How to choose a great coach

By William Seidman When your people are enrolled in a leadership program, it is one thing to have great learnable content and quite another to get people to want to engage with that content. People learn faster and expert content sticks better when they work together in a structured group led by a trained coach. The coach’s job is to guide the group to interact with the content—and each other—in ways that are consistent with the newest neuroscience of learning. Organizations have selected coaches from among their direct managers, volunteer coaches and non-supervisor staff and peers. To be effective coaches, managers must become transformational leaders—that is, change their own values, commit to coaching, and develop their coaching skills. Direct managers are the only viable choice for organizations that want to develop large numbers of people quickly. Direct managers already communicate directly and frequently with their teams, work near them, and have the best knowledge of their attitudes and behaviors. Affirmative Leadership provides training for managers to be great coaches. Volunteer coaches are usually the next best choice as they bring a strong commitment to coaching. However, unless they are well-respected leaders of the organization, volunteer coaches don’t have formal organizational authority. It’s best to use coaches who have either personal or organizational authority. When coaches lack authority, they struggle to lead the learning group and keep it a priority. Peer coaches are usually not very effective. Because they must be recruited, they have many of the same problems as volunteer coaches: minimal authority and, frequently, a lack of coaching skills. In addition, peers may be under pressure to do their normal jobs, rather than coach, and those they are coaching don’t usually respond well to a peer urging them to think more deeply. Selection and training of the coaches is a key step in transforming transactional environments into transformational cultures of greatness.  ]]>

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