Coaching Leaders for Change - 5 Ground Rules

Patsi Krakoff, Psy. D.

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How do you convince leaders to change?

Executive coaching offers a tremendous opportunity to leverage the talent and resources of leaders.

Coaching is no longer reserved for problem leaders. It is frequently sought by top performers whose organizations value their growth potential. But not all coaching is the same.

Establishing Ground Rules

Here are five principles that should be clarified at the outset of the coaching process. In the beginning, coaches must clarify the ground rules with the executive they will be coaching, as well as with the sponsoring organization.

1. Confidentiality, expectations and commitment: The coach must be clear about what will be shared with the leader’s boss and what will be kept confidential. Aligning coaching goals with the organization’s objectives is crucial.

2. Reporting relationships: There must be clarity among the organizational contact (boss or HR representative), coach and leader.

3. Methods of information gathering: Key stakeholders, team members, direct reports and others involved will be contacted by both the coach and the leader.

4. Making judgments, setting objectives and monitoring progress: The coach helps the leader and key stakeholders maintain objectivity. Coaches must focus on one or two behaviors, without judgment, and facilitate honest sharing about progress.

5. How, why and when the coaching will end: Coaching parameters must be set at the beginning of the engagement, with milestones for assessing progress and a completion date (usually 12 to 18 months).

It is critical to clarify at the outset who the client is. When the coach and leader understand that the company is the actual client, then the ground rules are easier to accept. Once the ground rules have been established, they cannot be bent.

Measuring Coaching Success

Success isn’t measured by:

- How well the leader performs with the coach’s help. It must be judged on how well he or she performs after the coach has left the scene.

- How leaders feel about their own progress. It must be judged on the changes stakeholders perceive.

- The leader’s positive feelings toward, and relationship with, the coach. True success is measured by results.

Coaching can be daunting for some leaders, as they must be willing to be vulnerable and open. It is exhilarating for those who embrace it and commit to change. Unlike management science, academic theory or consulting, coaching is an exciting interpersonal journey. Coaches and their clients form strong bonds built on trust, openness, confidence and achievement.

Patsi Krakoff, Psy. D. writes articles for business and executive coaches and consultants. She provides articles on leadership and executive development for sale, and formatted into customized newsletters. Get Patsi's Secrets of Successful Ezines 7-Step Mini-Course to learn what you need to know to publish a successful ezine.


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