Coaching has become a key element in most leadership development
initiatives. Once conceived of as training reserved for only a few
individuals at the apex of the organization chart, it is available
to a much broader segment of the leadership team. A growing body of
empirical data confirms the positive effect of coaching.
Analysis confirms that effective coaches have employees who are
confident that the organization will achieve its strategic goals.
Alternatively, ineffective coaches have employees who are twice as
likely to think about quitting their jobs.
But what exactly produces these superior results? Is it that
coaching communicates a strong interest in the individual's
personal development that goes far beyond the immediate job
performance? Is it the specific ideas and suggestions that are
generated in the coaching dialogues? Or is it the enhanced
self-confidence that is developed by the person being coached?
Obviously there are many potential explanations.
One powerful dimension of a good coaching relationship that is
often overlooked is accountability and follow through. If someone
has thought about taking some action, but is the only person who
knows about it, it is much easier to postpone taking action.
But, when a person being coached knows that his or her coach will
inquire about what has been accomplished in the near future, this
person is far more likely to take action. The anticipation of that
conversation is a powerful motivating force.
Coaching effectiveness increases when the relationship between the
coach and the person being coached is positive and built on trust.
Coaching effectiveness increases when the coach possesses strong
interpersonal skills. Coaching improves when the coach operates
with a clear model in mind. But what we sometimes fail to realize
is the profound impact of simply following up.
The challenge the coach faces, especially one who may coach several
individuals, is keeping track of the variety of commitments and
actions steps that the people being coached have said they will
take. The process of capturing those commitments and tracking their
progress is time consuming and complex. The more the coach involves
the individual in tracking these commitments, the better the
outcome will be.
In sum, the hidden power of coaching lies in regular, ongoing
inquiry and periodic reminders that are communicated to the
individual being coached.