Efforts to Engage Leadership
Coaching and executive leadership requires passion and purpose for the people we serve and the public policies by which we are guided. Successful leaders understand and educate themselves on the ever-changing demographics and perspectives within their organizations, which includes supporting our leaders who engage with their employees.
The National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) is the principal and most progressive organization dedicated to the advancement of black public leadership in local and state governments. In support of these administrators, NFBPA provides training and other professional development programs, research and policy analysis, and collegial networking. The capstone of the NFBPA efforts is its annual conference, entitled: “The Forum”.
At the recent 2016 NFBPA Forum which was held this year in Portland, Oregon, I had the good fortune of being requested to lecture on the topic of coaching and mentoring. The themes of the conference included: “Together Unleashing the Power within Us” and “Expecting More, to Be More.” The participants who attended the Forum came from across the nation with questions posed to access how they may personally gain from executive coaching. Notably, several organizations in the public sector are implementing executive coaching, which engages their leaders to improve their employees. I presented on the topic: Executive Coaching: Reflect, Take Notice and Self-Correct, the focus was on the benefits of coaching, mentoring and counseling and how Coley & Associates, Inc. can help your organization. So while participants came to the session with interesting thoughts, the most poignant question posed was: Do we need executive coaching; and if so how should we use it?
Highlighting the Benefits of Executive Coaching
Coaching has a clear primary goal: to strengthen the client’s wisdom, thought processes, and steps toward the future based on the client’s self-identified agenda. For coaching to be successful, a supportive and non-judgmental environment should be created in which to inquire, challenge, and stimulate critical-thinking, and provide new ways of being, thinking, and acting, which often results in new behaviors applicable to the client’s whole life.
To determine if coaching is needed, there are five questions that can be made before deciding to hire an executive coach:
How valuable is a person’s performance and potential to your organization?
How willing and able will the executive be to work with a coach?
What is the challenge the person is facing right now?
What alternatives to coaching are available?
Are key people in the organization ready to support the efforts to grow and change?
• How valuable is a person’s performance and potential to your organization?
• How willing and able will the executive be to work with a coach?
• What is the challenge the person is facing right now?
• What alternatives to coaching are available?
• Are key people in the organization ready to support the efforts to grow and change?
If coaching is not the solution for your executives, there are many ways to achieve improvement such as: reading, job rotation, special projects, high-level training and the most highly suggested – mentoring.
Reflect to Improve Performance
It is a fact that upon occasion, adults may be in need of a “time-out” when the pressures of business become overwhelming and work gets the best of us. When we take time to reflect, and think about learning, we achieve a greater sense of self-efficacy, and become motivated to perform better. Key concepts for effective reflection as shared from the Harvard Business School include:
- Learning from direct experience can be more effective if coupled with reflection-that is, the intentional attempt to synthesize, abstract, and articulate the key lessons taught by experience.
- Reflecting on what has been learned makes experience more productive.
- Reflection builds confidence in the ability to achieve a goal (i.e., self-efficacy), which in turn translates into higher rates of learning.
The effect of reflection on learning is mediated by greater perceived ability to achieve a goal. American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey states, “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.”
Take the Time to “Notice”
Being curious, and inquisitive, while noticing unusual things in your surroundings, is an easy formula passed on from habitual reflection. Having the right mindset is an effective way to form the necessary concentration skills needed to be successful in the workplace, and can aid your professional life as well. Our daily routines in modern life can be hectic, busy, and become a source of major confusion with our thoughts. Having the right tools for an effective mental well-being can be the path towards mindfulness and peace about your cultural and business surroundings. The best organizations focus on speed optimization. They determine when it is best to speed things up and when it best to slow things down.
Taking time to take notice is a deliberate action built on the premise that when you manage reactions to surrounding circumstances around you, opportunities exist to build upon your greatest skills. Since we are constantly multi-tasking with our business dealings, it is a good habit to periodically slow down and take notice of the great things happening in our lives and the people around us.
Acknowledge the Need to Self-Correct
Finally, self-correction is a method that is used to control the number of mistakes one made in the past. We often refer to the self-correction habit as using the “lessons learned” in life. As we all know the difficulty of self-correcting mistakes can hinder progress, and prevent progress in a student, employee, and even a leader.
In these instances, Coley & Associates, Inc. have been keenly designed to offer alternatives to help manage, and take an organization’s workforce from good to great. Performance solutions, begin with creative thinking, include collaborative approaches, and may even use innovative technologies. Mistakes are part of the learning process, so to that end repositioning oneself after self-correction has occurred, is a great outcome to the self-correction journey.
When conditions are right, executive coaching can be one of the best people investments you’ll ever make. However, realizing that it is not a panacea for every executive development problem is key. Be brave enough to seek executive coaching or mentoring for your organization’s employees, but also use wisdom to not repeat the errors of the past.