COACHING – Many leaders recognize that coaching is an excellent tool for leaders to intentionally improve their personal performance, and thereby, the performance of their organization. A number of coaching models are available, from regular (usualy monthly) in-person coaching sessions, to coaching by phone, by email, and combinations of the above. The timing, style, and expected deliverables need to be discussed between the coach and the leader, to make sure the relationship starts on a good footing. And then the coaching relationship evolves as the coach and the client find what best meet the needs of the client. A more detailed view of my views toward coaching is below.
Do you need a coach?
Learning ABOUT being a good leader is not hard. However, learning TO BE a good leader is hard. This is the classic tension between theory and practice. There is no shortage of books about what good leadership looks like, and what characterizes good leadership in different contexts. And there is no shortage of people like me, who can share their experiences and insights about leadership in a presentation of an hour or so, or lead a seminar, in which most of the standard items are covered. But are books, presentations and seminars the most effective and efficient ways to truly help oneself to be a better, no, a great, leader? They clearly don’t hurt, and they can help, but I believe experience combined with coaching is the best process for developing oneself as a leader.
I believe that becoming an effective leader is a life-long journey. I’ve always found it useful to compare becoming a good leader to becoming proficient at other activities that require skill and practice – such as sports, or learning a language, or a musical instrument. In sports, music, language, and yes, leadership, there are clearly naturally gifted and talented people who learn quickly and seem to become very proficient on their own. But those who want to rise to the next level, to become better than their talented peers, and truly excel, get a coach. All of us need regular and honest feedback from someone we trust, to help us see ourselves as others see us, to see what we miss when we’re in the business of practicing our craft, and to help us hold ourselves accountable for what we know we need to do. The best athletes have coaches; the best musicians check in regularly with their teachers; the best writers depend on their editors. And the best leaders have coaches. Coaching can be particularly important in the world of leadership and professional development, where results and impact are not always easily measurable.
The best leaders of the best institutions realize that they need honest and effective feedback and accountability mechanisms to be most effective – and for many reasons, they can’t expect to get that from within their organizations. A friend of mine, a former CEO of a major corporation, told me that those leaders who most need a coach, don’t want one, and he noted that part of what distinguishes many of the best leaders from the rest, is that first, they recognize that a coach can make them better, and second, they then take the initiative to get one. The awareness that they could be better, the desire to get better, and the willingness to set aside the time and resources to become better, is what distinguishes the best from the ‘also rans.’
What does Bob Schoultz do as a coach?
While I am prepared to bring my own experience to bear in helping a client to bring out the best in him or herself, my coaching style assumes that the leader I am coaching probably knows the best answers to most of the problems and dilemmas she or he encounters, and primarily needs assistance to reinforce and discovere those answers within. The best coaches do not provide answers; they ask questions, and the art is in asking questions that challenge the leader to think, take a different look at what s/he is doing, and how s/he is dealing with the world. In that process, doors open to allow insight and breakthrough to come in. This process should help the leader to find and assess the new, and hopefully better options for moving forward. Also being effectively coached, helps the leader to be a better coach for his/her subordinates, in developing them as future leaders.
I also strongly believe that it important for leaders to identify for themselves those few central values that truly drive their behavior and decisions, and ensure those are the values that they indeed WANT to be driving their behavior, decisions and actions.
I have been educated in Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching, a very powerful method for empowering one’s stakeholders to help you hold yourself accountable for the behaviors and improvements you want to make in your leadership style and approach. But it is only one of many approaches that are available to help you to stay focused on your goals and what is important, not only today, but over the long term. Coaching helps you to stay focused, and to prioritize your time, energy and resources to achieve both your short and long term objectives. I negotiate the approach and manner with my client before the relationship begins, and we revisit it after a few sessions, to see what adjustments need to be made to our approach to your goals, to best help you to meet them. Our goal is for you to make the improvements you want in your effectiveness, not only in producing results in your own work, but in inspiring others to produce better results in their work.
If after looking at my background, and what I do, you think I might be able to help you to become the leader and person you want to be, contact me. We would initially meet in person, over the phone, or by skype to determine whether I am a good fit for you, and you a good fit for me. And if so, and we agree to work together, only then would we enter into a coaching relationship.
CONSULTING I am prepared to consult and work with organizations in a consulting relationship in the areas that fit my specialty. If interested, please contact me.