By Chris Thurling, Chairman, Armadillo
I’ve been on both sides of the coaching conversation, as both a qualified coach and a coachee. What I’ve taken away from those experiences are invaluable lessons that continue to influence my leadership role day-to-day. Good coaching is a powerful resource, and its impact is far reaching.
At Armadillo, we’ve taken the bold step of investing in regular business coaching for all agency staff across all levels. Perhaps you’ve considered business coaching for yourself or for fellow members of your leadership team, but have you yet considered coaching across the business as a whole?
The benefits of coaching
“Coaching is an interactive and development process where the coach enables the coachee to find their own solutions, discover new opportunities and implement actions…Coaches act as facilitators…Coaches listen, ask questions and enable coachees to discover for themselves what is right for them.”
Rosinski, P. (2003) Coaching across cultures: new tools for leveraging national, corporate and professional differences, Nicholas Brealey, London.
Coaching is a tool that helps people unlock their potential, learn and develop. Coaches work from the assumption that everyone has the capacity to perform better…to go beyond what is expected and astound themselves. This is exactly the attitude you should be encouraging in your employees: to grow, improve and find the confidence to go forth and smash glass ceilings.
We all have issues we’re grappling with on a day-to-day basis, and the bustle of the everyday doesn’t always allow us the time and mental space to iron them out. What I’ve found is that through concentrated time with a coach, it’s possible to make rapid progress on challenges that would otherwise sit on the backburner for extended periods, niggling away at our thoughts and disrupting and inhibiting our full potential.
Coaching helps people work out what is interfering with them by asking questions that tease out the answers. These can be external factors (such as working in a noisy environment) or internal (i.e. that voice in your head telling you you’re not good enough). Reducing or eliminating interference leads to “relaxed concentration” and performance that flows. The coachee is then much more likely to tap into their in-built creative capacities.
Why go external?
It’s a good idea, whether or not there are people within the business who have coaching experience and expertise, to consider looking externally for your business coach. There are a variety of benefits to this.
Firstly, for coaching to work, the coachee must feel at ease. They must feel like they are in a safe and confidential environment and that nothing they say will risk their job security or relationships with colleagues. They need to be free to speak their mind without boundaries and restrictions. If a senior member of staff is the one coaching them, they are less likely to feel they can be honest about their experiences without worrying about being judged.
An experienced external coach provides an objective and impartial perspective on any situation that an employee brings for discussion and therefore the coachee is likely to feel more comfortable sharing how they feel. While everything said within the coaching sessions is confidential, an external coach may see patterns or similarities in sentiment across the agency. Providing anonymity is respected, this information can provide the business with a general idea of wider issues that may need addressing.
Another benefit of working with an external coach is that they may very well be able to bring fresh and innovative approaches and ideas from other industries that they work in. They may not be experts in your particular area, but they will have the skills to bring something to the table.
Through the eyes of a coach
Through my experience as a qualified coach, coachee and board member I have noticed that the skills I developed through my coaching practice are also extremely relevant to my role as a leader. Patience, active listening and resisting the urge to jump to conclusions are all vital across the roles.
A lot of the time people just want to be heard. Understanding this has benefited me across all aspects of my career. I’ve also learned how to ask the right questions, how to understand what motivates people. I’ve also been able to develop my emotional intelligence, an extremely important quality in a business leader.
A strong leader is someone who is able to empower their employees, identify their talents and hold them personally accountable for growth. Coaching has allowed to me to develop these qualities.
By investing in your employees, you are investing in the success of your business. Coaching is a competitive advantage. It encourages innovation, reduces friction and makes the team stronger. You’ve likely put a lot of effort into hiring the right people for your business, and so why not continue to invest in them; nurture that potential?
We received a brilliant reaction from our team when we shared the news about coaching starting. It’s needed now more than ever, and I think the effects will be far-reaching and quick to emerge. We are all on the same path of progression and growth, individually and as a business. I am excited to see what we can achieve moving forward.