Executive and Leadership Coaching - Sheryl D. Phillips Consulting - Virginia and Washington, DC

While Executive Coaching is now a commonly accepted tool for leadership development, it still can seem "mysterious" to those who have not experienced it. Put most simply, coaching helps leaders gain new perspectives and get clear, focused and moving to action.

Coaching is strategically and immediately helpful

Coaching is both strategic and “just in time” in nature. During each coaching session, the coach and client spend time on the immediate issues facing the leader and the longer-term goals defined for the coaching engagement. Through coaching, leaders assess their strengths and areas for growth or change. Coaching then focuses both on enhancing the leader’s learning and awareness and on developing strategies to achieve identified goals. We assist our clients with aligning their values, vision and action; enhancing resiliency and engagement with change; and rediscovering competence to have effective conversations with colleagues and staff.

The Coaching relationship is like no other

The coaching relationship is unique in that the coach is able to ask questions and have conversations that challenge the leader to think differently or see things from a new perspective. The coach serves as part thinking-partner, part teacher, part challenger, and part unconditional supporter. As a thinking-partner, the coach is an insightful and collaborative strategist. As teacher, the coach offers new distinctions to the leader about leadership, effective teams, improving communication and conversations, and organizational dynamics. As challenger, the coach is a “truth-teller” that offers objective feedback in a non-judgmental manner to the leader and challenges the leader to test ingrained assumptions. And, importantly, as unconditional supporter, the coach is a confidante with whom the executive is able to share all sides of him or herself.

How Coaching works

The coaching session is very conversational in format and may occur in person or over the phone. The structure of the coaching contract is always personalized to the client. The coach and client work together to define goals for the coaching, the coaching logistics, any assessments needed to determine current leadership skills, and methods to evaluate the success of the coaching. A “typical” coaching relationship lasts six months with two one to two-hour sessions per month. The coach provides additional support to the leader in-between coaching sessions through e-mail or by phone. The coach may assign readings, self-observations, practices or other “homework” exercises to accelerate the leader’s learning and action. The coach supports the leader as action steps are developed and implemented.

The Value of Coaching

The field of Executive Coaching has grown significantly over the past decade, with 60% of the most admired companies extensively using coaches for their executives, according to a 1999 Fortune Magazine and HayGroup survey of Fortune 500 organizations. A core reason for the emergence of coaching in recent years is best stated by the Center for Creative Leadership, “People used to think that leadership development could be learned in a single event…just the opposite is true. Leadership development is an ongoing and highly personal process, and it must include ongoing support.” Another reason for the growth of coaching is the impact on the organization’s performance, which directly translates into bottom-line results. A recent survey by Manchester Consulting revealed a six to one return-on-investment on the cost of the coaching to organization’s bottom-line.

Resources on Leadership Development

Links to Amazon.com and Harvard Business Review

, Daniel Goleman

, Kouzes and Posner

, Peter Block

, Gay Hendricks and Kate Ludeman

The Heart of Coaching , Thomas Crane

, David Kundtz

Level 5 Leadership , Jim Collins, Harvard Business Review, January 2001

“ ” , Daniel Goleman, Harvard Business Review, November,-December, 1998

“ ” , Chris Argyris, Harvard Business Review, May-June, 1991.

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