Coaching: Good vs. Evil

I was meeting with a new client last week and offered him the opportunity to have an anonymous 360 survey or have me personally call a few of his stakeholders to gain input for his leadership development.  He was hesitant at first, wondering how people would perceive him knowing he was getting leadership coaching.  Would they be jealous?  Suspicious?  Wondering what was ‘wrong’ with him that he needed coaching?  I watched as a myriad of emotions played across his face considering the outcome of such exposure.

This particular leader is very results driven, task focused, and achievement oriented.  His developmental areas are in the interpersonal relationship arena.  He gets great performance reviews but has ruffled a few feathers along the way.  He is in no danger of being fired, however he may be limiting his upward mobility.  My job is to help him learn new ways of interacting that inspire collaboration while getting the job done.  Even though his boss positioned the engagement as part of succession planning, he is still a bit unsure of her motives because no one else is getting coached – as far as he knows.

His struggle punctuated how important the positioning of coaching is within an organization.  In his particular company, coaching is not yet widespread; few people are getting coaching – even fewer are talking about it.  It is not promoted as a perk for high potentials or executives. It stands to reason he’d be cautious about letting people know he is getting coached.

In contrast, a Fortune 500 company I’m working with has announced a leadership development initiative with coaching as a key component and all of the leaders know who is being coached.  They even know each others’ developmental goals and are encouraged to hold each other accountable for goal attainment. Talk about leveraging your resources!  These leaders are super excited to be in this program and proud to have been selected.  Their energy and mindset in our coaching sessions is much different than the individual who is unsure why he is getting coached.  You can imagine the impact that has on reaching their goals.

How has your organization positioned coaching? Have you made it something to be proud or ashamed of?  Are you coaching your people to help develop them or as a last step before showing them the door?  If you have bought into the all the research supporting coaching as an essential developmental vehicle, pave the way for success by positioning it as such.  You will get a much better return on your investment.

Thanks for reading.  And remember – it’s your choice to make it a great day!

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