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Individual coaching for company leaders
A respectful approach to reach superior levels of performance

« One cannot teach anything to others. One can only help them discover it by themselves. »  Galilee

Coaching has emerged as a successful personal development practice in the corporate world. Everybody talks about it but it appears that the concept remains vague amongst many people. What is coaching useful for? Are coaches a new sort of psychoanalysts? What happens during a coaching session? This article attempts to raise a corner of the veil on this discipline.

What is coaching?

Coaching is an accompaniment approach encouraging the coached persons to find in them the resources to reach one or several given objectives. Coaching rests indeed upon the following assumption: "Everyone possesses in himself the necessary resources to solve any problematic he is confronted to, as long as he can stand back and get the big picture."

This technique is increasingly successful with business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate managers. Every person has indeed the desire to succeed in what they undertake and to exploit their talents at best. On their side, companies realize the importance of their human capital and the favorable impact a motivated staff can have on their financial results. Therefore coaching brings tangible benefits to both employers and employees. It is a win/win situation.

The origins of coaching

Coaching is a technique derived from the sports world, aiming at unleashing the potential of an athlete or a team in view of a given and tangible result (to break a record, to reach the highest step on the podium, to get a championship cup). The sports coach is often a former athlete himself with a strong track record in the discipline in question. Thanks to his experience and charisma, he helps the coachees to deploy their talents. If most professional athletes have a coach, it is because without one, they would perform less well.

Transposed in the world of the enterprise, coaching consists in the accompaniment of a person or a group of persons in order to develop their potential and thereby maximize their performance to achieve business objectives. But unlike sports coaching, professional coaching doesn't stand in a logic of competition with winners and losers. It rather aims at developing expertises of individuals in absolute terms.

Besides, it appears that no one needs necessarily to work hard and to sacrifice other aspects of their life to reach his objectives, as far as these and the means to reach them are compliant with their fundamental aspirations. The coaching approach is to put our objectives in phase with our basic aspirations.

What happens during a coaching session?

A coaching session is very simple. You sit and speak, with someone in front of you who is entirely dedicated to you. The coach listens, observes and asks questions. He constantly sends you back to yourself and makes sure you deepen every important point sufficiently.

The content of a coaching session varies therefore from one person to the other and depends on the fixed objectives. The coach adjusts his approach to his client’s specific needs. However, the goal remains the same. The coach tries to provoke openings in the coachee’s mind. The coach is convinced that the coachee is the expert and sufficiently creative to find the solution by himself. His role is to provide assistance to enable his client to unleash his own talents and resources.

Coaching aims at revealing less visible aspects of your personality, your fundamental aspirations in order to give you more fulfillment in what you do.

A typical coaching session lasts about 2 to 3 hours and takes place once or twice per month. Generally a coaching intervention spreads on a period of 6 to 12 months, sometimes more if the company and the coached person wish it.

The coach is not a trainer, nor an expert, nor a therapist, nor a friend

Coaching is different from training. Training rests on a “push”-type approach, whereas coaching is based on a “pull”-type approach. The coach makes the coachee aware of his inner qualities and helps him to develop them. On his side, the trainer brings new external knowledge to fill a gap or improve the trainee’s expertise.

Likewise, a coach is not an expert. His role is not to bring supplementary information to the enterprise but rather to maximize its human capital.

The coach is not a psychotherapist either. The purpose is not to heal a personal wound, nor to focus on the past of an individual, nor to analyze the mysteries of the human psychology. We let the coachee draw some personal teachings from the session while we help him progress toward the fixed professional objectives.

The coach is not a friend. Above all he is a professional with a strong experience of the corporate world, an ability to fulfil his coaching task, and a focus on his mission.

Some cases of application

·      You wish to develop your leadership qualities. You are a manager and have a good team. You would like to motivate your team at best in order to achieve near-miracles. The best way to do so is by being a charismatic leader. Every person has charisma if they are in phase with their fundamental aspirations. With your coach's help, you will unleash your own genius.

·      You have just been promoted and you must familiarize yourself with the new job. At this stage, you don't master all the elements and you don't want to take the risk of a wrong start. Your coach will accompany you while taking these new responsibilities. With his help, you will keep a global picture of the situation and take all the elements whether positive or not into consideration.

·      Your team is composed of brilliant people but lacks cohesion. You don't see how you to manage this situation. A coach will help you listen to your intuition and discover the best means to reinforce the team spirit.

·      You have some difficulties in managing your professional stress. Rather than undergoing the situation and calling on medication, call on a coach. He will allow you to stand back from the situation, to identify the real causes of the stress, and to take the adequate measures.

·      In most cases where you long to master your time, to be more efficient in your decisions and to implement them better, coaching can help you.

The advantages of coaching

The efficiency of coaching comes from working directly on your values and fundamental aspirations. The discovery of these basic aspirations provokes a sort of magnetic appeal for these objectives, generally accompanied by a substantial contribution of energy and incentive. Life and all its aspects become simpler to manage.

Besides,

·      You increase your self-confidence.

·      You take the adequate actions without delay.

·      You keep permanently a panoramic vision of the situation without disregarding the details.

·      You overcome the unavoidable obstacles more easily.

·      You are radiant and increase your power of persuasion.

The limits of coaching

Coaching rests on a relationship of confidence between the coach and the coachee. Such a relationship can settle more or less quickly according to the personality of the coached individual. However, a wave of sympathy must exist straightaway between the two people. If it is not the case, it is better to look for another coach. While the sessions pass by, the coachee will come out of his reserve and will get in touch with his deep aspirations. Hence, the coaching approach requires a little patience as well from the coachee as from the coach. Coaching especially suits business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate managers who aim at long-term results.

However, when a professional needs to quickly solve a specific issue such as an important decision, a relational problem with a given person, an important negotiation, etc., short-term coaching, thanks to its issue-solving approach, will probably be more adapted.

Conclusion

Coaching is a particularly efficient discipline because it exploits the innate talents and resources of the person rather than bringing outside knowledge. The coached person will therefore be more motivated to put his findings into practice. The objective of a coach is to help people make personal and professional changes to grow their business, prosper and enjoy their success.

For further information: http://www.executivecoaching.be

About the author:

Marc De Wilde was himself an entrepreneur and executive during 18 years. He knows therefore the necessary requirements to run a business. Throughout time, he developed coaching techniques that he successfully applied to his teams. He now coaches executives and senior managers in Belgium and abroad.

Contact: marc.dewilde@executivecoaching.be

Written on 24-Jan-2003

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