The Hungarian word “Koch” means a covered wagon that was used to carry weary travellers from point A to point B. In French “coaching” means “conveying a valued person from one point to another “. In English the word “coach” originated somewhere in the 1500s and it conveys a similar meaning. Irrespective of the source of the word the underlying meaning is it is a process that fosters a change or movement from situation A to B. This defines the core principle of coaching executives at workplace.
Scholars have classified coaching into “workplace” that explains the type of coaching practiced on the job on a day to day basis by the internal managers/coaches, “executive” coaching meant for senior executives in an organization and typically provided by external, trained coaches and “life” coaching is that domain of coaching that extends beyond the workplace and looks at overall psychosocial development of the coachees.
In this article, our discussion will be on the day to day workplace coaching that is provided by the internal coaches, supervisors and why coaching can be the sharpest arrow in the quiver that carries all the leadership qualities. In its simplest form, coaching is a dyadic interaction between two people “coach” and “coachee”. The word coachee is being widely accepted in the field indicating it is the person who is being coached to move from point A to B. As a process therefore it fosters individualized focused development. Coaching has an element of psychology since it is based on the science of human interaction and there is an intense process through a deep and meaningful conversation.
The necessity of an individual customised development is intensified due to the challenges faced by organizations. Three factors are perennially on short supply and they are “money”, “time” and “skilled resources”. If there had been no shortage of skilled manpower organizations would not have spent so much of time and money in establishing best in class recruitment standards. Employee engagement in the organizations of the 21st century involves providing not only economic engagements to the employee but also emotional engagements. The people who are most capable of providing the emotional engagement are the workplace coaches/supervisors.
Supervisors knowingly or unknowingly disseminate lot of learning to their team members. They are the best people to observe the developmental requirements of each person they lead. Organizations need to train the managerial groups to lead by coaching and not lead by command and control. The command and control style of leadership is obsolete and the current cohort of workforce, which mostly belongs to called Gen Y, prefers an inclusive approach from the organization they work for and they want to be valued. Managing by coaching helps create a culture of inclusion and makes the coachee feel valued. Since it is a one-on-one interaction and focused on futuristic development it provides the necessary value perception. Within the organizational constraints, coaching fosters emotional engagement that is long lasting and creates value for the people.
The culture of coaching needs to begin at the top. Role-modeling is a crucial characteristic of effective leaders. If top management practices coaching style of leading people the entire organization is likely to emulate them. There are enough evidences of how top management style of leadership has a bearing on the entire organization. Coaching enables top leaders to demonstrate role-modelling behaviors and organization wide it creates a sense of belongingness. Adoption should therefore start from the top leadership whose behaviors have far reaching consequences for the entire organization’s well-being.
The purpose of coaching is to move from point A to point B. The coach and coachee work together to achieve this movement and walk the path. At times it becomes difficult for the supervisor to switch hats between a manager and a coach but as I mentioned before appropriate training help them to realise the distinction, the benefit of playing each role and the techniques of switching between the two roles. Those organizations that have adopted a coaching culture have developed leaders from within the organization. Coaching helps “leaders to develop leaders” by making the coachees realise their hidden potential.
Since the time “Coaching” as a concept moved over from sports to the field of management it is being adopted at a break-neck speed. Research done by academicians as well as business consulting firms indicates there are several benefits of adopting this individualized development oriented way of leading people. This simple yet powerful process helps organizations as well as individuals to create a more engaged, motivated and inclusive workforce. The critical success factor would be realizing the benefit and knowing how to make it happen. Successful leaders have many arrows in their quiver of leadership. Coaching appears to be striking out as the sharpest in their quiver full of leadership arrows.