Who tells boss that they can improve their management or leadership? How do they look at themselves objectively and identify what areas they can improve and benefits of doing so?
These days many people have become more aware of need to look after their bodies and their health. Not only do many join gyms or start participating in sports regularly – a number are using personal trainers. Why do they choose to do this? Consider top performers in sports world, or areas such as drama and classical music. What do they have in common? The majority have equivalent of personal trainer (or more than one!). These are people at top of their field and yet they choose to do this. Why?
Some bosses have had formal management and leadership training, and many have not. Regardless, it does not mean that they have not got some areas which would improve with some conditioning, or reconditioning! Yet, as quotation below says, how many will: a) admit to these things, and b) do something about them?
“People will go to a lot of trouble to learn French or Physics or Scuba diving. They have patience to learn to operate a car, but they won’t be bothered learning how to operate themselves” -Newman & Berkowitz
We all know risks of not keeping ourselves in shape thanks to media and countless reports and surveys. How aware are we of risks to our organisations if we have too many bosses who are out of shape in terms of their own style or skills? The knock-on effect of them continuing to behave in same “out of shape” way can bad for people working around them and for organisation’s health.
Many bosses, whatever their roles or levels, do not like attending training programmes to develop themselves or their skills. Sometimes there are genuine reasons and often there are a range of frequently used excuses. (Too busy being a frequent cop-out – and is often a good symptom of problems with their management style and capability.) Whether you are “a boss” who recognises this, or someone who is interested in ways to influence bosses to develop themselves, you might need to look at other options!
The last few years have seen a massive growth in “coaching”, whether life-coaching, corporate coaching or executive coaching or other labels. This does tell us one thing, there is a market there for coaches! Also, that more people think that they can benefit from working with a coach. It is not only likes of Tim Henman and Tiger Woods who think like this!
Within corporate world, coaching is a very effective way of developing people. Although a significant amount of coaching occurs with board level executives, it is being used increasingly for other levels within organisation. There is a limited amount of data about return on investment from coaching though it is growing. Early studies can demonstrate an ROI of 6 TIMES investment – and that is in measurable outcomes, not intangible gains to organisation! This is for coaching used in isolation. One organisation measured improvements after training courses and found that they got around 22% improvement in productivity. When this was supported by coaching improvement was 88%!! Yes, coaching pays dividends!
So, what can a coach do to help boss get in shape? We believe that there are three key steps to effective coaching interactions and they have some similarities with signing up to gym and a personal trainer. (These form a process we refer to as “Coherent Coaching” shown in Fig.1.)
First things first – a diagnosis phase. This is critical to overall success of project. What is reason for thinking that boss needs to get in shape? (The fitness assessment?) The clearer you can be about areas to be addressed, existing situation and problems, impact on others in organisation, easier it will be to generate specific aims. This stage can look at boss in terms of organisational context and why coaching is being considered, and their personal style and behaviours. Not that these have to be mutually exclusive!