.”
(Charles Anderson, Area Director, Lloyds Bank)

Benefits of effective coaching


Good coaching can lead to:

Better decisions.  Experienced coaches offer insight and perspective on a leader’s ideas.  Talking through actions before they are implemented tends to improve the chances for sound decisions.
More ideas and options.  A coaching environment encourages creative suggestions from both the leader and the coach.  An exchange occurs without risk.  One creative idea often leads to another.
Better support for the leader’s agenda.  Good coaching focuses on the issues most important to the leader.

Where there is pressure to improve, good coaching leads to:

  • Clearer goals and roles, and the opportunity to determine the distance between goals and reality
  • Better self awareness; discovery and clarity regarding individual strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to work towards more effective behaviours
  • Better discovery of developmental needs; what are gaps and how do I fill them?
  • Better support for continuous development; an opportunity to reflect on life experiences, clarify future goals and plan for development.
(adapted from Executive Coaching: What’s in it for you?  Witherspoon & White in Training & Development V50 N3)

In addition, coaching is powerful because it helps people: 

  • come to terms with where they are and where they need to be
    • so often people are unclear about today’s reality and tomorrow’s potential
  • help themselves to realise their full potential and do their best work
    • many leaders of yesterday restricted people’s growth and development
  • let go of the old ways
  • yesterday’s solutions often will not be relevant for tomorrow
  • ‘give birth’ to a new way of being
    • and release the creativity within themselves
  • see how they can ‘behave’ the new roles
    • and realise that it’s OK to change and be different
  • deal with the new behaviours required by the business
  • know what’s required and begin to explore new possibilities
  • see themselves in the new behaviours, adding value for the business and for themselves
  • creating new, more fulfilling futures
  • overcome the natural resistance to change
    • change has its discomfort and uncertainty
    • positively internalise change
    • and accept it
  • see change as a learning journey
    • that is a positive and growing experience
  • reinforce human dignity in the workplace
    • so that people can feel proud of their individual achievements
  • work together in teams
    • and experience the power of collective success.
There are many and differing interpretations of the meaning of coaching.  The dictionary defines it as, ‘to tutor, train, give hints to, prime with facts’ none of which is much help to us from a business perspective, because this can be done in many different ways.  When we talk about coaching in business we are referring to a specific way in which the above things are done.  “Coaching is primarily concerned with the type of relationship between the coach and the coachee, and the means and style of communication used.” 
Timothy Gallwey, author of several books on the “Inner Game” defines coaching as:
“Unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”

So it’s about:

  • Relationship .. based on honesty, openness and trust
  • Style of Communication .. based on asking questions and seeking to understand.   more reflective style rather than one which directs 
  • Learning .. based on helping the subject to come to their own conclusions, on working things out for themselves rather than being told
Telling is not wrong.  In coaching, however, we encourage a style that is far more empowering for the subject.  We seek to extend our skills along a continuum from telling, where the leader is in control and wants to impart information with no debate, to a purely deductive conversation, where the subject is in control of the outcome and the leader is acting more like a mirror for the subject.

2 thoughts on “Why Coaching?

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