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  • Writer's pictureDr. Patrick E. Crawford

Leadership Coach

Leadership Thoughts | Issue #160
 

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To me, the word "coach" holds a special meaning. I have been fortunate enough to receive coaching and serve as a coach. In high school, my coaches impacted my personal growth, teaching me valuable lessons about self-awareness, teamwork, and understanding others that have stayed with me for years. At 22 years old, I began my journey as a coach, spending ten years coaching wrestling, which laid the foundation for my lifelong dedication to leadership. Nowadays, coaching is not only limited to sports but can be found in many aspects of life. I know people with life coaches, weight-loss coaches, and coaches in various other areas where knowledgeable and experienced individuals can help us achieve our goals and improve our results. I attribute my improved writing skills to the guidance of a writing coach who served as both a guide and a critic. Leadership coaching has become increasingly popular and is widely embraced as an effective form of professional development.


Based on my own experiences and research, it's clear that successful leaders recognize the significant impact of their mentors in their journey toward achievement. Many may also credit their accomplishments to the guidance of leadership coaches. While mentors and coaches play essential roles in supporting individuals, their relationships involve different techniques, responsibilities, and dynamics. In this discussion, we will focus on the importance of a "leadership coach," leaving the topic of mentors for another time.

In today's ever-evolving organizations, effective leadership is essential. According to Brandon Hall's State of Leadership Development report, 71% of companies have reservations about their leaders' capabilities in guiding them toward success. In light of this pressing matter, leadership coaching has become a valuable resource for cultivating and unleashing the complete potential of leaders.


Understanding Leadership Coaching

Coaching for leadership is a personalized and collaborative approach that assists individuals in improving their leadership abilities, overcoming obstacles, and reaching their personal and organizational goals. Unlike traditional professional development, coaching addresses each leader's unique needs and challenges and offers customized guidance and assistance.


The Value of Leadership Coaching

Leadership coaching provides tailored development plans that cater to individual objectives and strengths. By conducting regular check-ins and tracking progress, leaders are held responsible and focused on their goals. This personalized method enhances self-awareness and cultivates effective communication skills essential for fostering trust and teamwork within teams. Coaching also aids in honing strategic thinking abilities, building resilience, and instilling confidence in leaders, equipping them with the flexibility to tackle challenges and motivate excellence within their organizations.

What to Expect from Leadership Coaching

Leadership coaching is a dynamic and multifaceted process that involves several important elements. Throughout the coaching journey, continuous support is provided through various means, such as personalized one-on-one sessions, regular email communication, and virtual meetings. These resources are designed to assist leaders in achieving their desired objectives. Each session is customized to address specific challenges, focusing on developing crucial skills like effective communication and confident decision-making. Introspective exercises conducted between sessions promote self-awareness and offer actionable strategies for personal and professional advancement.


Leadership coaching is a powerful tool for guiding leaders toward their full potential, enhancing their skills, and accomplishing their career objectives. Coaching cultivates an environment of excellence and innovation by allowing individuals to deepen their self-awareness, boost their adaptability, and strengthen their leadership abilities. When organizations invest in developing their leaders, it creates a ripple effect that positively impacts the entire organization.


A Leadership Coaching Story

A prime illustration of the positive impacts of leadership coaching can be observed through a modified case to maintain confidentiality. Per the superintendent's request, I partnered with two other coaches at PLDC to offer helpful counsel and assistance to the principals in the district.


I coached Richard, a young principal at a progressive middle school district renowned for its impressive academic performance. Despite being only 30 years old, he swiftly rose from teacher to assistant principal and finally principal, overseeing a staff 52 and nearly 800 students. On paper, he possessed all the traits of an effective leader: intelligence, drive, and a proven record of achievements. Yet, underneath his confident demeanor, he struggled with implementing meaningful improvements within the school.


During our initial meeting, Richard shared his reluctance towards coaching. He believed it was only for those in need of help and guidance. However, as we continued our discussion, he came to understand that coaching is not about fixing what is broken but discovering and unleashing untapped potential.


With introspection and meaningful conversations, Richard gained a profound understanding of his strengths and weaknesses. He also recognized the importance of effective leadership, which involves communicating an inspiring vision that encourages people to embrace change. Together, we worked on honing his communication skills and creating a supportive network to facilitate the desired changes.


Richard underwent a significant transformation when he embraced his vulnerability and authenticity, fearlessly taking charge of the change process. He became an inspiring leader who uplifts and empowers those around him, motivating them to actively contribute towards enhancing the lives of students and adults in the school community.


Richard's experience serves as a testament to the potential of leadership coaching. It goes beyond simply finding solutions but delves into unlocking one's true capabilities, fostering personal development, and inspiring positive change that can spread far beyond the individual. As coaches, assisting others in their journey towards self-discovery is an honor and a duty.


In Conclusion

Leadership coaching is an ongoing development process rather than a single event. As individuals progress, strategies are adapted to ensure continual personal and professional growth. The essence of leadership coaching is empowering individuals to unleash their full capabilities, cultivating a culture of excellence and creativity within their company. This dynamic approach ultimately results in sustained success and growth as leaders adeptly handle challenges and capitalize on opportunities.


If you're interested in learning more about leadership coaching, the Pennsylvania Leadership Development Center (PLDC) has a team of skilled coaches ready to schedule a meeting with you. To connect with them, please reach out to me at: pcrawford@paldc.org.

 

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