Why you need a coach

At its best, coaching is a set of revelatory conversations; creating space amongst all the noise of contemporary life; focusing on your chosen objectives with a trusted partner; being asked the right questions at the right time; and exploring both the question and the answer. As we manage more technology and feel more process-driven, this person-to-person focus can be the crucial enabler of our individual high-performance and enable greater organisational efficacy too.

Marginal Gains

According to a study from Stanford’s Center for Leadership Development and Research [1], most business leaders said they would welcome an outside perspective, but nearly two-thirds did not receive external coaching or leadership advice. Any previously-held perception of coaching as “remedial” rather than facilitating high-performance has changed. Top athletes have always relied on coaches to help them gather marginal gains in their performance. Bill Gates and former Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt, are vocal advocates of business coaching for the same reason. See what they say in this short video excerpt from Ted Talks.

Build the Impact of your Best Performers

Most coaching is about developing the capabilities of high-potential performers in a way which improves team and organisational performance. It is most beneficial to organisations, teams and individuals in situations where:

  • Coachees are transitioning to a more senior role, developing their strategic capability
  • Technically skilled managers require leadership coaching to fully engage and enable their team’s performance
  • Senior leaders are tasked with the delivery of complex projects, and would benefit from an external perspective to direct their critical thinking and focus
  • There is a business change (such as mergers, acquisitions or outsourcing) which demands leaders’ personal and professional readjustment.

Critical Impact

There are numerous benefits to both the organisation and to the coachee(s), all of which impact on measurable results and the bottom line.

For the Business:

  • Development and retention of the critical talent in your business
  • “Bringing the outside in” – especially where complex projects would benefit from external focus
  • Increasing focus on personal efficiency and organisational productivity
  • Providing a stabilising factor when change occurs and leaders need to simultaneously work through the personal and professional implications
  • Facilitating knowledge-sharing and skill-transfer across the organisation by highlighting critical networks and ensuring key relationships are prioritised.

For the Individual:

  • Improving performance, motivation, morale and stress management
  • Providing an unthreatening but challenging environment for discussion, where challenges can be explored without censure
  • Enabling the transition from one career level to another
  • Giving self-directed learning which builds this learning habit
  • Exploring stakeholder relationships, whether internal or external, to build focus and efficacy.

Which Coach?

“Willingness and good chemistry [are] by far the most frequently cited ingredients of a successful coaching relationship.” – Anne Scoular, London Business School. The coachee needs to be ready to be coached, and also needs to make sure that the coach is someone that s/he can have a good interaction with. Research suggests that a coach should not be engaged on the sole basis of their experience and credentials. The “personal fit” for coach and coachee has to be a good one.

The Contract

All great coaching is built on trust, integrity and skill. However, for organisations the crucial thing is that it delivers a measureable impact. Starboard coaches initiate a 3-way contract between Coach, Coachee and sponsoring Manager to agree the critical impact opportunities of the coaching assignment. This involves being clear and specific upfront about what the coachee is focused upon – for example, entering a new market; building a new product or service; or transitioning to a broader leadership role. This contract clarifies what success will ultimately look like at the end of the coaching relationship. Subsequent face-to-face meetings between the 3 parties are then held at the middle and end of the coaching period to review results against the original commitment and purpose. Coaching would typically take place over a 6-9 month period, though this is entirely dependent on the needs of the coachee and the organisation.

Coaching Questions

Coaching conversations are always bespoke to coachees and their particular challenges, but the following questions give an idea of what may be asked to direct a person’s insight in particular situations:

  • Who do you need to spend more time with?
  • Which important activities do you procrastinate on?
  • How can you improve your relationship with your customers and more frequently ask for feedback?
  • What is your unique contribution to [a project]? How can you accentuate it?
  • What is not working optimally [on the project or in on-going relationships with key stakeholders]? What can you do to address this?
  • What capabilities do you value in your team? Do they know that? What tasks can you start to delegate and to whom?
  • What are the 20% of activities that deliver 80% of your results?

Coaching, Mentoring & Psychometrics

Coaching is directing insight and self-reflection in order to successfully transition from where coachees are now to where they want to get to. Mentoring, on the other hand, draws strongly on the mentor’s knowledge and experience to strengthen the mentee’s learning and performance. Starboard provides experienced mentors to deliver insight to future and existing leaders, with a specialism in HR leaders.

Psychometrics can also enhance the coaching and mentoring process, building personal insight to enhance effectiveness. Our coaches are accredited practitioners of a range of tools including Myers-Briggs, Predictive Index Analysis, SHL, SDI and the GC Index.

Starboard offers coaching with insight, tailored to the needs of the businesses, teams and individuals we work with. To talk to us about our coaching programmes, please call us on 01727 847398 or email us.

[1] 2013 Executive Coaching Survey, By David F. Larcker, Stephen Miles, Brian Tayan, Michelle E. Gutman, The Miles Group and Stanford University. August 2013