[January 05, 2015] Leaders are adept at using tools – things that make it easier and less time consuming to assist them carrying out their duties. It is expected that they always look for ways to improve themselves. One item in the leadership toolbox not used enough is personal coaching. Ideally this is done by someone who has held that leader’s position or who has a particular expertise.
Make no mistake about it; this is about the growth of leadership skills. It could be about improving anything but leaders who work to get better personally are to be lauded. It is to be expected that the leader has an idea what needs improving, has prioritized, and planned what needs improved the most. This is no accidental get-together or careless meeting between coach and pupil.
Personal coaching is a technique that can help the leader in the shortest amount of time. A “personal coach” is distinguished from a “mentor” in that the latter usually puts in less time and is a long-term resource. Personal coaching is focused, useful, and temporary. The mission of the personal coach is to finely hone the specific talents of the leader. Therefore, the coach must have the trust from the leader, good assessment tools, and experience in effective training techniques.
It is of interest to discover categories of things leaders often ask from their coach. The easiest and most common coaching area is about technical expertise. Usually something either new or complex requires the leader to have a basic understanding to be more effective. The most difficult and least coached category is about personal characteristics because it requires a leader to change their personality. These usually involve leader biases or prejudices that have not been effective. The last category, that of interpersonal skills, requiring small changes in behavior is popular but not easy.
Personal coaching for improving technical expertise, personal characteristics, or interpersonal skills is ultimately about the performance of the leader. The leader who has asked for personal coaching has already realized the difficulty involved and admitted the need. Leaders who do not are simply less effective.
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