You may have heard it said that great leaders coach. Indeed, many leaders today advocate coaching and actively participate in coaching others. Over the past decade, I’ve observed the emergence and steady growth of leaders who coach, also known as ‘coach leaders’. Coach leaders invariably have a genuine passion for and interest in developing others. They are often distinguished as highly effective business or organisational leaders and bring many critical coaching elements to their leadership style.
Coach leaders are distinct from autocratic leaders who adopt a ‘tell’ style of leadership: ‘I’ll tell you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it’. Instead, coach leaders look for every opportunity to empower, enable and equip their teams. Consequently, their teams feel supported and frequently go above and beyond to achieve the enterprise’s objectives and desired results.
In the past, some leaders would incorporate a combination of training, mentoring, teaching and advising in coaching their teams, often with little or no formal training. However, today's new breed of coach leaders are different because they have greater access to coach training and relevant education than ever before. Every leader today can be a coach leader and acquire the knowledge and skills required to be effective in coaching and leading their teams. Many of this new generation of coach leaders are highly educated and proficient in coaching techniques and also leverage and integrate with external coaches to support them and their teams.
What is the first step towards being a coach leader?
Imagine attempting to be a tennis coach without ever being coached in tennis yourself? The same is true for coaching in business. If you want to be a coach leader, the logical prerequisite is to first experience coaching for yourself. Find a coach you can partner with to support and develop you personally, one who is best suited to supporting you to achieve your desired outcomes. Remember, not all coaches are the same. Their services, experience levels, training, methodologies etc., can vary considerably from one to another so it is important to find one that works for you.
Where do I find the right training?
I was a CEO for over twenty years, and towards the end, I honestly thought that I was a good coach. The reality is, I was very inconsistent in both my coaching of individuals and the subsequent results it produced. It wasn’t until I embarked on coaching full time that I realised how ineffective my coaching had been in the past. It was very much a case of ‘I didn’t know what I didn't know’.
Let’s assume you have engaged the right coach to suit your needs and have had first-hand experience of being coached yourself. You’ve now decided to become a coach leader within your business. However, you don't know the best avenue to receive the appropriate training.
If you are committed to developing yourself as a coach leader, I recommend you find appropriate training for what you want to achieve. Coaching members of your own team is markedly different from being an external coach, though many of the same principles apply. For example, you are unlikely to spend time learning about setting up your own coaching practice. On the other hand, it is beneficial to participate in a program with professional coaches and learn from them. Find a training program that supports you in developing yourself as a coach and practicing your newfound skills. Do your research and check with program graduates to determine the suitability for you.
My coaching clients always complete an assessment before I commence coaching them, as it supports them in identifying the areas we need to work on together with precision and accuracy. Completing an assessment also values their time, and investment. It means we spend less time identifying the core issues and more time in coaching. I will often use the analogy of visiting a doctor. If I present with abdominal pain, I would expect the doctor to perform some diagnostics, like checking my temperature and blood pressure and requesting a blood test or ultrasound before recommending any medicines or treatment. An appropriate assessment tool will do the same thing by supporting your coachee in identifying areas that may require attention.
You may hear differing opinions around assessment tools, though I suggest you make your own call on which one is best for you. I have a few simple rules when it comes to assessment tools. My number one rule is that I will only use an assessment tool that will clearly support my coachee in achieving the results they are seeking. I’ve tried, tested and used many over the past twenty years with varying success. Some are quite superficial in what they measure, others are great in some areas and not so good in others. Unfortunately, there are also a few assessment tools that are entirely inappropriate for use in coaching. I have a particular bias for the assessment tool I use these days. It’s called the Being Profile, and I use it with every one of my clients without exception, as it gets us to the heart of the matter accurately and quickly.
If you are interested in developing yourself as a coach leader, I encourage you to take the next steps, no matter what stage you’re at right now. Whether you are a veteran with decades of leadership under your belt or you’re just starting out on your leadership journey, there is no time like the present to take the leap. Start by engaging a coach and discover the benefits of coaching for yourself.