A Research Paper created by Cindy Chen
(Corporate/Executive/Career Coaching, CANADA)
Twenty years ago, few people had heard of coaching outside the sports field. Today it is a buzzword in corporations all over the world, especially in the Fortune 500 and other growth-driven companies. Leader as coach has also gained popularity in recent years for a good reason. Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of GE said,
“In the future, people who are not coaches will not be promoted. Managers who are coaches will be the norm.” – Jack Welch
Why coaching and coach-like leaders? This article is about coaching and leader as coach in the workplace – what it is about, the benefits of it and how it works. It also covers the coaching mindset and spirit (7 enlightening principles), 9 key coaching skills and tools, an effective coaching model (GROWTH model) and how to develop coaching competences in leaders.
With over 15 years of experience in leadership and organization development field working both as an internal resource and as an external consultancy, I will also discuss the best ways of using coaching in the workplace, with both individuals and teams.
What Is Coaching In Corporate Settings?
The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as: partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
Coaching is different from the directional approaches of telling, instructing, advising and training. In a broad perspective, coaching refers to the various inspirational forms of guiding, questioning, mentoring and empowering.
In corporate settings, coach-like leaders ask powerful questions not only to gather facts, but also to elicit thoughts, feelings, solutions, beliefs, values and aspirations out of the person. It is a highly interactive process to help individuals and organizations improve performance and achieve extraordinary results.
John Whitmore, in his book Coaching for Performance, emphasized the dual function of corporate coaching – improving performance and facilitating learning.
A manager’s task is simple – to get the job done and to grow his staff. Time and cost pressures limit the latter. Coaching is one process with both effects.
Harvard educationalist Timothy Gallwey also said, “Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”.
Coaching Style Leadership
While coaching sometimes takes place in designated “coaching sessions”, it is also used by many organizations as a style of leadership.
The coaching style of leadership is one in which the leader typically takes a ‘step back’ in order to empower team members and elicit their commitment and creativity, helping them to both get the job done and learn something new in the process. Instead of giving orders or dispensing knowledge, the leader asks questions to support and foster growth and development in others.
As a way of leading people, coaching differs from the traditional “command and control” approach in the following ways:
- collaborating instead of controlling
- delegating more responsibility
- talking less, listening more
- giving fewer orders, asking more questions
- giving specific feedback instead of making judgments
By comparison, coaching might look like a less dynamic style of leadership – the leaders are more like asking and listening instead of ordering or instructing, which seems like giving away the authority. However, if you think about the most respected and inspiring leaders you have worked with or heard of, what would have made them different from others?
To most people, the answer is NOT about how the leader has instructed them, corrected them or demonstrated authority in front of them, BUT about how the leader has motivated them, engaged them, seen the best in them and supported growth in them. Leaders can have a powerful influence on their people, team and organization when they adopt a coaching style of leadership.