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Why personal coaching will make you a better leader

Agenda magazine Agenda magazine

We took a closer look at why turning to a personal coach often helps business leaders improve in their roles.

The desire for self-improvement – to continue learning throughout our careers – plays a crucial role in our individual success stories. But, when you run a business, your rate of personal development is also intricately linked with both the contentedness of your staff and your firm’s future prospects.

Leaders must keep improving, working on themselves continuously so that they have the capacity to overcome the next challenge.

Those at top tier corporates often have a personal coach to help steer them though tricky situations and manage their responsibilities. For the average mid-market business owner that luxury rarely exists.

So, how can leaders continue to improve and safeguard their organisations?

For Sam Isaacson, head of coaching services, the answer lies in giving leaders ample opportunity to get to know themselves. “Becoming aware of how you naturally operate and how you interact with other people in certain scenarios will provide the most value,” he says.

Personal coaching

For some, self-improvement may mean learning a new skill or technique to widen their knowledge base, but Isaacson argues that the same doesn’t apply for leaders. In their day-to-day roles, rather than employing technical knowledge acquired through training, leaders must spend a greater proportion of their time interacting with clients and co-workers.

Managing those relationships invariably becomes their key task. “In business, the more senior you become, and the greater your responsibilities and your influence is, the less important that technical knowledge becomes in the day-to-day,” he explains.

“Coaching increases self-awareness, which unlocks some of the most important leadership skills, including decision-making and rapport-building, to improve client relationships and build high-performing teams. It’s much harder to pass on that type of knowledge in a traditional way, like in a classroom."

Leadership, people and culture

The rapid evolution of technology, economic and social trends is changing the world of business.

Coaching for all

Isaacson claims personal coaching is no longer the sole reserve of leaders of the largest corporates. Benefitting both leadership and their firms, regardless of size, he urges all leaders to invest in this type of self-improvement.

“Simply retaining knowledge is no guarantee of success,” he says. “CEOs need to reflect on their actions and decisions, and to understand what they’ve learned. That’s why coaching can be so valuable, because it forces you to ask yourself what you’re learning from the decision-making process.

“You don’t have to employ a coach full-time to sit next to you every day. It may be that you arrange a session once a month to discuss any big decisions you’ve made or have coming up. Just having that time carved out in your diary each month will allow you to continue to develop and, for most business owners, that will deliver value for the investment."

Digital dividend

Leaders can engage with personal coaching and self-improvement without breaking the bank by taking advantage of personal development advice and guidance available online and on other digital platforms. As well as the many books, blogs and podcasts that cover leadership and personal development, there’s now a general move among training providers to introduce more ‘blended’ learning options. Resources such as video content or interactive activities mean that coaching has become more convenient and cost-effective than ever.

“The digital opportunity in personal development increases access to high-quality content,” confirms Isaacson but he says, there are limits to what technology can help you achieve, particularly if you’re someone who has many responsibilities. “Relying on an app or video probably isn’t quite enough for business leaders. In terms of coaching, the value of examining your thoughts and ideas while talking to a real person cannot be underestimated."

Coaching options

Equipping people to be curious and self-aware, personal coaching can have a significant impact on the efficacy and resilience of individuals, teams and organisations. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Large coaching providers typically act as a dating agency by matching coaches in the market with organisations looking for coaching. They deliver scale but perhaps at the cost of quality and consistency
  • Small coaching providers make up the vast majority of the market. There are some outstanding coaches out there but the quality varies greatly and scale becomes a challenge very quickly
  • Online coaching providers are often cheaper because remote coaching is more efficient, but the online market can feel like a race to the bottom

We have a pool of around 200 accredited coaches and our quality assurance processes are some of the best in the industry, in part thanks to our close working relationship with the professional bodies. We also benefit from a cloud-based coaching platform, so can offer the benefits of the online market with strong governance processes and can do so at scale.

For more on our coaching and leadership services, contact Karen Brice. 

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