One overriding concern for many organisations is that they are looking to develop a strong leadership bench. However, they are finding that their employees do not possess the depth of talent and gravitas to take on a leadership role, much less successfully execute and deliver on a strategic plan or program.
One important approach to resolving this dilemma: targeted executive coaching. In fact, leadership coaching has become such an important part of an organization’s talent management and workforce planning strategies that over 60 percent of organisations surveyed are now using it.
In addition, companies are using coaching for high potentials and middle managers. They find that coaching helps leaders achieve the desired skills faster than training – i.e., the intervention is more specifically targeted to an individual leader’s needs. Coaching also involves working with the leader/coachee’s manager and thus helps the manager become more involved in the leader’s development.
While both terms are commonly used, it is easy to confuse executive coaching with mentoring. It is critical to understand the difference. A push-pull analogy applies: mentors provide guidance and ideas; coaches ask probing questions and extract thoughts and insights to help build their coachee’s knowledge and skill-sets.
Companies experiencing a talent mismatch cannot execute certain strategies because they do not have and/or are unable to find the right people. In many instances, they also do not have the resources on board to successfully promote high performers or coach new leaders.
Case in point: a large international accounting firm has grown rapidly through acquisition. However, their new employees do not have the required skill sets. Their HR executives also need to employ more sophisticated talent planning and talent management strategies and programs.
Since it has become an imperative for organisations to develop high potential performers, they have learned that leadership coaching is one of the best tools to accomplish this. When it comes to selecting the best approach – i.e., in-person versus virtual coaching, there is a large sea of opinion on this. Bottom line, the success of coaching will depend on the match between the coach and the coachee. Virtual coaching works best when complemented by the right balance of face-to-face encounters.
Other coaching trends include identifying goals, utilising a metrics-based approach and ensuring that you track results. Most important, you must match the right coach to the right coachee.
When it comes to executive coaching, where chemistry is king, it has the power to deliver significant organisational payoff.