An experienced coach can provide you with the time and space to:
- Reflect on your experience – and make sense of it in order to explore and clarify the best course of action for the future
- Reflect on how you manage yourself – to understand how you are in your work (for example your style of leadership or management), and whether you have the right balance and direction
- Develop – specific behavioural skills such as personal impact and presentation skills, or influencing skills
- Plan – your next task or project, or your broader career choices
- Prepare yourself – analysing your future behaviour to create the desired impact
- Analyse feedback – to understand and learn from the themes and messages in order to make the right choices
- Practice or rehearse – a future presentation or conversation
- Commit to action – develop specifc next steps and create a level of commitment which will ensure plans are followed through
Choosing a coach
Your coach should have the necessary skills and experience to fulfil their role as someone who can provide you with sufficient support and challenge to ensure you discover your best courses of action and follow them through. The types of things to consider when looking for a coach are:
Are they accredited to a professional body? – having an accreditation to a recognised professional body is more than having a certification. Certification implies that the coach has completed and graduated from a particular course or programme. Having an accreditation signifies the completion of a programme recognised by a professional body, gives an indication of the level of coaching expereince (usually measured in hours), and provides assurance that the coach is engaged in their on-going professional development and maintains their coaching practice in line with recognised standards.
Are they able to clearly articulate their model of coaching? – that is, they way that they work and the theoretical basis for their approach.
Experience – do they have the right balance of knowledge and practical experience of business and of psychological models that you desire? That is, to what extent do you want to your coach to have good business knowledge and/or experience, and to what extent do you want them to have an understanding and ability to work within the area of psychology.
The “chemistry test” – often the most important success factor of a future coaching relationship is the extent to which you feel comfortable in the presence of the coach and believe from your experience of them that you will receive the level of support and challenge you are looking for. Similarly the coach should feel that they are able to work with you and meet your needs. The relationship between coach and client is critical to the success of the coaching work, so it is important that you both ‘pass’ the chemistry test.
Executive coaching – My model and approach
Executive coaching can be used to address any number of work-related topics. These largely fall under two categories which often, if not always, overlap:
- topics which relate to the individual’s own personal and career development, for example specific behavioural skills development
- topics which relate to the individual’s sphere of work, for example planning or delivering on operational or strategic issues
My model of coaching does have a non-directive approach as its foundation stone. As such I do not seek to teach or advise my clients based on my experience or view of the world. My background in business does allow me to quickly understand the organisational challenges my clients face, and my knowledge of psychological models and personality types allows me to work with every client as an individual.
Executive coaching – My process
I always hold an initial meeting with my client to explain the coaching process and my role as a coach, to explore the desired outcomes and to ‘test’ the relationship between coach and client. If both parties agree to proceed, then the first coaching session can be held within the following 1-2 weeks.
Thereafter meetings are scheduled to fit the participant’s needs – typically occurring every 2 to 4 weeks. A single coaching meeting will last up to two hours.
Usually the agenda for all meetings is set by the participant unless agreement is reached to provide a particular focus for a meeting, for example reviewing and understanding a 360 degree feedback report. Every meeting begins by identifying the specific objectives for the session, and by the end of the meeting the participant will have constructed an action plan which they commit to implement. During subsequent meetings some time can be spent reviewing progress against earlier commitments.
The coaching programme runs initially for 6 individual meetings (excluding the initial meeting) at which point progress and value should be reviewed and discussed by the coach, the client and the programme sponsor where applicable.
Outside of the face to face meetings, the the client is able contact me by phone or e-mail at any time or frequency to discuss matters related to the coaching. In addition, I often provide my client with articles or reading material to support the work that we are doing.
Tools to support the coaching process
To support the coaching I am able to work with a number of tools which support the client with their learning and development:
- Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – a personality type questionnaire focusing on defining personality and exploring how this influences leadership and communication style, behaviours and motivation.
- Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) – a personality type questionnaire focusing on interpersonal relationships and managing conflict.
- 360 degree feedback instruments – providing feedback & analysis of observed behaviours
As an executive coach I am fully aware of the professional responsibility I have towards my client and the sponsoring organisation where applicable. I ensure that ‘groundrules’ for the work are explicitly set with my clients and my goal is to ensure these are maintained during the course of the coaching programme. I clearly address matters such as client confidentiality to ensure all parties understand the context of the coaching relationship and the extent to which issues discussed during coaching meetings are shared with others or not.
As a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) I adhere to a documented Code of Ethics which address areas such as professional conduct and confidentiality. To see the full Code, click on the link below: