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Is coaching a key skill for successful leadership?

Is coaching a key skill for successful leadership?
At RSVP Design we focus on 4 key aspects of leadership and work with our clients to develop their capability in these areas. We believe that if leaders get these vital dimensions of their leadership right, they are likely to achieve their organisational and personal goals. We therefore create experiential learning programmes, simulations and activities that allow leaders, and would-be leaders, to develop competence and confidence in:

1. Establishing a direction and strategy

- combine innovative, future focused thinking with critical evaluation of the options available

2. Influencing others to follow

- combine selling a vision of the future and ensuring that it meets the goals and needs of the followers

3. Building capability to deliver the strategy

- involving the engagement and development of people as well as the provision of the physical and emotional resources needed to succeed

4. Monitoring impact

- which is about ensuring that the systems and processes in place are fit for purpose and that the activity undertaken is actually achieving the agreed business goals and strategy

These four aspects of leadership suggest what leaders need to do. We encourage leaders to think about their own daily activities and to ask themselves whether what they are doing relates directly to one or more of these leadership responsibilities. However, this overview of purposeful leadership activity does not consider how leaders are working with their people.
When you drill down and ask questions about how leaders must work with their teams to achieve these goals, you constantly come back to some basic processes: consultation, questioning, listening and coaching.

How can you influence others without having coaching conversations?

We believe that it is very difficult. Influence is based upon knowing a lot about the people you wish to influence: their hopes, dreams, values and beliefs.

Finding out what people want to achieve, what is important to them about how they do this, what their concerns and anxieties are and how they believe they could be successful, is vital in being able to gain their commitment to taking up a challenge.

How can you build confidence and capability without having coaching conversations?

Again, we believe this is difficult without the person interaction and sharing that coaching allows. Coaching gives people permission to reflect on their current situations, skills, problems and opportunities. As they are coached, they identify possible options, ways forward and alternative directions that they may not have identified for themselves. As part of the process, they are able to evaluate their own performance, think about the support they need and assess their own levels of commitment to the goals they say they aspire to achieve. As leaders coach, they are able to make much finer judgments about:
a) what they need to provide to help their followers grow and develop and b) what type of leadership approach will work best for each individual, or team, they lead.

As leaders, if we are charged with monitoring impact, in order to ensure that everything we are doing is purposeful, sustainable and effective, we need feedback from those ‘at the coalface’. Performance and process improvement depends upon people looking for ways of doing things better, challenging inefficiencies and suggesting innovations. Again, coaching is a great tool for encouraging accountability, at all levels, for quality and the achievement of standards. When a leader is presented with a problem or a complaint, adopting a coaching approach (in which the individual concerned works towards their own solution) ensures that the ownership of the issue remains with the individual and the commitment to the self-determined course of action is likely to be greater than if the leader provided ‘the answer’.

If we accept these ideas, coaching becomes a skill that leaders simply must develop. Coaching conversations can happen anywhere, at any time. They take no more than a few minutes in a corridor or on a supermarket floor. Or, they may be part of an employee’s ongoing, structured professional development. However they happen, they take the pressure off leaders and engage and empower those they lead.

Surely this is a worthwhile investment?

For managers and leaders new to coaching, RSVP Design offers a fully developed and resourced one-day workshop for in-house delivery: Developing Others through Coaching.

In addition, many of our experiential learning activities build coaching skills in active and enjoyable ways:

Voyage Mapping Individual Coaching Version
Coach individuals to reflect and review on previous journeys and experiences in order to plan for the future, either in a personal or business context.
GROW Coaching Cards

Three sets of cards to help leaders, managers, or facilitators coach individuals or teams and set out specific goals and how to achieve them.

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