Creating a High Performance Coaching Culture


Leadership coaching isn’t about teaching a leader to do the things they already know, but better. It is about putting the ball in the right hands of their teammates and guiding them to victory.

Recently the movie The Kings Speech was in theaters.  This was about the man who became King George VI and how his speech therapist, Lionel Logue, helped him overcome a severe stutter. It was also about how the therapist (coach) helped King George VI believe in himself so he could overcome his limitations, the British population’s belief he was unfit for the throne, and become the leader that had been hidden beneath. Through a coaching process, King George VI learned to trust himself and thereby overcome his stutter. King George VI wasn’t a poor leader. He just lacked the confidence to be a leader because everyone doubted him and it manifested itself through a speech impediment.

Within any organizational environment, there are hundreds of King George VIs just waiting to emerge with the proper coaching yet too often organizations grab an internal manager and assign them to an employee so they will be coaxed into doing their job better.  This isn’t coaching but skills training.

Effective leadership coaching starts with the right culture and a supportive upper management that believes that it brings value to the organization. It also means that coaching must not be limited to senior executives, but be embraced throughout the organization, creating a coaching culture.

According to the UK-based Institute of Leadership and Management study Creating a Coaching Culture, “coaching is a particularly powerful tool in the modern workplace – one that has proven to be a highly effective way of developing individual and organizational performance by unlocking capability.”

Coaching for leadership is about creating a culture that, through its leaders, can achieve a high level of performance. It is not about job training, skills development or getting a new certification. It is about helping a leader be a better motivator, mentor and change manager.

Too often the organization’s goals trump the individual’s goals, leaving the individual to fend for themselves. Although an organization’s goals are important, leadership coaching focuses on individual development, and in turn, organizational development. An organization can facilitate a coaching culture by helping the individual leader improve in some very important areas: better communications, conflict resolution, interpersonal skills, management abilities and confidence building. What isn’t a focus in leadership coaching are organizational priorities like productivity and profitability. These are indirectly achieved through an individual’s improved leadership abilities.

An effective coach, working within a coaching culture, will be much more effective in helping a leader achieve far more than if the leader was left to learn it from a book. In the elusive search for better ROI, a leadership coaching culture and supportive management that believes that there is value in coaching leaders, will go a long way to achieving an organization’s objectives.

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