Success looks different to everyone. Coaching can help to identify growth areas for individuals to develop themselves, which will subsequently lead to positive business outcomes.
Reflecting on my early career I thought a successful leader was someone who ‘owned everything’, worked really hard and looked like they were the busiest in the room. Having now been coached by 2 line mangers and 2 independent coaches, I’ve witnessed first-hand that the benefits of coaching are vast.
When I was first informed that coaching would have a greater business impact, it led me to reflect on my current approach which made me realise that I wasn’t having the impact I needed. Based on the advice from my line manager, I took it upon myself to start making some changes. I listened to many podcasts about coaching and decided to write a list of coaching questions at the back of my notebook to hold myself accountable for giving it a go!
It is one of the hardest journeys I have been on. In my role, our customers are apprentices on a variety of programmes; if they fail those programmes, we have failed them. Although research suggests that making mistakes allows you to develop, when it comes to having someone’s future career in your hands, I’m not willing to make those mistakes. Developing apprentices means that I cannot let them down, so we cannot fail them!
I spent the next 5 months sitting on my hands, listening and asking questions. Over the next 5 months I tried coaching, I made mistakes but I mostly asked questions and listened. I then faced one of my biggest challenges where I didn’t feel that my contributions were having any impact. I went to my manager to tell them that I had to step in and solve the problem myself otherwise we would face significant failures. My manager responded by telling me “You’ve got it!”, and I realised that I had unlocked the value of using coaching as one of many tools within my toolbox as a successful leader.
A bit like most things in life, I now follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to coaching, where 80% of my time is spent coaching and empowering others, and 20% is spent stepping in and resolving the issue myself.
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The more I have coached the more I have enjoyed my role and the more colleagues have mobilised the strategies we have built as a team. Coaching results in ownership of purposeful work and means that a successful leader is one who can trust their team and have a holiday!
Having considered the benefits from my view, as a leader, the benefits to those receiving the coaching have also been significant. Gaining feedback my team have shared, they feel more empowered to make decisions. As with many business leaders a good outcome is to have a happy, motivated & high performing workforce. The impact of coaching on individuals can be varied in terms of the time it takes. Long-term, I have personally seen my business outcomes significantly improve through coaching, in terms of profitability, quality and team turnover, but it took time, nearly 7 years.
As I developed myself as a coach it struck me that being coached is also being developed as an individual – which means being willing to receive feedback that isn’t always welcomed. A good coach will challenge an individual so they develop themselves whilst being led to the best outcome.
This type of self-reflection allows current behaviours to be addressed and new habits to be created, ensuring that the learning is less likely to be forgotten and is more engrained in future behaviours. The application of learning is the most important step, and will lead to a ‘bag of tools’ for the individual to draw upon as they are faced with new experiences throughout their careers.
Thinking through this further, everybody should be given the opportunity to develop. I have heard many times ‘I am happy in my role, I don’t need to develop’ I am retiring soon… each time I feel compelled to respond with ‘Don’t you want to be even better in your role/ make it easier as development means we enjoy our roles more as more development means we are more effective in our roles and a better member of the team. No matter what our role being an impactful employee surely makes everyone feel better about themselves.