I don’t think anyone can argue that change is one of the biggest challenges facing leaders in today’s work environment. Work is changing. The workforce is changing. The model of a leader and a successful organization is evolving. Leaders are realizing more and more that, with the increasing rate and amount of change, there is a need for new tools to navigate the new normal. Leaders are discovering and turning to coaching.
Coaching has been around for decades but in recent years has seen unprecedented growth and a move into new areas within the organization and into new types of organizations. In the early days, coaching was more or less owned by ‘human resources’ or ‘personnel management’. Most often it was a tool employed by larger organizations and at a time when the organization was going through a major change or certain difficulty. It was also typically reserved for top executives. But all of that is changing. Oops, there is that word again. Coaching is permeating organizations at all levels and can be found in the largest companies and all the way down to the start-up. Why is coaching taking off? It is helping individuals and organizations not only adapt to change but thrive.
Why does coaching work so well in today’s environment? Coaching as part of a leadership style, or as we like to say, the coach approach to leadership, is a holistic method that can easily be adapted while at the same time producing desired and sustainable changes. Coaching in leadership is not a set formula but a flexible and adaptable tool that evolves with the ‘coach’, coachee and environment so that the approach and outcomes are never outdated. This new coach approach to leadership can be integrated throughout the organization and sustained for long-lasting positive change. Notice that I use ‘coach approach’ and put ‘coach’ in parentheses. There is a very important reason. You don’t have to be a certified or professional coach to learn and use coaching skills.
But, will coaching and the coach approach to leadership remain viable as we move into the next decade? To find the answer, I think one needs to look no further than the trends taking place in leadership.
As leaders and coaches, we must pay attention to trends and predictions to stay relevant. So, let’s start by checking in with some of the leadership authorities and their predictions for leadership of the future. As you read through the list, take notice of what this list tells us about how well coaching fits into leadership of today and the future.
Below are what some of the experts are seeing as trends in leadership. Do you see the same trends? Do you see how well coaching fits with leadership of today and the future?
- Need for agility. Leaders and their organizations are becoming / must become more agile to survive and thrive. As leaders, it's important to adopt a nimble mindset and culture.
- Evolving leadership norms. The age range in the workforce will continue to expand. With the decrease of age-based seniority, leadership will be taken by the best person for the role and will likely shift frequently in an agile environment.
- Foster and sustain employee engagement. Leaders and organizations need to focus on soft skills such as emotional intelligence that have a strong impact on engagement and the effort employees put into communicating.
- Taking a holistic approach to human capital development. Helping employees thrive in all areas of their lives (not just work), will create more engagement, productivity and overall happier employees.
- Leadership empathy. Gen Y and Gen Z talent will continue to leave command-and-control cultures for collaborative workplaces. The ability to understand, relate to and be sensitive to employees, colleagues and communities will be paramount. We will see an even greater emphasis on listening, relating and coaching to drive effective leadership.
- A focus on individual growth. Leaders need to identify and build talent quickly. Helping employees reach their peak potential will be required to help the organization stay competitive and thrive.
Hopefully you’ve come to the same conclusion that I did – coaching and the coach approach to leadership is well positioned to help organizations and individuals thrive well into the next decade.
If you are interested in supporting long-lasting positive change through coaching, be sure to check out our recent webinar on this topic. If you are ready to try coaching out, a great place to start is our Using Coaching to Lead™. This is a hands-on class where you will learn what coaching is, how it is being used to transform the work environment and two coaching skills you can start utilizing immediately – in just 3 hours.
 Leadership Trends To Watch For From Now To 2022 accessed at https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/08/21/leadership-trends-to-watch-for-from-now-to-2022/#70df3c936658 and 14 Leadership Trends That Will Shape Organizations In 2018 accessed at https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/01/30/14-leadership-trends-that-will-shape-organizations-in-2018/#50ce4fe15307
I wanted to let you know about another coaching resource: The STaR Coaches Show. This is a series of podcasts, nearly 100 shows strong, that feature coaching experts on a wide variety of topics. I was recently invited as a guest to talk about Creating Organizational Impact Through Coaching Conversations, Episode #94.
In this podcast I share our experience working with three organizations to illustrate how leaders and managers are using coaching within their organizations to address challenges and, quite literally, transform individuals and teams. These are real organizations dealing with real challenges. In the podcast you’ll learn more about how and why these organizations turned to coaching and the results they achieved including;
- Challenges being faced
- Why they felt coaching was a good solution
- The approach used to bring coaching in
- Results being achieved
I also have a clarifying discussion about what it means to bring coaching to an organization. Contrary to what some think, this does not mean that every person must become a credentialed coach. Rather, everyone in the organization can learn coaching skills and have coach-like conversations. This puts the power of coaching in the hands of everyone.
Another important point covered is the ‘how’ organizations bring coaching in. I highlight three different organizations that used three different approaches; one primarily used external resources, another primarily used internal resources and the third used a blend of the two. The important point is that there are different approaches available and it is just a matter of finding the one that works best for your organization.
Regardless of the approach, the results seen are similar and powerful. These organizations are seeing improvement in;
- Ability to give feedback
- Conflict resolution
- Team communication
- Ability to engage in solutions-based discussions and promote accountability
Listen to the entire podcast here. Be sure to check out the show’s other topics.
There are many options when it comes to finding a coach training program whether you are looking to become a coach or learn coaching skills. In fact, there are so many options it can be difficult to know which coach training program is the right one for you. This article provides important information and practical tips to help you sort through the multitude of options, so you can find the best program for you.
Where to start
Before starting a coach training program, it is a good idea to do your research, talk to your network and answer a few questions. First you need to determine what type of training you need, then how much training you should complete. You’ll also want to know your budget and timeframe. Knowing these upfront can help you narrow the choices down and streamline the process.
How do you become a coach?
What is required to become a coach? The short answer is, it depends. To more fully answer this question, it is helpful to first understand more about the coaching profession.
The coaching profession is currently unregulated so there are no set requirements that one must meet before becoming a coach. It is up to the individual to determine how much and what type of training to complete. The exception, if you want to obtain a coaching credential such as the Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coach Federation (ICF) you will find very specific training requirements.
The amount and type of training needed to become a coach depends somewhat on your goals and the type of coaching practice you envision. Coaching is multidimensional and is best thought of on a continuum. On one end of the continuum are trained, professional coach practitioners who work as an internal or external coach. On the other end are individuals who want to learn core coaching skills to use in their profession. The type and extent of training needed can vary dramatically depending on where you are, or where you want to be, on the continuum. Get a better idea of the coaching continuum by looking at the figure below, courtesy of the International Coach Federation (ICF).
So, if there are no formal training requirements to become a coach, what training should be completed? While there are ‘coaches’ who have no formal training (not recommended), most practitioners as well as managers/leaders using coaching skills have gone through some type of training program. As you do your research you will find that a wide variety of coach training programs exist. Make sure you know the answer to the following questions;
- Is the program accredited from a professional coaching organization?
- Does the program satisfy some or all requirements for earning a coach certification or credential?
- Does the program offer approved coach specific training hours?
- Does the program offer Continuing Coach Education (CCE) credits?
- Is the training done in-person, virtually or a blend of the two?
- How many in-class and outside the classroom hours will be required?
What skills do you need to be a coach?
When most of us think of coaching, we think of someone who has excellent communication skills and the ability to inspire and motivate. But being a good coach goes much further. According to the ICF, coaches should possess the following core competencies;
- Establishes ethical guidelines and professional standards
- Establishes the coaching agreement
- Establishes trust and intimacy with the client
- A coaching presence
- Active listening
- Powerful questioning
- Direct communication
- Creating awareness
- Designing actions, planning and goal setting and managing progress and accountability
How much does it cost to become a coach?
Of course, the answer to how much it costs to become a coach depends on your goals and the training path you decide to take. Factors that determine the cost of a coach training program include accreditation, duration and format. Costs for a coach training program typically range from a few hundred dollars for a single course up to $10,000 or more for an accredited, intensive, in-person program that meets the requirements for obtaining a coaching credential.
Do you need to be certified?
Currently the coaching industry is not regulated by any country or state and coaches are not required to have specific training or credentials. However, more clients expect their coach to have completed formal training / obtained a credential and more coaches are getting the coach specific training needed to meet this expectation.
This is the second in my series on tips for tackling Coaching Challenges.
Today I want to talk about a common but very important challenge – coaching the poor communicator. Of course, communication can be written or verbal and many points in this article can apply to both, but the focus today is really on interpersonal verbal communication.
First, we need to help our coachee identify the barriers getting in the way of good communication. Once we understand the reasons for poor communication, we need to help them break down the barriers and start building a path that will lead to clear, open, honest and productive communication.
Let’s start with the definition. We all know what communication is but sometimes I think it is helpful to go back to the basics. So here are a couple of definitions;
- a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior
- the imparting or exchanging of information or news
- means of connection between people or places
There are a few key words in these definitions; exchange and connection. When information is exchanged there must be a balance between giving and receiving. When communication works, there is a connection between the individuals involved. This gives us clues as to where we might focus when working with a poor communicator. Are they able to give and receive information effectively and in doing so make a positive connection? If not, where is the breakdown occurring? What is getting in the way and preventing them from being a good communicator?
Another aspect to consider is the goal of the communication. Common goals of communication are to;
- Build relationships
It can be helpful to unpack this a bit. For example, is the coachee good when the goal is to inform but lacking when it is to persuade or build relationships?
After exploring the process of communication and goals it can helpful to do some discovery around the most common barriers to good communication.
This is one area where your questioning skills really come into play. Use your questioning skills to ask powerful coaching questions that will help you and your coachee identify the barriers that prevent them from communicating in a way that is heard and well received by their audience.
As you work through the process, look for clues to these 7 common barriers.
Here’s an example of how you can use your questioning skills to break down the barrier or work through the process. Let’s say you identify that your client has emotional barriers, a common obstacle that gets in the way of open and honest communication.
Emotional barriers often involve fear, mistrust and suspicion. The roots of our emotional mistrust of others can be deep and long-standing. Often developed during childhood and then reinforced throughout our lives. Because of these emotional barriers people hold back from communicating or develop styles that are more closed, filtered and deceitful rather than healthy, open and honest.
Your success in this process will be based on your ability to not only ask excellent questions, but to ask them in a manner that is open, unattached and judgment-free. Asking not only the appropriate question, but in the appropriate way, is very important to the learning, living and communications process, especially for someone who is challenged by emotional barriers.
Here are 7 questions to get you started.
- Are you aware your perspective may be limiting your success?
- Do others feel safe sharing with you?
- When you are unsure of something, how does that affect your communication style?
- Is it easy for you to say what you think?
- How well do you listen to people?
- What one thing stands in your way?
- What can you dump that you won’t miss?
If you’d like more suggestions for questions to help you tackle coaching’s biggest challenges or training to develop your questioning skills, we have three resources for you to check out.
‘Tis the season for many things but one of the things on your list should be goal setting for 2018. As coaches, goal setting is a fundamental part of what we do and how we help our coachees. We use our coaching skills to help them figure out for THEMSELVES what goals they want to set and how THEY will go about achieving them.
But don’t forget about you! Hopefully you’ve already got your personal goals written down and know what you will do in 2018 to achieve them. If you haven’t completed the process yet, not to worry. The end of the year can sneak up on us. Often, we are so busy helping our coachees that we can let our personal work take a back seat. So now is the time to focus on your goals and plans for 2018. Take some time between now and January 1 to get those goals set. Regardless of where you are in the 2018 goal setting process, I’d like to challenge us all to think big for 2018. The coaching industry is taking off and that is creating new and exciting opportunities. Don’t settle for incremental gains in 2018!
This challenge, to think big and set big goals for 2018, may be daunting to some. Incremental gains feel safe. Big goals can create anxiety and fear in some, but they can also be energizing and a catalyst for change. There may be specific roadblocks and obstacles that have prevented you from setting or achieving big goals in the past. This is an opportunity to knock those obstacles down. One tool that can be very useful in helping you knock those obstacles down is our Personal Groundwork for Coaching Assessment Tool. This assessment tool has been carefully crafted to help you get to the root of blocks, prioritize areas to focus on first and develop a plan to tackle the issues.
The assessment is divided into six sections:
- Physical Environments
- Health and Wellness
- Money and Finances
- Relationships and Communication
- Time and Space
- Career and Business
You might wonder what some of these topics have to do with goal setting and achievement. But that is precisely the point. We each bring every aspect of our history, experience and lives into our work. These things can impact our effectiveness or hold us back. Often, in fact, it is our deep-seated experiences, past successes and failures, fears and insecurities that are at the root of what is propelling us forward or holding us back. So, we need to uncover what these are so that we can remove the obstacles and roadblocks that are preventing us from achieving big goals.
Once you have your big goals set, use the tool with your coachees. Just think of the difference we can make when we set and achieve our big goals for 2018.