Effective leadership through coaching

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BY AIDA WARAH

When you hear the word coach, what comes to mind? Perhaps a sports training session; or probably you may ask, which coach?

Well, coaching, much in the same manner it is applied in sports, has permeated leadership and management training at the workplace.

Incidentally, workplace coaching is not new, and may just be witnessing a comeback. Its history dates back to the times of Greek philosopher Socrates. He believed that individuals learnt best when they had ownership of a situation and took some form of personal responsibility for the outcome. It is at the backdrop of this thought that coaching as a leadership style is entrenched.

Author of Boosting Your Career Tips and Top Executives, Estienne de Beer, shares this thought. Estienne points out that great leaders touch the lives of their followers through coaching. “The key to consistent business success is to understand that people come before spreadsheets,” de Beer, an author and leadership coach, writes.

Coaching is focused on unlocking an individual’s potential in order to maximise his or her performance. Usually, a focus on improving one’s performance and development of skills is crucial for an effective coaching relationship.

There are two accepted forms of coaching: directive and non-directive. In the case of directive, the coach teaches and provides feedback and advice. Non-directive coaching requires that the coach listens, asks questions, explores, probes and allows the person being coached to find solutions to the problem. This means that while some coaches assert their expertise, others assists individuals to go beyond their previous limits.

Any organisation keen on getting returns from coaching ought to invest in it. Workplace coaching brings tremendous value. In a paper published under the title “Driving Change with Internal Coaching Programs”, two expert coaches – David Rock and Ruth Donde – state that the cost of training an executive coach “may be equal to three years’ worth of training budget for a mid-level employee.”

In Somalia, just like in other country, coaching has become an essential component of leadership in the workplace. In such organisations, the leaders become more than directors, supervisors or visionaries. They instead become genuine partners who understand that success is embedded in the achievements of those they work with.

Coaching is not only a corporate fundamental. It is a political one too. Somalia being in transformational transition, its government is currently enjoying the benefit of transformational leadership.

Coaching connects people’s personal goals with the organisation goals. A leader using this style of management is empathetic and encouraging, and focuses on developing others for future success.

This leadership style centres on in-depth conversations with employees. These conversations may go beyond current work, seeking to draw connection between long-term life goals and the organisation’s mission. Coaching has a positive impact on people because it is motivating and establishes rapport and trust.

Daniel Goleman explains that in coaching, the leader focuses on helping others in their personal development and their job-related activities towards a common goal. Through this, the leader assists team members to become successful in their development. This leadership style works perfectly when an employee appreciates his or her weaknesses and is open to ideas for improvement.

Goleman nonetheless observes that coaching is used less often. Many leaders say they don’t have time “for the slow and tedious work of teaching people and helping them grow”.

He cautions such leaders in an article published recently in LinkedIn, the professional networking online site, saying: “Leaders who ignore this style are passing up a powerful tool. Its impact on climate and performance are markedly positive.”

Coaching has a positive impact on talent retention. It can be applied to different areas, such as motivating staff, delegating, problem sharing, team building and staff development. It mainly focuses on what the people who are being coached want, what their goal is and how they can achieve it.

TYPES OF COACHING

Goal oriented coaching
This type of coaching is viewed alongside facilitation and training towards the attainment of specific strategies.

Executive coaching
Focuses on developing high performance leaders.

Self-coaching
Concerns interrogating one’s own experiences, views, opinions and beliefs with a view to finding improvement.