Josh was struggling at work. He is in the top position in his organisation, believes that he does his job well, but has received feedback from staff and volunteers (over a period of time) that they don’t really enjoy working with him and find him too controlling. He is confused by the feedback because he is very successful in terms of results and he truly believes he is at ‘good as it gets’ as a leader. He simply says that he is a ‘strong leader’ not a controlling leader. He feels misunderstood and underappreciated. Josh’s problem is that he doesn’t see what he doesn’t see.
Getting objective, constructive feedback is more difficult then it seems. We all need good feedback and help to develop new skills alongside insight that causes us to consider possibilities that we are blind too. 360 degree feedback provides some help (as for Josh above) but it does help make sense out of the feedback you receive. Coaching is one way of developing the ability to consider what we don’t naturally see or think about. In many industries it is now becoming compulsory to have coaching or supervision for this reason.
A major study of those involved in being coached found that the three broad areas of benefit were;
Learning about yourself and how you function
Learning new skills
The clients rated the benefits, in terms of impact and frequency, as listed below;
Learning about myself
Ability to look in new ways at the issues and problems I am facing (73% of respondents say they were significantly helped in this area)
Awareness of my underlying personal issues (71%)
Look openly at personal strengths as well as challenges (69%)
Awareness of negative self-talk that stops me acting to my full potential (58%)
About my relationships
Ability to give personal and professional feedback (71%)
Ability to discuss heated issues constructively (63%)
New insights and understanding of colleagues' behaviour (63%)
About developing new skills
Development of an action plan that will enhance my work performance (58%)
Ability to establish, and work towards key performance priorities (53%)
Improved capacity to solve problems I come up against at work (51%)
58% of respondents said that they were ‘surprised or very surprised’ at how much help the coaching had provided.
In the last six months of coaching Josh has an affirmed sense of his strengths as well as engaging some significant problem solving skills. He has realised that he has a strong ‘self-talk’ tape playing in the background of his thinking. He identifies it as the voice of his disapproving father. He has also become aware that staff do not see his motivation when he directs them. What they perceive as ‘controlling’ is tempered in his mind as ‘caring’ because he is motivated by concern for them. He has recently learned how to elicit feedback from those around him and respond to their needs rather than just his agenda.
[Josh’s Story used by permission, named changed].
Study Data based on: Executive Coaching Effectiveness: a pathway to self-efficacy, Armstrong, Melser, Tooth 2007