Every leader should have a coach
Updated: Jan 27, 2019
Whenever I tell people that I am a leadership coach they reflect on their own experiences of leaders. They usually recount their bad experiences: leaders who were impersonal, aggressive or autocratic. And they recognise that yes, coaching could have helped.
And whilst coaching can certainly help in such situations, it can do so much more.
In the past, coaching was seen primarily as a negative intervention. As a way of helping failing leaders to do better. But it is increasingly seen as a way of helping all leaders to reach their potential.
For those starting out in leadership, there are new skills to learn.
The technical skills that helped new leaders reach their current role are no longer enough.
Soft skills such as relationship building, self-awareness and empathy are increasingly important – and recognised as fundamental to the success of a leader.
Coaching can support leaders in embedding these skills and making them second nature.
Coaching is also acknowledged as a highly effective way to support emerging leaders - the stars of today who could be the leaders of tomorrow. It helps them to move into leadership roles with more confidence and self-awareness than they might otherwise have.
This has helped to move coaching from a remedial action to a badge of honour in many workplaces.
In progressive organisations coaching helps with the achievement of business goals through maximising the performance of all leaders.
Typically, the higher up the organisation you are, the less support you get. And the less likely you are to have a boss who knows all aspects of your role better than you. As a leader, you may now be the company expert in a particular area and expected to have all the answers.
Leaders often feel that they should have it all sussed and should no longer need support. But the guidance of a coach can be invaluable. Because no leader is perfect. The most effective finance director a company has ever had may be held back by a fear of public speaking. The leader who has been highly successful in one area may find it difficult to deliver in another.
Many leaders suffer from impostor syndrome, doubting their accomplishments and worrying that they are going to be exposed as a fraud. Even Michelle Obama is no stranger to this. It is widespread and can really hold people back. Those who on the surface may seem to be highly capable leaders could be suffering from a crippling lack of confidence or be close to burnout.
That is why coaching can be so valuable.
Coaching provides space for reflection, perspective and deep thinking. It increases self-awareness and supports the development of new skills. It enables leaders to overcome their obstacles and to progress more confidently towards ambitious goals. This time to think and receive supportive and constructive challenge is something which few would receive without a coach by their side.
This is why many of the world’s most successful leaders have coaches and benefit enormously from them. This is clearly shown in this short video by the ex-CEO of Google Eric Schmidt:
There is no such thing as a perfect leader. Every leader has their own unique blend of experiences, behaviours and skills. But coaching can help all leaders be the best that they can possibly be.