Here’s a familiar scenario…
Leader: I’d like to work with a leadership coach. I have this proposal from XYZ Coach who I really respect and connect with, what do you think?
Boss / In-house HR / L&D: Ok, sounds like a good idea but surely we can do this in-house cheaper and more effectively?
Leader: *feels ignored, not valued, like they’re about to get a compromised ‘solution’.
CEO: All we need to do is train up some internal coaches, right? How hard is this people stuff, anyway?
Leader: *face palms, waits 6-12 months so internal resources can be deployed to help, forgets why he even needed to develop, looks on Seek for more progressive company to work with
Sound familiar? Read on, my friends…
Most people have never truly experienced the 1-to-1 attention and focus on solving problems about their leadership confidence and skills with a skilled, experienced and certified leadership coach – so naturally, they’re not sure what’s involved. This leads us and our organisational decision-makers to hesitate about engaging a coach when we could already be breaking through to the next level of leadership and getting some real wins on the board.
In 2019, we conducted more than 500 personalised leadership coaching sessions with corporate clients at the front line, middle and senior management levels.
We know why organisations engage external leadership coaches, even when it could appear (on the surface) to be more efficient to attempt it with internal resources, such as our bosses or even internal L&D.
The key reasons we engage an external leadership coach over trying to work with our boss or internal L&D include:
- We want someone to hold space exclusively for us, so we can go directly to the heart of the matter in a confidential, 1-to-1 forum. This means it will only be about ‘us’ and what we must learn to next-level our leadership – not about what the boss wants or needs this week, not shoe-horning our learning needs to match the organisational direction, and not conveniently matching a curriculum of learning designed by our L&D department (which does play a very important role in leadership development, just not in a 1-to-1 coaching situation).
- We know that if we are coached by our boss or someone internal to our organisation that not only our performance will be judged, but our character and all our flaws, too. This means that we can never truly experience the level of openness and vulnerability required for deep, transformational learning. If revealing the deepest leadership fears and foibles so they can be addressed could also result in being regarded negatively for promotion or performance reviews, then there’s no way these problems can be safely aired and solved unless we’re with an independent, external coach.
- Often we don’t have the internal resources within our organisation which are needed to truly take our leadership to the next level. Either we don’t have these skillsets at all in our leaders or L&D department, or they are already heavily deployed, thus making personalised time developing key leaders 1-to-1 a ‘luxury’ when in fact, it’s an absolute necessity.
- Most people don’t have the core leadership coaching skills of being able to diagnose patterns, to articulate those back to the leader so they can be received in a safe and supportive way, to hold space for difficult or uncomfortable realisations and to do all this in a way that balances challenge and support. The biggest mistake an internal coach will often make is that they begin, over time, to prioritise the comfort of the ‘relationship’ with the client (which to them, means job security) over truly serving the leader at the highest level. Experienced coaches who have worked with many clients over the years are skilled at walking the fine line between challenging and developing the client and maintaining the professional relationship, with the knowledge that the relationship will come to a natural end and other clients will enter.
- Often, the contemporary leadership theories, frameworks, models and tools which contribute to a leader’s education are either: 1) not present in the organisation or 2) not applied with the leader at the critical points in their leadership learning and development. A skilled coach draws upon an extensive library of tools, but never with a pre-meditated objective or curriculum-based approach – we offer the exact tools to match the client’s current challenge, as it arises. We know that forcing a client to learn leadership content that doesn’t solve a current problem or match the exact challenge the leader is facing is a complete waste of time.
The consequences over time of struggling along with leadership development without a skilled coach to partner with are that key leaders never really break through to the next level of leadership competence – all because they don’t receive the individualised challenge and support needed.
Which leader, with a burning challenge right now, wants to engage with the standard, run-of-the-mill internal leadership programs with rigid curriculum imposed by someone who did an organisation-wide, generalised training needs analysis three years ago? Nobody. #wasteoftime
We want to engage with leadership learning that is pitched precisely for where we’re at right now, otherwise in the midst of all other work priorities, we’re unlikely to engage with leadership development at all.
The beautiful thing about leadership coaching is that on the foundation of learning to know and lead ourselves well, you’ll be able to bring to the table any leadership challenge you’re facing right now and tackle it with greater insight and behavioural flexibility.
We’ve coached hundreds of leaders over the years, and we can assure you that no journey is the same. We tailor every coaching program to you and your specific needs and meet you where your challenges are in every session.
If you’d like to explore leadership coaching with Angela from Equenti Leadership & Learning, just reach out for a conversation.
You are also invited to check out our free leadership development resources.