What Can Coaching Do that Nothing else Can?
Environment for your thinking on your own topic. The ever-changing (VUCA) World has influenced the way we learn. By the time someone has spotted the problem, worked out a solution, created a learning intervention (training, a course or even a paper) on the topic and made it available, the World will have moved on.
It also puts pressure on decision makers to make decisions in the moment, with little information and minimum of learning from others. So, an ability to think independently and to think fast becomes a differentiator for success.“Thinking for yourself is still a radical act, yet it is the thing on which everything else depends” (N. Kline, ‘Time to think’). Coaching provides a structure for this daunting task of grappling with the unknown – a coach will listen, ask questions and help the thinker to probe more deeply. Yet, the outcomes could be fresh and unique ideas on the issues that are relevant to the thinker and at the time they need to explore them.
Personalised development. The very best ideas can not guarantee success without being supported by the right behaviours. Everyone is a unique personality with their own special traits, some strengths and some weaknesses. We are successful when we understand them, maximise the former and deal with the latter. If not… Some estimate that 30% to 50% of high-potential managers and executives derail(Lombardo and Eichinger 2004) - some problematic personality traits become more visible or wrong behaviours get more impactful when the managers reach high position, ruining their careers and sometimes taking their companies with them. A training session or some reading is unlikely to address a very specific issue. Besides, to achieve sustainable results in behaviour change, one-off intervention is not enough. Coaching could be a great instrument for giving feedback, exploring the personality, challenging behaviours, working out individual solutions for development and providing support for self-discipline.
Fighting Leadership loneliness. Many successful leaders talk about a mentor figure they have in the beginning of their leadership journey who had a profound effect on their development and career. Good managers and sometimes senior relatives or friends help create a thinking environment or contribute to personalised development, using – consciously or not – coaching techniques. The closer to the top, the more rarefied is the atmosphere, the more difficult it is to find this mentor. Harvard Business Review reported in 2012 that more than half of CEOs report loneliness in their roles and a majority of those found that it negatively affected their performance. Sharing ideas could become commercially sensitive, sharing frustrations and feeling, showing vulnerabilities could be seen as too risky. Working with a professional coach could provide the safe environment, yet offer healthy challenge and foster development at any level.
Being flexible and highly personalised, Coaching is becoming a more popular development tool suited to modern reality of speed, change and customisation.