March 9, 2015

Could Coaching, get you up and running?

By Paul Laughlin
Video on how to run uphill

Video on how to run uphill

Having recently completed coaching both a Finance Director and a Head of Customer Value Management, I’m reminded of the power of goal-orientated coaching. Could it get you up & running?

Leaders can make so much personal progress, just through the disciplines of clarity on their goals, breaking them down into achievable actions & being held accountable. Alongside this and perhaps even more powerful, is the transformative power of time to think & someone else empowering you with undivided active listening.

Both these leaders told me that what they valued most from our monthly sessions was protected time to think about how they were doing & be held accountable to what they had committed to do.

Today started for me with one of my twice weekly 5k runs, nothing spectacular in distance or speed, but I feel better for it. Towards the end of my regular route, there is a continual uphill section, just as my legs are starting to feel sluggish. This part of my run always reminds me of the power of breaking aspirational goals down into smaller achievable ones. To maintain a good pace uphill, I focus on a series of lampposts which continue all the way up the hill.

It’s a simple psychological trick & one that I obviously know I’m playing on myself, but by focussing on the next lamppost in front of me rather than the whole ascent, it’s easy to keep giving bursts of speed to achieve that tap on the lamppost as I achieve my short-term goal. You’ve probably experienced the same sense of satisfaction ticking of actions on your ‘To Do’ list, as I get from tapping the lamppost with my hand as I move on to focus on the next.

Given such benefits, amongst others, can be seen from leadership coaching, I’m encouraged to read of the practice growing amongst UK corporations. A large study published by Coaching at Work magazine highlights how this practice has been growing within the big four accountancy firms. EY, KPMG and PwC, have all developed their internal coaching into sophisticated, highly credible, well-established functions. Interest in internal coaching is rising among other large organisations, too. According to the latest 2013 Ridler Report, 79 per cent of large organisational respondents expected to see an increase in internal coaching in the next three years, with 39 per cent expecting a large increase.

A 2015 global study by Sherpa Coaching LLC highlights progress in the increasing professionalisation of coaching across the world. Interesting findings within their report include: 56% of leaders choosing coaching to further their leadership development (rather than any new role transition or to address a problem). Globally clients were also saying that coaching adds most value in change management (37%) or creating growth (30%). Over 70% of clients find their coach via a personal referral and there’s been a significant growth in remote coaching using HD video links or Skype. I was particularly encouraged that the majority of organisations responding confirmed coaching was now available to all senior managers, not just top executives.

I hope you’ve experienced the power of having a leadership coach to encourage you to get specific with your goals & hold you accountable to them. Whether you’re running or working on your goals, do remember to break them down into achievable actions, at least one of which you can start now. Go for it!