In a survey of over 15,000 leaders across 50 countries, leaders were asked about their preferred methods of learning and growing. And the results are telling!
In Development Dimensions International’s (DDI) Global Leadership Forecast 2021, DDI found that 48% of those surveyed expressed a desire for external coaching. Along with assignments to further develop leaders’ skills, external coaching was the greatest learning modality desired by the overwhelming number of leaders in their study. 29% of those same participants wanted internal coaching or coaching from their current manager. Clearly, leaders see the power in coaching.
I can attest to the power of coaching. I’ve worked with a lot of amazing people during my career who helped me to recognize my strengths, gave me opportunities to grow, and supported me in my advancement. Still, when I was struggling, there were only a handful of people I went to for support – people who took a coach-like approach to our conversations. They asked me questions to help me unpack my thinking and beliefs. Those conversations helped me draw my own conclusions and recognize my own capabilities. And because I figured out the path forward that aligned best with who I was, I felt more confident in my decisions and gained clarity around the leader I was and the leader I wanted to become.
While organizations are wise to invest in coach training for their managers, external coaching has additional benefits. One of these benefits is greater ease in creating psychological safety. Coaching is about the relationship between the coach and the client. Both parties must feel secure that the conversation is focused on the client’s needs and serves their best interest. An external coach can establish that relationship more quickly, simply because they do not have the same level of attachment to the organization as a manager. When the manager is the coach and their client is someone they supervise, it’s easy to see how competing priorities – the demands of the workplace and the needs of the employee – can interfere with having an open conversation. As someone who took a coach-like approach to leadership, members of my team revealed that they were keeping things from me after we no longer worked together. When I asked if they felt they could have trusted me with those details, the response was “Yes…but you were still the boss.”
With all of the difficult decisions we have to make each day, having a trusted coach who is devoted to supporting your needs is powerful. So whether you are a leader looking to grow people in your organization or looking for support in your own growth, consider enlisting the help of a coach. Reach out to me to learn more about coaching and to see if I can support your needs. Or, check out the International Coaching Federation’s website to learn more.