Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Role clarity for the coach

Much of the literature on the subject of Leadership concentrates on defining what and who leaders should become and not so much attention to exploring how leaders can develop the necessary skills for sucess.
Is it possible to establish which attributes are associated with effective leadership?
There are authors sustaining that some leadership tasks, such as firing someone for the first time or being politically blocked by a colleague are part of a set of competencies that can only be learned by actually doing it; these tasks demad for careful reviewing of each situation and deep working on how one can learn and "built on" for next time.  This type of learning can be supported by action-learning programmes that focus on the issues that both the organisation the person are facing, or by executive coaching which promotes an environment that provides a safe space for reflection and learning.

Witherspoon & White (1996, Executive coaching: A continuum of roles.) elaborate that one way to think of executive coaching is to think of the client need. For example, does the executive need to learn a new skill? Perform better in current job? Prepare for a future leadership role?

In this scope, it is important to understand whether the executive acknowledges these needs and if he/she is willing to accept coaching. The coaching role refers to the coach,  which in this casa holds a primary function of helping the client learn and change. But there can be many coaching roles possible, so this is something rather important in the contracting phase to avoid confusion about expectations, time and effort amongst the several stakeholders.

Role clarity helps determining how to initiate the coaching process, what to emphasise and what to ignore. In practise the several coaching roles may overlap, and Witherspoon & White describe the roles of executive coaching based on primary functions:
- Coaching for skills (learning by focusing on a person specific skill)
- Coaching for performance (focusing broadly on a person current job)
- Coaching for development (focusing on a person future job)
- Coaching for the executive-agenda