Research Paper By Taaka Awori
(Leadership Coach, GHANA)
This research paper has been prepared in fulfillment of the graduation requirements of the International Coach Academy’s (ICA) Advanced Programme. It argues that having an effective personal or organizational leadership brand is critical for leadership effectiveness. It then posits that coaching, which has increasingly played a key role in leadership development, can be an important tool for organizations and individuals as they craft an effective leadership brand. In this respect, it demonstrates how coaching can:
- Increase a leader’s self- awareness
- Enable a leader to assess their context and what type of leadership is required for that situation
- Enable a leader to assess the impact of one’s leadership style on others
- Support a leader to identify blind spots.
- Support a leader to align their actions and behaviours.
A new model of leadership has emerged to respond to an increasingly complex world: “Leadership is influence.” In the past, influence was often seen as being about force and the exertion of power over another. In many parts of the world this is still the case, particularly with respect to political leadership. However, in today’s complex information- centered world, where innovation, creativity and knowledge determine which organizations, companies and countries thrive, a different model of leadership is required. In this model of leadership, “leaders must earn the ability to influence what people think about, what they value, and how they express those values in the decisions they make from day to day.”
The growing importance of having the right leadership brand: It is in this context that the idea of a leadership brand is gaining in popularity and is becoming a critical means by which managers are defining the leadership style and approach they want to be associated with. A leadership brand can be thought of at two levels: at the individual level and at the organizational level. At the individual level, it has been defined as something that conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader. At the institutional level, a leadership brand is a reflection of an organisation’s ability to turn out strong leaders and become a “leader feeder” firm. These are companies who have focused not just on developing individual leaders but growing the organization’s overall leadership capability.
Leadership development has evolved significantly in the past 20 years. In the past, leadership development was centered on classroom learning with a strong focus on concepts and theories. Today it is more experiential and directed on addressing practical challenges that a leader is facing in the work place. Indeed, the current approach to leadership development has been described as being more about:
- “cognition and affection;
- experiential and embodied;
- addressing real challenges that matter;
- collectively learning with colleagues so that the relationship develops as well as the individuals;
- cycles of action learning"
Coaching has become a central part of leadership development. Coaching has gained prominence in leadership development as the latter has become more experiential. This is because the individualized approach of coaching has enabled managers to focus on the immediate leadership challenges they are facing and their unique learning needs. Additionally, coaching has enabled leaders to gain deeper self-awareness and develop specific skills. For these reasons, this paper describes how coaching can be used not just broadly for leadership development but for development of a personal and organizational leadership brand in particular.