Improve Leadership and Team Performance with Professional Coaching
The Positive Impact of Professional Coaching
by Jerod Morris
Effective teamwork is a central component of success for companies in any industry. Achieving goals and meeting objectives is impossible without teams that function at a high level, and there is no questioning the direct relationship between the quality of leadership and the effectiveness of a team. For this reason many companies, both large and small, are hiring experienced professional coaches to improve the quality of its leaders.
Teams improve when leadership is enhanced. This article details some of the reasons why there is such a trend developing in the business community toward the utilization of professional coaching; specifically, we discuss in this articles the ways that professional coaching can positively impact leadership and team performance within organizations. By developing personalized industry- and company-specific plans of action, professional coaches can enhance leaders in the following four essential areas:
1. Leading by Example
2. Communicating Effectively
3. Establishing Goals, Roles, and Accountability
4. Maintaining Proper Focus
Leading by Example
The old parental saying “Do as I say, not as I do” simply does not apply to good leadership. A leader’s ability to lead a team is proportional to the level of respect he or she has earned from the members of the team. Consider a leader who asks for 100% effort while only giving 80% his or herself. A truly charismatic and talented leader might get away with this, but only for a short time. Most members of such a team will ultimately start to question why they should follow such a hypocritical leader. Certain highly skilled and motivated team members may simply rise above the sluggish leader and essentially assume the role themselves. Neither of these outcomes is positive for the leader or for the continuity of the team.
For a leader, assessing his or her own example can sometimes be challenging. How can someone improve an example that is lacking if no awareness of the problem exists? Professional coaches offer objective viewpoints and opinions that can lead to self-improvement. Armed with knowledge of a leader’s personal goals, the team’s goals, the expectations being communicated, and the results being delivered, a professional coach can highlight areas where a leader can improve. By offering a more consistent and effective example, a leader will garner more respect and provide a clear path for his or her team to follow. Improved results and a stronger connection between leader and team will be the byproduct.
During the weekends, I work part-time at The Container Store, which has grown from one single location in 1979 to becoming the worldwide retail leader for storage and organization products. In addition, The Container Store consistently ranks in the top 10 on Fortune Magazine’s list of Best Companies to Work For. The Container Store’s leadership strategy is summed up in one statement devised by President Melissa Reiff: “Communication is Leadership.” Transparency and a focus on being proactive are staples of how The Container Store communicates with its leaders and team members. In turn, everyone is on the same page when it comes to understanding goals and objectives. This increases the probability that these goals and objectives will be obtained.
Communication is easy. Effective communication may not be for some. Professional coaches focus on assessing the current environment of communication and how it can be enhanced to improve leadership. By suggesting a new way to communicate an idea that simply is not gaining traction, or by offering an objective viewpoint to change the direction of a message, professional coaching can improve the effectiveness of a leader’s ability to communicate with his or her team.
Establishing Goals, Roles, and Accountability
Part of effective communication is fostering an environment in which team members understand what the team’s goals are, and what role each individual plays in achieving them. However, the leader must first properly establish the goals and roles. A professional coach can help a leader define his or her own goals, and set goals for the team. In addition, by helping leaders better understand themselves and the members of their team, roles for each can be more properly defined.
Once goals and roles are properly established and communicated, accountability can be developed. Holding team members accountable is difficult when there are no standards for performance and no clearly defined responsibilities. As mentioned above, the first person a leader should hold accountable is him or herself. By leading through example and gaining respect, leaders naturally develop the credibility to hold the members of their team accountable as well. A leader who sets a consistent example, communicates goals, and defines roles will have fostered an environment of accountability that produces results. By holding leaders accountable to themselves, and by assisting in the tasks of goal setting and role definition, professional coaches can become an invaluable resource in developing team accountability.
Maintaining Proper Focus
Establishing effective goals is meaningless without the discipline to keep the team on a path towards achievement. The challenge for any leader is to navigate through and around obstacles while consistently maintaining course. To do this, a leader must understand what is within his or her control and what is not. For example, leaders should not get caught up in trying to change the attitudes and personalities of the members of its team. Instead, a leader should focus constructive criticism on specific behaviors to enhance flawed performance. Furthermore, problems must be kept in perspective. If a problem arises, leaders must ask themselves how germane the problem is to the ultimate achievement of the team’s goals. If the problem is insignificant, minimal time should be allotted towards solving it, and vice versa.
Oftentimes the greatest benefit of a professional coach is assisting a leader in “seeing the forest for the trees.” Even the greatest goals and most expertly developed gameplans for success can go awry when met with unexpected challenges midcourse. The leader who developed the goals and gameplan may not always possess the objective viewpoint necessary to adjust and keep his or her team on track. However, a professional coach can be a trusted mentor, confidant, and sounding board that can provide insightful advice precisely when it is needed most. Effective leadership is not defined by always coming up with perfect solutions on one’s own; rather, effective leadership is leading the team to the right solution, regardless of the source.
Success in business always ultimately boils down to investing in assets that generate positive returns. The leaders of a company are more important than any other asset it possesses. Developing a leader produces a trickle-down effect that improves every function of a business touched by that leader. As the professional coaching industry has grown, and its effectiveness proven time and again, more and more companies are realizing the worthwhile and impactful return they receive for their investment.
About the Author
Jerod Morris is an Account Manager and Copywriter with OrangeCast in Dallas, Texas. In addition to his experience in social media marketing, Jerod Morris has management and training experience in the printing and restaurant industries, as well as managing direct marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 companies in Miami, Florida. While in college at Indiana University, Morris also co-founded and was Head of Creative Development for TB Digital Productions, a multimedia development company.
- Professional Coaching in a Slowing Economy
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- International Coach Federation Homepage
- Choice Online
This is a quarterly magazine about the professional coaching industry.
- International Coach Federation Dispels Common Misconceptions About Professional Coaching
Article from Reuters; May 5, 2008